Pitching To Bloggers, Good Or Bad?

Ever since I started my blog, Poor, Starving, College Student, I have been introduced the to realm of the media pitching to bloggers. A good example was one about a TNT movie coming out in August called "The Ron Clark Story," a movie about Ron Clark and how he has committed his life to education.

I didn't mind getting the pitch, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about getting tons of them, especially if they were off topic or not useful. Learning about new things is great, but PR pitches are the bane of many reporters' lives, I hear. If you're looking for a really horrible pitch to the blog by a company to promote a product, check out "Why Traditional Marketing Doesn't Work in the Blogsphere."I first noticed it reading Andrew Pass's new blog The Current Events in Education's post Is Blogging Marketing? What do you think?

Morning Round-Up July 30, 2006

Bill Gates, the Nation's Superintendent of Schools LA Times
Educators are waiting with bated breath to see which direction this multibillion-dollar behemoth will take.

Affordable Laptop Computer Project Moves Forward NPR
Nicholas Negroponte wants to put inexpensive laptops into the hands of children in developing countries. The project is called One Laptop Per Child. Despite setbacks, the program is moving forward. (Also: India rejects One Laptop Per Child)

Passing Down the Legacy of Conservatism NYT via EdNews
Everywhere young conservatives turn there are conferences, seminars and reading lists that promote its core thinkers.


Week In Review July 24-30


NPR Confirms -- And Debunks -- The "Buried" Private School Report Theory

There were not one but two NPR segments over the past couple of days on the private schools report, one confirming and the other debunking conspiracy theories about its release.

The first, a news segment by Claudio Sanchez (Private School Report Spurs Controversy), mostly confirms the "did they intentionally try and bury the report?" issue that everyone else considered -- and smarter minds reluctantly dismissed -- early last week. Jack Jennings and Checker Finn say the report was probably meant to be buried; Russ Whitehurst says Spellings had to know about it; and Spellings responds with a statement that she didn't know, no reports should come out on Fridays, and that she hopes parents won't make individual school decisions based on the averages in the report.

Much more informative was the second NPR piece on the report, run a day later on the afternoon call-in show Talk Of The Nation, which -- finally -- fills us in on how the report actually came to be reported in the news. And, lo and behold, it turns out that Times reporter Diana Jean Schemo largely debunks the conspiracy theorists. She points out that the report wasn't actually released by Spellings' office, wasn't buried late on a summer Friday (like this post) but rather first thing in the AM, and was sent to 11,000 individuals, any of whom could have fished it out. It wasn't buried, she says, though she admits after being prompted by host Neil Conant that it wasn't exactly trumpted either. Nor was it new news, she adds, considering that a similar report comparing math achievement came out a few months before.

The rest of the TOTN segment includes some very mild back-and-forth between the normally combative Andy Rotherham and the supposedly conservative Mike Petrilli, who both did fine but aren't really far enough apart from each other on vouchers (and several other issues) to make for good radio. Petrilli generally stuck to the usual talking points but at times seemed to be making a case against private schools, not for them. A very mellow Rotherham could only manage to quibble with a few of Petrilli's points. Another pair -- AEI and AFT, or Clint Bolick and Dianne Piche -- would have done better to flesh out the deep divide that remains on voucher issues.

Morning Round-up July 28, 2006

L.A. Mayor Grilled Over School Takeover Plan LAT
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's school reform plan received its first and only public hearing in which the largest blow came from neighboring city officials who would fall under the LA Unified School District.

Schools Warn of Testing Setback WaPo
Washington, DC is finding that several of their elementary schools are not meeting "adequate yearly progress".

Pilot program to study testing for students still learning English
USDE included Virginia in a pilot study exploring how to best test students with limited English skills as a way of working with Virginia who failed to meet NCLB standards for testing students who are still learning English.

What You Missed At Yesterday's "Growth Models" Hearing

After Chairman McKeon teased George Miller for sounding excited at the thought of retirement (Miller was thanking longtime GAO researcher Marlene S. Shaul for her service), the Committee hearing launched into the issue of whether or not growth models fit the requirements of the NCLB law as a measure of accountability.

Shaul, who discussed the results of her latest GAO report on growth models and NCLB, noted that growth models meet the requirements of NCLB but that state will face challenges in doing them (testimony here). Kati Haycock of Ed Trust agreed with Shaul, but noted that growth model alone will not be a solution by itself for calculating accountability (testimony here). Both Joel L. Klein, Chancellor of NYC DoE and Reg Weaver, NEA president noted that the current form of calculating AYP is harmful to students who improve but don't meet certain benchmarks and undue credit is given for sometimes very little progress. William L. Sanders, SAS Institute was on hand to discuss the particulars of growth models.

One of the largest points made about growth models is that it works well for students who need to make progress, but when you are at the top of the scale it essentially would show that the student made no progress. McKeon seems dedicated to a serious conversation with the experts when re-authorization comes up.

Miller, McKeon Comment On GAO Report On Measuring Student Achievement Under No Child Left Behind Act

What's Up With Weighted Student Funding?

