Morning Round-up December 29, 2006

Allure of Magnet Schools Wins Over Nearby Districts WaPo
Suffer more than two hours of commuting round trip for the privilege of attending one of the nation's best high schools? Or enroll in the neighborhood school 15 minutes away near Manassas?

School scheduling longer break over holidays
The trend is particularly noticeable in districts with large Latino populations, because of the many families that head south of the border to celebrate Christmas and Día de los Reyes on Jan. 6.

School crime rises, reflects Hub violence Boston Globe
The number of weapons confiscated in and around Boston's public schools has risen 42 percent in the last five years, mirroring a citywide rise in youth violence.


The Worst Of 2006

Earlier this month, I wrote about those for whom it was a very good year, including George Miller and Ted Kennedy, the Gates Foundation, LA Mayor Villagairosa, school bans, incentive pay for teachers, and schools in year six of AYP. (I forgot to mention it was also a very good year for FairTest, by the way.)

As for those whose year didn’t go so well, I’d nominate Tom Vander Ark, who resigned as head of the Gates Foundation’s education effort after failing to be selected as the head of the LAUSD. ECS hit the skids. It also wasn’t a great year for EdSec Spellings, who had to deal with the Reading First scandal, plus idiotic statement about NCLB being 99 percent pure. But then again she wasn’t forced out.

It also wasn’t a good year for lecherous teachers – many of them female – caught sleeping with students, or STEM initiatives (remember them?) or Frist Grants. The plight of boys in a female-dominated school system took a beating, and national tests didn't gain much traction as some had hoped in large part due to lots of testing snafus last winter and spring. Ditto for weighted student funding (aka the "100 percent solution"). Nor was it a good year for tutoring, choice, or teacher equity provisions of NCLB, which received too little attention, too late, from not enough people.

Education journalism & blogging lost Ben Feller (AP), Matt Pinzur (Miami Herald), Michael Winerip (NYT), Dale Mezzacappa (Phil Enquirer), & AFT John (AFT Blog).

UPDATE: Other folks' roundups of the year: USA Today has one here. EdWeek has one here. Eduwonk has one here.

Morning Round-up December 28, 2006

Project is getting students hooked on engineering early JS Online
Milwaukee is having growth in the program at the middle-school level, as the sixth- through eighth-grade Gateway to Technology curriculum prepares more children for high school studies in principles of engineering and robotic design.

Reformers cite middle school needs
After having focused for years on elementary and high school reforms, L.A. Unified leaders say they are turning their attention to middle schools in hopes of better preparing students for high school and thus stemming the district's alarming dropout rate.

No Tests? College's Students Must Relearn How to Learn
For freshmen such as Elizabeth Fleming who are whipsawed from pressure-cooker, high-achieving high schools to colleges that take a longer-term, more philosophical view of learning, the first semester is an education in itself.

Schools bank on parents' ability to raise cash
Seattle Times
In addition to her usual school budget this year, Bryant Elementary School principal Linda Robinson will have nearly $200,000 to spend on student field trips, library materials, instrumental music and artists-in-residence.

School partnerships need a push Boston Globe
A plan by five major research universities to adopt 10 public schools in Boston is creaking along, despite school department hopes that the partnerships would be underway in the new year. If college officials are going to make a significant contribution to the city's schools, they must first adopt an urban sense of urgency.

Immigrant Children Shielded From State Tests, but for Whose Protection?
The district’s policy, which state law allows, has been to spare children from immigrant families from taking the test if they have been in the school system less than five years.


Ho, Ho, Ho -- From My Inlatable Santa To Yours

Happy holidays from This Week In Education.

It's been another great year, and I appreciate all of your readership, comments, and emails.

I'll be updating intermittently this week.

Onwards and upwards in 2007!

Week In Review December 18 - 25


Most Dangerous Toys Of All Time

"Ever since my parents bought me a pair of pogo stilts when I was 10 and the first series of exponentially more vertiginous bounces caused my leg femurs to pop out of the top of my pelvis, I have been fascinated with dangerous toys," begins this post in Wired about the most dangourous toys of all time (Table of Malcontents). The list goes way beyond lawn darts.

