January 2007 Archives

There's been some interesting pushback against EdWeek's story about the declining influence of the AFT -- not all of it coming from the union.  First, Joe Williams at The Chalkboard said that maybe the story had got things wrong (ie, backwards).  Now, the AFT blog points to various signs that the union might actually be not just alive but thriving -- including a recent report from the research arm of EdWeek itself.  My only contribution is to wonder whether the article is the product of someone -- the reporter Vaishali Honawar (pictured) or an editor -- pushing to make a dramatic...


Along with the recent spread of teacher-focused PFP experiments has come a similar slew of initiatives focused on paying kids (and their parents) for doing helpful things like passing tests and improving attendance. Here, Joanne Jacobs describes the latest (Paying students for performance). Recently, NYC major Bloomberg proposed paying parents for students' attendance -- something that apparently worked quite well in Mexico....


I was one of the first guesstimators on the block to predicat that NCLB reauthorization would get delayed, and if anything the situation seems worse now than ever. What makes me say that? Most of all, it's that the Administration decided to roll out its reauthorization proposal now, on the heels of the State Of The Union, instead of waiting for the budget proposal next week, or waiting for the Baker Plan Aspen Institute Commission report next month, or -- God forbid -- developing a joint plan with Congressional Democrats. Maybe they wanted to do one of these things, but ...


The Carnival of Education is up at The Median Sib and it's a good one. Great pictures, such as this one that represents the category "School Governance and Edupolicy," and it has some great posts: EdWonk at The Education Wonks tells us about a Rhode Island Catholic school that has adopted a silent lunch policy in ”The School of Silence.” Patrick at The Psychology of Education looks at a new book that addresses “shadow children” and what the author claims is the #1 problem in education. Look for next week's carnival right here at This Week In Education. Posts should ...


This month's Education Writers Association newsletter (here) digs into the oft-cited statistic that black and Hispanic 12th-graders perform academically at the level of white eighth-graders, based on a report comparing NAEP scores of those two groups. Based on a listserve discussion among reporters, the newsletter describes how several reporters questioned whether the test scores between eighth-graders and 12th-graders could be compared, talked to experts about the issue, a figured out what to do with the conflicting responses they got. Very interesting stuff -- that EWA listserve is great, I hear....


I'm conflicted, I admit it. Sometimes I want big ideas and complain at the small-mindedness we all get stuck in, and other times I'm overwhelmed by big ideas I can't really grasp. Looking at this KnowledgeWorks/ Institute For the Future map is one of the latter times, unfortunately. Called the Map of Future Forces Affecting Education, the map (a 2-pp PDF, actually) charts dilemmas and trends in various categories. Let me know if you find anything good on it, and thanks to the friend who sent it in to me. Here's the site. Clearly I need more coffee....


House Approves Plan to Cut Student Loan Rates AP The House of Representatives approves a bill to cut student loan interest rates in half over the next 5 years. Old SATs crop up again -- but it's not error by test-owners A possible security breach on the SAT exam in South Korea is highlighting a common but little-known practice by the College Board: reusing entire SAT exams that have already been given. Educators blast No Child Left Behind changes Baltimore Examiner The Teachers Association of Baltimore County, a National Education Association member, criticized the White House for proposing to allow ...


EdSec Spellings is between more than a couple rocks and hard places these days. While lots of folks on the Hill are ramping up to see if the Administration proposes "enough" of a funding increase for NCLB in the budget, another set of folks are pushing at the EdSec to enforce the public school transfer provision in the current law, which has been blocked, sidestepped, and generally ignored for the last five years. To wit: "Leaders of 25 state and national policy organizations sent their request through a letter to Spellings on Friday." Everyone's failure to implement the public school ...


Remember that story from a couple of weeks ago about the immigrant kids who were banned from playing soccer in a Georgia town? Well, here's what's happened since then -- and it's not all good: "Scott Rudin urgently chased the movie rights to the heartwarming story of refugee kids playing soccer in small-town Clarkston, Ga," according to this Wall Street Journal article (Soccer Story Kicks Off Hollywood Fight). "Four days later, he vented about being on the losing end of the pricey auction, showing how sticky things can get when real people are sucked into the Hollywood vortex."...


Everybody knows that I can barely count, much less do statistical regressions, but I do know some folks who are good at that stuff. Having looked at that recent Fordham report on state achievement levels, one of them sent in handy-dandy spreadsheet that -- I'm told -- shows a negative relationship between the grades Fordham give the states on math and NAEP performance on math. "The higher the Fordham score, the lower the NAEP score." You can see the spreadsheet here. Got anything good to send in? Send it to us at [email protected] UPDATE: The quick-response team at ...


Unlike in most years, when Congress has already passed its spending bills by now, this year we’ll have the start of the new budget planning process begin while the old budget is still in process. As pointed out in David DeSchryver’s Federal Update, the House is set to try and finish the FY07 spending bill next week – the same week the President’s FY08 budget request comes out. Most programs are going to get no funding increase, though as usual some folks will try and get one until the bitter end. For example, Rep. Castle in the House ...


Let's be honest -- it's a pain to come back here all the time. You don't want to miss the latest scoop, education headlines, silliness, or banter -- but unlike me you've got real work to do. So this is how to avoid ever having to come back here again to check for new stuff: You can sign up for a free weekly email in the little box to the right under my picture, and get the week's best posts in your email inbox Sunday nights. Or, you can get nearly instant updates by hitting the orange "Get RSS" box ...


States tackle global competitiveness eSchool News From increasing the rigor of the high school curriculum, to focusing more attention on math, science, and technology instruction, many U.S. governors this year have proposed new education programs that aim to raise high school graduation rates and better prepare students for success in the 21st century. Public schools group jeers privatization Washington Times Today, NSBA members will walk the halls of Congress, lobbying for more funding and flexibility to help teachers meet the law's tough standards for testing students and making progress. Staff Is Reeling After Bold Move WaPo Every staff member ...


