September 2007 Archives

The Best Of The Week

Read These First Needed: Better NCLB Politics -- Not More Policy Why Teach For America? Think Tank Hires Republican Education Staffer With Cool Glasses NCLB News Who Knew NCLB Was So Well-Liked? Better Politics -- Not More Policy Renaming NCLB Critic Explains Internal Union Dynamics Teachers & Teaching Why Teach For America? A Teacher's Thoughts In The New York Times Campaign 2008 What Happens On Education When Hillary Wins The Nomination? Edwards Turns To Education To Try And Get Traction Plural Speech Gaffes For Bush Think Tanks and Foundations Think Tank Hires Republican Education Staffer With Cool Glasses Deborah Bial: An ...


Why Teach For America?

Remember the headline about Teach For America that came out in The Onion a couple of years ago (TFA Chews Up, Spits Out Another Ethnic-Studies Major)? Well, TFA’s come a long way since then, but it is no less frustratingly problematic. According to a new article (Why Teach For America) in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, the original TFA was small and marked by its idealism and its focus on getting bright people into classrooms and doing some immediate good for poor children. The “new” TFA is much much larger and features corporate-style recruiting efforts and a hyper-aggressive ...


Get Ready For "The Month In Review"

September has come and almost gone in a flurry. As last year, I'm doing a monthly audio roundtable with education reporters on the big stories of the month, etc. We just taped it earlier today, and I'll post it on Monday. In the meantime, start thinking what you think the biggest story of the month was -- Miller's NCLB proposal or the NAEP results or something else? -- or who you think this month's biggest winners and losers were -- Kozol, Shanker, New York City? And then tune in Monday to see what veteran reporters from the Washington Post, USA ...


New Sunday New York Times Magazine Articles On TFA & College

Want to get a jump start on your weekend reading? Check out the new NYT Sunday Magazine -- out a little early online -- that includes an article on TFA (Why Teach For America) and a James Traub article on the Collegiate Learning Assessment pilot to measure the effects of college on student learning (here). Traub used to write about education all the time and he is much missed. Still, I wish there was some more hard-hitting stuff -- this looks from first glance like a glossy version of the Education Life section -- but that's just because I don't ...


What Happens On Education When Hillary Wins The Nomination?

Earlier this week columnist David Brooks suggested in a much-discussed (and free) New York Times column that the liberal (progressive) end of the Democratic party -- that means you and all your NCLB-hating friends -- could once again hurt Democratic chances for victory -- if Hillary Clinton wasn't already trouncing everyone else (The Center Holds). In that context -- what do I know? -- some of the current NCLB tactics by the teachers and others -- might be seen as pre-primary theatrics intended to bring the Democratic candidates as far left as possible before the inevitable and pragmatic slide towards ...


Angie Does Global Education

Speaking of saving the world, Angelina Jolie is getting into the act. She announced a $148 million initiative to help educate children in conflict areas at the Clinton Global Initiative on Wednesday in New York City — the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. The partnership will include commitments to improve educational opportunities for 1+ million conflict-affected children including 350,000 out-of-school children in conflict-affected regions and improving the learning environment for another 690,0000 children in conflict affected regions. The commitments will assist 200,000 Iraqi refugee children and aid than 300,000 children affected by the Darfur genocide. Then ...


Dallas Officials Enjoy Junket While Others Get Fired

"At the same time 169 jobs are being cut at DISD central administration, nearly that same number of employees decided to jet off to Canada for the International Reading Conference. Now, after a News 8 investigation into their expenses, school administrators are revising their travel policy." (Dallas Morning News.)...


Big Stories Of The Day

Teen Gets Perfect Scores on SAT, ACT USA Today During the 2006-07 school year, more than 2.2 million ACT tests were administered. Only 177 came back with a 36. And of the nearly 2.6 million SAT exams taken, only 335 came back with a 2400. Bill Clinton's bid to save the world LA Times The former president's Clinton Global Initiative draws an array of leaders and activists, and plenty of money for their causes. Prospective Principals Groomed Through TFA-District Partnerships EdWeek TFA aims to have more than 800 alumni leading their own schools or districts by 2010, as ...


Charter Schools For Rich Kids

Charter schools aren't just for poor kids, anymore. This week's Education Gadfly digs out an interesting story from the San Jose Mercury about parents in affluent Palo Alto, Cal. successfully threatening to start a Mandarin immersion charter school if the district didn't create one on its own. Some folks in the article think this isn't what charters are "for." Not surprisingly, the Gadfly thinks differently (All in). If you don't give parents -- especially affluent ones -- what they want, then they simply exit the system. Which, as with health insurance risk pools, just makes things worse for those kids ...


A Teacher's Thoughts In The New York Times

I've been remiss in not posting something earlier about Chicago teacher Will Okun, whose writing and photography is being posted on the New York Times website as part of Nick Kristof's "On The Ground" series. How nice to see a real teacher's voice on the pages of the New York Times, plus all the comments that follow. In his most recent posting, Okun describes the inverse relationship between parents who come to parent-teacher conferences and parents who need to come to them, and what if anything should and can be done to address the problem. In his previous post, Okun ...


How Papers Cover NAEP

Recently retired Rocky Mountain News reporter Linda Seebach is blogging more and more these days, and has some interesting things to say about how newspapers cover the NAEP results that just came out. Speaking of NAEP, Pauline Vu's Stateline story has some nice observations and graphics (pictured), including a special note about the increases in special populations taking the tests and the variations in state exemption rates (12 percent in NM). Check it out here....


Falling TV Carts & Principals In Despair

The Biz Of Knowledge has two "news of the weird" items this week -- or, rather, news of the tragic. One is about what happened at one Illinois school when the teacher asked a student to help move the TV cart into the classroom (19 million reasons to not let little Mariano help you move the television in the classroom), the other about a principal's drastic response to things going awry at work (Suicide ruled work-related). Yikes....


Bringing Back Dunce Caps In New Orleans

Even if you don't care much what's happening in New Orleans, this USA Today update details some of the more hard-to-watch tactics that some schools there (and elsewhere) are employing to create a culture of high expectations (New Orleans school system re-educated): "After breakfast and roll call, reading teacher Anne Felter walks through the aisles and distributes 26 large, laminated "YET" signs to selected students — those deemed "not there yet." The students wear the signs around their necks for three days, can't talk to other students and must eat lunch alone." I'm not as opposed to this as some are, ...


Plural Speech Gaffes For Bush

As if the President's mis-statement ("Childrens learn") yesterday wasn't enough, a draft of President Bush's speech to the U.N. General Assembly was posted online with phonetic spellings and other markings that weren't supposed to be seen by anyone outside the administration (Thanks to Bush, bloggers are hooked on phonics USA Today)....


Big Stories Of The Day

College Dwellers Outnumber the Imprisoned New York Times In a reversal from 2000, more Americans over all now live in college dormitories than in prisons. School crimes under wraps Seattle Post-Intelligencer Some serious crimes reported in the Seattle's public schools last school year -- including cases of assaults and strong-arm robberies -- weren't reported to police, the P-I has found. Few Students Switching Schools Under 'No Child' Law Washington Post This fall, about 170 Northern Virginia children left elementary schools that fell short of academic goals for schools with better math and reading test scores. Most of their classmates stayed ...


"Childrens Do Learn," Says President In Latest Education-Related "Bushism"

The Washington Post would probably not have written about the Bush education event today in New York if Bush hadn't yet again mangled the English language. During the event, he reportedly said "Childrens do learn" -- a reworking of his famous 2002 Bushism "is our children learning?" ( No Child Left Behind Is Working). Via Eduwonk....


Chaos In The Classroom, Celebrity Edition

The daily arrival and departure of Brad and/or Angelina at the Lycee Francaise on Manhattan's Upper East Side has photographers and parents going a little crazy it seems. The school is blaming the parents and asking them to refrain themselves. At the same time, they're apparently relenting after two weeks and letting Brangelina's kid come in the side door. Don't ask me how I know this stuff....


Think Tank Hires Republican Education Staffer With Cool Glasses

Once again living up to its "post-partisan" claims, the New America Foundation has snagged itself another real, live Republican education guy to help Michael Dannenberg, Sara Mead, and all the rest in the education shop. (Justin King moved over to another part of the foundation.) The new guy's name is Jason Delisle, and he's a former Senate budget committee guy for Judd Gregg (R-NH) and before that an education LA for Tom Petri (R-WI). He's going to be research director. Far as I know, that makes New America the only "nonpartisan" think tank / advocacy outfit to have both D and ...


Stephen Colbert Is The Perfect Teach For America Candidate

Check out this week's Carnival Of Education at Global Citizenship, a roundup of education blogs that includes tasty posts of all kinds. Some favorites: Education Notes Online doubts that teacher quality is really the single most important factor in education. Learn Me Good recounts a student who claimed to have temporary blindness, brought on by a science assignment. Joanne Jacobs tells us the disturbing story of a cheating ring, and the reactions of parents and educators, at Hanover High in New Hampshire. Shrewdness of Apes finds that some people use co-teaching as a cover for slacking off. Last but not ...