Top 100 Education Blogs

The best things about this list of favorite education blogs are that it tries to gather like blogs together (teacher blogs, policy blogs) and that This Week In Education is included: Top 100 Education Blogs.

Ignoring Poverty In The Suburbs

Even while there are big shifts in the distribution of poor people in America -- more now live in the suburbs than in inner cities -- the national press and federal policymakers are struggling to pay attention.

"Poverty stories are a tough sell in today's MSM, so the fact that these [local] papers chose to report the story at all is positive," according to a recent post in the CJR Daily (Poverty Pendulum Swings, Press Yawns).

Where Are The K12 Lobbyists?

Impact aid, migrant education -- I remember a small but persistent set of folks who used to come into my bosses' offices to lobby on issues, programs, and special projects while I was on the Hill, and I'm guessing it's only gotten worse since then. To give you an idea of who's out there, yesterday's Inside Higher Ed has a detailed look at lobbying at the postsecondary level (Anti- Lobbying Fever? Not in Higher Ed). I don't see an similarly recent or detailed piece from EdWeek, but there are some articles on the topic (The School Lobby, Rural Educators Step Up Lobbying Efforts) and I'm guessing there's a list of registered K12 lobbyists online somewhere, too

Morning Round-up December 22, 2006

School Entrepreneur Named to Be a Deputy Chancellor NYT
The former Edison president, Chris Cerf will be deputy chancellor — a $196,571-a-year post that will formalize his role in Mr. Klein’s inner circle and make him the system’s top official for labor relations and negotiations, principal and teacher recruitment and training, media relations and political affairs.

A Baltimore School Seeks to Avoid Failure NPR (audio)
Thousands of schools around the country are labeled as "needing improvement" under the terms of the No Child Left Behind Act. One Baltimore school is struggling against poverty, absenteeism, and years of academic decay to try and turn itself around.

Educators want to reopen 'Brown v. Board' school USA Today
Brown's old neighborhood school, Sumner Elementary, has been shuttered for years. Now two black Kansas educators want to turn it into a charter school for at-risk students, most of whom, they say, will be black or Hispanic.


How About A "Surge" In Education Funding?

All this crazy talk about a surge of military forces in Iraq -- plus the Ed Trust school finance report (Funding Gaps 2006 -- must be making education advocates mutter under their breath that if anything deserves a surge it's federal funding for low-income schools.

UPDATE: Kevin Carey at TQATE points out the presence of inequities in federal funding as well as state and local funding but leaves out the long sad story of trying to get Title I formula changes past Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, and Chris Dodd, among others.

UPDATE 2: What about funds for the "effort" part of Title I, a couple of readers have asked -- wasn't this supposed to ensure that Title I wasn't overly based on state PPE? I seem to recall its use early on in NCLB but I'm guessing that went away fairly quickly.

Another One Bites The Dust

I was hoping that Ben Feller's disappearance from the AP education spot was temporary, but AFT Michele reports that it's not so: "Ben's beat is being taken up by Nancy Zuckerbrod, who I have chatted with once on the phone, and I ran into her at the recent AEI conference on the NCLB Toolkit," writes Michele (So Long Ben!), who also points out that I'm falling down on the job by not noting this earlier. Denial, and laziness, at work yet again.

New-School Solutions To Old-School Problems

John Edwards isn't the only politico who's got a growing focus on poverty, as this NYT story on new efforts in New York City reveals (Bloomberg Plans New Office to Help New York’s Poor). Bloomberg is taking a traditional liberal issue (poverty) that many old-school educators and traditionalistas believe needs to be addressed before or alongside school reform, and giving it a new, Clinton-esque spin. Note the presence of Geoffrey Canada from the Harlem Children's Zone in the picture. See previous post: Cash For Coming To School?

UPDATE: Joe Williams is already on the case, writing in Poverty and Schools, Part XXI that paying kids to stay in school is only a good idea if the school is good enough. I get what he's saying, but I'm not sure that kids are better served on the streets than they are at a low-performing schools.