"After long days of grading papers and disciplining rowdy children, a growing number of tech-savvy teachers are creating online journals to vent about the stresses of the profession, according to this Houston Chronicle article (Teachers venting on blogs often go underground ). "Educators who have already embraced the technology — called blogs (short for web logs) — find themselves walking a fine, virtual line of conduct. They strive to entertain and inform, but can't violate their school districts' ethics policies or federal laws designed to protect students' confidentiality. Most teachers who blog have opted to do so underground — refusing to cite their names, ...


I frankly don't get what Eduwonk Andy gets out of banging so hard and long (and at times unreasonably) on the teachers unions, especially the AFT, as he seems to be doing again these days (with what little time he seems to have for blogging). His latest play, citing the support of other noneducation bloggers, might seem at first to be a sign of self-importance or a way of "settling" an argument, but it doesn't really have that effect -- who cares what Alterman says -- and has some of the feel of bringing in the calvary (or your big ...


Sick of words and looking for something interesting to listen to or watch? Check out these two recent NPR and PBS segments: "At a high school in Baltimore, two teachers take very different approaches to the start of a new semester. It's a chance to make a fresh start for some teachers, but also a confusing time, as new schedules upend their routines." (A New Semester At Northwestern High0) Over on PBS, check out Teaching Entrepreneurship: Watch as inner city high school students launch their own soda company, and hear why some say entrepreneurship education is "the civil rights issue ...


Earlier this month, Amy Waldman's article about the effort to rebuild New Orleans schools ("Reading Writing, Resurrection"), came out in The Atlantic Monthly -- a beautifully written, full-length magazine piece about the context and the characters surrounding what is a unique but still relevant effort at urban school reform. (Sadly, it's not available unless you subscribe to The Atlantic or have a friend who does.) On the HotSeat, Waldman tells how she decided to do the story, how the district's recovery effort sometimes resembles postwar Iraq, what happens when choices are more theoretical than real, and what she thinks the ...


Over at Intercepts, Mike Antonucci has -- yikes -- a video podcast about NCLB and all of its nefarious effects. Chief among them: "NLCB Make Sun God Angry." Check it out. While you're there, you can also check out the videos for Van Halen's Hot For Teacher or the efforts of a teacher-led cover band called, yes, No Child Left Behind....


So apparently the EdSec is actually showing up at the NSBA event in DC today -- I wonder if she knows (or cares) what they're saying about her precious little NCLB on their blogsite. According to BoardBuzz, American schools are not in crisis, AYP just needs some...softening, and hey, Maggie, send cash. As for any new elements or requirements? Not so much. "We cannot improve the law just by piling more layers onto it," opines the Buzz. "Instead, we must focus on improving NCLB’s accountability framework first and foremost. Get that part (and of course, the funding) right, ...


EdWeek now has a handy-dandy "most viewed stories" list next to each story you view (sorta like the NYT version). to which I point you merely to point out that This Week In Education squeaks in at #5. Not bad, considering what a short time we've been here. Thanks to everyone who's found their way over (and to all the promotion that EdWeek.org has been lavishing upon us)....


Pushing Back at Bullying NYT This past November, the Greenwich High School principal, Alan J. Capasso, greeted an early morning assembly of more than 800 freshmen about to begin a mandatory anti-bias, anti-bullying program called “Names Can Really Hurt Us.” High Schools eyed in No Child Left Behind Washington Times Educators, lawmakers and the White House are indicating that high school reform should be included in this year's renewal of the No Child Left Behind law, and the discussion about what it will include is already under way. Bus driver background checks cause school closings CNN.com Columbus schools canceled ...


Best Of The Week Secrets Of The USDE: Insider Edelstein On The HotSeat Subversion, War, Kit And Kaboodle - Hogwash! (NCLB Rhetoric) Why No One Cares Deeply About Iraq -- Or Urban Schools Are Management Companies Better For Charters State Of The Union Health Care Big, Education Small Live-Blogging The State Of The Union (Sort Of) Reaction Roundup - What Did You Think Of The Speech? State Of The Union Preview: Reauthorize NCLB More Stupid State Of The Union Fun Campaign 2008 What Hillary's Candidacy Means For Education - Not Much Obama & The Madrassa: The Real Education Story Of The ...


I generally try and avoid reading education pieces over the weekend, since I see so many of them during the week, but sometimes I can't resist. Here are a few interesting-looking ones (If you've seen any better be sure and let us know in the comments section): Lives: Assimilating Circumstances NYT I’ve taught English as a second language for eight years, and I’m no slouch. I’ve taught in Korea and in New York City’s Chinatown. I’ve taken on classrooms of 50 high-school boys at a time. I wouldn’t have guessed that one slim Afghan ...


State passing rates on AYP (the percentage of schools that meet state testing requirements and thus federal ones) varies widely, as you can see from the great chart to the right (courtesy of Stateline.org). But, of course, this doesn't mean that the students in high percentage states are smarter than the rest, or that their schools are better. It probably just means that their tests are easier, or that the cutoff score is lower. Some states like North Carolina have low AYP pass rates AND their state test cutoffs seem low, according to Pauline Vu's Stateline story. In NC, ...


There's lots of good stuff as usual in the PEN NewsBlast (NewsBlast)t, though I wish they'd understand how hard it is to read anything after Happy Hour has started. The cutoff is Thursdays at 4 -- how many times do I have to tell them? Some of the standouts this week include a Local Education Fund handbook, and a peek into the secret world of grantmaking....


Whatever you may think of the Bush health care proposal being rolled out this week, it's hard not to notice how much bigger and bolder it is than pretty much anyone's education proposals, whether they be to fix NCLB or to develop national standards. To get something that big and transformative in education, you'd have to look at a nationwide universal preschool program, the elimination of local school districts (or teachers unions), or a Constitutional amendment giving everyone the right to an adequate education. But so far as I know, no one powerful is talking about these things right now. ...


Over the AFTBlog they're chomping at the bit about the possibility that the "other" Representative Miller -- Brad, from NC -- might subpoena folks in the USDE as part of his newly-formed science oversight subcommittee (A Congressman Drops the S-Bomb). Don't forget that the "real" Congressman Miller (George, CA) hired a chief investigator to do much the same thing last month -- at the full committee level (Miller Ramps Up For Oversight & Investigations)....


