Note to CCSSO: Read "The Onion"

This morning's email included a missive from the Council of Chief State Schools Officers telling me that my use of their logo on a recent post (Early Christmas for the States) was improper because it violated their copyright (er, trademark?) and implied an endorsement of the contents of the post.

Apparently, the folks at the Council of Chief State School Officers don't read The Onion -- or the New York Times. Maybe they should, because then they'd remember how much fun everyone made of the White House for saying they couldn't use the presidential seal.
"You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month...but it found time to add another item to its agenda - stopping The Onion, the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal."

-- New York Times Protecting the presidential seal. No joke.
Now, I'm not The Onion, and the Chiefs aren't the White House, but still...it seems like their chief of staff might have better things to do than bothering someone who's drinking Diet Coke for breakfast and is still in his PJs. I mean, I'm barely awake here.

In the meantime -- thanks, Onion -- I'm going to ask the Chiefs to give me permission to use their logo, add a clarification to the original post stating that the Chiefs may or may not support the changes to the HQT provisions, and hope that they go back to more important things like helping states run and fix our schools.


Obama's Independent-Minded Education Vision Taking Shape

There are some bandwagons that US Senator Barak Obama is willing to get on (see picture) but others where he is showing his independence.

For example, his thoughts on education are becoming clearer -- and they're not what you might think they'd be, given his traditional Democratic credentials.

As longtime readers of this blog may remember, Obama is not only strongly pro-charter schools, but also seemingly more open to the idea of vouchers than many of his colleageus.
In an interview during the campaign, he's quoted as saying that while he is generally opposed to vouchers:
"I am not closed minded on this issue...the bottom line is--how are we providing the most effective education for students at every grade level and every economic strata...."
I wonder how many of his supporters know that.

He's also not getting on the anti-NCLB bandwagon, as was made clear this week when he gave a speech at the very Democratic Center on American Progress, which includes the following:
"Yes, it’s a moral outrage that this Administration hasn’t come through with the funding for what it claims has been its number one domestic priority. But to wage war against the entire law for that reason is not an education policy, and Democrats need to realize that."
Clearly, to be a national leader he's goig to have to get out from under the Democratic/Durbin umbrella. It's hard to tell just what to make of the "innovation districts" he's proposing in the speech. Are they re-imagined district fuctions like Chicago is trying, or modeled on the Chancellor's District idea originally from New York is hard to tell. Among other things, all this also makes you wonder where he's coming out on things like the Katrina vouchers.

See also
We'll Always Have Durbin... (Eduwonk), Obama and Innovation Districts (Teach And Learn), Opening soon: Obama's school (Chicago Sun-Times), and Remembering Rosa Parks (podcast from Obama).

Politicians & Candidates Getting Asked About Intelligent Design

I may be the last person to have realized this, but "intelligent design" is among many things turning out to be an awkward issue for some elected officials and political candidates: GOP candidates struggle with delicate issue of religion in schools (NW Illinois Times).

There are plenty of places -- including the 2008 presidential primaries -- where it will be fun to see candidates try and be as balanced and coherent as fictional future president Jimmy Smits. See A Third Way on Intelligent Design?

Or maybe by then the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will have taken hold, and the whole issue will be moot.

In the meantime: Science Groups Say Kansas Can't Use Their Evolution Papers (NYT).

Big Cities, Small Schools, and a Return to Systemic Reform

There are a pair of stories about how things are going in NYC: The Chancellor's Midterm Exam (New York Magazine), and Mayor Runs on Schools, but Verdict Is Still Out (NYT).

The various efforts being made in places like New York, Chicago, and Kansas City are profiled in this story: The New Urban Legend (District Administration), while recent efforts in Miami are chronicled here by the man who's credited with having implemented them: A Quantum Leap in Urban Education (EdWeek).

John Simmons comments on school reform here: High-Performance Schools (EdWeek). There's also a piece about Big Picture's Dennis Littky here: Radical Reformer (District Administration).

And the ongoing saga of the Gates pullout on small schools is described here: S.F. small schools left to "sink or swim" by Gates (Mike Klonsky's Small Talk).

Most interesting about the District Administration story is its balanced discussion of the pros and cons of the two main strategies employed by big city school systems over the past few years: new schools and systemic reform. Clearly, there's a move back towards systemic efforts in many places.

Chicago Roundup: Ren-10 Round 2 & More

INCS and LQE to "Merge"
Eggers' Tutoring Outfit Comes to Chicago

Ren10, Round 2
: According to the LQE Friday Fax (which INCS will hopefully retain), CPS will announce the Board’s recommendations for new Ren10 schools on Wednesday, with public hearings to follow at Calumet High School, Howland, and Austin.