Left And Right Could Be On To Something, Says SF Schools Blog

In response to my post about the unusual mix of critics who've gathered to bash NCLB (National Review In A Time Warp On NCLB), the SF Schools blog notes that just because the mix is unusual doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong-minded (NCLB and strange bedfellows).

On The HotSeat: KIPP Co-Founder Mike Feinberg

Hated by many educators but loved by the media, the KIPP network of (mostly) charter schools are a fascinating and in some ways horrifying effort to reach low-income kids and get them to and through college.

On the HotSeat, Feinberg explains what it's like to be loved and hated by so many (not so bad), dispells that 16-hour day rumor (sort of), espouses the virtues of hard work ("Plow On" is his motto), tells us where the KIPP model came from (her name is Harriett), and explains why KIPP failed in Chicago (no charter). He also says that regular schools could do much of what he and others are trying, without KIPP or a charter.


A lot of educators really hate KIPP schools, as you probably know – how do you deal with that and what do you tell to those folks?

MF: Work hard. Be nice. In KIPP’s 12 years I have run into far more educators who appreciate what we are doing and like to learn new techniques and strategies from us (and we learn how to teach better from them) than those who would like to see us disappear.

How does it feel to be a media darling?

MF: While I’m always skeptical of hype, our KIPP students, whom we call “KIPPsters,” have earned this recognition. The KIPPsters are the ones who are getting on buses at 6:00 am, going to school until 5:00 pm, getting home after 6:00 pm, doing two hours of homework, going to bed, and then waking up early the next morning to start all over.

Sixteen-hour work days for KIPP teachers? Is that true?

MF: Creating a new KIPP school is essentially a start-up venture. The founding faculty of a new KIPP school often work very long hours because, on top of their goal of helping students below grade level climb the mountain to college, no tried and true systems are in place yet. They need to be created, scrapped, reinvented, and refined. That being said, sixteen hour work days are not the norm and particularly as a school matures, teachers find their work loads to be very manageable.

What’s the KIPP workload like after the start-up is done?

MF: When our schools transition out of start-up mode and into focusing on sustainability, they are coming up with staffing solutions that can allow many different great teachers to teach in their schools. KIPP has young mothers and fathers who need to leave right at 5:00 pm to pick up their children from daycare, part-time teachers who job share, and teachers who continue to work past 5:00 pm. We also have 35-year classroom veterans who have come out of retirement to teach at KIPP.

Do KIPP teachers make any more money for all this work?

Since we are very lean on administrative costs, we typically can afford to pay our teachers 15-20% higher salaries than the neighboring public school. However our schools are staffed, though, we at KIPP remain steadfastly convinced that having the children come to school from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm for 180 days a year is not enough time We firmly believe what Rafe Esquith taught us: that there are no shortcuts on any path towards success.

Who’s Rafe Esquith?

MF: Rafe is an amazing teacher at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles whose students learn many talents and achieve phenomenal results.

For those of us who think of them as one undistinguishable entity, what’s the difference between KIPP and the Amistad schools, for example?

MF: It’s comforting to hear y’all see them as undistinguishable–as KIPP shares the same mission and results-oriented philosophy as Dacia Toll and Doug McCurry’s Achievement First schools, Chris Barbic’s YES Prep schools, and Norman Atkins’ Uncommon Schools, as examples. This development makes it more difficult to dismiss any of our results as an anomaly that does not have any relevance to the rest of the schools and systems in public education today.

OK, there’s more than one success story to tell – but what’s different about a KIPP school than an Achievement First or YES Prep or Uncommon school?

MF: We have a shorter email address for people to type. ☺

What’s the relationship between KIPP and TFA?

MF: KIPP grew out of Teach For America. Dave Levin and I started KIPP after completing our commitment to TFA in 1994. Currently 60% of KIPP principals and 33% of KIPP teachers are TFA alumni. We owe a great debt to Wendy Kopp for not only creating TFA, but growing the organization to a point where 4,400 TFA teachers serve in classrooms across America.

I didn’t know that the KIPP creation story was so TFAntastic. Wendy Kopp created KIPP and spun it off?