In Depth With Rhee and Vallas On PBS Tomorrow

I had the chance to peek at the first installments of the year-long series on DC's Michelle Rhee and NOLA's Paul Vallas the other day. What you get from seeing them in action as they start the school year is this visceral mix of expectations and hesitancy that surrounds their arrivals. What will be even more interesting to watch is how they look later this fall when we'll catch up with them again and see whether they're making progress. Produced by Learning Matters (ie, John Merrow), they are airing tomorrow and Friday nights on the PBS NewsHour, which is going ...


New Face (To Me) Covering Education At The Post

Wondering who's been covering education stories for the Washington Post along with Valerie Strauss and Jay Mathews ever since Amit Paley left? For now, at least, Michael Alison Chandler (pictured) seems to be filling in. She's been at the paper since 2005, covering Loudoun County schools for the most part. But lately -- see recent stories about NAEP, performance pay, and NCLB -- she seems to be doing more national work. Click here to read up on Chandler's most recent stories. I'll try and find out if it's a permanent or temporary thing. UPDATE: The permanent replacement for Paley was ...


Media Ignoring Universal Preschool For NCLB?

Over at the Education Writers blog, USA Today's Richard Whitmire reminds us that universal preschool might end up being just as "big" an education issue as NCLB (Will preschool outpull NCLB?). It's not that UPK is being ignored by the candidates -- HRC and Edwards both have preschool plans -- but, as Whitmire points out, the press still hasn't caught on. In part, I'd argue, because preschool issues include a whole set of other players and dynamics that most K-12 folks (reporters included) don't know much about....


Is It Time For "Differentiated" Discipline Policies?

Lost in the hubbub surrounding the release and interpretation of this year's NAEP scores (yawn) is a fascinating and powerful story in the Chicago Tribune about what happens when researchers analyze another kind of performance -- suspension rates -- by race and poverty groups. The fact that black kids --especially boys -- are disproportionately affected is vivid but not surprising. (Even though the suspension rates are double and even triple what they should be.) The fact that black middle class kids are suspended at higher rates, too, is a little more eye-opening. (Black students are no more likely to misbehave ...


NAEP Roundup

'Nation's Report Card' Shows Improvement Wash Post The nation's fourth- and eighth-graders continue to improve steadily in mathematics, and fourth-grade reading achievement is on the rise, according to test scores released yesterday. NAEP Reading and Math Scores Rise EdWeek The gains continued an overall upward trend in math scores that dates to the early 1990s, while reading scores have been more stagnant. US students score sweeping gains on tests CSM Elementary and middle-school students are making significant improvements in math skills, while their gains in reading are more modest, according to national test results. Schoolkids Post Modest Gains Wall Street ...


LA Times Revamps, Relaunches Education Blog

The LA TImes has revamped and relaunched its education site, now called HOMEROOM, and brought in a handful of new teachers, students, and others to blog about their school- and classroom-level experiences. I'm all for group blogs, and ones that include real, live educators. And it's good that the LAT has an education blog (unlike the NYT, the Washington Post, USA Today, etc.). So there....


Remember When?

Hard to believe it, but the pocket calculator is 40 years old today according to Texas Instruments. I don't remember quite back that far, but I do remember fondly the faux denim case that my middle school calculator came in....


Who Knew NCLB Was So Well-Liked?

The run of major newspaper editorial pages supporting the current NCLB over some of the proposed fixes has been a surprisingly long and consistent one, including most recently the Christian Science Monitor (Let NCLB do its work), and the Chicago Tribune (The next NCLB). Of course, dry editorials aren't going to make much difference to the process, which as I've pointed out is in a particularly political phase right now. But who knew that NCLB was so popular among editorial page writers?...


Deborah Bial: An Education "Genius"

It isn't every year that there's an educator who gets one of these MacArthur "genius" grants ($500k just for being excellent), and so it seems worth noting that this year's awards out today include one for Deborah Bial, who founded the Posse Foundation. Congrats, condolences....


Big Releases Of The Day: NAEP & Halo 3

Forget Hillary Clinton's seemingly-insurmountable lead, the collapse of the mortgage industry, the visit of the Iranian president, or the arrival of the video game Halo 3. It's NAEP release day. Woo hoo! Let the spin begin. Copies of The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2007 and The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2007, plus extensive information from the 2007 NAEP mathematics and reading assessments, will be available online at http://nationsreportcard.gov at 10 a.m. EDT. Click here for all the latest Google News stories....


NAEP Scores Vs. Little Rock

It's a tough call, I guess -- stay in town and spin the news about the latest NAEP scores that are out today, or go to Little Rock to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of school integration? Well, Spellings is staying in town, and Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon is going to Arkansas. Not that the EdSec doesn't like herself some travel, of course. Later this fall she's scheduled to go to Shanghai for a Special Olympics shindig....


Big Stories Of The Day

MacArthur Foundation awards 24 grants Associated Press A woman who helps students go to college with their "posse," a psychiatrist who treats combat veterans and a museum director on Alaska's Kodiak Island are among the 24 winners of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants." Schools still rise close to freeways LA Times L.A. Unified continues to build near roads that spew pollution despite a state law and evidence of health hazards. Buy a Laptop for a Child, Get Another Laptop Free NYT One Laptop Per Child, an ambitious project to bring computing to the developing world’s children, is ...


What NCLB Reauthorize Requires Is Better Politics, Not More Policy

Everyone says they know how to fix NCLB -- what should be done -- but no one seems to know how to get the politics right to get there. Former New York City education guy Robert Gordon's piece in Slate does much the same, unfortunately. Titled with supreme confidence (How to fix the No Child Left Behind Act), the Gordon piece rehashes the obstacles we all know about and then proposes -- yes -- national standards as a solution. Politically speaking, NCLB proponents need to do something along these lines: buy off the teachers by softening the mandatory merit pay ...


The Cupcake Wars

Forget the Jena Six. The anti-0besity push against cupcakes in schools is facing new resistance, according to this NYT story (here), based in part upon the treat's renewed popularity among hipsters and yuppies as well as on the sometimes heavy-handed ways in which pro-health advocates have shaped their message. Plus which, cupcakes are tasty. "While the merits of banning goodie bags filled with Reese’s and Skittles seem obvious — especially at a time when the risk of childhood diabetes is high for American children — many parents draw the line at cupcakes."...


"Godsend" Journalism In The NYT

Though I'm more familiar with the Chicago story than Philly, I tend to agree with Dana Goldstein's assessment of the NYT story on Paul Vallas (Can Urban Schools Be "Tamed"?) that Vallas' record is mixed in previous districts and that the notion that superstar superintendents can transform districts is a misleading one. They can bring energy and get things organized, to be sure. (Vallas did the textbooks in the warehouse thing in 1995, and DC's Michelle Rhee did the same bit last week.) But they can't always make things change in the classroom, and often get pulled in so many ...


Renaming NCLB

If anything is certain, it's that NCLB will get a new name when it's reauthorized points out this Washington Post article. It's been that way in the past, and will all but certainly happen again due to the law and President Bush's current unpopularity (Education Law Could Leave Behind Its Name). Check out some of the names that are being proposed -- it's easier to make fun the current name than make up a catchy new one....


Critic Explains Internal Union Dynamics

Many may have missed the EIA Communique's analysis of the internal politics surrounding NCLB reauthorization, which came out late last week (EIA Communique). Others may have better explanations (EIA is a union critic), but this one describes some of the history behind the TEACH Act, suggesting that Miller should have known that it would be a problem, reminds us that Miller and the NEA went at it "hammer and tongs" in the runup to NCLB 1.0, and reminds us that the CTA and NEA aren't always on the same page. Most important, it reminds us of the internal dynamics ...


Edwards Turns To Education To Try And Get Traction

I still don't think he has much chance, but John Edwards looks like he hasn't given up on bashing NCLB and wooing teachers (and others) who might be swayed by that. According to The Caucus, he even pulled out the old "you don't fatten a pig by weighing it" line. Now if that isn't commitment. (Edwards Talks Education and Livestock). A following article points out that Edwards is trying to use NCLB to distract from all the Clinton attention for her health care plan, and that Edwards' education plan focuses on better, not necessarily fewer, tests....


If Editorial Boards Were In Charge...

Joe Williams notes that another couple of editorial boards (the Detroit News and Chicago Tribune) have joined the rest in denouncing teacher- and school board-led efforts to bring in multiple measures and local assessments (here). Meanwhile, the AFTies seem to be focusing on the pay for performance issue, not the rest of the bill, which seems relatively reasonable whether you agree with them or not. I still don't know if there's any space between them and the NEA on this, but I'm hoping there might be....


The Week Ahead In DC

There's not much on the Secretary's public schedule, but tomorrow the NAEP reading and math scores come out -- so much fun -- and it's rumored that a Kennedy discussion draft might come out soon. Less likely for this week, but something to look for, is the next iteration of the Miller reauthorization proposal. I read that there were 3,000 comments submitted on the draft, most of them negative....