Last week, the Board approved changes to Ren10 that I don't entirely understand: CPS Expands Definition of Renaissance Schools (PDF). However, I wonder (a) if they took most of the TAC recommendations this year or not? Remember how it went last year? If not, see Waiting for the other shoe to drop. I also wonder (b) if they’ll give any charters out (they only have six left) or "convince" all the folks who want charters to take contracts instead. Only the very brave or very naive will do so. Last but not least, I wonder (c) how the original Renaissance and Round 1 schools are really doing?

Wednesday is also the first BPI /Catalyst ed policy luncheon.

City Hall Clout @ the BOE? Wondering why the special master set up to oversee city hiring and ensure compliance with the Shakman decree isn’t on the job at the Board of Education? I was. What I found out from the Board is that, while the Mayor may have organizational control over the Board of Education, the Board is still its own taxing authority and has its own hiring procedures and HR department that have not, thus far, been part of the complaints about clout and hiring as in other city departments. There's gotta be more to it, but that's as far as I got.

Best of the Rest:
Fitch Rates Chicago BOE's $54MM GOs 'A+' BusinessWire
Windy City To Hose Runny Nose Eduwonk
High school remap
NW Pioneer

First Appearance on Chicago Public Radio's "Month In Review"

After months and months of begging and wheedling, I finally got my chance to do the WBEZ "Month In Review" segment on Friday morning, during which I matched wits (or almost) with Lester Munson of SI, Jodi Wilgoren of the NYT, and Steve Edwards the show's host.

My usual gig on BEZ is an occasional education segment, usually just me and Steve talking about whatever's happening (or not) in Chicago schools. By contrast, like WTTW's "Week In Review," which I've also done a few times, the MIR show has little to do with education reform and is lots of fun for someone like me who loves politics and gossip.

My best observations, so far as I can tell, were (a) calling the growing possibility of a smoking ban in Chicago a bigger story than the White Sox win, (b) naming the Governor and Bob Sirott as the biggest losers of the month, (c) pointing to an Onion headline in which the Fox network asks the White Sox to play a "real" World Series with the Yankees, and (d) naming the Judy Miller story the most over-reported story of the month. If only I'd been smart enough to name Pat Fitzgerald the biggest winner of the month.

In any case, it was a lot of fun, and I loved being on the show. You can read a summary on Eric Zorn's blog here (scroll to the bottom) or listen to the segment on the Internet here.

School Life: Halloween Legends, Making Kids Wash Their Hands, & EdTech Pro/Con


Making Big Money With Education Blogs and Websites

This week, as occasionally in the past, the PEN NewsBlast put out the call for donations from readers. This got me wondering about how – if at all – education blogs and sites "make" money (by which I mean help defray the costs of maintaining them).

With the help of Eric Grodsky, here’s a partial rundown on what’s out there:

Joanne Jacobs: links to Amazon, PayPal donation button
Number 2 Pencil
: request for reader donations
: sponsored by the UFT
Carnival of Education
BlogAds (ad placement service)
DA Daily
ads for conferences, AV companies, website management
a few ads
no advertising, org. funded by foundations
Education Week
: ads for schools, foundations, and publishing companies*

ECS E-Clips
: sponsored by Pearson Education (publisher)

: funded by the Pew Research Center

This Week In Education
: Google AdSense

*Education Week is the only education site that I know of that charges for its content. However, there are several newsletters like the School Improvement Industry Weekly, The Title I Monitor, and Eduventures, that are subscription-only.

There are other approaches being tried: Various efforts like Pajamas by bloggers to band together and generate revenue are in the works, but most of them focus on high-viewership political blogs. Hired bloggers (Wonkette, Defamer, Chicagoist, etc.) are generally thought to make $30,000 or so a year for their hard work.

I have little sense of how much money anyone is making off of these deals. (I, for instance, have made something like 57 cents from AdSense over the past six months.) Many of the sites run out of larger organizations are funded indirectly through operational budgets. Most bloggers have day jobs. And to be sure, no one's got sponsorship from Coca-Cola or General Motors. Yet.


Chicago Charter School Shakeup: INCS and LQE to "Merge"

You heard it here first:

Word on the street is that the long-established Chicago charter schools advocacy organization Leadership for Quality Education is soon to be merged into the the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. The new organization will apparently be called...the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

More details to follow, but I'm told the boards of the two organizations have approved the "merger" and that Elizabeth Evans will be the head honcho of the new entity. LQE's
Pam Clarke will be Associate Director. UPDATE: Five of the new board's 20 members will come from the Civic Committee.