Not many seem to have noted that Hawaii has just become the first state in the US to implement a WSF plan -- albeit a single-district state. The roundup says that eight districts presently are piloting WSF programs, including Seattle, Houston and San Francisco, and that it's being used in Louisiana as part of the Katrina response.

Meanwhile, The Gadfly, respond to a blog post from EdWize (I think this may be the first time they've acknowledged the existence of blogs) and claims that many responses to its proposal have been alarmist (which is probably true).

House Dems Propose $32B School Construction Program

Last week it was the stem cell vote, the voucher proposal, and all of that other showboating "rally the base" stuff, but I guess that Republicans aren't the only ones. For example, three House Dems (Miller, Woolsey, and Chandler) proposed a $32B school construction program. Reminds me of the Clinton days. Except back then some of those things actually went into law. Obviously, this proposal goes nowhere -- except into campaign materials. I only wish they had some new ideas. What next, class size reduction?


All Early Childhood, All The Time

Pre-K is everywhere these days, for better (one hopes) or worse. On Tuesday Gov. Tim Kaine spoke about the positive affects of Pre-K in Virginia. Last week, I posted aboutPre-K Now's somewhat unusual offer to pay a preschool teacher to blog his/her experiences. A few days ago, the NYT published an interesting piece about poverty and intelligence in young childrren (After the Bell Curve). And blogs like edspresso, the Quick and the Ed, and District 299 (sister site to this one) have posted and/or linked here, here, and here. Looks like things are looking up from a year ago when This Week In Education posted that the media was missing opportunities to cover preschool.

Should States Decide On Restructuring?

Over at Schools Matter, Peter Campbell adds something to the now-familiar observation that schools in restructuring are rarely required to do as much real changing as once imagined/feared (Avoiding the AYP Hammer). Specifically, he asks the question if someone else besides the district should be put in charge of deciding which of the restructuring options is chosen. It's a good question.

Keep Choice Alive

On Tuesday, edspresso's Ryan Boots takes perhaps a little bit too much credit, a little too soon, for the NYT story about NCLB enforcement (Spellings and NCLB enforcement).

Remember that the Department's newfound interest in enforcement mostly relates to assessments and teacher quality, not choice, and in fact the tutoring announcement on Wednesday does little to help the cause of NLCB choice and may in fact hinder it.

The Alliance may well deserve some credit for keeping the choice issue alive, and Boots points out that it's been done mostly without business group support (Roundtable, where are you?). But it still seems way too early -- and a little too much -- for anyone to claim victory.

UPDATE: Boots responds, quite reasonably, here.

If Metallica Can Do It, So Can Fordham

Based on this week's output alone -- EdWeek commentary here (you get to read three articles a week for free, people), Murray bashing here -- it's clear that Fordham's Mike Petrilli's got too many interesting things to say and not enough places to say them -- not to mention Checker and the rest of the gang.

Come on, folks. If Metallica can get over that whole iTunes downloading thing, Fordham can have a blog. In the meantime, feel free to guest blog anytime here, Mike (or Checker). Just remember, we allow reader comments.

Speaking of Murray, Jay Greene piles on against the piece and points out (as I did earlier this week) that having it appear in the WSJ was particularly odd.

Morning Round-up July 27, 2006

Guggenheim Study Suggests Arts Education Benefits Literacy Skills NYT
A study released today by the Guggenheim Museum cites a range of literacy skills among students who took part in a program in which the Guggenheim sends artists into schools.

California's Low-Income Schools to Get High-Tech Windfall LAT
Schools in districts with state-approved technology plans - and at with at least 40% of their students qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch, a low-income indicator - would be eligible for funding.

Marijuana gumballs found at Md. school Boston Globe
Federal drug agents aren't laughing about marijuana packaged in yellow, smiley-faced gumballs. The "Greenades" gumballs were found in January at Howard High School in Ellicott City. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency recently released an intelligence bulletin about them.

ED Loosens Tutoring Requirements, Abandons Choice -- This Is Getting Tough?

Perhaps the most interesting part of Ben Feller's AP piece is that it tries to describe ED's newly-expanded tutoring waiver and SES "flip" with "get-tough" actions on other fronts:

"The policy changes are part of a pattern of enforcement by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings," writes Feller (Education Department Expands Tutoring). "She wants to show she can adapt -waiving rules to get more kids in tutoring- and yet be tough on states that do not comply, by threatening to pull their money."

I'm just not sure the connection is there -- I see only a loosening of requirements. Where's the "get tough" in that? Just as importantly, Feller fails to note that Spellings may be further diminishing NCLB choice with her move. He asserts that parents "prefer" tutoring over transfers, which isn't necessarily the case and sounds a lot like ED-speak. Some parents may prefer tutoring in some cases, but the fact that six times as many students were tutored is more the result of the relative logistical ease for districts of providing tutoring compared to transfers, weaknesses in the law's transfer requirements, and lax enforcement on the part of the USDE even now. When, exactly, is Spellings going to get tough on the choice provision?

You can see the USDE's press release here and the letters to individual districts (Anchorage, Memphis, Chicago, and Boston) and states (Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia) here.