MF: Wendy inspired us to dream, think, and act big – and KIPP was the result.

How big do you want KIPP to get?

MF: We are focused on educating kids and figuring out how to grow to serve children who are on our schools’ wait lists. We don’t believe that we have all the answers for public education, or that every school in the country should be a KIPP school, but we do believe that we can help many underserved children succeed in school and life. We also believe that many of our strategies can help other educators learn how to do great things with their students, too. And right now we’re laser focused on helping our 12,000 KIPPsters get ready for college. There’s no substitute for hard work.

What are two things that regular schools could do like KIPP without being KIPP or even being a charter school?

MF: They can extend their students’ learning time to make the clock a friend instead of an enemy, and they can adjust their curriculum to make sure it’s college-prep by reverse engineering expectations from college graduation back to the grade levels they serve. And here’s one more thing to chew on – schools can view their students and families as the main source of accountability, and serve the children so well that even if there are many other free, easy options for where to attend school, the children and families would continue to choose to remain at that school.

KIPP schools have only failed outright in a couple of places, including Chicago – what have you learned from those few experiences and how has it changed what you do?

In 2003, we opened two schools in Chicago-KIPP Ascend Charter School on the west side, and a contract school-within-a-school in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. While the contract school had the second largest math gains in the city of Chicago in 2005, the achievement levels were not as high as they needed to be to get these kids in college. We made the decision to phase this school into the other school in November of 2005, giving parents and students time so that they could plan for the next year. Several former students enrolled in KIPP Ascend, which was one of the top performing public schools in Chicago in 2006.

What did you learn from what happened in Chicago?

MF: We learned that the contract path in Chicago was not helpful to achieving our mission, and we shouldn’t have been naïve enough to think that the conditions into which we are sending our school leaders and teachers do not matter at all. Now that Chicago Public Schools has a new contract model, I hope they have cracked the nut on ensuring their new schools are set up for success.

What specifically were some of the things that didn’t work without a charter in Chicago?

MF: The staff of the contract school had to spend considerable time navigating through the traditional school system of 600 schools that is more complex than a charter school system of 1 school. That navigation time could have and should have been spent with the students and families, which our charter school on the west side of Chicago has been able to do and has achieved great results in the process.

Can KIPP work inside the regular school district system, or is it charter-only?

MF: Our preferred model for opening new schools is the charter school model. The charter model guarantees the 3 Fs that are necessary to set up KIPP for success: freedom, funding, and facilities. Currently, 49 of our 52 schools are charter schools. This is not an ideological issue for us, though; it’s a practical issue. There are things we know we need to do to help create great public schools, and so long as we can do them we’re fine. We engage districts in the discussion frequently, and we are clear that we would happily open our schools in a district if we can get these key freedoms in place. Today, it’s a tall order. We’re hopeful, though, that over time it will be easier for districts to be able to make this happen.

Is it true that a lot of the KIPP model came from a veteran African American teacher in Texas? Whatever happened to her?

MF: Harriett Ball was Dave’s and my incredible mentor teacher when we started teaching as new Teach For America corps members in 1992. She taught us how to teach and reach our students—that mindset was the basis for starting KIPP. Even the name–Knowledge is Power--comes from one of Harriett’s chants that she does with students in the classroom.

Why isn’t she out front with you guys, then?

MF: Today Harriett has retired from teaching in the Houston public schools and is hired by schools, including KIPP schools, to do workshops around the country. More than learning her chants, raps, and songs, educators learn from her a new way to view lesson planning and instructional strategies for how to reach and teach all children with very different learning needs and preferences.

Do KIPP schools provide lots of social services and supports, or is it all about enhancing the academic, in-school experience as much as possible?

MF: It’s all about doing whatever it takes to help our students climb the mountain to and through college. That certainly means teaching the 3 R’s, but given the challenges found in underserved communities, we cannot expect our students to learn and succeed in a bubble at KIPP without addressing the out-of-school issues that affect them as well.

Have you guys pursued federal funding to expand or support your efforts?

