Looks like it's gonna be a full week without school for Chicago kids. I've steered clear of saying much on the CTU strike because with so many people commenting and writing about this it gets hard to have anything original to say, but with so many people weighing in it's inevitable some of them will be saying ridiculous things that deserve calling out. One of the weirder memes I've seen going around the last few days is the notion that "the real problem here is that there's no evidence the teacher evaluations Rahm Emanuel wants to put in place work." ...


Per this, a couple conversations with family over the past weekend have got me thinking more about the issue of how individual kids are assigned to teachers and individual kids' experiences over time: A relative of mine, a retired educator, has been working with a young lady who recently started her first elementary teaching job in a middle and working class suburban district. On her first day, she was dismayed to find that 1/3 of her first graders had IEPs and none of them were achieving at grade level. Later, talking to her fellow first grade teachers she was ...


A bunch of folks have asked me about today's Washington Post article on charter school waitlists and families switching among multiple schools as the start of the year as they get off waitlists. Lots of smart people are working on this, but a few key points: 1. It's a good, thorough article that explains the complex issues in play here. The Post's Emma Brown is a worthy successor to Bill Turque. 2. The current charter application and waitlist system is not optimal for anyone, not for families who have to separately apply to and go through lotteries and waitlists at ...


Last week the White House the President's Advisory Council on Educational Excellence for Hispanics named 10 "Champions for Change"--exemplary Hispanic educators who are making a difference for Hispanic students. It's particularly good to see pre-k teacher (and TFA alum) Vanessa Lugo-Acevedo on the list. Nationally, Hispanic youngsters are significantly less likely to attend pre-k than their white and black peers, despite clear evidence that pre-k has real early learning benefits for Hispanic students. That makes highlighting the accomplishments of Hispanic early educators all the more important. More than half of Hispanic youngsters live in the 7 states that constitute ...


One of the things that I find incredibly frustrating about the current discussion on teacher evaluation is that it's almost entirely focused on adults, rather than kids. Obviously, "putting adult interests ahead of kids" is a complaint you hear a lot in education reform conversations, and there's clearly an element to that here: In the debate over teacher evaluation systems, there's a tremendous emphasis on whether these systems are fair to teachers: Are student learning gain measures are accurate and valid reflections of teachers' impact? Are observers unbiased and sufficiently trained? Are teachers identified as ineffective are given sufficient opportunity ...


Yesterday, I wrote about Bellwether's new report on teacher evaluation legislation recently passed in 21 states. One big takeaway from this analysis: States are a lot more willing to pass teacher evaluation laws than they are to empower principals (and districts) to manage their staffs effectively. Consider: 21 states passed laws requiring teacher evaluations based in part on student achievement. From the media coverage, you'd think that linking teacher evaluation to student achievement is the really controversial thing here--but it's the one thing all of these states have done. States also took action to link these evaluations to key personnel ...


Over the past 3 years, more than 20 states have passed laws to change the way teachers are evaluated and link these evaluations to key personnel decisions--including layoffs, assignment, compensation, and dismissal. Over the past few months, I've been combing through these laws and related regulations to produce this new Bellwether Education Partners report analyzing recent state legislation and explaining what the new laws do and do not do. This report, which looks not only at evaluation provisions but how states are linking them to personnel decisions, is the first comprehensive review of all recently passed state teacher effectiveness laws. ...


Gotham Schools' indispensable Rachael Cromidas and Philissa Cramer take a fascinating look at plans to replicate New American Academy, an innovative New York City public school that loops teams of students and teachers from kindergarten through 5th grade, as a charter. The current New American Academy would continue to operate as a NYC DOE school, but a second campus would open as a charter. The potential for replication has always been a big breakthrough and potential advantage in the charter sector. There have always been examples of exemplary district-run public schools. But traditionally, replicating that success required convincing teachers and ...


If you were a nerdy kid like me, you may have spent a significant portion of your childhood poring over historical children's fiction in books like Little House on the Prairie; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; The Witch of Blackbird Pond; and Island of the Blue Dolphins. With their ability to transport children's imaginations to a different place and time, engage complex social and political issues at a child's-eye level, and help children learn about and identify with historical events, historical fiction books have become a critical piece of the kiddie lit canon--even if you weren't a nerd, you ...


Jason DeParle's long NYT piece over the weekend about the increasing percentages of children being raised in single parent homes--and the increasing inequality in family income and living standards associated with that--is well worth reading. This is an important issue with real implications for the work schools do--and one that needs to be more thoughtfully addressed in our current education debates and school reforms. But there was one other point that goes by in passing in this article but really stuck out to me: The single mother DeParle profiles is living on the economic edge not just because she's a ...


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