There's a certain amount of efficiency and clarity to having just one main charter school organization in town -- for schools, for funders. INCS has focused on business support, while LQE has focused on academic support and advocacy.

The move also makes a certain amount of sense, given that there have been questions for several month about what would happen to LQE following a split between some of the folks at the Civic Committee (read: Eden Martin), which has sponsored LQE, and its former head, charter schools guru John Ayers.

Ayers helped raise the charter school cap to 30 and, with Greg Richmond, former CPS official, groomed the first waves of successful charter schools. Ayers eft LEQ several months ago for the
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Allison Jack, now at the New Schools Office of CPS, left LQE before that. (For more background on the Ayers/Martin flap, see Mid-Renaissance Move.)

I'm still trying to find out what happens to Brenda and others. UPDATE: Brenda B. and Steve Z. will also stay on, according to Clarke.

Individuals aside, there are at least three main substantive questions about what Elizabeth Evans and the "new" INCS can do that INCS and LQE couldn't do before:
-- Can it help CPS and the TACs pick better new charters any better under Ren10, and support existing charters better?

-- Can it get the 30-school cap lifted so that folks like KIPP and Big Picture be more viable here than they are at present?

-- Can it get a bolstered state charter law so that CPS isn't the sole authorizer competing against itself?
UPDATE: There are important but subtle differences between the two organizations that will have to be addressed. INCS was created much more recently than LQE, has much less of a track record on advocacy and legislative issues, and was designed from the start to be representative of the needs of existing charter schools rather than an advocate for the big-picture potential of charter schools. Had it been in existence, for example, INCS would have been unlikely to have traded an increase in the cap on the number of charter schools for teacher certification requirements.

Too Cool For School: Eggers' Tutoring Outfit Comes to Chicago

As faithful readers know, I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to Dave Eggers' cooler-than-cool volunteer tutoring project: When Celebrities Attack. (Truth be told, I'm a bit of a skeptic when it comes to do-gooders in general, but I'll save that for therapy.)

Eggers' 826 effort began in San Francisco, spread to New York, and has now come to Chicago.

This week, the Chicago Journal reports on the highly-anticipated opening: A clandestine open house for 826CHI

What you find out in the article is that (a) it's not really up and running yet, and (b) Ira Glass was there!

It's so cool. Now we've got a Fluevog shoe store, an American Apparel, a Coldstone Creamery, and a cool place to do some tutoring when Filter is too crowded.

To see the 826CHI site itself, go here.

An Early Christmas Gift For The States: USDE Back Off -- Further -- on HQT

It's simultaneously unbelievable -- and not that surprising. After all, the districts got their reprieves (on tutoring, among other things) earlier this fall, and now it's the states' turn for a warm fuzzy from Secretary Spellings.

According to Education Week's online edition, the USDE on Friday told the states that the June 2006 deadline for meeting the highly qualified teacher requirement of NCLB -- one of the most important but least effectively implemented provisions of the law -- was going to be extended for another year. Ed. Dept. Gives States Reprieve on ‘Highly Qualified’ Teacher Requirement.

Curiously, the article (by Bess Keller) calls the HQT provision "
one of the most controversial sections" of the law. Is that true -- compared to the tutoring provision, the costs of the annual testing requirements, and the AYP calculations? Maybe it depends on who you talk to, or maybe Bess's editors wanted her to pump up the importance of the story.

What I've heard and read most about the HQT provision is how easy it is to meet in many states. No one's fazed by the letters anymore. I havent' checked the latest figures, but it seems like most states are at no less than 80 percent HQ.

What's most interesting about the letter itself (kindly linked by EdWeek at no extra cost) is that it includes as a condition of getting the one-year extension that
"steps are being taken to ensure that "experienced and qualified" educators are as likely to teach poor and minority children as their white and more affluent peers."

Now, taking "steps" can mean pretty much anything, or nothing (and many will see this as a sop to folks like George Miller and the Education Trust), but the fact that this part of the law aimed at the uneven distribution of appropriately assigned and trained teachers gets mentioned anymore seems a bit of a miracle. A sad one. Letter to the states.

NB: The CCSSO logo (ab0ve) is being used for illustrative purposes only -- a shorthand reference to the state education agencies that the Chiefs represent in DC. For all I know, the Chiefs organization had nothing to do with the HQT changes, or opposed them.


"Education Week" Makes Us Pay: Are We Suckers?

The education world was rocked earlier this fall -- well, stirred a little -- when Education Week decided that only subcribers would have full access to their current edition, their archives, and their daily roundup of education articles.

Stubborn boy that I am, I can't get myself to write that check.

