September 24 2004 Edition

House Parties Galore (NCLB): While no one invited me to one, “house parties” about education were apparently happening all across the country this week, courtesy of the NEA among other organizations. It sounds pretty gimmicky to me, but you can read about what you missed (or did) here: House Parties Will Focus On Education (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Parties Seek to Put Education on Agenda (ABC News), House parties seek attention for schools (CNN), and my favorite for hyperbole: Largest mobilization ever for public education occurs tonight (The News & Observer).

Nonetheless, NCLB continues to get not much more than a mention from the Presidential candidates: President shifts focus of education summit (Philadelphia Inquirer), Bush Carries His Attack Against Kerry to Pennsylvania (New York Times), and Kerry-Edwards 2004: Bush Has Failed America's Students (US Newswire). There will likely be no more than one education question or reference in the entire debate, and a cursory one at that. The Choice on Schooling (Washington Post) boils it all down in a single column.

Weighing NCLB and What's Next? There were a slew of reports and books and commentary issued this week, all attempting to weigh the impact and potential of NCLB: A book edited by Debbie Meier: Many Children Left Behind, a column by Bob Kuttner: A broken promise to children (Boston Globe), and one by Jesse Jackson: School 'reforms' flunk reality test (Chicago Sun Times). The only positive one of the bunch comes from the Ed Trust and the National Association of Black Educators: Closing the Gap: NCLB (Education Trust).

There's also a new website out there this week, full of real-world (but mostly negative) examples of how NCLB is affecting schools and kids. Grassroots it's not, despite the name. The site might include some of these stories from the past week: Exam privatization threatens public schools (CorpWatch.com), Districts Tackling Truancy with New Zeal, Pitching the Quick Fix (Baltimore Sun), No Child Left Behind: It's Working PDF (Business Roundtable), Schools expected to miss U.S. goals (Houston Chronicle), Schools Vying For Share Of Tutoring Funds (Washington Post), Tutoring Spinoff of Sylvan Expects IPO of 15 Million Shares this Week (Baltimore Sun), NCLB Choice Requirement Hindered by Lack of Options (ECS), NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

In the meantime, more and more folks are coming out with their suggestions for how to change NCLB, including ways of measuring schools’ progress from year to year – which ironically is not measured that well in the current definition of “adequate yearly progress”: No Child Left Behind Act Changes Weighed (Education Week), Kennedy Bill Would Give States, Districts Leeway (Education Week), No Child Left Behind loophole (Palm Beach Post), Ex-education chief suggests fixes to No Child Left Behind (WKAAL TV). Meanwhile, the budget process moves on, including a $1 billion increase for Title I: Senate bill raises Education Department's budget (Education Week). But who knows what happens next, if anything: Even Education Legislation Grinds to a Halt (Education Week).

A Perfect Storm? (Charters and NCLB): There are two new reports out from ECS about charters and NCLB, reform efforts that intersect in “corrective action,” the NCLB rating category in which where schools that have been struggling for many a year have to be closed, taken over, or converted to charters. ECS Paper: Charters Can Help Meet 'No Child' Demands (Education Week). Or you can read the papers directly, here and here. To be sure, charters can help with the transfer provision among other things. But starting new charters in vacant office space is a tremendous challenge already; only braver souls than I would think about starting a new charter on top of the ashes of a beloved but dysfunctional neighborhood elementary school that has been closed by the Man.

Unrelated to NCLB, not everyone is having such a fine time with charters -- even charter supporters: Charters Seen As Worsening Budget Woes (Buffalo News), Line separating school, private firm is blurred (Austin American-Statesman). Perhaps most interesting of all is the internal debate going on within the charter school movement about whether charters are better off operating inside traditional school districts or keeping their ‘outsider’ status by being sponsored by nondistrict organizations: The charter revolution is come . . . and gone? (Gadfly).

In the meantime, two new upbeat case studies about charter schools in NYC and Indianapolis came out from PPI: Charter schools in Indy praised (Indianapolis Star-Tribune), Think Tank: N.Y. Charter Schools Succeed (Boston Globe), Report Lauds Charter School Successes (Albany times Union), or directly at Seeds of Change in the Big Apple: Chartering Schools in New York City, Fast Break in Indianapolis: A New Approach to Charter Schooling.