Inner-City Teacher Inspires Students To Stab Him "Before Mr. Fitzsimmons came along, nobody had been dedicated and hardworking enough to show us that we had the power to make a difference," said student and stabbing participant Gabriel Salazar. (From The Onion) UPDATE: School bans talking at lunch after choking incidents CNN A Roman Catholic elementary school adopted new lunchroom rules this week requiring students to remain silent while eating. The move comes after three recent choking incidents in the cafeteria....


When I first read those quotes from Mike Petrilli at the end of Thursday's NYT, I wondered why he wasn't talking about national standards. Then I found out that they weren't the fresh, live quotes, they seemed to be (Mike told me). Instead, they're taken straight from Petrilli's essay on the Bush NCLB proposal (Mr. Fix-It). Which leaves us wondering which of the other quotes used by reporter Diana Jean Schemo (pictured) were canned. Others may not care, but I think it makes a difference. And, I've said it before: reporters, maybe it would be good to find someone who's ...


Colleges Regroup After Voters Ban Race Preferences NYT Others are using many different approaches, like working with mostly minority high schools, using minority students as recruiters, and offering summer prep programs for promising students from struggling high schools. Learning Improvements Among Head Start Children Tracked EdWeek Children participating in Head Start during the 2003-04 school year showed significant learning gains in vocabulary, early math skills, and early writing skills, according to the latest results of an ongoing survey. Fairfax Resists 'No Child' Provision WaPo The Fairfax County School Board last night defied the U.S. Department of Education -- and ...


You have to love EdSec Spellings’ use of the phrase “kit and kaboodle” to describe the Administration’s desire to win approval of their whole NCLB reauthorization package, though so far only NPR seems to have used it in a segment. So fun, so quaint. So Spellings. But that's not the only rhetorical flourish up Spellings' sleeve. She defends the new tough restructuring requirements for persistently failing schools in saying, “I think we all have to answer…what are we going to do about that?'" Meaning: if you don’t like my ideas, come up with something better, but ...


Earlier this week, we put USDE longtimer Fritz Edelstein on the HotSeat, where he told all sorts of secrets that only a 31-year USDE veteran can tell. But he's hardly the first. As some of you have requested, here are some past favorites: Rick Hess -- A Liberals' Kind Of Conservative Those rumors about good-looking slaves doing all his writing for him aren't true. NYT Magazine's Paul Tough On The HotSeat What he really thinks about school reform and social policy. Matt Maurer & The Shadowy World Of Education PR Companies Why it's better to get an AP story than one ...


Those crazy folks at the SEED Foundation are looking for someone to run their new Baltimore school -- a college-prep, public boarding school for students in grades 6-12. "The Head of School for Maryland will have a tremendous opportunity to create a brand new school, with the benefits of relying on proven aspects of SEED’s first school program, as well as the resources, funding and community support that you and we have developed over the past 10 years." Tell them Alexander sent you....


Senator Hillary Clinton has not said much about PK - 12 education in the past few days since her Presidential campaign announcement, even as she has been soliciting questions from website visitors to answer in her live, online webchats. And she's probably wise not to. School reform ideas hardly ever get anyone elected, and have often arguably dragged them down. Still, as first noted on The Chalkboard, former Senate staffer Dan Gerstein wishes he'd had a chance to ask Clinton some questions (five questions that won't make Hillary's webchats ). On education, Gerstein asks whether Clinton will "embrace controversial education reforms" ...


Slowly, the most important details of the Bush reauthorization plan are coming out -- a private school option we've seen before (but will play differently now that Congress is on record for vouchers in DC and New Orleans), the likely expansion of the growth model option for meeting AYP, some uncertain language regarding highly qualified teachers, and -- most obviously inflammatory -- beefed-up requirements for schools in restructuring and districts with inequitable distribution of teachers that could abrogate collective bargaining agreements and contradict state or local charter law. The reactions so far have been as you'd expect. But the main ...


It's not just about what poor people eat that makes them more prone to overeating and obseity, according to this article from Salon (The anxiety of appetite). It's why they eat. "When food stamps run out, or the kids' medical expenses take precedence, or the local food bank shuts down or runs out of food, you're not going to eat a lot. And when food becomes available again, you binge." In their efforts to help the poor eat healthy foods, says the author, those who are trying to help run the risk of failing and creating a new form of ...


Bush Proposes Broadening the No Child Left Behind Act NYT The proposals would give local school officials new powers to override both teachers’ contracts and state limits on charter schools in the case of persistently failing schools. New education reforms get mixed reviews AP Democrats and teachers‘ unions are criticizing the Bush administration for proposing to let school officials override collective bargaining agreements and state laws in an effort to reshape the No Child Left Behind law. Teacher has ways to light a fire under his pupils USAT In a new book, Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire, he offers ...


Sad to say, the only school-related issue that most folks out in the non-education world are paying any attention to right now is the issue of whether Barack Obama attended a Muslim school as a child in Indonesia: "Even last night, while Mr. Obama was doing interviews following President Bush’s national address, he was asked about the rumors," notes The Caucus (Obama's Religion and Schooling). "He was asked about it again on the “Today” show. Afterward, his staff released a fullblown offensive –perhaps a few days too late — to the media."...


The Carnival of Education returns home this week to The Education Wonks. As usual, there are a variety of education topics and submissions. Here's an interesting one: NYC Educator teaches in the New York City Public School System. Educator is telling us all about the Petty Tyrant EduCrat who allowed a hurt child to bleed until the necessary hall pass was obtained. Only then was the kid put into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital......


If like me you are trying to avoid doing any real work today, there's a fun little gizmo in the NYT that lets you see how often and where a word shows up in one of the SOTU speeches of the last six years. Based on a quick search for schools, education, and no child, it seems pretty clear that this speech was less focused on education than others in the past. I count eight mentions for schools in 2001, 11 mentions in 2004, but just 4 last night. But you better check for yourself - you know how bad ...


Speaking of the education industry, last week Erik Robelen wrote a fascinating piece for EdWeek that among other things described the foundation trend towards funding the growth and spread of EMOs -- education management organizations -- to run groups of charter schools instead of invididual operations (Venture Fund Fueling Push For New Schools).  This week, charter insider Marc Dean Millot writes that EMOs are "a poor business model" whose economies of scale are mostly illusory (What Happened to the Charter Idea?: (I) Why “Bottom-Up” Became “Top-Down”).  (subscription required). But Millot, who formerly ran a national charter organization and now puts...