UPDATE: Eduwonk agrees that this isn't toughening, and that choice is getting left out.

UPDATE 2: The AFT blog is underwhelmed by the flexibility and suspects that ED is simply working the press to get (even more) positive coverage.


The NEA Has A Hottie -- How About You?

No, she's not one of those sex-crazed teachers who seem to be assaulting boys left and right of late. She's Staci Maiers, an NEA congressional liaison, who is (far as I could tell) the only education-related person named to The Hill's annual 50 Hill Hotties (or whatever they call it). There's also a foul-mouthed version The DCeiver here (with thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for pointing it out).

Tauscher LA Jamie McInerney (below) has nothing to do with education, I don't think -- he's just here for equal time.

To all of you who keep asking if I'm going to do Hot For Education again this year,
I still haven't decided yet. It was popular, but embarassing. Even I have standards (I think).

Still, feel free to send your nominations (and pics if you have them) to me at AlexanderRusso @ gmail.com. A new crop of folks to embarrass might be fun -- from the Hill, the groups, the think tanks, or, hey, even the AFT. Who are the education hotties in your office?

Don't Forget To Check Out The 77th Carnival

This week's Carnival of Education was hosted by Text Savvy, and here's a peek: "This found itself at the end of my E-mail queue, but I just HAD to give it top billing. From the lack of empiricism in educational research to postmodernist dogmatism to this juicy quote:

This is just the sort of babble educators invoke when they say, 'The research shows …' over and over again, despite the fact that what they're doing is demonstrably not working.
I love it! "

Don't forget, next week's Carnival of Education will be right here at This Week In Education...submissions are due by 5pm Pacific, 7pm Central, and 8pm Eastern.

AEI Scholar Slams NCLB In The Wall Street Journal

Charles Murray's critique of the NCLB testing system isn't anything new, really -- he says that pass rates are uninformative in many cases and deceptive in others -- but the fact that he's an AEI scholar, and that the piece is published in the Wall Street Journal, makes reading the piece a little more interesting.

UPDATE: Assorted Stuff says The Numbers Don’t Add Up

UPDATE: Mike Petrilli has even more to say Dropping acid

Morning Round-up July 26, 2006

Schwarzenegger Calls the Running of L.A. Unified 'Horrible' LAT
Gov. Schwarzenegger publicly criticized Supt. Roy Romer and said he would sign legislation giving Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa more authority over the LA Unified School District.

11 Sex Offenders Eligible to Teach
None of the 11 was actually working as a teacher, but all remained in a database of teachers with valid certification in Maryland because of inadequate communication between the Maryland Dept. of Education and some of the 24 local school systems.

Study: Multitasking hinders learning eSchool News
The study published in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" journal reported that learing while multi-tasking leads to a different way of obtaining the knowledge that might be harder to use it in the future.-

So Much For Making NCLB Choice Really WOrk

Like the Times, Richard Kahlenberg praises the news that the USDE may be taking steps to enforce elements of NCLB that he thinks are important -- especially the choice provisions (Enforcing the NCLB Act).

He probably won't be nearly as happy when he hears the announcement later this morning that USDE is going to expand the SES-choice "flip"(as well as allowing more low performing districts like Chicago to provide their own tutoring).

Four low-performing districts will get to do their own tutoring. Five states will get to "flip" choice and SES, putting choice at the back of the line yet again.

Who Replaces Winerip?

Today's On Education column is the first that I've seen since Mike Winerip, the regular columnist, announced he was leaving that assignment. His replacement, for this week at least, is Clara Hemphill, who has helped turn InsideSchools.org into a powerhouse of school information on the web.

Her topic is the preschool play vs. learning debate: "while it may seem like a good thing to teach reading, writing and arithmetic as early as possible, most early childhood experts agree that play is crucial for both social and academic development (A New Meaning for ‘Play’)."

Fighting "Tooth And Nail" Against Teacher Quality

The NYT editorial page from Tuesday follows up on the teacher quality issue by praising Secretary Spellings for her renewed attention to the issue and reminding everyone how evasive and resistant state and local folks are on the issue, no matter what the statute or ED says -- whether it's with this law, NCLB, or with past attempts to get at the issue such as the ed school accountability provisions in the 1997 Higher Education Act (Demanding vs. Doing).


PBS Kids Fires Host Over Sex Ed Spoof

Apparently PBS beat Spellings and/or Congress to the punch this time, by firing one of its hosts after finding out that she had done a video spoof of a sex ed PSA in which she tells women how they can remain virgins 'technically' (PBS Kids host fired over 'inappropriate' video). The link to one of the 'technical virgin' videos is here, but don't click it if you're at work.

UPDATE: I can't resist -- here's the video (be warned, it's probably NSFW):

The Real Chicago Experiment? University-Run Schools

Chicago schools are known for lots of things -- local councils, mayoral control, etc. -- but the growing involvement of the University of Chicago in taking over and running several neighborhood schools may be the most interesting and innovative part of what's going on here now -- a more extensive role than any I can recall since John Silber's Boston University took over the Chelsea school system in the 1980s.