Critiques, Shout-Downs, Stakeouts, and More (Renaissance 2010 Chicago):
It was not a great week for Chicago's proposed new small schools reform plan, even though the Board approved it on Wednesday:
Renaissance 2010 Plan Approved At Board Meeting ( NBC5), New Plan Eliminates Underperforming Schools (WBBM), Chicago approves school reform policy (Chicago Sun Times), City Oks plan for 100 new schools (Chicago Daily Southtown). There was some fairly good news about small schools, which are at the heart of Ren10: New small schools rated safer, more cooperative (Sun-Times). But that was about it.

First the Chicago Teachers Union finally came out with its analysis of the plan (which is actually pretty well-written): Teachers union comes out against mayor's school plan (Sun-Times), Union takes shot at schools plan (Chicago Tribune). You can see the real deal at http://www.ctunet.com/. Then, a strange and incomplete list of potential Ren10 design teams came out, full of names that many folks here have never heard of and missing names that many would have expected: City school ideas delve into unusual (Tribune), 50 groups ask to open Renaissance 2010 school (Sun Times). Where's the real Ren10 list?

Things peaked on Wednesday with all the protests over the board's approval of the plan and the creation of new “TACs” (transitional advisory councils) to help select new schools: Protesters rally after board approves Renaissance 2010 (WLS). TACs are essentially precursor versions of watered-down LSCs, and, for a moment during the board meeting when the TACs were being introduced, I was worried that community members and protesters in the audience were going to start calling TAC members out for going along with a plan that will likely eliminate LSCs at those schools.

Later on came the stakeout of CPS mastermind David Vitale’s house: Schools' 'Hidden Hand' Targeted (Chicago Sun-Times).

SIDEBAR: Some of the current uproar surrounding the role of Vitale, the “hidden hand” behind the on-again, off-again Mid-South plan and Ren10, reminds me of a few years ago in San Diego, where the superintendent, Alan Bersin, brought in part-time NYC carpetbagger Tony Alvarado as the architect of his controversial Blueprint reform plan. For a time, Alvarado was not around that much, and sometimes refused to appear in public to defend his plan. (There's a Catalyst story about this in the archives.) Now Vitale is no Alvarado, but he doesn't seem to show up at public meetings very much, which among other things makes targeting him a powerful way to demonize Ren10.

Finally, CPS released the number of schools on probation -- a necessary and good thing in many ways but in the current context yet another incursion on local school control and an immediate concern to schools worried about being closed down and Ren10-ized: Record Number Of Schools On Probation (WBBM), Record number of city schools on probation (Sun Times), Mixed results (Chicago Daily Southtown), and 130 more schools put on probation (Chicago Tribune). Probation schools, like most of the new small schools under Ren10, won't have fully functioning LSC. Pretty soon, CPS is going to be no more than half and half when it comes to who has LSCs and who doesn't. And we're all still waiting for the transparent school closing plan.

The national press covered a little bit of the overall dispute, as in
Chicago hope: 'Maybe this will work' (Christian Science Monitor), and A renaissance in the Windy City? (Gadfly). The relationship between Ren10 and other reform efforts in Chicago also got some space from Mike Lach: Take Me Out: Ren10 vs. Instruction (TeachandLearn.org).

New and Notable (National):
California district wins public education prize (Associated Press)
California district wins big prize for reform efforts Los Angeles Times
Report: Obese kids costs schools millions MSNBC
Saving the smart kids Time
Report: Grade-skipping Helps Gifted Kids Des Moines Register
More Opt for Spanish GED Rocky Mountain News
Ex-Superintendent in New York City System Faked Credentials Newsday
Is the Comprehensive High School Doomed? Education Week
How to Measure What You Learned in College Washington Post
The liberal college conspiracy (Salon.com)
Low-income students scarce at elite colleges USA
TodayBoarding schools offer a sense of community to poor students The Washington Post
Bouncing Among Shelters and Among City Schools (NYT)
Budget woes force curriculum cuts at elite Brooklyn school New York Times
Beyond Zero Tolerance American School Board Journal
Falling Behind Education Next
Does Teacher Certification Really Matter? The Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Girl Power: Why Girls Don't Need the Women's Educational Equity Act Heritage
Software Tutors Offer Help And Customized Hints New York Times
Study: U.S. Teens Have Big Hopes, Average Skills USA Today
School report nails mediocrity Oregonian
Textbook Prices Soar Washington Post
Teacher policy follies: ten top errors Education Gadfly

Chicago Illinois:
Instructional Areas: Supersize Me TeachandLearn.org
Governor names new state ed board FarmWeek
Schools chief still in post, but replaced Chicago Sun Times
New schools chief comes through 'revolving door' Chicago Daily Herald
State schools chief is history Chicago Tribune Schools Target Problem Students Tribune
Truancy Fight Refocuses On Parents Tribune
Schools may drop race policy Chicago Tribune
Mom faces trial for boy's truancy Tribune