And now I find that I'm not alone: Today's young people believe only suckers pay for content (Jim Romanesko). I'm not sure I like the company, or the reasoning. I'm not that young. I'm a writer. I like getting paid for my work. But...maybe I really am that cheap.

The Education Week site has been for many years an invaluable -- and free -- trove of past articles, and the daily clips that had been added more recently were just as useful. But Education Week decided it needed to make some money for all its efforts, a decision not entirely like the New York Times' recent change to a mixed system where access to the writings of certain columnists costs money, while the rest of the content is free.

Other papers and magazines, like The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Atlantic, and Harper's, have long required a subscription. Salon.com requires that you either subscribe or view an ad before reading a full story.

But it doesn't always work out. Slate.com, for example, tried the pay-for-perusal approach nearly a decade ago, but couldn't get readership and eventually went free. The New Yorker, Chicago Magazine, and other outlets that had for years kept only a minor presence on the web so that you had to get (and pay for) the real thing in order to see what was in there, have recently started making more and more content available online, for free -- the opposite direction that Education Week is going.

So I wonder whether subscriptions have gone up as much as Education Week had hoped, or not. I wonder whether the site is getting as many visits as it has in the past -- and inbound links from people like me that get it additional attention.

Have you written your check yet?

Moving Past Teacher Certification and Retention

There's what seems like an unusually feisty editorial in USA Today titled Weeding out bad teachers (via Wonks) that, like the Times over the weekend (see below) suggests that improving instructional capacity -- keeping effective teachers, getting rid of bad ones, and training everyone better -- is key to making real improvements in the future.

It even seems to go so far as to endorse the Schwartenegger initiative in California.

The Wonks don't like it much (Addressing Only Half The Problem). They want administrators' feet held to the fire as well. OK. The blame game isn't going to help, that's for sure.

But where are the responsible, well-considered efforts to make tough improvements? Teacher quality can't just be all about certification and teacher retention.

Previous post on this topic:
Where Next After NAEP 2005?


Where Next After NAEP 2005?

A feisty Saturday editorial in the Times makes fun of "happy talk" from the Bush administration about NAEP scores and highlights the need to look at instructional capacity of teachers -- and at ed schools -- to make big improvements: Happy Talk on School Reform
“Real reform will require better teacher training and higher teacher qualifications, which will in turn mean cracking the whip on teachers' colleges that have basically ignored the standards movement."
Agree or disagree, few would argue that teacher quality and teacher preparation are issues that the USDE (and many states and districts and teacher preparation programs) continue to duck.

And this isn't the first time the Times editorial page has told the Administration to grow a pair when it comes to enforcing NCLB or suggested something close to blowing up the ed schools. For more on this, see: NYT on Ed Schools, Don't Leave Teachers Out.

Over at EdWeek, there's one related commentary on the neverending effort to revamp teacher prep by making it more like med school (Doctoring Schools) and another calling for an end to the ideological wars between traditiona and alternative preparation (The Preparation Question).

In the meantime, new guidance from USDE on HQT is coming out in a week or two, but I wouldn't hold my breath that there's going to be anything new or tough about it.

What Chicago Can Learn From Norfolk

There's lots going on these days, but this is probably what CPS needs to be thinking about: What Norfolk teaches Chicago (Tribune).

There's a funny/sad post at Chicagoist (If You See Something, Email Something) about renewed efforts to monitor the Shakman decree that makes me wonder how often teachers and administrators get asked to write a check, join an organization, or get someone else to pass an exam for them in order to get a job they want. You don’t hear about it much, but if it’s happening at Streets and San it makes no sense to assume that it’s not happening in the CPS HR department or principals’ offices. Is it?

Best of the Rest:
Head start in the home a freebie for all classes SunTimes
Chicago Journal
Jones hopes to avoid growing pains Chicago Journal
An inspired idea Tribune
Schools make their pitch at Austin High Austin Weekly News
Jackson tour of schools a study in contrasts Tribune

Upcoming Events:
*Oct 25 NBC Leadership Summit at 5 pm via CPEF

Related report: Recruitment and Retention in Hard-to-Staff Schools (Learning Point Associates via Eduwonk) PDF

*Jonathan Kozol to Speak in Chicago, Nov. 8 Mike Klonsky’ SmallTalk

Tutor-Ama: Vendor Ethics, USDE Bias, Outsourcing, & More

Here we go again.

Just a week or so after Chicago school officials announced that scads of kids signed up for NCLB tutoring wouldn't actually be able to get any 'cuz the private providers more parents picked this year are more expensive (see last week's post, Tutoring In Decline), the Illinois state board of education announces that it is getting in on the fun by disqualifying Newton Learning for....using unethical means to convince parents to sign up for their services: School tutoring firm ousted (Chicago Tribune), Tutoring service disqualified at 5 schools (Chicago Sun Times).