Spider-Man Vs. Moses

WalMart is going to be selling toy religious figures this fall, according to an article from In These Times, a product line that may bring up interesting but difficult discussions for parents like "who would win in a fight -- Spider-Man or Moses?" Spider-Man, apparently....


Convoluted History Of Student Free Speech On School Grounds

When Clothes Speak to More Than Fashion NYT A controversy over two fifth graders sporting buttons featuring Hitler Youth members highlights the difficulty that schools face when confronting free speech cases....


Big Stories Of The Day

Education and Schools Are a Focus for Edwards NYT John Edwards laid out a proposal to overhaul the education system on Friday, saying that poor children attend schools that are “separate and unequal.” New York Just Says No to Abstinence Funding NYT The decision puts New York in line with at least 10 other states that have decided to forgo the federal money in recent years. School options urged for parents Washington Times Top federal education officials have released a new handbook urging state and local administrators to explain more effectively to parents that they can transfer their children among ...


Best Of The Week (September 17-23)

Big Story Of The Week How Al Shanker Blew Up NCLB Campaign 2008 Education Staffers, Democratic Presidential Campaigns Will Not Fixing NCLB Help Dems Win The White House? No. Spotted: Clinton Cruising For An Endorsement? On The Hill The "Testing Hawks" Vs. Union "Special Interests" NCLB News California Teachers Go After Pelosi On NCLB Urban Ed Green Dot Goes National, Maybe Media Watch New Schools Venture Fund Hires A "Journalist In Residence" Teachers & Teaching How Teachers Think Foundation Follies Where's The Children's Defense Fund On NCLB? School Life Unimaginative Administrators Ban Form Of Dancing They Banned Three Years Ago...


EdWeek NCLB Update

As September's End Nears, Legislative Action Awaits It's looking as if Rep. Miller will miss his goal, and Sen. Kennedy still has a chance to meet his. Edwards Promises NCLB Overhaul John Edwards' presidential campaign said today that the former senator would "totally overhaul" NCLB. On Senate Panel, a Different Dynamic for NCLB Renewal Senator Edward M. Kennedy is hoping to get a bill reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act through Congress before the end of this year. But if that’s going to happen, he has some big stumbling blocks to overcome....


Daft Hands

If you see the kids in the hall doing some crazy thing with their hands covered in marker, they might not be flashing gang signs. The "Daft Hands" video on YouTube has been watched over 3 million times, and done "live" on the Ellen Degeneres show. Check it out - you can be the first in your teacher's lounge / office / cubicle to master the whole thing....


Andy Rotherham's Tony Soprano Moment

So I got a phone call today from Andy. It wasn't social. He said things would "get ugly" if I wrote more about his brief stint at the White House (as I have in the past). And he wasn't just talking about writing a nasty blog post. He said he'd try and get me fired from EdWeek and blacklisted from other writing projects. Who knows -- he might succeed. The guy knows a lot of people. And not everything I've worked on has been 100 percent successful. (Most especially an ill-fated charter schools report I did for Andy at PPI.) ...


TAPPED In

Welcome to all the readers from TAPPED, The American Prospect's blog, who read about that whole Hillary-at-the-NEA building thing (and wonders whether Edwards is still hoping). Look around, there's lots more tidbits and treasures to be found....


How Teachers Think

I wish there was an education version of Jerome Groopman's new book, How Doctors Think, to help us understand how teachers make decisions about students' learning difficulties. The Groopman book examines the thought processes of various doctors, focusing especially on how -- and why -- even the best of them tend to get things wrong when diagnosing patients. As Groopman shows, the errors (up to 24 percent in some studies) have common causes: doctors aren't listening carefully, they're thinking of their previous patients, or they rely on experience rather than using statistical guidelines. Are teachers any better or worse at ...


Erase, Rewrite, & Reauthorize NCLB, Says CTA

Teachers to Pelosi: Say no to 'No Child Left Behind SF Examiner Leaders of the CTA brought a giant postcard signed by nearly 1,000 teachers to San Francisco today to urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to withdraw her support of a proposed reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Click on the picture to see the giant postcard that was used at yesterday's press event. Click the link to find out more on the CTA campaign to "erase, rewrite, and reauthorize" NCLB....


Big Stories Of The Day

Thousands Protest in Support of Jena Six PBS Thousands marched in Jena, La. Thursday to protest charges against six black students accused of beating a white classmate. PLUS: Segregation Growing in American Schools NPR. Reading, writing, and rebellion Boston Globe Jonathan Kozol appeared shrunken in his chair at Harvard's Memorial Church, his blazer tossed aside, the sleeves of his pinstriped shirt rolled up to the elbows to expose bony arms. His thin ankles, swathed in black socks, disappeared into his signature navy blue Keds. U.S. Set to Offer Math Grants Modeled on Reading First Ed Week Like Reading First, ...


Green Dot Goes National, Maybe

Hoping not to get outflanked like in LA, the head of the Chicago Teachers Union is checking out the Green Dot charter schools and working with the Board of Education in Chicago to consider starting some union-run charters, according to this new Catalyst article. Up til now, the new schools opened under Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 plan have all be nonunion efforts. A leftover program called Fresh Start has included some teacher-district collaboration but not a charter. Funny --six months ago Steve Barr said he wouldn't even start a school in The Valley. Now he's everywhere....


New Schools Venture Fund Hires A "Journalist In Residence"

Steven Barrie-Anthony has what might be the perfect job. He's the "journalist in residence" for the New Schools Venture Fund, which means he gets to write about school reform but doesn't have to pay all his bills selling articles to ever-stingier and harder-to-get into papers and magazines. I'm so jealous -- assuming he can say things that are critical of NSVF-funded projects. Here he sings this the praises of Green Dot. Maybe they need someone else to help out?...


Maybe It Wasn't Shanker After All

One of the most interesting of the 20-something mostly irate comments on my Huffington Post article claims that Shanker doesn't deserve credit for unionizing the teachers because David Selden was the true visionary and was replaced by Shanker in a power struggle along the lines of Stalin and Trotsky. Hmm. Guess I skipped that chapter in Kahlenberg's book. Speaking of which, Kahlenberg says I got it wrong. He writes: "I don't agree that "few" of Shanker's ideas were adopted. Standards and charters were two big ideas he was very involved in pushing -- though I'd concede that neither worked out ...


Spotted: Cruising For An Endorsement?

What US Senator and leading Democratic presidential candidate was spotted by a keen-eyed reader walking with her staff into the NEA building? That would be HRC. Why go to them, rather than having them come to the Hill? Maybe she happened to be in the neighborhood. Or maybe she's complying with campaign and lobbying laws that limit what you can do while on government property. She's got the NEA endorsement all but wrapped up, it would seem....


What Are Kids Really Like?

Forty kids left alone in a deserted New Mexico town to fend for themselves. The controversial reality show "Kid Nation" premiered last night, and the first episode sounds like it was sorta interesting: ‘Kid Nation’ shows real side of young relations. "There was a lot of disagreement and strife, and there were a number of moments — when a kid pulled a muscle, when they couldn't figure out to cook pasta but were desperately hungry, when kids sobbed uncontrollably — that it seemed like an adult should step in. But then the kids figured out what to do, and even if the ...


Universal(ly Expensive) Preschool

And you thought that universal preschool was expensive? Imagine how much it would cost at the going rates at Forbes' most expensive preschools....


Chicago Schools Blog Gets Mainstream Love

The mainstream news in Chicago is finally starting to pay formal attention to District 299, my group "watchdog" covering the Chicago Board of Education and its nefarious doings: Education bloggers keep careful eye on CPS. ...


California Teachers Go After Pelosi On NCLB

After last Monday's success, The CTA is continuing its effort to make sure that the Miller NCLB draft is slowed down and/or modified substantially with an event in Northern California today (see details below). As before, I'm not sure just how coordinated this is with the national -- as happened with the Katrina vouchers, I'm told. Or perhaps they're playing good cop, bad cop. On strategy, I've noted before that Miller may have overplayed his hand by including TEACH. But it occurs to me also that the unions may have done the same by pushing to expand local assessments ...


Scissors Scare

There's lead, or something toxic, in some Fiskars scissors that were being used at some schools, according to this blog post....


Big Stories Of The Day

Schools, colleges underreport crime Stateline.com Schools and colleges across the country do not report crime and violent incidents on campus consistently or accurately. Via EdNews.org. Parents seek ban for 7th grade book Chicago Tribune Several dozen parents at a Southwest Side Chicago public school are calling for school officials to ban a controversial book they say is filled with references to sex and violence. Alumna Gives $128 Million to High School NYT Events originating in Warren E. Buffett’s rejection from Harvard Business School have led to a gift to a Quaker private school that dwarfs some college ...


Where's The Children's Defense Fund On NCLB?

Back in the day, it seemed like the Children's Defense Fund was the advocacy organization when it came to kids. They didn't focus just on school reform, but they had a small education shop and were pretty much everywhere on this set of issues. You hardly hear anything about them starting in the early 1990s. They'd gotten so weak on school issues at least by 2001 that the Bush administration was able to steal the motto, "No child left behind," that CDF had apparently coined. I don't know why I care -- I'm sure we'd disagree on NCLB, and/or ...