School Life:
A Nostalgic France Looks to the Era of the Dunce Cap New York Times


September 17 2004 Edition

Districts and NCLB: Things seem to be heating up when it comes to districts in need of improvement according to Education Week: NCLB Law's Focus Turns To Districts. What's interesting about this trend is that, under NCLB, accountability is hitting school districts well after it came to individual schools, but, before NCLB, the reverse was true: many districts were already being rated by their states, but seemingly fewer individual schools. Whether this means that district AYP ratings will go more smoothly than they have for schools is unclear. It's just as possible that things could go worse, with districts not only resenting the ratings like many schools do but having more firepower to fend them off. For examples, see: Wary Districts Shift or Forgo Federal Funds (Education Week), and Schools plan to file suit over federal initiative (The Desert Sun). Meanwhile, more and more states like Kansas are facing what Eduwonk calls "balloon payment" AYP requirements: Districts brace for steep increase in benchmarks (Kansas City Star).

Charter Schools Regroup: There's still lots of turmoil surrounding charter schools but in Ohio of all places they are moving forward with a new wrinkle in the charter school authorizing area: having a foundation serve as a sponsor: Fordham takes lead on charter schools (Dayton Daily News). That makes Ohio one of the most progressive states in regards to charter schools, while at the same time one of the places where charters are most controversial. In other charternews: Charter schools: still proving what works (Washington Post), Charter schools dig in for another legislative battle (Boston Herald), A call to assess the expensive experiment of charter schools (The Boston Globe), Anti-charter School Trend Puts Growth at All-time Low (BOSTON HERALD), Supporters of charter schools cry foul on bill (Boston Globe), and For first time, MPS to close a charter school (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), and Collapse of 60 Charter Schools Leaves Californians Scrambling (New York Times).

Small Schools Gone Wild (Chicago): Mayor Daley's plan to create 100 new small schools in Chicago is finally getting some of the real scrutiny that it requires, focused mostly on two key issues: school closings and community engagement: Groups say plan to shut schools lacking in detail (Chicago Tribune), School plan draws mixed reviews (Chicago SunTimes), Critics say schools plan too vague on closings (Chicago Sun Times), 2010 plan allows schools leeway (Chicago Tribune), and School plan skirts key question, critics argue (Chicago Daily Southtown). For anyone who wondered whatever happened to former CTU president Debbie Lynch, there's an op-ed from her about the issue: Renaissance 2010 not the answer for public school kids (Chicago Sun Times). Perhaps most interesting is Kate Grossman's piece about how much fundraising is required to keep charter schools working in Chicago -- an impossible feat to replicate at a larger scale, and an indication of just how much above and beyond the charter school movement has had to go to pay for the innovations and extras it wants: Fund-raising keeps charter schools afloat (Chicago Sun Times). There's also a puff piece about Greg Richmond, the man in charge of Renaissance 2010, which he will at some point undoubtedly regret: Gutsy leader in the 'hot seat' with schools plan (Chicago Sun Times). Meanwhile, what about a Cristo Rey charter school? They've been notably unmentioned over the past few weeks: Chicago school one of six new schools based on Cristo Rey model (Catholic News Service). Last and certainly least, for anyone who missed my op-ed in the Sun-Times, here's your chance: Daley's school plan admirable, but needs some work (Chicago Sun Times).

Ratings, Transfers, and Choice (NCLB): The theme this year in terms of AYP seems to be that fewer schools are on the lists, but more of them are schools you wouldn't expect to be there: Some top schools on federal watch list (BostonGlobe), Suburban schools join state list for 'needs work' (Buffalo News), and Even richest schools don't make fed grade (Boston Herald). As usual, there are some laggards: 'No Child' Report Cards Delayed (PORTLAND PRESS HERALD), Students wait for word on transfers (Portland Tribune), and some places where the law goes unused: School Choice Not Used in Vt. (BURLINGTON FREE PRESS). Last but not least, the information gap remains a big problem: Parents Take Choice Driver's Seat, But Few Have a Map (Education Week).