Check out Kate Grossman's three-part Chicago Sun Times series on what's going on at one of the South Side schools being run by the University of Chicago -- one of the most direct examples of higher ed involvement in K12 reform in the nation (Doubts emerge in school experiment).

Confused Signals From the USDE

Sam Dillon's NYT piece on the current state of NCLB enforcement gives a nice update on where things are regarding qualified teachers and state assessment systems, and an overview of how Spellings' tactics have changed (Most States Fail Demands in Education Law). But there's not much explanation or analysis about why Spellings has shifted course so dramatically -- just some mumbo-jumbo from her about how states' homework has come due. Thanks, teach.

In the meantime, the confused signals from ED continue with today's Chicago Sun Times reporting that Chicago schools will continue to be able to provide their own tutoring as in the past, despite being a low performing district (City schools get reprieve on tutoring).

Morning Round-up July 25, 2006

Most States Fail Demands Set Out in Education Law NYT
Faced with such findings, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who took office promising flexible enforcement of the law, has toughened her stance, leaving several states in danger of losing parts of their federal aid.

Tests expose flawed diplomas USA TODAY
A report by researchers from Swarthmore and Harvard challenged the farirness of exit exams, also noting that black male students are 7.3 % more likely to drop out of high school.

Banned books ordered back on shelves
Miami Herald
U.S. District Judge Alan Gold said the school board "abused its discretion in a manner that violated the transcendent imperatives of the first amendment," and order all copies of Vamos a Cuba back on school library shelves.


Monday Roundup - July 24 2006

The U. of Chicago way Chicago Sun-Times
A key element of what the University of Chicago promises Donoghue parents is instruction tailored to each kid.

Well Past Halfway NY Sun via EducationNews.org
We are now well past the halfway point in New York's great experiment with mayoral control of the schools, an experiment that appears to be a work in progress.

An Interview with Rod Paige Education News.org
Rod answers some questions about NCLB and what he's been up to.

A Milestone For The EduSphere! Eduwonks
Joanne Jacobs, one of the EduSphere's original founders, has now surpassed 2 million page views over at her place.

Week In Review -- July 17-24


Friday Roundup: Articles I Should Have Blogged Already

Study Documents ‘Ghetto Tax' NYT
Poor urban residents frequently pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year in extra costs for everyday necessities. Some of the disparities were due to real differences in the cost of doing business in poor areas, some to predatory financial practices and some to consumer ignorance.

Muzzling Sex Education NYT
While about two-thirds of states require public schools to teach about H.I.V. and sexually transmitted diseases, fewer than half mandate sex education, and most stress abstinence, according to a survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group.

For 7th Grade Jocks, Is There Ever an Off-Season? NYT
"Specialty sports camps are on the increase as young athletes focus on playing one sport year-round, and the competition to make the best teams stiffens. In spite of holdouts like Mrs. Weber — and the concerns of some exercise experts and psychologists — many parents, children and coaches say that these camps are essential for benchwarmers looking to start or for aspiring players desperately seeking to make varsity."

Online age verification may prove complex Seattle Post Intelligencer
MySpace has recently implemented policies designed to better separate kids from adults. Among the changes, adult MySpace users must already know a 14- or 15-year-old user's e-mail address or full name to initiate contact or view a profile containing personal information. However, because age is self-reported, as it is at similar sites, adults could simply sign up as minors.

On your mark, get set: Science! CS Monitor
On 'Iron Science Teacher,' competitors are told the ingredient in advance so they can develop an activity, but once they're on stage, they have only 10 minutes to assemble and present their science lesson.

Morning Round-up July 21, 2006

SAT Group Can Do Better, Says Report It Commissioned NYT
An independent report by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton recommended that College Board acquire better scanning software, increase training for test center personnel and make other improvements in is scoring of the SAT exams.

Deal reached on vocational education law AP
House and Senate negotiators reached a deal Thursday to renew the Perkins Act (the vocational education law) at $1.3 billion a year -- a program the White house wants to end.

White House advisor to address teachers Brownsville Herald
White House advisor and senior advisor to Secy Margaret Spellings Norma Garza will address an orientation of more than 500 early education educators, all of whom will begin a professional development training funded through a $4.8 million grant from USDE.


Who Messed Up On Montana?

"Montana will appeal a federal ruling that says the state has major problems with student testing required by No Child Left Behind, state Superintendent Linda McCulloch says," according to this Billings Gazette story (State to appeal No Child status). "But the Montana Office of Public Instruction contends the state is on target with its timetable for implementing the tests and is making good progress in doing so. It also says the threatened sanctions were unusual in the OPI's dealings with the department."

I guess we can't blame this one on Whitehurst.

Stem Cells Vs. Vouchers

Like the voucher initiative that was rolled out earlier this week, yesterday's stem cell votes and veto were in large part political theater aimed at the fall elections. Lawmakers got to vote for or against stem cell use, and Bush got to do his pretend-conservative act.

What's different about the voucher initiative, it seems to me, is that it could in some form very well pass the House and Senate and become law. More and more lawmakers, including Democratic ones, have voted for vouchers in various circumstances. Public school choice -- including NCLB transfers -- haven't seemed to have worked Ditto for 'restructuring.' And at least some of the Constitutional arguments against vouchers are gone.