MF: Like many other education groups, we received no funding for this current year when all supplemental grants were wiped out of the education appropriations bill because of Hurricane Katrina. Our last supplemental federal funding –from November of 2004-- received bipartisan support from a range of Congressmen and Senators. Most recently, we received a credit enhancement grant from the US DOE in 2006 that acts as a reserve fund to help our schools secure facilities.

How much more (or less) does it take, money-wise, to run a KIPP school than a traditional district school?

MF: The majority of KIPP schools spend the same or less than traditional public schools. Given that most of our schools receive less per-pupil funding than district schools receive (typically we receive 60 to 90 percent of the operational revenue and none of the capital expenditure revenue), there is fundraising that we need to do to make up that difference.

What’s your work day like – as long and hard as your teachers’?

MF: I believe I can’t ask others to do what I’m not willing to do, so I try to work both very hard and very smart. Some days I’m smarter than others…..still learning….. ☺

You sign off your emails with “plow on.” – Where does that come from, and how long have you been using it?

MF: It comes from Langston Hughes’ poem, “Freedom’s Plow”. I’ve been using it since I heard Dave read that poem during a speech over a decade ago.

Morning Round-up December 21, 2006

Web 'bullying' ban backed JS Online
Any conduct that could draw disciplinary action according to the district's definition of conduct could also trigger disciplinary action if transmitted electronically, according to the changes recommended by the committee.

Study: Poor students shortchanged
Miami Herald
The funding disparity arises, in large part, because the federal government allocates the funds based on states' per-pupil expenditures.

'English language learners' succeed in St. Paul, Minn.
District officials tout their team-teaching model as one reason they've significantly narrowed the gaps between English language learners (ELLs) and their native English-speaking peers.


Poverty Next Door

If we ever needed a reminder that poverty's effects are deep and complex and that helping poor families is no clear thing, this Salon article about one family's experience living next to an extremely poor household in Houston is a good if saddening, illustration: "The poor will always be with us but I'm glad the Smiths are gone. My heart breaks for them, but also for their new neighbors." (Not in my backyard, either)

2006 -- It Was A Very Good Year

I'll add to this over the next couple of weeks (your ideas are welcome), but I can already tell that it's been a very good year for... George Miller and Ted Kennedy, who get to be chairmen again...the Gates Foundation, which got $33B more to play with courtesy of Warren Buffett (and their many beneficiaries)....Barack Obama, the political wonder boy (and Steve Robinson, his education LA)...LA Mayor Villagairosa and all the other big-city mayors who're running their own school systems...HBO's The Wire for portraying urban education and politics so realistically...Secretary Spellings, who's now down to the homestretch without losing her job...education blogs, which have proliferated (if not quite as fast as I thought they would) despite their lack of usefulness...education groups, which seem to be proliferating faster than rabbits...school bans (cellphones, purses, honor roll, cupcakes, etc.)...incentive pay for teachers, which is enjoying renewed attention and funding (even from lefty organizations like CAP....schools in year six of AYP, most of whom have had to very little differently to stay open.

The Carnival Is Up!

The 98th Carnival of Education is hosted by The Median Sib - here's a taste:

Mr. McNamar was a little miffed with the recent Weblog Awards. In “Best Education Blog” at The Daily Grind he calls for readers to vote for his personally selected list of edu-blog finalists.

Ryan at Edspresso writes about “the lack of autonomy teachers and principals have in today’s democratically-governed school systems, and how choice can help remedy the problem” in “Democratic governance of schools, part II: choice and autonomy (or: leave the coach alone!).”

'Tis The Season Of Self-Promotion?

As if last week's "Influentials" report wasn't self-aggrandizingly incestuous enough, this morning Eduwonk Andy rolls in with yet another effort to come up with an education pecking order based on EdWeek mentions (The 2006 Box Score!). I wonder where he got that idea from (Need a Quote?), and if his funders know he's spending their money counting EdWeek mentions and making little charts to show how big he is? Then again, Fordham spent big bucks to pay for the Influentials report, and EdWeek researched it. Then again, Fordham has been around long enough to warrant it, and has now put its money where its mouth is (authorizing charters in Ohio).