I'm still groggy from trying to give immediate reactions to the President's speech last night (Live-Blogging The State Of The Union) -- which was fun but ridiculous -- meanwhile, others make some interesting (and similar) points this morning: UPDATE: A Constrained Vision: "At the State of the Union speech tonight, two of the First Lady's guests had something to do with education." (Ed policy in the First Lady's box) UPDATE 2: Get Schooled: "It didn't take President Bush long to bring up education in his "State of the Union" address last night, and it took even less time for him ...


Bush Revives Some Past Proposals NYT Mr. Bush also returned to the signature bipartisan accomplishment of his first term, the No Child Left Behind legislation that requires schools to demonstrate yearly progress in students’ achievements. He urged Congress to renew the law. Bush to Push School Voucher Proposal AP President Bush is making another run at giving poor students private school vouchers, but the Democratic-controlled Congress appears ready to block that move. After the Last Lap, It's Time for SAT Prep NYT The course, paid for with a $100,000 federal grant, is intended to help poor and immigrant runners ...


EdWeek has recently beefed up its coverage of the education industry -- I use the term in the most neutral sense -- and this week there are a bunch of articles about three of the main things that the education industry does for schools: tutoring, testing, and textbooks. Companies Want Changes in NCLB Tutoring Policies Disappointing numbers fuel call for steps aimed at boosting student participation. Tougher Oversight Promised for Private Tutors in GeorgiaEarlier this month, state officials barred the Get Smart Inc. service from working with public school tutoring for three years after investigators found some Clayton County, Ga., ...


I should be doing my laundry or feeding my new cat, but instead I'm here, live-blogging the State Of The Union for any glimpses of education news. This is not so easy to do without a drink - where's the Jameson when I really need it? Start at the bottom if you want to read in chronological order. But it's really all over after the first 10 minutes of the speech....


Every week, The Education Wonks organize an amazing Carnival Of Education Blogs that includes dozens and dozens of author-submitted blog posts. Every once in a while, I take my own look at the education blogs and come up with my own favorite posts – usually ones that are particularly counterintuitive, insightful, or well-written. Click below to see some recent favorites. I guarantee you'll find at least a couple that you really like -- especially the funny ones....


Kudos to the AFTies for being first to find and link to the President's education agenda, such as it is, in tonight's State of the Union. It's nothing unexpected, but it's the latest and offers some hints and details. Can we start the drinking game now, or do we have to wait until he actually starts talking?...


This article in Salon (Where's the outrage?) argues that there is no significant antiwar movement because the vast majority of the public who are "not facing death or the death of immediate family members, doesn't care enough." I'd argue that much the same is true of reforming urban school systems, which are nearly as far away from many lawmakers' and middle class taxpayers' experiences as the Middle East. According to the piece, by Gary Kamiya, "The elites talk and the kids who go to community college get blown up...People are capable of genuine concern for their fellow citizens, but ...


Public Agenda has often done fascinating work on education issues -- telling us what folks really think, whether we want to hear it or not. To make education engagement a more regular thing, they're going to re-start their education blog, called Reality CheckED. It (re)lanches tomorrow (the old one seems to have come and gone during the summer and fall of last year). Maybe they got some of that Gates money to make sure education is big in the upcoming campaign. From the press release: "Public Agenda is all about keeping people talking and the positive effects of exchanging ...


In honor of tonight's State Of The Union, this week's HotSeat honoree is longtime USDE insider Fritz Edlestein, who tells all under pressure, including among other things, -- about his new endeavors (they are many) -- on whether mayoral control is right for everyone (it's not) -- on how to get a law changed after it's been passed (can it really be that easy?) -- on his shameful involvement in Blue Ribbon Schools (now it can be told) -- on whether it's a go for national standards ("the time is getting riper"), and -- about some of his main accomplishments ...


Acquisition Ban Lifter at Career Education NYT Career Education is battling back from government investigations, private lawsuits and accreditation problems, many stemming from accusations that the company cheated on admissions practices, financial aid and job placement. Teachers Tackle Their Own Extra Credit WaPo Although some wonder how much the program raises student achievement, there is a growing movement toward national certification. The number of board-certified teachers has tripled in the past five years to more than 55,000 nationwide. Pete Seeger among children's book winners CNN.com A book by Pete Seeger about a young musician who loses his hearing ...


There's an interesting new documentary about school reform on its way, this one (called "Whatever It Takes") about a small school and a new principal in the South Bronx. Shot during 05-06, it's a labor of love that's still in post-production, but it's already won some small awards and there's a nice trailer to look at (surf to www.whateverittakesdoc.com). Or to watch a YouTube version of the video click below. When finished, the full-length documentary will take a hard look at both sides of the small schools debate, says director Christopher Wong, asking the tough question: "can a ...


Riffing off of a Washington Post story about the upcoming struggles Speaker Pelosi faces within her own ranks, Eduwonk posts on how challenging it is going to be for NCLB to get reauthorized (NCLB'ed) -- and whether that falls in Pelosi's lap or the President's. "The line about Pelosi feeling she needs to deliver for new members and what they ran on is a down arrow on NCLB in some cases," writes Eduwonk. "But, isn't the President's forthcoming budget request (and any private signals he might be sending) pretty key here in terms of whether we get to an NCLB ...


Proving once again that she's nothing if not iconoclastic, Diane Ravitch seems to be moving much farther left than most would expect. Or maybe I just assumed she was a critic. It's not just the joint appearances with small schools queen Debbie Meier -- soon to be turned into a new EdWeek venture, I'm told. She's also featured in the latest issue of the American Educator in strong support of teachers unions (Cultivating Solutions) of all things: "Protecting teachers from ill-conceived instructional mandates, intolerable conditions, and poor compensation—these are all reasons why teacher unions were important 100 years ago, ...


Don't expect much from the President about education in the upcoming State Of The Union besides the call to reauthorize NCLB, based on this mention in a White House press briefing last week: " I think that the issues that the President has chosen to talk about in the State of the Union are ones that we all agree on the ultimate goal -- maybe not on every single detail -- but we have different paths of getting there. And I think that he believes that there are ways that we can work together -- on energy reform, there's a lot ...