Wishful Thinking Of The Week

From the 100 Percent Solution folks at Fordham: "Weighted student funding, a bold new model for public-school finance, is winning remarkable support from a broad spectrum of policymakers, education organizations, parents and school leaders." (Support mounts for new school funding model)

What that boils down to is that lots of former officials are signing on, but no big names. And I'm not sure signatories mean much. See previous post: Who Signed, Who Didn't

Politics of NCLB in Colo. Campaign

Lame duck LAUSD supt (and former CO governor) does the easy thing and comes out against NCLB to help out a friend (Aspen Times).

Morning Round-up July 20, 2006

Teachers union leader vows to boost activism Boston Globe
The American Federation of Teachers opens its annual convention today in South Boston with plans to increase dues, boost activism, and battle antiunion efforts is states like LA, where thousands of teacher's lost their jobs and union status following Hurricane Katrina.

Smarter Charter Kids New York Post
Charter schools in the city are vastly outperforming public schools in their neighborhoods, according to a bombshell report by The Post.

To take the yawn out of math equations, teach the teachers
Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative, a USDE professional development program for teachers, offers teachers the ind of professional development they like -- practical ideas from their peers.

ED's Kevin Sullivan Heads To The White House

Starting Monday, USDE's Kevin Sullivan is headed to the White House. According to the Dallas Observer, he'll play the Toby Ziegler role.

UPDATE: More on this (and Tom Luce's departure) at EdWeek.

UPDATE 2: Eduwonk checks in to say that Luce's departure is a loss for Spellings and a win for Whitehurst -- who really needs one this week.


Conspiracy Theories Aren't All Brilliant

Mike Antonucci at Intercepts points out that those who thought that the Friday release of the private schools report was brilliant and intentional can't have it both ways: "As with all bad conspiracy theories, the evil schemers are credited with being both fiendishly clever and incredibly stupid." Brilliant!

Who Did It Best? NYT, WaPo, USAT, or AP?

Once in a blue moon when everyone writes essentially the same story on the same day you can compare the major papers' education coverage -- or at least their opening sentences (and who they get to respond). There's no clear winner here, but some interesting differences:

Greg Toppo at USA Today gets lots of credit for a sly opener that hints at the strange timing of the event without being too obvious: "Children in poorly performing public schools need the chance to attend private schools, and taxpayers should pick up the tab, U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said Tuesday, four days after a report found that private schools offer little academic advantage over public schools." He also gets Russ Whitehurst to provide some comic relief trying to explain how his boss could have possibly not known about the report.

Lois Romano at the Washington Post gives us a meat-and-potatoes opener that lays out the basic power dynamics at play in no uncertain terms: "The Bush administration and Republican legislators yesterday proposed a $100 million national plan to offer low-income students private-school vouchers to escape low-performing public schools. The plan was immediately assailed by Democrats, unions and liberal advocacy groups." She gets the NEA's Reg Weaver to respond.

Over at the NYT, Diana Jean Schemo gives us a dry-as-dust opener that indicates neither how exquisitely awkward a situation it was nor the fierce opposition to the idea that's out there: "With Education Secretary Margaret Spellings joining them in a show of support, Congressional Republicans proposed Tuesday to spend $100 million on vouchers for low-income students in chronically failing public schools around the country to attend private and religious schools." But she does get Ralph Neas from PFAW for the react, which isn't bad.

It's not in the first paragraphs, but AP's Ben Feller bravely uses the "awkward" word to describe the situation without bothering to find someone else to point out how awkward it was: "The Bush administration requested the school-choice plan, but Tuesday's media event caused some awkwardness for the Education Department. The agency just released a study that raises questions about whether private schools offer any advantage over public ones."

Best of the Carnival

You gotta see this week's Carnival of Education over at Education In Texas, which includes more fun and random blog posts than you can shake a stick at (Education in Texas).

Watch Out For Local School District Watchdog Blogs

Watch out, lazy reporters and sketchy school boards officials - citizen watchdog blogs like the St. Louis Schools Watch are going to make your job harder (and in the case of St. Louis Public Schools there's a lot of drama to work with right now).

Like Peyton Wolcott, The Watch is focused on a particular school board, and authored by what seems to be a smart, knowledgeable, and extremely energetic individual who want to find out what's going on in the budgets and board reports and the back rooms. (His name's Peter Downs and he's very into homemade video right now.) These folks dig things up. (Correction: Antonio French provides the content to the site.)

My Chicago public schools site, District 299, is a pale and lazy version of what these guys are doing -- more coverage and commentary than original reporting (though the comments sections are heating up). The information-packed (and foundation-funded) New York City site Inside Schools blows everyone else out of the water with iits individual school reviews (and comments).

Then there's the site that covers the Winona (Minn.) public school system whose contents and comments got so incendiary that school administrators banned it from district computers and got a newspaper story for their troubles. Hard to beat that.