Morning Round-up December 20, 2006

School Bars Yearbook Photo of Student in Medieval Garb NYT
The Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit supporting Mr. Agin’s free-speech rights to use the photo, and both sides have agreed to take the matter to the state education commissioner.

New Teacher Jolts KIPP
Lisa Suben told her supervisors she was going to produce her own fifth-grade math curriculum. A year later, her students achieved the largest one-year math score jump ever seen at a KIPP school.

Evolution warnings don't stick LAT
In a settlement announced Tuesday in federal court, the Cobb County Board of Education agreed never to use any similar "stickers, labels, stamps, inscriptions or other warnings," or to undermine the teaching of evolution in science classes.


University-Run Schools

This post from Inside Higher Ed describes what's going on at Coppin State, where the school has taken over one local school and is starting another (Growing the Talent Pool). The University of Chicago is doing some of the same things, as are a handful of others around the country. I tend to like it -- schools putting their money and reputations where their mouths are. But it doesn't always result in miraculous improvements.

National Review In A Time Warp On NCLB

There's a curious post from Carrie Lukas on the NRO website in which Lukas seems to be channeling the unpopular and short-lived Republican thinking of a decade ago (National Review Online) regarding federal involvement in education issues. Amazing how both the left and the right want NCLB done in, albeit for entirely different reasons. It makes you think.

Morning Round-up December 19, 2006

Women in Science: The Battle Moves to the Trenches NYT
Yet studies show that women in science still routinely receive less research support than their male colleagues, and they have not reached the top academic ranks in numbers anything like their growing presence would suggest.

Global Warming Another Emerging Topic
Global warming is a key subject that many educators and scientists say should be, but isn't, taught in every school. And as with other emerging sciences, there remains a need, they say, for more materials available for teachers to incorporate into their lessons.

Talk in Class Turns to God, Setting Off Public Debate
Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven


Around The EduSphere

It's a slow day on the Internets, news- and other-wise:

Winds Of Change
Eduwonk Andy wants us all to know about (and go to) a NCTQ event release lots of new information about collective bargaining agreements in early January.

Hoodwinked AFT Blog
Newbie blogger AFT Joan (hi, Joan!) says that things aren't as they seem in Mass. when it comes to the proposed expansion of pilot schools for restrucuting purposes.

Time Names POY, Bloggers Not Tickled CJR Daily
In an apparent attempt to elicit witty puns and sarcastic punditry from bloggers, Time magazine has announced that its much-anticipated Person of the Year is "You." [meaning bloggers, wikipedians, and open source folks] Oddly, bloggers don't seem as tickled by the honor as we might have expected.

A 'dead body in the schoolyard': The irrelevance of NCLB "
... What dead body? The one an Oakland, CA, elementary student found in her schoolyard a couple of months ago. That's part of the reality of urban education that Oakland resident Heather Gehlert writes about before urging readers to sign the petition urging Congress not to reauthorize No Child Left Behind."

"Buster" Returns Despite Secretary Spellings

In January of 2005, one of Secretary Spellings' first actions was to shut down a PBS program called "Postcards From Buster." The series aired a controversial show about a family with two moms. Spellings garnered support from conservative groups and PBS financial supporters to cancel the show. After being unable to finance a second season, "Postcards From Buster" is making a 10 episode comeback season this fall. The series will run from November to February and features a family with a father in Iraq, a trip to the Mexican border and a return visit with families who suffered in Hurricane Katrina.

Feature, Facts Or Scare Tactics?

Several national media covered the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce report on Friday. My first question is, why Friday? Isn't Friday the day to bury your news? Is that the intent? Either way each national media had their take on the story - some with the facts, others with scare tactics and then fluffy feature-like opening sentences.


Stateline.org avoids the feature-like opening sentence and comes out with the facts (which I personally find more appealing), "Students would go to community college after 10th grade, local schools would be run by private contractors, and teachers’ salaries would shoot up as high as $110,000 but their pensions would be slashed."

The Chicago Tribune
also had some facts to open the article - but just the fact that some 10th graders would be able to go to community colleges. It goes on to compare the proposal to European-style education.