As the first '08 presidential candidate to make front, top and left of the Washington Post, Hillary Clinton made the rumors official on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - exactly two years from the date of the next presidential inauguration. She used a highly-praised online video on her website to make the announcement (which never mentions education), coupled with a typed statement of her candidacy (which barely mentions education). The most popular policy issue associated with Hillary is health care - something she did stress in her announcement. Clinton's statement on NCLB's 5th anniversary notes her original support for NCLB and ...


Oregon latest state to raise graduation requirements Boston Globe Oregon is the latest state to take action in a nationwide movement to raise graduation requirements after a speech Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates gave to the nation's governors in 2005. Taking Middle Schoolers Out of the Middle NYT The two schools, in disparate corners of the nation’s largest school system, are part of a national effort to rethink middle school, driven by increasingly well-documented slumps in learning among early adolescents as well as middle school crime rates and stubborn high school dropout rates. Education Department says lender was overpaid ...


Looking Forward - 2008 What Obama's Candidacy Means For Education On The Hill New House Ed Committee Name & Staff List Good News For Ed Funding and Earmarks Dems Lengthen Subcommittee Names (& Name New Heads) What 1.2 Trillion Could Have Bought Media Watch Jerry Bracey On The Huffington Post Assignment Changes At The Washington Post National Standards National Standards -- Then Vs. Now Quest Columnist Kevin Kosar: Do National Standards Have A Chance? Education Policy Exclusive: Security Checks For Ed Researchers Regulating The Testing Industry Returns The Think Tank Mystery Best Of The Rest Oprah's School Pop Princess Calls Out ...


There's been a slew of banning going on around the country, it seems (cell phones, games of tag, etc.) -- most of which seem ridiculous from the outside even as they make sense to those who propose them. This one might take the cake: a Georgia town has banned kids from playing soccer on public playing fields. But of course it's simpler, and more complicated, than that. In the NYT: Refugees Find Hostility and Hope on Soccer Field...


As usual, there are lots of articles I didn't get to this week. Click below to check out a few of them....


Mediabistro reports that the Washington Post is moving Valerie Strauss up to higher ed where she'll join up with Susan Kinzie. To fill in where Strauss had been, the paper is also moving Amit Paley (pictured) to cover K12 with Jay Mathews. Congrats and condolences to all involved (and their sources). Click here for the details: FishbowlDC....


Study: World falling behind on 2015 education goal CNN.com the study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences said the goal of providing a high-quality education to all children could be achieved at a reasonable cost with more support and funding from governments worldwide. Court Hears Case on Use of Fees by Teachers' Union EdWeek A case testing the constitutionality of a Washington state law that requires nonunion teachers to “affirmatively consent,” or opt in, before a teachers’ union may spend money from “agency fees” on political campaigns and similar activism. Gaming advances as a learning tool eSchool ...


National standards expert Kevin Kosar writes in with the following guest column on the current national standards debate: While researching my dissertation on the politics of education standards just a few years ago, I conducted a number of interviews with smart people in the education policy world. One of them was Checker Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Just over four years ago, Checker graciously fit me into his dense schedule and we spoke at length. When I raised the question of national standards, Checker responded, that “nobody wants” national standards and that idea “isn’t even being discussed.”...


Click below to check out the full list of House education subcommittee members, as announced by Chairman Miller's office earlier today - along with some snazzy new names. **Ed Reform gets a new long name and Kildee as head. **21st Century Competitiveness gets a new long name and Hinojosa as head. **Select Education turns into "Healthy Families & Communities" and McCarthy heads it. Where's Woolsey? She's heading a labor panel....


Even though he's only controlled the school system for four years, NYC Mayor Bloomberg keeps rolling out the changes -- the most notable of the latest (Bloomberg Seeks Further Changes) include dismantling his "regional" superintendents structure to go to a more local, distributed model and making an effort to weight student funding so that any discrepancies in how much money each school gets per child are based on educational needs (special ed, low-income, ELL) not faculty salaries. It's interesting to see the echoes here of mid of Chicago in the late 1990s, where Mayor Daley and Paul Vallas tried to ...


Voluntary National Testing Then Supported by a still-popular 2nd term President (Clinton). Debated as part of the annual approps process (FY97-98). Supported by a popular EdSec (Riley). Proposed right after a big Democratic win (’96). Supported by business (Biz Roundtable & US Chamber). Supported by several states & districts (7 or so, as I recall). Voluntary National Standards Now Supported by a long-shot Presidential candidate (Dodd). Proposed as part of reauthorization of an unpopular law (NCLB). Proposed by a group not in favor with their own party (Fordham). Opposed by an unpopular EdSec (Spellings). Proposed right after a big Republican loss (’06). ...


Pop singer Pink (pictured) apparently has a song out now called "Dear Mr. President" that includes the following profound lines about NCLB: Dear Mr. President... How can you say No child is left behind? We're not dumb and we're not blind. They're all sitting in your cells. While you pave the road to hell. Found on a million MySpace pages. UUPDATE: The video is loaded below, by reader request. Apparently it's a good tune. Maybe the AFT or NEA can make it their new fight song. Click below....


Senate to consider bill on student loans AP The debate over whether to cut interest rates on student loans is moving to the Senate after the House voted 356-71 on Wednesday to pass a bill cutting interest rates on need-based student loans in half, from 6.8 to 3.4 percent, over five years. Kennedy scheduled a Senate hearing for next week. Plan to let parents track MySpace profiles met with skepticism USAT North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says the notification software "really doesn't do enough" to protect children. "You've got 10-, 11- and 12-year-old kids who are on ...


The most interesting parts of this article on NCLB is its simultaneous call for more regulation of the testing industry -- and more different kinds of testing. Usually, folks call for one or the other, especially in the context of criticizing NCLB, but not these guys ( Ask This > The untested theories behind No Child Left Behind" href="http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=00256">The untested theories behind No Child Left Behind). Specifically, they call for computer-adaptive tests and formative assessments instead of the current proliferation of annual standardized tests....