How Al Shanker Blew Up NCLB

When the prospects for renewal of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) blew up during a marathon Congressional hearing a week ago, there was no shortage of ready explanations. But the real, underlying cause is simple: It was Al Shanker's fault. Click below to continue...or go here to read the full-length version from The Huffington Post....


Education Staffers, Democratic Presidential Campaigns

Here's my incomplete and completely unverified list of campaign education staffers for the top Dem. presidential candidates: HRC: Catherine Brown (with Mildred Otero in the Senate office) JRE: James Kvaal (from the Senate office) Obama: Cassandra Butts (with Steve Robinson in the Senate office) Thanks for any additions or corrections....


Hype Alert: Democrats For Education Reform

Not that I haven't hyped them myself -- DFER is a fascinating concept (a PAC for pro-charter, pro-accountability Dems) and Joe Williams is a nice guy -- but let's let them actually do something (help Obama beat Clinton?) before we give them way too much attention and credit. Right now, DFER makes KIPP and Green Dot -- previous subjects of the Hype Alert -- look like accomplished veterans. Or let's at least ask them tougher questions than what their positions are: how much money do they have, how much have they given out, and to whom? What are their priority ...


University Of Florida Student Tasered At Kerry Speech

Here's the video that everyone's watching, in which a confrontational student is eventually tasered by campus security after begging not to be: You know you want to see it....


Two More EdWeek.org Blogs Online

EdWeek.org has two more blogs online now, a campaign-oriented one (Campaign K-12) and a business-oriented one (edbizbuzz). Congrats, condolences....


Race & Retaliation At A Louisiana High School

"The story begins at an assembly last fall, when a black freshman asked if he was allowed to sit under a large tree on school grounds that he had heard was "whites-only." From The Nation, via School of Blog. UPDATE: Presidential candidate Barack Obama is being called out for his mild response to the Jena students being arrested (Politico)....


Will Locke Be The Next Failed Small Schools "Conversion"?

Erik Robelen's piece in EdWeek on small schools research recaps and deepens what most of us realized a few years ago: converting big high schools into small ones without making them truly autonomous doesn't necessarily get you very much, and there are tremendous pressures against autonomy in that kind of setting. That's what the Gates folks learned the hard way. Etc. None of it worth noting except then it occurred to me that the highly-anticipated (though not quite done) breakup of Locke HS in LA into Green Dot schools is in many ways just the same thing, except that the ...


The Beatification Of Klein

He must be on his way to sainthood -- I can't find any imperfections here: From Microsoft case to NY schools. Previous Klein-related posts here and here...


Big Stories Of The Day

Two schools of thought on ‘No Child' Politico “We’re trying to ratchet up support and get other state associations to mobilize their constituents in the field. We are in attack mode.” Learning from Long Beach schools Los Angeles Times The city's school district is again recognized as among the nation's best. L.A. should take note. Florida Teachers Slap 'F' on Bonus Pay Plan TheLedger.com The Florida Legislature's new and improved teacher merit pay plan may have passed with grudging union support, but teachers still don't like it and some school districts have declined to participate, turning down ...


Campaign Finance Done, School Reform Next

Having successfully fixed our nation's campaign finance system, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is rolling up his sleeves to help fix NCLB. Thanks, Russ. I'm sure the committee staff appreciate your jumping in like this. Not that I was ever particularly nice to committee staff myself. Yes, of course, they should have taken your language into their bill. Every Senator's prerogative, etc....


No More "Federal Building Number 6"

First they renamed National Airport in DC as Reagan National. Now the USDE administrative building in Washington has been renamed after President Lyndon Baines Johnson (yes, the same guy who got the Space Center named after him, too). Soon, you'll be hearing folks saying, "See you over at the LBJ Building." Or, "The meeting with the Secretary has been changed to 10 am at the LBJ Building." Read all about it here. Via the FritzWire....


NYC Wins Broad Prize For Urban Districts

It's not officially announced until noon, but early word from the NY Sun has it that New York City -- a finalist for three years previously -- has finally won the Broad Prize for urban school districts this year. The other contenders? Bridgeport Public Schools, Conn., Long Beach Unified School District, Calif., Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Northside Independent School District in northwest San Antonio. Congrats, condolences....


Miller & The Teachers

Former Miller staffer Charlie Barone weighed in a few days ago with an optimistic-sounding post on the DFER blog about how -- despite the flaws in Spellings' implementation of NCLB and Miller's draft proposal -- the two might rise above the fray (or just plow through it) in order to get some good things done as they had in the past (Special guest blogger). I hope he's right. But, based on current events and my own small understanding of what it's like to work with the teachers, I'm not feeling so hopeful right now. First off, there's a long history ...


The Current State Of "Alt" Cert

Nearly everywhere you go in New York you run into new teachers who joined the NYC Teaching Fellows program -- the city's version of TFA, I guess -- teaching for the first time and taking grad school courses at night. And nearly everywhere you go you'll find that they complain mightily -- about the lame courses they have to take, and about the schools where they're placed lacking support. Now there's a book and a new report out on the topic. The book, Great Expectations, is reviewed in today's New York Sun. The new report, from Fordham, has the usual ...


The Talent Primary... In Education?

This Newsweek article about candidates' competing for staffers for their campaigns reminded me that it's been a while since I last asked around about who's covering education for the campaigns. As I recall, MaryEllen McGuire had moved from Dodd's committee staff to the campaign, and there were some folks moonlighting for Obama from the Center on American Progress. But that was about it. No "big" names jumping in early in order to get a plum job in the next administration. Not that working on education for a campaign is as much of a big deal as some folks like to ...


Blue Man School, Ghetto Film School

Check it out. The three guys who started Blue Man Group -- you know, the ones that everyone knows from the Intel and iPod ads -- are starting their own school in New York City (Cool for School). Speaking of strange new schools in New York, here's another one: Ghetto Film School (NYT). Mr. Hall said that in addition to a core curriculum of standard academic subjects, the school would offer electives like screenwriting, film history and production....


Big Stories Of The Day

Kozol holds fast to 'No Child' protest USA Today The former teacher and author of books such as Savage Inequalities says he has lost 29 pounds on a mostly liquid diet. As Duties Grow, Principals Face Mounting Pressures NPR Faced with a principal shortage, many districts are creating mentoring programs to train their own talent, but the programs are showing mixed results. Reading, Writing and Internet Safety NPR Virginia is the first state to require public schools to teach Internet safety. Hooked on mnemonics Christian Science Monitor How I "learned" Spanish in a weekend by free association....


The "Testing Hawks" Vs. Union "Special Interests"

Friday's National Journal story ("Schoolyard Quarrel" -- subscription required) is the first piece I've really paid attention to from reporter Lisa Caruso, who recently moved over from the lobbyist beat to help cover education. She gives prominent placement to DFER -- the new kid on the block -- and to one of their main notions, which is that the teachers unions are a special interest group that doesn't represent what's good for kids. But the special interests / legitimacy argument goes both ways,as union leaders like to point out. Not all the "testing hawks" -- civil rights groups that favor ...


I Heart D-Ed Reckoning

"Super-blogger Alexander Russo is jealous that he sold his independence for a paycheck and is now under Edweek's corporate jackboot," writes D-Ed Reckong in this update, apparently having mistaken my compliment for an insult. I actually like how harsh his blog posts are sometimes -- they're bracing and contrarian. Of course, the idea of George Miller being a "whiny bitch" is funny, considering how big and bruising the guy is. And the the idea of my being under EdWeek's "corporate jackboot" would be of concern if it weren't also sort of funny. Have you met those guys, Kevin? They're all ...


Unimaginative Administrators Ban Form Of Dancing They Banned Three Years Ago

Apparently out of new ideas for what to ban this year for their annual homecoming ban, school administrators in the Chicago area and soon around the country have decided to rename so-called "freak" dancing as something else, "juke" dancing, and declare a new ban anyway. The rules are simple: "The feet stay on the floor. The hands stay off the floor. They can't lean against the wall. And they must dance in an upright position." Unimaginative media outlets, looking to distract and terrify parents and other readers, have decided to go along with it. Equally to blame bloggers, looking for ...


Great Rivalries In Education: Who's Your Frenemy?

Good vs. evil is rarely all that interesting, which is why internal conflicts -- the nemesis in the other cubicle, "frenemies" and underminers, siblings, hipsters vs. yuppies, Jon Stewart vs. Stephen Colbert -- are so much more fun to watch. Nearly everyone has a nemesis -- whether he or she realizes (or admits) it or not. Usually it's someone nearby. So which are the greatest "us-vs.-us" rivalries in the education world? A partial list -- feel free to nominate others:Paige Vs. Spellings...Dewey Vs. Montessori...Phonics vs. whole language...The AFT Vs. NEA...Recess Vs. Naptime...Gates Vs. ...