Still want to know more? Look for my tutoring piece next week in the November Catalyst for all the inside scoop.

Meanwhile, there's a limp rehash in the Washington Post on whether there's bias towards private tutoring companies in the SES provision:As 'No Child' Answer, Tutoring Generates Complex Questions . Sure there is. It's just not necessarily a bad thing. On related news: Feds tighten tutoring rules under NCLB (eSN).

There's more on online tutoring, the "cute/scary" tutoring story this fall: E-Tutors: Outsourcing the Coach (Wired), Kids dial India for online tutoring(Chicago Sun Times).

Last but not least:
Growing Niche for Tutoring Chains: Prekindergartners’ Academic Prep EdWeek


School Life: "Horton Hears a Who" Meets "The Tell-Tale Heart"

What happens when you mix Edgar Allan Poe with Dr. Seuss: Poe/Seuss mashup Boing Boing

My how things have changed:
Technical virginity becomes part of teen equation USAT
A Pride of Princesses at the Door NYT

Fun stuff:
One In Five Women Training As Yoga Instructors Onion
Model railroader's model slums Boing Boing
New Pixar Movie Totally Fucks With Kid's Minds Onion
Top 100 toys of the 70s and 80s Boing Boing
Economics: A "piece of cake" Ph.D. Constrained Vision

Technology corner:
IPods Fast Becoming New Teacher's Pet WashPost
Computers in classrooms: 'A new way to not pay attention' AJC
Everything you always wanted to know about nanotech Salon.com
Dance Dance Revolution for pocket-calculators Boing Boing

I recommend "Alexander" or any of its variants except "Al":
Expectant Parents Believe Name Holds the Key (NYT)

The End of Small Schools--Or The Beginning?

Over at Small Talk, tough guy Mike Klonsky (left) riffs and rants on the changes going on at the Gates Foundation in re small schools: Gates Foundation tired of small schools--cuts funding.

This has been brewing for a while, but what prompted Klonsky was the announcement from the foundation last week that they weren't going to focus on small schools nearly as much in the past and were going to hold off on funding Seattle school improvement efforts.

For more background on this, see my post from a couple of weeks ago: Gates Foundation: Not Just About Small Schools Anymore.

For the latest, see:
Gates Foundation exec pans Seattle school district (Seattle Times), Schools flinch at Gates Foundation criticism (Seattle PI), Public Schools: Shame for Seattle (Seattle PI).

Meanwhile, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announces a new package of reforms, featuring specialized schools and after-school programs: Under Siege on Schools, Mayor Pledges New Program (NYT).

UPDATE: Gates pulls money from small schools SF Chron via DA Daily

NAEP Roundup

There was a predictable and at times even entertaining feeding frenzy how to interpret the newest NAEP scores released last week. Too many links to post them all, but a couple of points worth highlighting/adding:

Still Not Making The Grade: The numbers are still staggering low. Overall in math, 36 percent of fourth-graders could handle challenging material, up from 32 percent in 2003. Among eighth-graders, 30 percent reached at least that "proficient" level, up from 29 percent.

NAEP vs. State Results: Education News and others note that NAEP scores continue to be much lower than those reported on state tests (Gains on State Tests Evaporate). grade, NAEP scores are 5-11 percentage points lower than those reported by six states. For more on this: State Gains Not Echoed In Federal Testing (WashPost) .

Before vs. After NCLB: A handful of news outlets provided pre-and during-NCLB comparisons showing that reading scores were flat and math scores on the rise before NCLB, and reading scores are flat and math scores are still up after NCLB.

Media Hype? A piece in MediaMatters suggests that a couple of major news outlets may have overstated the improvement on NAEP scores: AP, USA Today overstated math scores since No Child Left Behind ....

Thanks to Eric Grodsky for his research and analysis.


The This Week In Education BlogMap
"Where The Education Blogs Are"

As some of you know, local education technology guru and blogger Lucy Gray has been (very patiently) helping me think up and figure out some new ways of beefing up the interactivity and connectivity functions of This Week In Education.

Here, thanks to Lucy's work, is one of the first of what I hope are many additions to the site: the This Week In Education BlogMap.

As you can see from this example (taken from another site), basically, it's a GoogleMap that will let everyone in the edusphere add their own colored pin showing (a) where they are geographically and (b) what they do/what they're all about.

With it, you can find other education blogs near you, or check out new ones far away. You can even sign up to get an email telling you whenever a new education blog gets added to the map.