If you still haven't had your fill of news coverage aboutNCLB, there's always more:
NCLB Compliance OnTrack, But Some Issues Demand Attention Heartland Institute
Dug in to keep pupils backWashington Times
The Left Behind Syndrome Governing
NCLB vs. the NEA: The line in the Sand
No Dollar Left Behind National Review

New and Notable:
Middle schools: An idea whose time has passed? (The New York Times)
The Lessons of Classroom 506 (The New York Times Magazine)
Govs and President Focus on High School (Stateline.org)
Why are public schools closed to the public? Wall Street Journal
Beyond the Point of No Return (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR)
St. Louis schools select reading program (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Study: Students better prepared for college but deterred by high costs (New York Times)
Columnist: A controversial yardstick for the teachability of poor children (Washington Post)
Payoff Year Is Beginning for Bloomberg School Plans (New York Times)
Open the Preschool Door, Close the Preparation Gap Progressive Policy Institute
Preschool For California's Children: Promising Benefits, Unequal Access Policy Analysis for California Education
Schools Aim to Improve Test Scores NPR

Chicago Illinois:
Schools' Internet bungle Chicago Tribune
Daley gives schools Internet thumbs up Chicago Tribune
Blago snags new control of Illinois public schools Illinois Leader
It's Democratic Rule for State Board of Ed Chicago Sun Times
New schools panel picked by governor Chicago Tribune
Guv overhauls state edboard Crain's Chicago Business
Gov To Take Over State Board Of Ed Chicago SunTimes
Rate Of Summer School Flunking Rises Sun Times
Fewer Students Flunk As School Policy Is Eased Tribune


September 10 2004 Edition

Picks of the Week:

N.C. Schools Begin Steps To Pair Best Teachers with Neediest Students (CHARLESTON POST AND COURIER). I just love this idea, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what happens in most school districts, where the better teachers understandably but lamentably cluster in better-functioning schools due to seniority and transfer rules that pretty much allow them to go wherever they want and limited incentives to rotate through tougher schools.

New reading test tracks progress (Arizona Republic). Either the best or worst thing to happen to early elementary education, these new reading assessments (DIBELS, PALS) and reading intervention programs are spreading quickly to states like Arizona and districts like Chicago. Fueled by Reading First grant requirements, which call for frequent assessment ofchildren at much earlier ages than in the past, these assessments horrify some classroom teachers but have really ratcheted up achievement levels in somedistricts.

This Week In NCLB: Along with all of the good news/bad news stories about schools makingAYP or not this week, perhaps the most important is this story about the tougher AYP standards coming online next year in many states: Missouri AYP targets to leap much higher next year (The Kansas City Star).

Meanwhile in other NCLB news:
Data ShowSchools Making Progress on Federal Goals ((EDUCATION WEEK)
Number of failing schools smaller than expected: (USA TODAY)
StatesMaking Some Gains in Teacher Quality, Study Says (Education Week)
Good Schools or Bad? Conflicting Ratings Leave Parents Baffled (NewYork Times)
Are kids still left behind? Yes (New York Daily News)
Are kids still left behind? No (
New York Daily News)
Massachusetts 10th graders' scores climb on state tests (The Boston Globe )
Mass. schools aren't making the fed grade (Boston Herald)
Nearly a Third of Arkansas Schools Make Academic Problem List KATV
Listening to Teachers: Classroom Realities and No Child Left Behind (Civil Rights Project)

Grownups Behaving Badly (NCLB):
Parents won't get tell-all letter on teacher skills (Birmingham News)
No Schools in State Are Listed as 'Persistently Dangerous' (NYT)
When Citizens Are Left Out, Children Get Left Behind (Tampa Tribune)
Ohio NAACP takes back invitation of education chief to convention (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Texas Trouble:
Texas Misses School Reporting Deadline (NYT)
Education Dept. Might Withhold Texas Funding (USAT)
Texas Punished Under 'NoChild Left Behind' Rule (Los Angeles Times )
TEA's violation could cost millions (San Antonio Express-News)
Ed. Dept. Seeks Return Of Bilingual Funds (Education Week)

Renaissance Watch (Chicago): Contrary to initial reports, Renaissance2010 is not really about handing schools over to private companies or about avoiding already-weak union hiring rules. But is Renaissance 2010 the right wayto go? There are at least three main challenges facing CPS this year, including community opposition to closing elementary schools, growing disarray in the much-vaunted Chicago Reading Initiative, and the fundamental insufficiency of Ren-10 alone to transform Chicago's school system. Three constructive ways to begin addressing these challenges are (a) a better, more transparent school closing process, (b) more university and independent school start-ups like those in New York and LosAngeles, and (c) meaningful LSC reform. From Can Renaissance 2010 ReallyWork? (from tomorrow's Sun-Times)