Over at The Quick and The Ed, Kevin Carey riffs off a recent Malcolm Gladwell article in the New Yorker about the Enron investigation to make the point that analyzing and interpreting existing information (like the Education Sector does) is increasingly important in a world filled with lots of data but relatively little understanding. Carey's post (Mysteries, Puzzles, & Think Tanks) lays out an argument that is unusually elegant. What he leaves out, however, is how difficult it is for think tanks to do good analysis and be influential on policy and advocacy at the same time. The two functions do ...


"The human mind isn’t very well equipped to make sense of a figure like $1.2 trillion. We don’t deal with a trillion of anything in our daily lives, and so when we come across such a big number, it is hard to distinguish it from any other big number," begins this NYT article on how much the Iraq war has cost -- and what that money could have been used for instead (What $1.2 Trillion Can Buy - New York Times). It actually takes a fair amount of work to spend that much, even including high-cost ...


Illinois Senator Barack Obama's entry into the 2008 Presidential campaign has lots of potential implications for education, including most obviously making CT Senator Chris Dodd even more of a long shot than he already was, and, by extension, making national standards, Dodd's current education issue, even more of a nonstarter. But that's not all. Obama is an interesting, hard to read candidate on education issues, and is not only pro-charter but also -- maybe -- open to vouchers. (Hey, the guy smokes, too, didn't you know?). Here are some recent posts about Obama and his education agenda from over the ...


According to a recent Q and A with Ellin Nolan, president of education lobbying firm Washington Partners, the newly-passed rules on earmarks, gifts, and ethics will have a mixed but relatively benign effect on the education environment. "Most Members take pride in helping constituents get special consideration for federal funding," she says. "They are very willing to stand up and take credit for directing resources to their states or districts. " If anything, budget pressures not sunshine laws will have a dampening effect, she says. And the gift ban is not much of an issue for education groups and nonprofits. As ...


It's like a bad episode of "Alias." Mild-mannered researchers working with the USDE are being asked (for the first time, apparently) to fill out investigative reports on themselves and submit to what seems like a security clearance in order to continue their work with the USDE. "We all have to fill out security questionnaires and get background investigations (and credit checks)," writes one such researcher. "It's very invasive and I can't see the purpose of it other than to get as many people as possible into their homeland security database. Basically if you don't fill it out you can't work ...


The Carnival of Education opened today for the hundred and second time at Dr. Homeslice. The Carnival opens with a quote from Dr Martin Luther King and then jumps right on in: Incidents of students impersonating teachers online are rising, especially on Myspace. Brice recounts making a slanderous Myspace page a high school teacher he hated. He also remembers getting caught after doing it. Happy first birthday to NCLBlog over at AFT! A number of key blogosphere types share their favorite posts over the past year from the blog. Kind of like a rockumentary for a blog....


Census: Kids in poverty have less parent time CNN.com The U.S. Census Bureau report, "A Child's Day: 2003," found American children living in poverty or in single-parent homes have less interaction with their parents and are more likely to have trouble at school than youths in wealthier, two-parent homes. Community colleges aim for more respect CSM Fewer than half of community college students meet their educational goals, and that has a ripple effect in efforts to educate local workforces and make the United States more competitive. Citizen Schools: An After-Hours Adventure EdWeek Launched in Boston in 1994, the ...


Between the New Yorker article (see below) and this one, I guess this is the month for big magazine articles on education, which is great, but unfortunately they're neither of them available online -- or at least not for free. "Hurricane Katrina destroyed one of America’s worst school systems and made New Orleans the nation’s laboratory for educational reform," begins this Atlantic Monthly article by Amy Waldman (Reading, Writing, Resurrection)."But can determined educators and entrepreneurs transcend the damage of the flood—and of history?" If anyone spots it or has a spare copy, please let the rest ...


Prior to January 4, 2007 and the beginning of the 110th Congress, there was only one reason to go to the House Education and Workforce Committee Website - for the schedule of committee hearings. Now, the site has been completely re-vamped. The committee has been renamed the Education and Labor committee (no more "workforce"). The new site has a front-and-center section with the committee's priorities. No Child Left Behind has it's own webpage, with additional pages regarding how the Bush administration has "shortchanged" NCLB and the Reading First scandal. The site also has a comphrensive list of committee staff and ...


Snowed in and looking for something good to read? Check out Jay Mathews' uplifting profile of what sounds like an amazing teacher in LA (America's Best Classroom Teacher). The teacher, Rafe Esquith, has a new book out, Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire, and has been profiled by NPR in the past (Inner-City Teacher Takes No Shortcuts to Success). Mathews points out that most big-name teachers have left the classroom (though not Jason Kamras, I'd point out -- he went back, last I heard). He also says that Esquith disagrees with KIPP folks like Mike Feinberg (who was interviewed here ...


If you have any doubts about where the Huffington Post (a group blog run by Arianna Huffington) sits on the political spectrum, the recent arrival of Gerry Bracey on the scene should give you a good sense of things. Bracey writes the annual Rotten Apples report on the worst people in education (bio here). He tells me that he got the gig via another smart leftie, Jeannie Oakes, who did some work with Huffington during her political days. Click here for his posts from December and early January. Click here for the Rotten Apples report....


Several folks have pointed out that the scrutiny and criticism surrounding Oprah's school has been exaggerrated, sexist, and perhaps even racist. This article from Salon.com (What Oprah can't forget) takes that argument one step further and tries to figure out where the hypocrisy surrounding wealth and philanthropy comes from -- and why Oprah created such a lavish school. Previous posts here and here. You have to watch a short ad to read the entire article....


The Eduwonks point to a school where the Feds have required cheerleading for girls' sports as well as boys' (Federally-mandated Cheerleading). Jeff Jarvis discusses new ideas about spreading technology access (Two laptops per child ). Joe Williams at The Chalkboard says a top NYC education official is jumping ship (Michele Cahill To Carnegie). Richard Lee Colvin points to an LA Times story about an elementary school story that's turning things around (Leadership Helps Compton School Soar). Eduwonk spanks Kansas for being crazy (What Is The Matter With Kansas?). Joanne Jacobs digs up an NPR correspondent's views on black achievement (Can do). ...