For now, the map is pretty bare (11 listings so far), but I imagine it's going to fill in pretty quickly. To get started, simply go to the site, add your edublog information (and a picture if you want), and you're on the map.

We'll leave it open for a little while, and then maybe do a color-coded categorization thing so that you can see which sites are about teaching, or policy, or research, whatever. For now at least, anyone can sign up -- even institution-based opinionators.

Thanks again to Lucy, who is a teacher here in Chicago and blogs at A Teacher's Life.

For more on GoogleMaps and all their many applications, see the article in this week's NYT: A Journey to a Thousand Maps Begins With an Open Code.


A 'Third Way' On Intelligent Design?

Once again, I'm giving you policy ideas from a TV show. How much lower can I go? (Not that much lower than my betters, perhaps: Daily Kos: Bush team plagiarizes West Wing).

Last night's "West Wing" episode starts out with the Democratic candidate for president trying to do what most mainstream Democrats try to do these days: talk about education without talking about intelligent design.

It's a local issue, he's told to say. Separation of powers, I mean church and state. Etc. All of it designed to mollify the ACLU and other folks, but none of it satisfying.

But then comes a moment of inspiration, in which the candidate (hunky Jimmy Smits from NYPD Blue) starts out by saying, "I believe in God, and I believe that God is intelligent," and then goes on basically to reassert the notion that, while believing in God and science are not incompatible, the scientific theory known as evolution should be taught in science and God should be for home and church.

Simplistic? Ohmygodyes. Upsetting and slippery-sloping, perhaps to many Democrats. Yep. Refreshing to hear from the Democratic side of things? To be sure.

You can find a pre-air script summary if you scroll down here.
'West Wing' Candidates To Face Off in Live Debate Washington Post


Tutoring In Decline

Look for more details in an upcoming Catalyst story I'm working on for next month, but the upshot of this week's SES news is that fewer, rather than more, students are going to be provided NCLB tutoring this year in Chicago than last year -- which is not exactly the way it was supposed to be.

17,000 students won't get tutoring Tribune
More families choose private 'No Child' tutors Sun Times
Funding limits access to tutoring AP

The backstory is that, at Chicago's request, the USDE decided to let the district resume tutoring this fall, with the hope of serving 20K more kids than last year. But the decision was made at the last minute, more parents decided that they wanted outside tutoring, which is generally more expensive, and that reduced the total number of slots available.

Elsewhere in tutoring news:

Case Studies of Supplemental Services GAO via Gadfly
Complaints doom tutoring programs St. Pete times
Overseas online tutoring growing trend SJMerc via JoanneJacobs
Tutoring, family programs popular at library San Diego Union Tribune

Kozol + Katrina = Thinking About Segregation and Inequality

Maybe it's all the press that Jonathan Kozol is getting for calling public education an "apartheid" system, or maybe it's part of the Hurricane hangover, but it seems like there's lots and lots on segregation, inequity, and achievement gaps these days for us to think about -- and act on?

In case you haven't seen it, here's the latest Kozol clip:
School Segregation Is Back With 'Vengeance,' Author Says. (My interview with the firebrand himself is coming out next month in Catalyst).

The TC Record starts us out with a report (and conference?) on segregation: Does Segregation Still Matter? The Impact of Student Composition on Academic Achievement in High School.

The Chicago Sun-Times has a nice pair of pieces on just how different preschool can be for different groups of kids: 2 kindergarten classes worlds apart, 2 years of preschool seen as key.

Jay Mathews at the Washington Post digs up educators and parents who actually like parts of NCLB because it forces educators to deal with students who are different:'No Child' Closes the Gap.

The Gadfly and others point to a fascinating what-happens-when story about disaggregated test scores: Morphing Outrage into Ideas (Los Angeles Times), Unintended, but consequential (Gadfly).

Then there's a quartet of stories about schools treating students differently (and the obvious results):Schools discipline blacks more than others (Miami Herald), Fla. District Pressed on Black Achievement (EdWeek), Education">Brooklyn High School Is Accused Anew of Forcing Students Out (NYT), and Minority Overrepresentation in Special Ed. Targeted (EdWeek).

There are a couple of nice essays about expectations, standards, and struggling students:
Paying for the hard bigotry of no expectations (Balt Sun), and A heartfelt plea: Don't quit on students (Philadelphia Inquirer).

And Charles Murray's take on the inequality debate:
The Inequality Taboo Wall Street Journal

RAND Roundup

There was lots of spin and some substance surrounding the RAND report on Edison schools in Philadelphia last week:

Edison can show gains over time, report says Philadelphia Enquirer
Rand Corp. gives Edison schools high marks Philadelphia Daily News
Long-delayed RAND report: Edison Schools’ outcomes ‘not certain' EducationNews
Inspiration, Perspiration, and Time RAND

The RAND study makes this report from the Education Writers Association all the more timely: A Reporters' Guide to Privatization.