Daley defends school closings(ChicagoSun Times)
Homeless kids' advocates sue Chicago schools (Chicago Tribune)
It's timefor a Chicago school Renaissance (Chicago Sun-Times)
Making students and teachers pay for the crisis (Socialist Worker)
Charter offers 'great start in life' (ChicagoSun Times)
Duncan Touts University-Run City Schools (Chicago Sun-Times)
Thousands of students from closed schools have to start over (Chicago Sun Times)

Charters and Choice:
Charter schools enter new territory: the suburbs (Associated Press)
Two schools of thought over choice (SeattleTimes)
Bill Gates gives $300,000 to charter schools campaign Seattle Post Intelligencer
Group challenges school data (Akron Beacon-Journal)
Study: Charter School Students Outperform Peers In Public Schools (WHDH-TV)
New Data Fuel Current Charter School Debate (Ed Week)
Can Competition Really Improve Schools? (CSM)
Charter offers 'great start in life' (Chicago Sun Times)

Retention News (NYC, Chicago): Mayor Bloomberg announces that his newretention program is working and will soon be expanded to 5th aswell as 3rd graders: SocialPromotion Will End in 5th Grade, Mayor Says (NYT), FLUNK STATS SHOW MORE 3-PEATERS (New York Post). Meanwhile, Chicago announces arecord low number of retained students, due to a combination of academic gains and changes in the retention policy that focus only on reading scores, not math, and prohibit repeat retention (http://www.cps.k12.il.us/ September 10 press release)

New and Notable:
Reading focus made the difference. (Indianapolis Star)
Key factor: 'Turnaround leader' (Times Union)
Where Do Public School Teachers Send Their Kids to School? (Thomas B. Fordham Foundation)
Is vo-tech dead? (LAT)
Houston tackles school dropout problems (Boston Globe)
State May Test Online Pupil Testing (KENTUCKY POST)
LA Unified Opens 8 New Schools (LosAngeles Times)
Union veteran works to save Philadelphia's traditional assignment (Philadelphia Inquirer)
More districts are turningto separate 9th-grade centers (Indianapolis Star-Tribune)
Opinion: Midlevel staff need to spend more time in schools (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Select Group Ushers In Reading Policy (Education Week)
Taught to Be Principals, and Now Facing the Test (New York Times)
"Multiple intelligences" theory comes under fire(Washington Post)
What's to blame for the rise in ADHD? (MSNBC)
Idea of the Week: A National Pre-KStrategy (NDOL.org)

Rally for dropout schools (ChicagoTribune)
Dropout program funding cut protested (ChicagoSun Times)
1st-day attendance rises for city'spublic schools (Chicago Tribune)
Metro briefs (Chicago Sun Times)
Not many glitches on 1st day of school(ChicagoTribune)

School Life:
Hello, Mr. Chips (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Hoping to boost revenue, district urges students toforgo sick days (San Diego News)
At school, twilight of the Twinkie? (Christian Science Monitor)
Tablet PCs engage students in classwork (New York Times)
They grow up so fast - Barbara Feinberg objects to the gloom and doom of young-adult novels. (Christian Science Monitor)
Columnist: School reform will have limited impact if parents don't valuelearning (Dallas Morning News)
Crying inthe Kitchen Over Princeton (Atlantic online)


September 3 2004 Edition

CAMPAIGN 2004: The Republican National Convention this week provided lots of chances for Bush defenders to laud his accomplishments in education, including Paige: 'No Child Left Behind is working' (CNN), 12 Million Languish In Failing Public Schools, Report Says (Washington Times), as well as plenty of opportunity for critics to weigh in and concerns to be raised: Freedom, Liberty, Freedom (AlterNet), The 'Texas Miracle' (CBSNews), Molly Ivins: The GOP is from another planet (Naples Daily News), and Madame Cheney's Cultural Revolution (Salon Magazine).

As with the election itself,there are precious few folks whose opinions fall in the middle:
Faith without works (Eduwonk's Andy Rotherham appearing in The Gadfly). Apparently President Bush would expand NCLB to high school in a second administration: Bush Pledges More Help For High Schools In A Second Term (San Francisco Chronicle), and Bush Touts Ed. Law's Successes, Promises High School Reforms (Education Week), or Bush vows to strengthen high schools (Boston Globe/Associated Press).