Morning Commentary Roundup, Mainstream Version

No Child Left Alone Weekly Standard Reformers are busy people, tireless people, whose displeasure with the world as it is inspires them to improve the lives of their fellow human beings no matter what, and they get cranky when you bring up the law of unintended consequences. No Child Left Behind needs lift, not a recess Atlanta Journal-Constitution Among the worst ideas: Basing accountability decisions on test scores in subjects other than math and reading. Proponents presented studies that show schools have increased the time in math and reading to the detriment of other disciplines, such as science and social ...


Will Not Fixing NCLB Help Dems Win The White House? No.

By the twisted logic of Washington politics, there may be little political benefit for Democrats in getting America out of Iraq before the 2008 elections -- even if the real-world consequences (more people dying) are obvious ( An Inconvenient Truth (Politics)). Can the same be said for revamping NCLB? Maybe not. Failure to end the Iraq war can with some legitimacy be blamed on obstinate Republican opposition (in Congress, in the White House) as much as impotent Democrats. Failure to "fix" NCLB is -- so far -- more of an intramural problem for Democrats and their supporters. And, of course, it ...


Big Stories Of The Day

Alabama Plan Brings Out Cry of Resegregation NYT fter white parents in this racially mixed city complained about school overcrowding, school authorities set out to draw up a sweeping rezoning plan. The results: all but a handful of the hundreds of students required to move this fall were black — and many were sent to virtually all-black, low-performing schools. Rookie Chicago Principal Faces Early Challenges NPR Like Chicago, many other school systems across the country are facing the same turnover, as baby boomer principals near retirement age. And for the rookie principals, challenges come early and often. Raising the Scores: For ...


Spellings Rocks Cleveland -- Gets Good Press

There seems to be no end of the positive press that EdSec Spellings is able to muster, even now with her efforts to revamp NCLB seemingly in shambles. Here Washington Whispers -- which only last week reported that she was going to run for Governor in Texas -- mysteriously decides that a ho-hum trip to Cleveland is worthy of not only a mention but an illustration....


Best Of The Week (September 10-16)

Campaign 2008 Educating Elected Officials Through Their Pocketbooks Richardson Slammed For Misrepresenting US Achievement The Great Presidential Mashup "Cheat Sheet" Bush Administration Spellings Playing For A Stalemate? Neil Bush's School Scam: The "Other" USDE Scandal Kanye West Song Might Make Good Anthem For Ed In '08 NCLB News How The NEA Ended Up So Opposed To Miller/McKeon All Children Shall Be Proficient By, Well, Whenever "No Able-Bodied Student Left Behind" Teachers & Teaching Short Boys Underestimated By Teachers Teachers With Richer Kids Earn More Under Performance Pay Mahatma Kozol Foundation Follies George Miller Needs New Friends...Like The Ed Sector ...


The Hoff Loves All His Sources Equally

Beat reporters and their sources have ongoing and highly symbiotic relationships that must yet exhibit a certain amount of distance in order to be healthy and good (ie, providing balanced news coverage). That's why, at the end of this post, EdWeek's David Hoff tries to make clear that -- however admiring his sources may be towards him (as I have noted) -- to him they're just sources, no one more important than the other....


Why Did Miller Include Merit Pay In His Draft?

If you're not already sick of the NEA-Miller story, there's a new Klein-Hoff EdWeek piece up online today that fleshes out some of the events of the past week. Included are not only the whole he-said, she-said about the TEACH Act language that you probably already know, but also some interesting tidbits like how the NEA made sure to have folks from each of the House ed committee members' districts at the Monday hearing, the toe-the-NEA-line responses of some Dem House members about the issue. That leaves two questions: Why did Miller include the merit stuff in the first place, ...


Wait, Didn't I Read About That Somewhere Else?

Today's edition of the Andywatch features this timely post about the fake CNN segment "Students First In Line" (about training high school kids to be soldiers) that has been going around the blogosphere for about a week now....


Blogger Calls Out House Education Chair

Once again, Kevin DeRosa at D-Ed Reckoning outdoes my in the nasty negative category, calling the House education chairman a "whiny bitch". Basically, he doesn't like Miller's draft, and thinks Miller is carping too much about Spellings' disapproval. And you thought that I was bad....


Neil Bush's School Scam: The "Other" USDE Scandal

"An independent watchdog agency has asked the Department of Education to investigate why President Bush's younger brother, Neil, has received money earmarked for the president's signature education initiative to sell a curriculum program that has not been subjected to the rigorous evaluation it deserves," according too this story (Why is Bush's kid brother getting federal bucks?). "CREW says nearly $1 million has been spent on the systems in 16 school districts, mostly in Texas, where George W. Bush served as governor before his election in 2000, and Florida, where brother Jeb Bush is governor."...


Kanye West Song Might Make Good Anthem For Ed In '08

I was supposed to show you the Kanye West's Ed In '08 promo, which apparently is getting lots of YouTube attention, but was so bored and disappointed by the spot -- perfunctory, obvious, unimaginably forgettable -- that I needed a jolt of West's live performance at the VMA of his new song, Stronger -- whose opening chorus (see below) might actually be a good anthem for Ed In '08. N-n-now th-that that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cuz I can't wait much longer. I know I got to be right ...


Lazy Teacher Meant To Show Star Wars, Showed Porn Instead

According to this Fox News story, a group of 5th graders who were supposed to be viewing a Star Wars DVD instead got an eyeful of porn (here). They're still trying to figure out how it happened, though apparently (see coloring book image) there's lots of Star Wars porn for kids laying around. Me, I'm wondering how showing the movie got into the lesson plan in the first place. I'm a hard-ass that way, I guess....


Having Done So Well On The War, Dems Turn To Domestic Issues

Maybe she'll have changed her mind by today, but as of Wednesday afternoon's edition of CQ today the House majority leader was saying that she still wanted to do a full NCLB reauth as part of the Dems' return to domestic issues (where they think that they may be able to do better than they have on the war). Wow. That makes me feel really confident about its chances. (Domestic Issues to Claim Spotlight)...


Big Stories Of The Day

No Gifted Child Left Behind? Time Nearly half of lower-income students in the top tier in reading fall out of it by fifth grade. Thompson: Leave No Child Left Behind behind Baltimore Sun Today, Fred Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee and television and film star who has entered the campaign for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2008, suggested that it's time to leave No Child Left Behind behind. Early-Education Advocates Face Tougher Sell EdWeek Early education conference provided an opportunity for advocates to push preschool as an economic investment. Austin moves forward with teacher performance pay plan Austin ...


Secretary Right & The Hoff

Seething with indignation (if, as usual, not entirely making sense), here's what Andywonk has to say about his love of Hoff, my loose grasp of time and space, etc: Hoff, Russo, & Interns. The subtext [of Andy's post], as per usual: "I must be right. I am always right. Right, right, right. No one can be more right than I am. I am...Mr. Right. No, that's not right. I am...King Right. No, no one likes kings. I am...Secretary Right? Yesss." Then, in practically his next breath, Andy swoops in with a late, long, and obvious post about the ...


Mahatma Kozol

Those crafty folks at the Fordham Foundation aren't first out of the gate with this partial fast thing, letting the rest of us do their work for them, but they get credit for perhaps the funniest (or most tasteless) graphic I've seen on it so far: Mahatma Kozol....


George Miller Needs New Friends...Like The Ed Sector

Tom Toch peeks out from behind the curtain at the Ed Sector to pipe in that maybe George Miller needs a new friends and family plan these days, and to lament the split with the Ed Trust and bash the CTA for bashing Miller. True that (and more on the CTA-Miller relationship later). However, it's easier for Toch to say nice things about Miller since his outfit doesn't really have to deal with the Hill and try to get the language changed like the Trust does. (The Trust is an advocacy outfit, along with its research, while the Sector is ...


Educating Elected Officials Through Their Pocketbooks

Whether or not Democrats For Education Reform (DFER) is ready to do battle at this level is not really known, but give them credit for trying. Attached is Joe Williams' email calling on reform-minded Democrats and their supporters to "stand up to the CTA and NEA goons who are out to strip everything that is good and pure from NCLB" (made up quote --joking!). The only thing that gives DFER any real chance here is that they have a PAC -- perhaps their main innovation on the school reform advocacy front -- to which they hope you will contribute. They ...


EdWeek.org Nominated For Online Journalism Award

Congrats to the good folks at EdWeek.org for being named finalists in the annual online journalism awards put out earlier this week. Besides hosting this blog (a decision they almost instantly regretted), EdWeek.org does lots of other great stuff, including web updates, the new AP wire service clips, and all the rest. Here's the story that won them recognition in their category. The Orlando Sentinel is also up for its series on charter schools sucking....


All Children Shall Be Proficient By, Well, Whenever

I guess pretty much everything is on the table, since according to the fat cats at the AFT blog who can afford Ed Daily there's apparently been some talk about loosening the 2014 proficiency targets that have made -- or muddled -- NCLB for so long. It seems like the AFTies think it's a good idea. Hmm. I may be thinking about this too simplistically, but what does doing that get you, substantively or politically? Miller did everything short of that, and his unholy alliance of business, conservative, and civil rights supporters broke up over it. Still the teachers weren't ...