Morning Round-up July 19, 2006

Public vs. Private Schools NYT editorial
A growing body of work has shown that the quality of education offered to students varies widely within all school categories. The public, private, charter and religious realms all contain schools that range from good to not so good to downright horrendous.

Back-to-School Spending Is Expected to Increase 19%
LA Times
The average family will shell out more for new clothing, eletronics and dormitory supplies for the coming school season than in 2005, even as higher energy prices have crimped spending in other areas according to a retail survey released Tuesday.

Muzzling Sex Education on Anything but Abstinence
The demise of the bill, make plenty of sense when undestood in a national context. This piece of legislation provided just one more front in a much larger political, cultural and scientific battle between sex education that teaches abstinence and those that teach concetraception also.

Predictably Awkward Voucher Presss Conference For Secty Spellings Gets Even Worse

Here's the first of what is likely to be a passel of Tuesday stories about the new Republican voucher proposal Republicans unveil $100 million school voucher plan CNN) -- and the "awkward" coincidence regarding last week's public/private school study that I think I may actually have been the first to anticipate (here and here if you want to verify and/or credit). But who could have predicted that Spellings would make it worse by saying she didn't know about the NCES study? Now that, no one could have guessed.

Note to the good folks at the USDE and on the Hill: (1) Read my blog (even on weekends), it will save you some embarassment if by some stretch of the imagination you haven't figured it out on your own already; (2) Don't let your boss say she didn't know something she should have known, it reminds us of too many other government officials who've claimed to have been "out of the loop"; and (3) you can always cancel or reschedule.


New Prominence For Education News?

School Me, the LA Times' overaccomplished newcomer on the scene, notes several small but interesting changes in the way some newspapers are highlighting their education news, and reminds me that I predicted a whole passel of new newspaper blogs coming down the pike. I'll work on that. In the meantime, someone's gotta help me out: is it the plain "School Me" or is it the more enthusiastic "School Me!"?

Banning Cell Phones, Banning Laptops

The Christian Science Monitor comes to the New York City cell phone ban story late, but gives some interesting national context and comparison (laptops) to make up for it: 'Ringing' in the school year.

Blogging Universal Preschool

If you're a pre-k teacher and you like to blog, Pre-K Now has just the job for you. The organization is offering $1,000 a month to a pre-K teacher who wants to blog about his/her own experiences in a state-funded pre-K program.

What's going on here? Well, blogs may look like a great way to get the word out for some nonprofits and advocacy groups, but not every organization has the in-house talent to pull one off (or wants someone in the office spending all their time blogging). As a result, some groups are looking outside to get their blogging needs met -- like they would get someone to do a newsletter or a grant proposal.

Deborah Meier's MySpace Page

You can imagine my surprise, coming upon Deborah Meier's MySpace webpage , complete with biographical information ("Female, 75 years old, Framingham, Mass.") and who she'd like to meet.

Given the popularity of MySpace and the fact that so many teachers and students "live" there, we should all have MySpace pages.

Then I find out it's a grad school project.

Morning Round-up July 18, 2006

Building a Better School Board LA Times
While proposals to keep teachers unions from funneling campaign money into school board campaigns, maybe we should raise school board members salaries.

Program prepares disabled youth for college life
Special education has shifted over the past decade from getting students to functional levels on basics like reading in favor of encouraging them to move to advanced levels of study and tackle more complex subjects.

Charter school urged again Pitts. Post-Gazette
Chief executive officer of Educatin Innovations Inc. of East Liberty, told the board that the organization's charter school would give students opportunities they can't find elsewhere.


Vouchers For Everbyody -- Including Spellings

As previously noted, tomorrow is Secty Spellings' chance to answer some questions about the public/private school study and indicate the Administration's position on scholarships and/or vouchers.

The scholarship program being introduced is intended to "provide children in under-performing schools with more choices and opportunities to improve their educational experience." Competitive grants to states, LEAs, or nonprofits. McKeon is supposed to be there from the House side, but no Frist Enzi (Alexander and Ensign instead).

For what it's worth, Spellings herself hasn't been known as much of a vouchers person. Until recently, she wasn't even known as being much of a fan of choice. However, with campaigns heating up and NCLB threatening to turn into a bowl of mush, no doubt she's under some pressure to help out a little. A dollar for anyone who asks her about the Zidane head-butt.

Morning Round-up July 17, 2004

An extended family for black students Boston Globe
The results in student achievement that followed won national plaudits and are drawing interest from school districts in San Diego and San Francisco, and as far away as Little Rock, Ark.

Charter School Gets Home at Education Headquarters
Ross Global Academy, a charter school in New York City, will have a new home in ground floor of the Tweed Courthouse that houses the Education Department.

Board Might Be Stripped of Some Roles Washington Post
An U.S. Senate committee has approved legislation that would require the D.C. school board to relinquish its state-level functions, including its handling of millions for low performing schools.

A Costly Lesson in Supply and Demand LA Times
From boosting training programs at universities and community colleges to creating incentives to recruit and retain techers, education officials and industry leaders hope teachers will help students catch up before it is too late.