National standards under review as lawmakers prepare to take up No Child Left Behind AP The No Child Left Behind law was supposed to level the playing field, promising students an equal education no matter where they live or their background. However, each state sets its own standards for subjects such as reading and math, then tests to see whether students meet those benchmarks. For Teachers, being 'Highly Qualified' Is a Subjective Matter WaPo Some education experts say that meeting the standards of quality is more about shuffling paper than achieving two vital goals: ensuring that teachers are prepared to ...


Best Of The Week School Reform In Denver Speaking Truth To The Powerless Exclusive Gates Enters The 2008 Campaign Romer To Head Gates/Broad '08 Election Push NCLB Anniversary Competing Agendas, "No" On National Standards, New Faces Don't Forget The Teachers, Says LDH NCLB Watch: Week One Conservative Fears Of NCLB Expansion Philanthropy New America Makes A Splash Learning From Their Mistakes The Business Of Education More On The Education Industry This Week's Business News Florida NEA Funds Rod Paige, & More Media Watch Three Takes On NCLB Anniversary Dodd Vs. Kennedy: What EdWeek Leaves Out Mathews Begs For Assistance Best ...


Welcome, diligent holiday readers. There won't be much of any blogging today, but if you haven't read the Katherine Boo article in the most recent New Yorker (see this post from Friday to get an overview), that's your MLK Day assignment. (Unfortunately, it's not available online.) Or, if you're feeling nostalgic, watch the YouTube video of MLK's I Have A Dream speech: Or, if you want to learn a little bit about modern-day civil rights politics, you can check out this article via the Huffington Post on how Barack Obama is getting a cool reception from civil rights groups....


Thanks to everyone who's offered congratulations (and even criticisms) this past week or so and helped make sure folks knew how to find me in my new home (so far, so good). These include Joanne Jacobs Free-linking and thinking by Joanne Jacobs NCLB: Let's Get it Right! The Education Wonks "The time has come," the Walrus said..."--- Lewis Carroll Sherman DormnWork to understand how schools have been social institutions Intercepts A listening post monitoring education and teachers' unions. School Me! Adventures in education Eduwonk.com Education news, analysis, and commentary. Thanks also to Jeanne McCann and the rest of ...


If you want to give yourself a real weekend treat, pick up a copy of this week's New Yorker and check out Katherine Boo's long feature on efforts to turn around the Denver Public School system and improve the lives of some Latino students at the infamous Manual High School. The piece, called Expectations, looks like the usual in-depth and insightful work we get from Boo, albeit all too infrequently. (I like to think that, given time and space, I could do as good a job as this (or Paul Tough's recent NYT Magazine piece), but it may well be ...


Longtime readers of this site know that education is a business, with billions in transactions that involve vendors, management companies, consultants, and universities. Pretending that it's not -- that "public education" is entirely public and that there's a bright line between it and the private sector except for vouchers or charters -- doesn't do anyone any good in the long run. It just means you don't know what's really going on, for better or worse. This concludes the sermon. Click below if you want to read about a tiny online publisher buying a giant old-school publisher, about tech deals gone ...


I'm not sure that NCLB is at the top of conservatives' list of concerns right now, but it's interesting to see (in the Washington Times via the NH Insider) that concerns about the law from the right are just about the same as concerns about the law from the left. "Some conservatives on Capitol Hill are worried that President Bush will cut a deal with Democrats that would not only renew his education law, but also dramatically expand it, including perhaps more requirements for the high school level." Bush-Democrat alliance on education law feared...


Over at the PEN NewsBlast, there are some measured thoughts about improving NCLB (but not abandoning it), and some links to stories about public attitudes towards spending on education (the public wants more!), the Petrilli about-face on NCLB, multilingual children, and the growth of NBC teachers (now nearing 8000). Over at the other end of the political spectrum, this week's edition of The Gadfly includes the aforementioned telephone interview with me (see Russo On The HotSeat) and a critique of EdWeek's "chances of success" index. Meanwhile, EdWeek reminds us that it's not just NCLB that's up for reauthorization, but also ...


New score for young city musicians CSM The federal No Child Left Behind law identifies the arts as a core subject, but so far it's only holding schools accountable for reading, math, and science. Berklee College of Music, Carnegie Hall and the Juliard School are reaching out to offer free education. Report: Broader Skills Best for College Grads EdWeek As the federal government begins to nudge the higher education system toward greater accountability for student learning, a report outlines the skills college graduates need to be successful in the global economy. Study: Testing keeping some teachers from using news as ...


If you subscribed to Marc Dean Millot's New Education Economy, you'd already know about a new report from Eduventures on SES that describes how providers "hang on the whims of parents."  You'd know that the Florida teachers union (an NEA affiliate) gave Rod Paige's new outfit, the Chartwell Group, start-up funding via its pension fund investments. And you'd know which states made requests to modify their SY 2006 AYP calculations.And if you got his K12 Leads report, too, you'd have RFPs and other info coming out of your ears....


Governor: N.C. has more board-certified teachers than any other state Twelve percent of North Carolina's 11,325 teachers have reached National Board Certification, making it the tops in the nation in that respect, according to the governor's office. American City Business Journals/Charlotte, N.C. Va. district may refuse NCLB test for ELL kids MSNBC Fairfax County school officials are protesting a federal mandate that would require them to give most English-language learners reading tests that are as rigorous as those taken by students already proficient in English. Students barred from bus for speaking English CNN A school bus ...


The Washington Post's education columnist Jay Mathews is at it again - soliciting reader input for his columns. If fact he is begging readers to help him identify the best middle schools in the DC-VA-MD area and any middle schools across the country that have "spectacular results or very unusual methods." You may notice the trend. Mathews just wrote a column about the best education blogs in which he solicited reader nominations. It's very web 2.0 of him to solicit "user content" as opposed to traditional news-gathering. But then again, Mathews has always done things a little differently. Go, ...


From all the laughter in the background, I think Mike Petrilli and Rick Hess must do some mid-day drinking as part of their weekly Gadfly Show. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, being on the show was a lot of fun, and they were kind and open-minded to have me on despite my being an early critic of the podcast (and generally skeptical about podcasts that aren't This American Life or the latest episode of "Lost"). They asked about how this blog came to be at EdWeek (I pitched it to them), and about whether I've changed ...