"No Able-Bodied Student Left Behind"

'Students First In Line' Program To Offer Job Training At Needy Schools Stolen from Alan Gottlieb's Schools For Tomorrow blog....


Richardson Slammed For Misrepresenting US Achievement

The good folks at FactCheck.org point out that presidential candidate Bill Richardson "keeps claiming U.S. students rank 29th in math and science, but they score better than that." He also says that we used to be Number One. Oops! Double oops!. See also here for a post about other education-related claims made by Richardson that have been challenged....


How The NEA Ended Up So Opposed To Miller/McKeon

I wrote on Monday that the CTA was coming out stronger against the Miller/McKeon draft than the NEA, which had -- until then -seemed tolerably pleased. And well they should have been. However, Andy (Eduwonk) Rotherham (pictured) wondered how I could ever have thought that the NEA was supportive of the Miller/McKeon draft. And you know he's always right. Well, a look back at the week behind shows that it wasn't at all clear to me (or anyone else) how things would turn out on Monday -- though perhaps it should have been. Read below to see how ...


Colbert Can't Shake Klein On Paying Kids For Grades

As expected, faux conservative newscaster Stephen Colbert made much fun of NYC Chancellor Klein's plan to pay kids for good grades -- except when Colbert realizes the money-making potential: "Is this only limited to students, because I think I could ace some of those fourth grade exams?" asked Colbert. Colbert also suggested taking the logical next step -- bringing back child labor -- and he tried to one-up Klein's program by offering $700 for kids to come over to his house, smoke cigarettes, and play violent video games. Klein generally parried all this well and got his talking points out, ...


Big Stories Of The Day

On education, Giuliani has a troubling record LA Times When he campaigned for mayor, he vowed to fix the schools, cut crime and boost the economy. Today, the city is safer and has more jobs. But New York City schools remain troubled. Utah May Swap Standardized Tests for Online Exams Salt Lake Tribune In place of the old tests, she and the K-16 Alliance would like to see students in grades two through 12 take adaptive, online tests at least three times a year. She said the tests could possibly become part of the U-PASS system the state uses to ...


Are Unions Over-Reacting, Or Does Miller Proposal Over-Reach?

While it's easy to look at this week's NCLB meltdown as the result of teachers union recalcitrance, Bess Keller's piece on the comparability provision (Proposed NCLB Rule on 'Salary Comparability' Draws Scrutiny) raises the possibility that the Miller draft, on the whole, tries to do too much -- not just fixing NCLB's flaws but carving out new ground that is especially difficult to reach under the current circumstances....


NYC Schools Chancellor To Appear On Colbert Report

Not to be outdone by Secretary Spellings' powder-puff appearance on the Daily Show earlier this year (see video here), NYC Chancellor Joel Klein is scheduled to appear on the Colbert Report tonight at 11:30 eastern. It should be fun. Colbert, much more than Jon Stewart, is known for taking a little bit out of his guests. But the good folks at Slate have written a piece on how to avoid getting completely owned....


Not Much Hope For NCLB 2.0

"With every passing week, the 110th Congress looks less likely to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the fate of which will therefore hinge on the 2008 election," begins this NRO commentary (No Question Left Behind). "So long as these monster questions lack agreed-upon answers, I don’t see much hope for an NCLB consensus, and I don’t see much hope for NCLB 2.0 anytime soon."...


Real [Education] World, DC

It sounds like the intro to an MTV reality show: "Eight young people leave the classroom, come to Washington, D.C., and are immersed in the world of education policy." But no, it's actually a program run by the folks at Fordham. And, of course, it has its own blog (here)....


Widespread Concern Over NCLB Dynamics, Direction

NCLB fails our schools USA Today Bill Richardson: A one-point plan for No Child Left Behind: Scrap it. Teachers attack education lawSan Mateo Times The state's largest teachers' union on Monday launched a campaign decrying the 5-year-old No Child Left Behind Act as a failure and criticizing a proposal to renew the plan as only making the situation worse. What's Good for Children NYT With Congress gearing up to reauthorize the act, business leaders are rightly raising their voices in an attempt to prevent the teachers’ unions and their political allies from weakening this important law No Race Left Behind ...


Big News Of The Day

Green Dot charter to take over Locke High School LA Times The Los Angeles Board of Education voted Tuesday to turn over one of the city's most troubled high schools to a charter school organization, marking the first time an outside group will run a traditional public school in Los Angeles....


The Great Presidential Mashup "Cheat Sheet"

I don't think that any of the candidates have said anything noteworthy on education -- or that anything they say about the issue before the primaries are done with should be believed -- but maybe you want to know for yourself. Fine. Yesterday, I showed you the Washington Post "issue tracker." Today's it's the Slate/ Yahoo!/ Huffington Post overview of what each of the candidates have said on education, in preparation for tomorrow's, er, debate. "What have the candidates said on the issues so far? Are they changing their stories? Our cheat sheet on the previous debates will help you ...


Principal Bans Reporter, Then Apologizes

Those pesky reporters may not seem like much, but mess with them and you might get embarassed. A Kentucky principal was forced to apologize after banning a reporter from a school event. The reporter had covered a racial incident at the school, displeasing the administrator. Via Romenesko....


Fasting Over NCLB

Having failed to make the school transfer provision a high-profile issue and feeling shut out of the reauthorization process, author and advocate Jonathan Kozol (whose book Shame Of A Nation was a big seller last year) has now resorted to a partial fast in protest of the law. Read all about it on the Huffington Post (Why I am Fasting: An Explanation to My Friends)....


What Was Good Enough In 2005 Isn't Good Enough Now

I'm still not exactly sure how, in the carefully-choreographed no surprises world of Congressional hearings, there were actually a couple of mildly unexpected developments at yesterday's monster NCLB gabfest: the CTA's media campaign against the Miller draft (see previous post below) and the late-breaking flareup with Reg Weaver over merit pay (that's why the teachers didn't go first, eh?). The AP has that one covered here, via EdWeek. You can check out the long list of speakers and download their testimony here. You can watch the whole six hours of testimony here. Things get fun at around the 5:23 ...


Lang In For Schaffer At PEN

Albert Lang, formerly of Communication Works, is moving over to PEN and will soon be taking over the reins of the PEN NewsBlast, which Howie Schaffer founded and turned into such a behemoth. Congrats, condolences....


Big Stories Of The Day

Teachers and Rights Groups Oppose Education Measure NYT A draft House bill to renew the federal No Child Left Behind law came under sharp attack from civil rights groups and the nation’s largest teacher unions. PLUS: NCLB Reauthorization now a "war" DFER States Move Toward Closer Scrutiny of Preschools EdWeek States move forward on efforts to certify early-childhood programs according to how well graduates perform in kindergarten. Male teacher ranks at 40-year low Newsweek Stereotyping, low pay, lack of role models. Why the number of men teaching in schools is at a 40-year low....


California Teachers Union Defies NEA "Suits"

A couple of sharp-eyed folks have noted this afternoon that, while the NEA seems to have gotten what it wants (or thinks it can get) from the Miller draft, the California Teachers -- powerful forces for Miller, McKeon, and Pelosi -- are taking a much harder anti-NCLB line. See NCLB II post here (Ca. Teachers Oppose "Miller/Pelosi" Bill), and Schools Matter here (which contrasts the NEA and CTA positions): "We must thank the CTA for taking the position that the Suits for the NEA will not."...


Teachers With Richer Kids Earn More Under Performance Pay

"Teachers at predominantly white and affluent schools were twice as likely to get a bonus as teachers from schools that are predominantly black and poor," based on this Orlando Sentinel story (Merit pay for teachers reveals sway of affluence). "It wasn't supposed to work that way." Via a friend....


Don't Name Your Blogs Like I Have

I've done just about everything wrong when it comes to blog naming, according to this recent article from Slate (What not to name your blog). I named this one something boring, and didn't name it after myself. I named the other one (District 299) something so obscure that even folks in Chicago didn't know what it was (at first). But at least I didn't go for irony, Star Wars allusions, or bad puns. And I like to think I've chosen my antagonists wisely....


Spellings Playing For A Stalemate?

Read all the way to the end of this NPR piece (Hill Panel Ponders Future of NCLB) and you'll see first word I've heard of that Spellings is saying she'd rather have the current NCLB than the Miller draft. Saber-rattling? Maybe. But for those who are most worried about multiple measures and all the rest, it's going to be a serious consideration....


Short Boys Underestimated By Teachers

No wonder some parents are holding their kids back a year before they start school, if this report from EdWeek is right: Teachers Underestimate Short Boys' Intelligence....


It Was The Best Of Laws, It Was The Worst Of Laws

A hearty thanks to Sherman Dorn for bringing a little humor to a dreary Monday morning. My favorites: 1. It was the best of laws, it was the worst of laws. 2. All happy reforms are alike; each unhappy reform is unhappy in its own way. 6. It was a dark and stormy reauthorization. My nomination: "As George Miller awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed... into a gigantic standardized test." Dorn welcomes additional nominations. Go here for some ideas. Or, if you have to, you can listen in/watch the hearing here....