Kudos and Criticism of Media Coverage

For an interesting look at the year in education news, check out Jerry Bracey's 15th Bracey Report On the Condition Of Public Education (PDF).

Of particular note, the annual report gives shout-outs to a variety of worthy news features and investigative pieces including those writting by Sarah Carr and Alan Borsuk of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (about vouchers) and Doug Oplinger and Dennis Willard of the Akron Beacon Journal (about homeschooling), as well as Alec MacGillis of the Baltimore Sun (about vendors and big-city school systems).

Two other pieces this week that may be J-School 101 to everyone else but seem pretty worthwhile to little old me:

How technology is changing the way we report and write news CyberJournalist.com

When Reporting Both Sides Is Not the Truth NPR (audio)

Rethinking Parent Conferences, Brain Research, and All The Rest

Just when we were all getting comfy and settled in our views, the ASBJC calls for RETHINKING PARENT CONFERENCES (via the PEN Weekly NewsBlast), an EdWeek commentator wants us to rethink the brain research boogeyman ‘Brain Research’— A Call for Skepticism, Tom Toch in the Washington Monthly tells us that we should rethink school rating systems in Measure For Measure (via Eduwonk), and the WSJ comes out against the single salary schedule: Pay for Performance Opinion Journal/WSJ.

School Life: Deal-Making Daddies, Breakdancing, Blue Man Group, and Autism


PBS and the Denver Post Do Race, Class, and Closing Achievement Gaps

School reform efforts in places like San Diego and other cities get an updated look from Hedrick Smith in this week's thought-provoking documentary Making Schools Work (PBS).

You might think you know all this already, but you probably don't. And it's not too late to watch big chunks of the show -- on the Internet. Really -- it works.

Sure, it’s highly-polished and balanced to within an inch of anyone’s ability to watch it, and sure it includes some obvious choices like the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and NYC’s now-defunct District 2. (The film also profiles schools using SFA, Comer, KIPP, and HSTW.)

But it isn’t just a feel-good exercise, and it isn’t just a school here or a school there. Writes Smith about the project: “I was interested in finding school models or school districts that were being carried out at scale, affecting tens of thousands of students and hundreds of schools.”

Some of the coverage the show has generated includes the Louisville Courier Journal (about Corbin High School),
Documentary hails CMS successes (about CMS), and you can see clips here and a trailer here. One of my favorite parts of the website is called "Yes, we want reform, but..."

On a related note, there’s a great series in the Denver Post this week about achievement gaps and poverty. The gist, far as I’ve read so far? It doesn’t have to be this way. Schools that erase gap say key is to never settle, Poverty doesn't rule test scores, and more.

In the meantime, recent articles about economic integration in Wake County NC have continued to generate a variety of responses. Those in favor: Economic integration next step for schools (Philadelphia Enquirer). Those not so sure: Economic integration push-back (The Gadfly).

Last but not least, the National Center on the Study of Privatization in Education asks the question Does Sschool Choice Lead to Greater Segregation? (via Jimmy K).

Recruiting Rebellion: What Recruiting Has Done (Could Do) to NCLB & the Peace Corps

A pair of op-eds about the dangers of trying to add military recruiting to NCLB and the Peace Corps:

The first -- Recruiting turns parents against NCLB (Chicago Journal) – is my effort from the end of the summer to describe how the recruiting provision, perhaps as much as anything else, has helped turn parents against NCLB without any discernible impact on the Pentagon’s ability to meet its recruiting goals.

The second, more recent piece, Mission Creep (NYT), talks about the scary but very real effort to try and link the Peace Corps and military service -- potentially undoing the long-established and very important separation between what the Peace Corps does and what soldiers do.

Lesson: bringing military recruiting into nonmilitary arenas (education, third world development) is a bad idea and makes people crazy.

Catalyst Covers Tyke Testing, Chicago Journal Covers Eggers & Success Story

Lots of good stuff out there that you may not have seen, including a slew of recent articles in the now-expanded Chicago Journal: Top-secret tutoring (profiling author Dave Eggers’ storefront tutoring outpost in Chicago) and Comeback kids (telling the story of one school that made it back from the brink).

The beginning of the month (or thereabouts) also means that a new issue of Catalyst is out, including a great cover package by Debra Williams on preschool testing (Taking pre-K up a notch), a Ren10 update (Renaissance Watch: Applicants face new review process), and -- admit it -- everybody’s favorite: Comings and Goings.