"Learning from your mistakes is a well-accepted practice in the world of commerce -- even a celebrated one," begins Ben Wildavsky's article in today's Wall Street Journal. "But the same mindset has yet to penetrate the philanthropic world, according to insider-turned-analyst Joel Fleishman....Why? Because, he says, they are arrogant, secretive and insular; they latch onto fuzzy, trendy initiatives without ever evaluating the results; and, above all, they resist transparency and accountability." Hmmm. Remind you of anyone who jumped boldly into the education mess around 2001? Me, too. However, it has to be said that the Gates folks have done ...


Here's the speech that we wish the President had given last night -- not about sending more troops to Iraq but rather about more gold stars for our nation's schools. Via The Onion. Bush Earmarks 1.5B Gold Stars For Education "Vowing to give the nation's public schools "a much-needed boost," President Bush announced Monday that his 2003 budget proposal would allocate 1.5 billion gold-star stickers for education." Caption reads: "Bush holds up a Dayton, OH, fourth-grader's gold-star-adorned book report on Ferdinand Magellan."...


Lynn Olson's article on the Dodd and Kennedy national standards bill (New Bills Would Prod States to Take National View on Standards) helpfully explains the similarities and differences between the two proposals and tries to tease out their prospects of enactment and background dynamics. However, the article leaves out two key facts: Kennedy's bill was dropped -- coincidentally or not -- the same afternoon that the Dodd announcement went out, and -- I'll say this as long as I have to -- Eduwonk Andy isn't really the best (most dispassionate or knowledgeable) source to comment on this. Click below to ...


Earlier this week, I told you about a new Gates/Broad Foundation initiative to bring education to the forefront during the upcoming elections. Well, it turns out that it's true -- and that it was first reported in a squib in US News: Job No. 1: Fixing Public Schools Sen. John Kerry isn't the only rich guy campaigning against the woes of education. But Microsoft's Bill Gates and KB Home's Eli Broad, along with their combined foundations, are doing it with more diplomacy and fewer insults. We hear that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation have ...


Michigan: University to Comply With Ruling NYTThe University of Michigan acceded to a federal appeals court decision and said it would immediately comply with the state's new ban on affirmative action. In Education Debate, Congress Must Talk Money NPR One of the issues the new Congress will deal with is the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act. Commentator Andrew Rotherham says that any reconsideration of education legislation will need to consider changes in the way it is funded. Teacher fired over artwork APAn art teacher whose off-hours work as a so-called "butt-printing artist" became widely circulated among high ...


Dear EdWeek Readers -- Welcome. As you'll quickly see, this blog is informal, constantly updated, and full of comments and speculation -- totally unlike the carefully reported and balanced journalism on the rest of the EdWeek site. And that's what makes it interesting --irreverent but still basically responsible insights on the world of education. I've posted some entries from earlier in the week (below) so you can see what's been happening over the past busy week or so. Like in an email, newer entries are towards the top. There are usually three to five new posts a day, starting with ...


I Thought a Think hosted this week's Carnival of Education - Dalmation style. Featuring a picture of a Dalmation, the Carnival begins by highlighting the Carnival's home site, The Education Wonks: "EdWonk, the founder and patron saint of the Carnival of Education, leads us off with this pressing question: is wetting your pants an arrestable offense?"...


Sitting in a DuPont Circle Starbucks, who do I run into but former LAUSD superintendent (and CO Gov) Roy Romer, making cell phone calls across from me. He wants to know what I'm doing with a laptop attached to a digital camera (you all know the answer to that one). I want to know what he's doing in town besides going to the NAF event (see below). Turns out Romer is getting set up to head a Gates/Broad initiative to make sure education gets a substantial and meaningful bit of attention in the 2008 election cycle. You read it ...


A week ago, nearly everyone was predicting it would be 2009 before NCLB got renewed. Since then, things have gotten a little messier, but the basic dynamics are clear. A powerful set of folks folks (Spellings, President Bush, the Chamber, the BRT) are pushing for a quick NCLB reauthorization this year. Other folks (Miller, Kennedy especially) are also pushing for reauthorization-- and lots more cash. Meantime, NCLB opponents (the 100 groups that signed the letter) want to see NCLB revamped substantially and don't seem particularly concerned about when it happens -- though of course the sooner the better. Last but ...


Gerry Bracey's 2006 Rotten Apples report is finally out (downloadable doc here), featuring the usual assortment of outrages and misdeeds. Bracey leads of with Spellings' infamous "99.9 percent pure" declaration, followed closely with the Barbara/Neil Bush donation laundering operation....


It turns out it wasn't just me (and Rush Limbaugh) who noted Oprah's harsh comments about poor American students last week. In Tuesday's Chicago Tribune, columnist Clarence Page notes that just because Oprah's comments "delighted conservative commentators... doesn't mean she's wrong." According to Page (Oprah's `truth' shouldn't hurt), "Liberals love to speak 'truth to power,' but the powerless need to hear the truth too."...


"Whatever one thinks about the 5-year-old federal law," writes Linda Darling-Hammond about NCLB in a commentary from this week's EdWeek (A Marshall Plan for Teaching), "it’s clear that developing more-skillful teaching is a sine qua non for attaining higher and more equitable achievement for students in the United States." UPDATE: Teacher quality could also be addressed through the still-unfinished HEA reauthorization, reminds another EdWeek article....


Welcome to the shiny new version of This Week In Education, now hosted by EdWeek.org. As noted in the post announcing this change (Pimp My Blog), this is either a very brave experiment by an upstart education writer and an established media giant or it's a really big mistake. For anyone who is new to me and this blog, I am a freelance education writer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. I write mostly for trade publications and occasionally for policy mags. I also do some consulting, speaking, editing, and research. Before this, I was a Senate education staffer (Feinstein, ...


You can find the archive of back issues of this blog (from early 2004 to early January 2007) here. Or, if the link doesn't work: http://www.thisweekineducation.blogspot.com. There is unfortunately no archive of the email-based version of this site that began in Fall 2003 and lasted until May 2004....


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