WashPost "Issue Tracker" Monitors Candidates On Education

Still not really ready for any real work today? I'm with you. Check out this fun little tool from the Washington Post folks, which lets you see who's doing or saying what on education (and other issues), or at least who's being talked about in relation to the issue. Last I checked, Obama had 12 education-related mentions, with Hillary just behind him. "The issue tracker includes information from the Web sites of a wide variety of sources across the political spectrum. Sources include news organizations, political parties, interest groups, bloggers, unions, trade organizations, candidates, activists, and more."...


Getting Into Kindergarten

New York City isn't the only place where it's hard to get into a "good" kindergarten, but it's perhaps the most dramatic example of the phenomenon. Watch tonight on TLC (7pm Eastern) as three very different sets of parents try and figure out what's best for their kids and how the process works. Who knew that the nursery school directors were so important?...


Big Stories Of The Day

Save School Standards Washington Post (editorial) Does this country want to make schools better -- or just make schools look better? Schools Under Scrutiny Over Cheating NYT At a time when the pressure to do well on standardized tests in public schools creates incentives to cheat, states are just beginning to look for the patterns that betray it. Love for city schools New York Daily News A survey of nearly 600,000 parents, teachers and students in city schools yielded some surprising results - about 90% of parents are happy with their kid's teacher, and only 1% want less test ...


What To Make Of This Tentative Witness List

The only folks I can think of who aren't on this tentative witness list for today's NCLB hearing are EdSec Spellings (not invited? disinclined to appear?) and General Petraeus. By having everyone speak, the committee pretty much ensures a certain amount of cacaphony. And by putting Kati Haycock -- one of the draft's most vocal critics -- off in the teacher quality corner, the committee sends a clear message that it doesn't like being called out. UPDATE: From Mike Antonucci: "EIA has the exclusive tip that "Sammy the Bull" Gravano will be called in as a surprise witness. Gravano will ...


Best Of The Week (September 4-9)

Campaign 2008 Democrats For Education Reform -- An "Emily's List" For Education? NCLB 2.0 Editorial Responses Criticize Miller Draft New NCLB Bill "Isn't Wonkery," Says Chairman Miller; Criticisms Are "Hokum" Handy-Dandy NCLB Reauthorization Resources Spellings Letter; Teacher Quality Draft Later Today Bush Administration Can Spellings Stay Focused? Spellings Urged Early Rumsfeld Firing, Book Says Teachers & Teaching Walkthroughs Finished? Learning Objectives Posted? NCLB, Like Shanker, Stronger On Standards Than Teacher Quality What Next For Teacher Quality? Media Watch "This American Life" Does Foster Care Magazines Lag Behind Papers On Web, Despite Increased Use Of Blogs Individual School Profiles & Discussions Coming ...


First Days Of School For Angelina Jolie's Little Boy

There'll be no public education for Angelina Jolie's son, according to Just Jared (Momgelina ‘n Maddox Pandemonium). Instead, little Maddox is going to an $18,000-per year private French school instead....


Democrats For Education Reform -- An "Emily's List" For Education?

There was a little too much speechifying and not enough informal talking at the latest DFER happy hour, but the drinks were free and the attendees were an interesting mix of current and former educationistas. LEFT: Some notables (pictured, left to right) included the DOE's Laura Smith, school finance guru Kent Anker, and DFER's Joe Williams. RIGHT: I also met Eddie Rodriguez, who just left the DOE to run an AP incentive program, and Christina Brown, who does charter school facilities stuff for Civic Builders, and Josh Greenman (not pictured), who writes editorials for the New York Daily News. I ...


Contrasting Views Of New Orleans

Following up on Amy Waldman's excellent look at New Orleans schools (School Reform Hurricane), here are two contrasting views of how things are shaping up this fall: The Greatest Education Lab - TIME Hurricane Katrina washed away what was one of the nation's worst school systems and opened the path for energetic reformers who want to make New Orleans a laboratory of new ideas for urban schools . History and Ideology Gang Up in New Orleans Dissent New Orleans now has three “systems”: NOPS, with a handful of previously pretty good schools still functioning reasonably well; RSD, with approximately twenty schools, ...


What Next For Teacher Quality?

More interested in what happens next on the teacher quality front? Check out the latest discussion draft from the Miller camp, which includes Title II and all the rest: View the text of the Title II draft View the text of the Title III-Title IX draft View the summary of this draft I can't wait to hear what you think. UPDATE: That didn't take long. EdWeek summarizes here ("The draft proposal also would keep intact most of the current NCLB law’s reporting requirements on whether teachers are “highly qualified” and add new requirements that states identify the districts and ...


Can Spellings Stay Focused?

A few weeks ago, word was that she was being sought to head the University of Houston (Spellings For President). Now the rumor is that she wants an even bigger Texas job (Governor Spellings?). Next week, who knows? None of it's likely to pan out, and -- fun as it is to speculate -- it doesn't help her do her job if everyone's focused on where she's going next....


Death Rates, Uniforms, Paying Kids, & Donated Hair

More Youth Die In Chicago Than Anywhere Else Chicago Reporter Between 2000 and 2005, the Chicago Police Department reported 375 murders or manslaughters of people younger than 18–more than any other police department in America. School District Has Dress Code, and Is Buying the Uniforms, Too NYT Many public schools are supplying their students with an ever-growing list of essentials that go far beyond textbooks. Now they are dressing them, too. Don't pay kids for good grades Christian Science Monitor If we give our children $10 for an A, what's next - an iPod for every goal they score ...


Editorial Responses Criticize Miller Draft

It might not make much of a difference to Congressman Miller's political calculations, but today's slew of editorial responses to the discussion draft skew against him: Our view on education: Five ways to improve NCLB USA Today The appropriate response, however, isn't to scrap the whole act or to water down its emphasis on reading and math. Really Leaving No Child Behind NYT Mr. Miller’s draft contains some important reforms that deserve to become law, but much of that good will be undermined if states, schools and teachers are not held accountable for the quality of education they provide. ...


Walkthroughs Finished? Learning Objectives Posted?


Handy-Dandy NCLB Reauthorization Resources

Feeling a little bit overwhelmed and bored over all this NCLB reauthorization action (already)? Me too. Plus which, I'm too lazy to read everything. So here are some handy-dandy resources to consider, with thanks for all the hard work you've done: What You Should Think About the New Version of No Child Left Behind TQATE "A good accountability system is a fragile thing, and making the law more complex also makes it more vulnerable to those who disagree with the principles themselves." Miller-McKeon draft thoughts Sherman Dorn "The first page is my attempt to cross-reference common criticisms of NCLB with ...


Magazines Lag Behind Papers On Web, Despite Increased Use Of Blogs

Check out this report comparing newspapers and magazines on various features of web capabilities. You might think that magazines -- more entertaining, creative, and all than newspapers -- were more blog-savvy, but they lag behind newspapers still. The good news? More and more are creating blogs to feed their readers' voracious appetites for new content....


Mr. Successful: "This American Life" Does Foster Care

"Anyone who's ever been to a wedding knows not everybody can stand up in front of a roomful of people and just talk. Anthony Pico (left) discovered by accident, at 15, that he has a gift for doing that. He's 18 now, and he's become so well known as a public speaker on the subject of foster care, which he knows well, he was appointed to a blue ribbon commission aiming to reform the largest foster care system in the country. But it's gotten complicated...," begins this segment from a recent episode of This American Life ( Mr. Successful). "In the ...


Spellings Letter; Teacher Quality Draft Later Today

Thanks to the Ed Trust, here's a PDF of the Spellings letter to Miller that she promised yesterday, listing problems she and others have with the M&M discussion draft. Speaking of which, Miller said that Title II and the rest would be posted sometime today, which will help us see whether the teacher quality elements of NCLB are going to be strengthened or -- is such a thing possible? -- weakened. (There's a nod to teacher quality in the form of an attempt to close the equitability loophole in Miller's Title I proposal, according to EdWeek's David Hoff, but ...


Spellings Urged Early Rumsfeld Firing, Book Says

Way back at the beginning of 2006, EdSec Spellings was apparently called into the Oval Office to give counsel on what to do about former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld -- and she recommended his termination, according to this book excerpt sent in by a friend. Who knew? Not that it made much difference. He resigned the day after the November elections. But at least we know she voted the right way....


Big Stories Of The Day

See other posts for NCLB reauthorization coverage. States investing more in Pre-K education Boston Globe In just the past few months, governors and lawmakers from more than a dozen states have sealed deals to spend far more public money on childhood education. Blacks in suburbs failing Md. exams Baltimore Sun Minority students, especially African-Americans, are struggling to pass the exams. The School Cafeteria, on a Diet NYT School districts across the country have been taking steps to make food in schools healthier, but some parents say they are taking it too far. Kids have real-life problems too Los Angeles Times ...