Around The Blogs This Morning

Raising a boy to love books
Joanne points to a female blogger writing about boys in school.
Club Meds
Dan G. blogs the NYT story about medication at camp.
The Answer to our Educational Woes
EdPol crushes on a NJ piece about the benefits of competition.
NYC: A Nice Place If Klein Pays Your Rent
NYCEd doesn't thinks housing incentives for math teachers are fair.
The Knucklehead Of The Day: Pamela Rogers
The Wonks are still hot for teacher (but need a better picture).
At Last...
Eduwonk begrudges the AFTies their NYT mention.

Week in Review, July 10-17

Here are some of the most notable posts from the past week's education news:

Most Popular Post Of The Week:
Education Writers: Who's Who -- And Where Are They Now?

Washingt0n Update
Ed Sector, The Unions, & Eduwonk*
Go, Lutheran Schools!
Capitalizing On Boys

Gary Orfield And The NEA
What You Missed At Today's Hearing
NCLB Leaves Readers Behind?

Media Matters
The Monitor's Disappearing Coverage
The Last NYT Winerip Column
Is There A "Girl Crisis" In The EduSphere?
What Makes A "Scholar"? Not The New York Times.

Best Of The Rest
Evolution Of An Epithet: "You're Such A Slut"
Why No Successor In Boston?
Will Boards Just Say No To HPV Vaccine For Girls?

*Correction: The NEA responded to the EdSector report in the USAT story itself, and its talking points on the report are in the comments section below.


Go, Lutheran Schools!

Who cares that private school kids don't do much better than public school ones, once you control for income, parents' education, etc. (Public Schools Perform Near Private Ones in Study)? That's just confusing statistical crap.

Ask any private school parent -- all that really matters is that richer kids with more educated parents still do better than poor ones with less-educated parents -- and that Lutheran schools kick conservative Christian schools' asses. (Go, Lutheran schools!)

Kudos to the folks at the AFT Blog -- and to NYTers Diana Jean Schemo and Alison Mitchell -- for the blog's mention in the Saturday's story. However, the timing of the report's release might not seem so smart on Tuesday, when the Secretary has to take questions about the report at press conference about a new "scholarship" proposal on the Hill. Doh!

UPDATE: Firing from the left, the Washington Monthly responds with: "I don't think this report is exactly cause for breaking out champagne among public school champions."


Capitalizing On Boys

Over at The Gadfly, Martin Davis (for whom I'm currently doing some project work) points readers back to Kati Haycock's excellent points on boys in schools and highlights the political advantages of focusing on boys -- even if the evidence remains somewhat under debate. "Today's generation of policy worriers is focusing on boys," writes Davis. "So let's capitalize on it."

"You're Such A Slut"

If you've been startled to hear teen and even 'tween girls casually calling each other sluts (as in, "you're such a...") for things as innocuous as admitting a crush or glancing at a guy, you'll want to read this NYT article about how the word has become more widely used -- but not necessarily less damaging (The Taming of the Slur).

Between Sex and the City and self-described "retail sluts," the term has apparently lost some of its original heft and meaning -- as "bitch" and even the n-word have to some extent. And, according to this article, it's also less likely than in the past to be used by boys (who've moved on to other even more offensive descriptions, as any teacher or middle school parent can tell you).

Is There A "Girl Crisis" In The EduSphere?

It's no secret that teaching is a female dominated field. When it comes to education blogs, however, the opposite seems true. Based on my highly unscientific look at over 50 education blogs, men seem to outnumber women by a large margin -- even among the classroom blogs where you'd think there might be more women.

This isn't about quality. There are some excellent blogs run by women (Joanne Jacobs' blog, for example) and some frighteningly good female bloggers working on group blogs (AFT Michele [oops -- that's Beth] and School Me's Janine Kahn come to mind). But still it seems a shame (and it's not just blogs -- there are considerably less female columnists than male ones at most papers).

Where are all the female bloggers? Even with the possibility of anonymity, are women in education less likely to want to share their thoughts this way? Or are women falling into the role society has made for them -- mothers and wives -- and men are filling their role made by society of being more inclined towards opinion and self promotion?

My blog can be found here: Poor, Starving, College Student

"Vanity Sizing" Our Schools

"Vanity sizing" is when clothing makers slap a size 2 label on a garment that's much more like a 6, according to this NY Daily News story (Stop the insanity!). It makes the customer feel better. Sounds like what states are doing to make their schools appear better, doesn't it?

Morning Round-up July 14, 2006

School Cellphone Ban Violates Rights of Parents, Lawsuit Says NYT
Ms. Colon is one of eight parents - along with a citywide parent association - who filed a lawsuit yesterday against Mayor Michael R. BLoomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the city's Department of Education, seeking to overturn the city's rule banning students from carrying cellphones in schools.

Suit expands voucher debate Philadelphia Inquirer
If successful, Crawford v. Davy could let parents use the money public schools normally spend on their children's education to send them to any school, public or private, regardless of geography or religious affiliation.

Advisory Panel Issues L.A. Schools Reform Reccommendations at Odds With Mayor's Plan LA Times
A little watched commission exploring reforms to the public school system formally agreed Thursday to a set of sweeping recommendations, including allowing the school board to keep certain actions that the mayor is trying to take over.