Happy 15th, Catalyst!

Meanwhile, there’s also a Trib story on Ren10: List of proposed schools gets pared down to 21. And the Trib dutifully reports on the official CPS news of the week: a big federal Gear Up grant announcement: Grant to help foster college ambitions in 6th, 7th graders.

Also: more momentum (and moolah) for the UofC’s Center on Urban School Improvement: Urban schools benefit from $5 million in MacArthur grant funding

Best of the Rest

Why do some public schools actually work? Tribune
Overcrowded Local Schools Are Examined Southwest News Herald
Pershing West wins magnet label without all the work SunTimes
"Gladiator Rooms” at Cook County Detention Center Metroblogging
City of the Big Gaps New York Times
Project Managers Teach and Learn
Catching bus was no easy task Tribune


Gay Teens, Fathers Pro and Con, & Why Girls Are So Raunchy These Days

First, there’s this week’s Time cover story, The Battle Over Gay Teens (via Wonkette), which, in a very mainstream way, covers all things gay and teen and shows how gay teens are being politicized. (Yes, those shell necklaces from the 70's are back in.)

Then there’s a great piece in the Monitor about efforts to get fathers, especially minority ones, involved in schools: Fathers are on the march ... to school (CSM).

Looking at fatherhood from the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum, Caitlin Flanagan dissects some latte-lovers’ notions that maybe fathers aren’t all that necessary to parent effectively: Boys Will Be Boys (Atlantic Monthly).

Last but not least – what a strange set of articles this is – comes Salon’s take on why so many girls and younger women have taken on a raunchy, highly sexualized style: Girls gone wild (Salon).

Where You Went To College, Why -- & Did It Do Any Good?

There's a fun and well-written set of articles this week on getting into college -- and whether it matters:

In The New Yorker, the enviable Malcolm Gladwell dissects the American obsession whith attending elite colleges, reminds us that the link between attending an elite school and doing amazing things in life is not so clear, and chronicles how places like Harvard have over time evolved the selection criteria by usuing factors like athleticism and character to get the student body they want -- and maintain the "brand" they have created: Who gets into Harvard and why.

In Slate, the equally enviable though not quite so young and suave Jay Mathews talks about which college reference books are the best (besides his): The Old College Try.

Last but not least, the Times reminds us of the conomic value of college attendance, which is apparently on the decline: College Still Counts, Though Not as Much.

Laptops For Everyone -- The Traditionalists' Approach To EdTech?

The past few months haven't been good ones for the small but growing group of advocates of giving a laptop to every student -- but that doesn't seem to be stopping anyone. Are "one to one" initiatives the wave of the future, or are they putting the laptop in front of the learning?

To be sure, the most recent news hasn't been good. Near-riots, student hackers, lawsuits, vendor changes, and broken screens have challenged some of the handful of districts with "one to one" initiatives: Making One-to-One Add Up (Scholastic Administrator).

And yet, the Governor of Massachussets announced recently that he wants to give laptops to everyone -- something no state (except sort of Maine) has done. All middle and high school students in his state--over 500,000 students overall--would receive laptops.The price tag for this venture: near $54M: Romney unveils laptop plan (Daily Free Press).

Predictably, the tech advocates (Classroom Revolution USNews) think laptops are incredible and amazing, citing among other things increases in student test scores in Henrico County VA as evidence. Teachers and pragmatists and Luddites aren’t so sure (Charlotte’s Webpage Orion via ALD) and cite Maine, where test scores haven’t risen, as their own example.

What fascinates and confounds me the most is that "one to one" advocates and initiatives seem to be mostly intent on bringing a highly flexible form of current technology into the traditional school, the traditional classroom, and traditional ways of teaching. We'll suffuse schools with technology, they seem to be saying, and the changes in learning will follow.

And so, for all the whiz-bang of them, "one to one" intiatives can seem surprisingly... traditional, de-emphasizing other, perhaps more revolutionary ideas surrounding the use of technology in schools: online and virtual learning, and other ways of using technology to deconstruct the traditional school.

In the end, they both attempt to do the same thing, and changing technology and changing teaching may be the chicken and the egg. But still, I wonder whether the harder, deeper instructional changes shouldn't come first.

Additional Reading:

Is a Laptop Initiative in Your Future?
A Tale Of Two Laptops
One to one computing in VA

NB: This post was made possible by the research and analysis provided by Eric Grodsky, one of the many folks who expressed interest in helping me out with this site. More to come.

Urban Ed 'Must-Reads' Of The Week

All Things Strange, Scary, Computerized, and New (In Schools)