Weighing Miller's NCLB Proposal

Three different takes on how Cong. Miller's proposal is going over. Compare and contrast: 'No Child' Loopholes Decried Washington Post Should suburban schools that barely miss federal learning targets be allowed to escape penalties, while inner-city schools that never even hit the dart board are required to give free tutoring and let students transfer to better schools? Secretary of Education Criticizes Proposal NYT The education secretary criticized a Congressional proposal to soften provisions of the President’s Bush signature education law. Spellings Criticizes No Child Proposals AP The administration and congressional lawmakers agree on one key change. They want schools ...


New NCLB Bill "Isn't Wonkery," Says Chairman Miller;
Criticisms Are "Hokum"

The public mud-slinging between Spellings and Miller is really heating up. Makes you wonder what they say about each other behind closed doors. And, substantively, it bodes poorly for a strengthening of the current NCLB law. Responding to Spellings' criticisms read to him by USA Today's Greg Toppo at a conference call with reporters today, Chairman Miller said that what he's trying to do with NCLB isn't just "wonkery" (as Spellings describes it) but rather much-needed changes to an imperfect law. "I know she wants to add confusion and doesn't like the debate," said Miller of Spellings. He also repeatedly ...


Spellings Calls NCLB Goals "Righteous";
Miller Schedules Own Conference Call

During an early afternoon press conference call, EdSec Spellings reiterated her concerns about the M&M (Miller and McKeon) discussion draft and said she was sending them comments in the hopes that they were still open-minded. She called the current NCLB and its 2014 goals "righteous, proper, and do-able." Some of the differences between the two positions seem relatively minor -- what form differentiated interventions should take, for example. Others -- multiple measures and other changes to AYP seem more problematic to Spellings. She's not willing to discuss how much of the changes she could implement without reauthorization, and she ...


NCLB, Like Shanker, Stronger On Standards Than Teacher Quality

I'm still dipping around in Rick Kahlenberg's new bio of Al Shanker (pictured), but this commentary about Shanker and NCLB (What Would Al Say?) reminds me of one clear Kahlenberg theme: Shanker was much more effective in pushing for standards and accountability than he was on teacher quality issues. In that sense, NCLB is very much an Al Shanker type of law: stronger on standards and accountability than on teacher quality. Alas, the teacher quality issue may be as or more important than anything else. But there's precious little discussion about TQ in NCLB 2.0. What's with that?...


Individual School Profiles & Discussions Coming To Newspaper Websites

Eventually I think that most major newspaper websites will have profiles of individual school and space for ongoing discussions among parents and teachers. Some papers are already doing a version of this by partnering with GreatSchools. But for now, at least, the most progress in this area seems to be high school sports pages. For example, the OrlandoSentinel has a high school sports zone with customized sports pages and ways for parents to track individual athletes, along with user-generated content. Via CyberJournalist.com....


Rounding Up The Education Titles

Former US News education editor Ben Wildavsky reviews the latest group of education books so you don't have to. He finds some things to like about Linda Perlstein's Tested, though he questions whether the school she profiles is representative. "Could it be that the problem is not the tests but the inappropriate, even absurd, ways in which schools are responding to them?" About Jonathan Kozol's Letters To A Young Teacher, Wildavsky doesn't have much good to say. Also reviewed: Dan Brown's story of a first-year teacher in New York, as well as Alex Klein's profile of kids at Stuyvesant High ...


Spellings Outlines "Way Forward" On NCLB 2.0

EdSec Spellings is giving a little speech this morning to business leaders and talking to reporters about where things go next (with Miller and McKeon expected to be there as well). She's trying to bolster the notion that NCLB's goals are achievable -- seven years is a long way off, she says, and state standards aren't that high. Making the law more flexible shouldn't dilute it too much -- or make it too complicated. Delaying reauthorization means no changes to the current law, and no increase in funding. "Grade-level learning is not too much to ask," says Spellings. And she ...


Big News Of The Day

With Start of a New School Year, Excitement and Jitters NYT Ask kids what they feel about the first day of school, and they’ll tell it from the heart. Humble Origins, Influential Posts Shape Views of New Gates Chief EdWeek Vicki L. Phillips is often described as a decisive leader with a deep understanding of education and the political savvy to advance an agenda. Charter School Network Founder Indicted Washington Post The founder of one of California's largest charter school networks was indicted Tuesday on 113 felony counts and accused of siphoning millions in public school funds, prosecutors said. ...


Restructuring Works In Chicago...But Teachers Pay The Price

While everyone in Washington debates NCLB changes, back in the real world teachers and principals and districts are trying to figure out what to do to make things better. Check out Stephanie Banchero's three-part account in the Chicago Tribune of what happened at one Chicago school where they brought in new teachers rather than closing the school or converting it to a charter. Part 1: They needed a lifeline and found a teacher. Part 2: Teacher, kids connect, but pressure takes toll. Part 3: Sweating out final days. Some folks will like it for the storytelling, which includes vivid characters ...


Objectifying Teachers

In a cross between Van Halen's old video, Hot For Teacher, and the old school rap song called Baby Got Back, Carl's Junior has a somewhat offensive ad out in which two students describe the virtues of flat buns -- burger buns, of course -- while a teacher/stripper writhes on her desk. Probably not suitable for work....


Big Stories Of The Day

Iraq veteran sues over school job Sacramento Bee A soldier who served a tour of duty in Iraq and Kuwait claims that the Sacramento City Unified School District failed to give him his job back when he came home in July 2006, according to a federal complaint. Via EdNews.org. Democrats Try to Soften Bush’s Education Law NYT Leading Democrats are struggling for the formula that can attract bipartisan support to extend the life of President Bush’s education law, No Child Left Behind. No-Excuses Leadership for the Schools Washington Post (commentary) We seem to have entered a season ...


Big Labor Day Roundup

Away from it all for a few days or even more these past few weeks? Me, too. To get you caught up in no time, here's a brief and highly selective guide to what you missed (not that much, actually): Back To School It's that time of year. NCLB Reauthorization Wall to wall coverage of the Miller proposal. Urban Education Where the action's at -- or at least the kids. Teachers & Teaching Can't live with 'em, can't do much without 'em. Books, Journalism, Blogs Lots about Linda Perlstein's book, and good blogging tips. School Life Not just the news of ...


Labor Day Roundup: Back To School

Tips for starting the school year rightChristian Science Monitor Veteran teacher and author Coleen Fitzpatrick has advice for teachers and parents. Record Enrollment Is Projected, But Trend VariesEdWeek Schools in the West and the South will receive more students, while schools in the Midwest and the Northeast will experience a decline. PIC Trials and Tribulations of the New School YearCarnival Of Education Mrs. Bluebird spent a chunk of her third full day of school outside the building. Fire drill? Nope, real emergency....


Labor Day Roundup: Books, Journalism, Blogs

An astonishing look at NCLB Jay Mathews This is the best book ever written about No Child Left Behind. In the trenches with US educators Slate Strangely, perhaps, the spectacle of obsessive administrators and anxious teachers in the trenches presented by both Perlstein and Klein just might help buttress a field that could use some defeminizing. Williams' First Law of Blogging Intercepts Joe Williams of Democrats For Education Reform gives some crucial advice about blogging....


Labor Day Roundup: School Life

Parallel PlayNew Yorker My second-grade teacher never liked me much, and one assignment I turned in annoyed her so extravagantly that the red pencil with which she scrawled “See me!” broke through the lined paper. Are your jeans sagging? Go directly to jail NYT The latest legislative efforts have taken a different tack, drawing on indecency laws, and their success is inspiring lawmakers in other states. High schooler pulls off ultimate prank vs. rivals MSNBC A high school student who tricked football fans from a crosstown rival into holding up signs that together spelled out, “We Suck,” was suspended for ...


Labor day Roundup: Urban Education

New Orleans Activists Seek Educational Growth NPR Some New Orleans residents have learned then when dealing with their patchwork public school system, the surest approach is to take matters into their own hands. A Successful Plan for Racial Balance Now Finds Its Future Uncertain A Supreme Court decision from June could impact a racially balanced schools plan that has been maintained for 18 years by White Plains. Seeking Solutions for the Nation's Broken Schools NPR Our public schools are in serious trouble, says Rudy Crew, superintendent of one of the largest school districts in the country....


Teachers & Teaching: Labor Day Roundup

Film Chronicles Teacher's Fight for Respect NPR The Education of Ms. Groves, a four-part documentary, follows a sixth-grade schoolteacher as she struggles to gain respect from her new students in Atlanta's public school system. Teachers: Be subversive Salon.com Salon spoke to Kozol from his home in Byfield, Mass., about the fun of first graders, the trouble with "utilitarian" teaching, and why No Child Left Behind is "the worst education legislation" in 40 years. Teachers in Trouble, Parents Ignored -- Part I Washington Post (Jay Mathews) Today, and in the next two columns, I will describe four cases at more ...


Labor Day Roundup: NCLB Reauthorization

Report, lawsuit question NCLB's effect on teacher quality USA Today A federal lawsuit and a new report challenge the Bush administration's rules on teacher credentials, saying they fail to ensure that students have a highly qualified teacher. Coverage of the Miller Proposal: House Committee Members Propose NCLB ChangesTitle I Monitor Draft NCLB Bill Intensifies the Discussion Ed Week Changes Proposed for Education LawNYT...


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