Education Writers:
Who's Who -- And Where Are They Now?

I don't know exactly why I started making this table of education writers past and present, but once I started I couldn't stop. I guess it's fascinating to see who's where, and what folks have moved on to doing.

Clearly, teaching isn't the only field with a lot of attrition. But there's also the question: Do most education writers move on to another beat, or do they stay in education but go to an agency or a nonprofit?

UPDATE: Readers' corrections and additions are noted in red, Wikipedia-style.

Anyway, I realized that if I posted the list publicly, then I'd have to stop -- and maybe folks would help me with additions and corrections, which I desperately need. (In fact, I just realized that I left former LA Times writer Richard Colvin off the list -- doh!)

Take a look and let me know where else I messed up. (If you want to download a pretty Word version of click here.) And thanks to Lisa Walker at EWA and Matt Maurer at CommunicationWorks for helping me fill in some of the obvious ones I didn't know.

Remember, it's just a list, and this is just a blog -- if you're not on there it doesn't mean you lost your job, just that I'm a numbskull.



Where Are They Now?

Assoc. Press

Ben Feller

Justin Pope

Nahal Toosi

Anjetta McQueen

Greg Toppo


USA Today


Ledge King

Richard Whitmire

Fredreka Schouten


Education Trust


David Glovin

Elizabeth Willen



Pauline Vu

Kavan Peterson

Eric Kelderman

Tiffany Pache




New York Times

Sam Dillon

Elissa Gootman

S. Freedman (col)

Diana Jean Schemo

David Herszenhorn

Alan Finder

Brent Staples (Ed)

Tamar Lewin

Karen Arenson

Campbell Robinson

Alison Mitchell, ed

Mike Winerip

Rich. Rothstein

Jacques Steinberg

Greg Winter

Ethan Bronner

Jodi Rudoren

Anemona Hartocollis



Media beat



Chicago bureau


Washington Post

Jay Mathews (col)

Nick Anderson

Valerie Strauss

Lois Romano (?)

Michael Fletcher

Michael Dobbs

Linda Perlstein

Larry Feinberg

Michael Fletcher


Book leave



White House

LA Times

Joel Rubin

Mitch Landsberg

Erika Hayasaki

Carla Rivera

Hemmy So

Bob Sipchen (col)

Beth Shuster, editor

Duke Helfland

Richard Cooper

Nick Anderson

Elaine Woo

Richard Colvin

Political beat


Washington Post



Chicago Tribune

Stephanie Banchero

Tracy Dell'Angela

Diane Rado

David Mendel

C. Grumman (ed)

Jodi Cohen

Lori Olszewski

Mike Martinez

Ana Cholo

Other beat

Other beat

Boston Globe

Maria Sacchetti

Tracy Jan

Anand Vashnav

Press Secty

Dallas News

Joshua Benton (col)

Scott Parks

Kent Fischer

Holly Hacker

Robert Dodge


Atlanta J-C

Patti Ghezzi

Mary McDonald

Fran Jeffries (assistant ed)

Chris Reynolds

Heather Vogell

Bridget Guttierez

Keith Graham, ed

Andrea Jones

Laura Diamond

Kristina Torres

Diane Stepp

Dana Tofig

Kelly Simmons

Spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education

magazine for University of Georgia

National Journal

Siobhan Gorman

Brian Friel

Baltimore Sun

Cox News

Andy Mollison



Gillian Gillers


Claudio Sanchez

Steve Drummond


John Merrow

Kevin Dando

USA Today

Greg Toppo

Mary Beth Marklein

R. Whitmire (ed)

US News

Alex Kingsbury

Tom Toch

Ben Wildavsky

Ulrich Boser

Anne McGrath

Mary Lord

Al Sanoff

Ed Sector






Baltimore Sun

Justin Fenton

Liz Bowie

Sara Neufeld

Anica Butler

Gina Davis

Liz Kay

Mike Bowler

Tricia Bishop

Hanah Cho

Howard Libit

Laura Loh

Tanika White


Biz writer

Biz writer

City editor

Grad skul

Fashion beat

Miami Herald

Matt Pinzur

Peter Bailey

Wall Street Journal

Rob Tomsho

Dan Golden

June Kronholz


Christian Science Monitor

Amanda Paulsen

Stacy Teicher

Jacqui Goddard

Gail Chaddock


Philadelphia Inquirer

Martha Woodall

Rose Ciotta

Susan Snyder

Dale Mezzacappa

Jim O'Neill


Dallas Morning News

Seattle Times

Frank Bass

Sanjay Bhatt

Bill Ristow

Linda Shaw


Anne Lewis

Linda Perlstein

Dale Mezzacappa

Ulrich Boeser

Andy Mollison

Joe Williams

Sara Carr

Craig Jerald

Alexander Russo



Anne Hulbert

The New Yorker

Kate Boo

Nick Lemann

Sara Mosle

Columbia Dean

Book project

NYT Magazine

James Traub

Sara Mosle

Other beats

Book project

Col = columnist (in addition to, or as a sole function)

Ed = editorial page writer