AYP UPDATE (NCLB): Either I'm just getting too used to the numbers or the AYP results after three years or they just aren't that bad. In Mississippi: More Schools Testing Higher (CLARION-LEDGER). In California: State Data to Show How Well Schools Met Academic Goals (Los Angeles Times), More California schools meet NCLB targets; some districts still struggling (Los Angeles Times), San Jose Mercury News, 64% of schools meet federal testing goals (Sacramento Bee). In New York: Failing schools' list released for Big 5 districts (Newsday). In Virginia: Arlington Schools Fall Short on NCLB (Arlington Connection). In Oregon: Oregon students backslide on state tests (The Oregonian (Portland).

QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES (NCLB): Or, instead, maybe states and districts are just learning to game the NCLB system too well: States sidestep NCLB reporting requirements for disabled students (The New York Times), Schools To Get Second Chance To Show Progress (HONOLULU ADVERTISER), Improvement on WASL Carries Asterisk (SEATTLE TIMES), and my favorite: Most Michigan failing schools give themselves top marks (The Detroit News), or Metro schools pad rankings (Detroit News).

DISTRICTS IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT (NCLB): In the meantime, perhaps the most notable new NCLB trend is the slew of districts now being declared in need of improvement (DINI). Under NCLB, districts are rated pretty much the same way as schools, though the start date was often later than it was for schools. New York City found out it was a DINI this summer, and Chicago has recently been declared a DINI and may have to stop providing SES services soon as a result: CPS corners tutoring market but runs risk of losing it all (Catalyst). In Arizona: More Districts Failing (ARIZONA REPUBLIC). In California:Â 18 School Districts May Face Sanctions (LOS ANGELES TIMES).

CORRECTIVE ACTION (NCLB): At the spear-point of NCLB are the handful of schools that are now in corrective action, meaning they face conversion to charter or contract status, state takeover, or any other number of things that will make choice, tutoring, and being on the failing list seem like nothing. In Arizona: 20 Ariz. schools fail Fed's standards 4 years in a row (Arizona Republic).

NEW AND NOTABLE: Charter Schools, Student Retention, Dropout Prevention, Computerized Grading, SAT and AP Scores:
Record Number Of Minorities Take SAT (USA Today)
Advanced Placement is booming and changing high school experience (Associated Press)
Charter Demand Rising In Suburbs (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
U.S. Cutting Back On Details In Data About Charter Schools (New York Times)
Sixty charter schools fall, with a little state shove (Los Angeles Times)
Atlanta schools will hold back 7% of third-graders (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Standardized tests do not change promotion rate (Dallas Morning News)
Automatic grading programs getting better, but still not infallible (
The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Knock, knock: It's Houston's new truancy gambit (Christian Science Monitor)
Behind Top Student's Heartbreak, Illegal Immigrants' Nightmare (New York Times )
Depressed teens respond to interpersonal therapy in school (US News & World Report)

REMAKING RENAISSANCE 2010 (CHICAGO): Parts of the CPS response to last week's contentious Board meeting and community concerns about eroding local control (see Chipping away at LSCs (Catalyst), and (Latinos say plan for 100 new schools ignores their overcrowding problem (Tribune) for the backstory) started to become clear at yesterday's City Club appearance by Messrs. Duncan and Scott and Mme. Eason-Watkins, among others, during which Duncan talked frankly about some of the city's most troubled schools like Austin High School and called for increased business and university involvement in the school system. Duncan Touts University-Run City Schools (Sun-Times), Duncan to colleges: Help (Chicago Daily Southtown). It wasn't quite as direct an appeal for Ren-10 funding as might have been expected. But then again it was an overwhelmingly friendly crowd. Duncan has certainly become a much more polished speaker over the past three years, and even managed a little bit of well-placed humor. But if there's a clear strategy for making the school closing/reopening process as transparent and legitimate as it needs to be, I haven't seen it. And without one, all the best new school ideas in the world won't make a difference. As I've said before, CPS needs something like a School Closing Commission modeled on the old Base Closing Commission Congress invented when faced with the impossible job of picking which military bases to close. Everyone gets his or her say. The process is difficult but clearly established. There are no surprises.

Enrollment In AP Classes Sets Record In Illinois (Sun-Times)
Illinois SAT Scores Far Exceed National Averages (Sun-Times)
SAT Scores For Latinos In State Drop (Tribune)
A new breed of teachers (Catalyst)
Interview with
Arne Duncan (Catalyst)
Four schools on new course (Catalyst)

SCHOOL LIFE: Those crazy educators.
Superintendent: Porno slide-show 'a total accident' (Pittsburgh Live)
Ban on cupcakes at school crumbles (Houston Chronicle)
Parents, coaches rail against increasing 'pay to play' fees Christian Science Monitor