AP and NYT (though much more subtly) bring in the scare tactics, "
A high-profile commission warned Thursday that U.S. workers will lose more jobs overseas and will see their standard of living drop unless dramatic steps are taken to improve how children are educated." NYT softened the blow with a fuzzy feature-like opening sentence but said essentially the same thing that AP said.

WaPo stayed avoided scare tactics and stuck to their feature-like sentence and the facts that Stateline.org opened with.

Morning Round-up December 18, 2006

Censured PBS Bunny Returns, Briefly NYT
This season includes only 10 episodes, which began in November and will run through February, a far cry from the 40 produced for the show’s first season.

Gates, Hewlett Commit $60 Million to Education in Asia, Africa Bloomberg.com
The Hewlett Foundation is leading the initiative, which will fund research and demonstration projects to determine how teacher training, curriculum reforms, community involvement and other steps can make schools more effective for children in developing countries.

Missouri One of Four New States Chosen for State Scholar
Kansas City InfoZine
Under the State Scholars Initiative, each state will receive up to $300,000 during a two-year period to implement scholars programs in at least four school districts.

An Ominous Milestone: 100 Million Data Leaks
Educational institutions were twice as likely to report suffering a breach as any other type of entity, with government, general businesses, financial service and healthcare companies pulling up behind.


Week In Review December 11-17


Banning Honor Roll -- And Purses

I may be the last to have found out, but apparently Needham High in Mass. decided to stop printing the honor roll in the paper, and has been widely riculed for it (Kids wouldn’t be so stressed if we just allowed them to fail). Boston Herald via EdNews.org.

Meanhile, Joanne Jacobs points out that oversized purses are being banned in some parts of the country (Schools bag purses). "Next, they’ll have to ban pockets," she quips.

How About Some Analysis With That News?

Looking over today's news about the skills report, Eduwonk Andy makes some good points about the NYT's straight-arrow coverage: "How about some, you know, analysis on why the unions don't like [the report] (it proposes to reallocate teacher compensation*), what its prospects are (it could change nothing), what happened with the last report from the same gang, or whether it's significant that this blue-ribbon panel essential embraced the contracting model for delivering public education?"

Why Conflicts Of Interest Aren't Powerful Enough

Sherman Dorn has this interesting and instructive point to make about those who would try and tear down efforts that they oppose by pointing out conflicts of interest (as I often try to do):

"I don't think anyone outside a small circle will contest the problems with conflicts of interest in education programs," he writes (The problem with the McGraw-Hill conflict-of-interest argument). "But I also don't think that basing criticism of accountability on conflicts of interest will work. Conflict of interest stories are a recurring theme in the politics of liberal democracies, and there is a standard solution: require arm's-length decision-making."

For-Profit Philanthropy

My other favorite notion from the NYT Magazine's Ideas issue last week is the idea of For-Profit Philanthropy. Why? Well, for starters, it's so much cooler-sounding than the 1990's-era labels (venture philanthropy, social entrepreneurship).

Previous Posts:
Can Micro-Donations Make The Difference?
Does School Reform Need For-Profit Philanthropy?

How The "Influentials" Report Gets (Nearly) Everything Wrong

Here's how the story goes: Ten years into its efforts to take over the world improve education, the Fordham Foundation wanted to know where it stood in the eduverse and so commissioned EdWeek's Education Research Center to do a report.

I know, I know. The navel-gazing element is very high here, even for me. This is the closest thing to a popularity contest as education has seen since, well, Hot for Education (a famously crass post that I hope to replicate later this winter). But that was just me sitting at home bored one night, not a full-length report that someone actually paid for.

Unfortunately, this report somehow gets nearly everything wrong.

Remember, folks -- influential means having an influence (or effect) on something. It's different from prestige, or preference. For example, NAEP and TIMSS aren't the most influential studies of the past decade -- what ongoing impact have they had, exactly? NCTAF's What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future -- which comes in #9 on the Fordham list -- is the clear winner in terms of influencing real (if not yet entirely effective) action. Now that was a blockbuster.

As for most influential organization, somehow the Education Trust comes in #4th on the Fordham list, when it should really come in #1st. The Trust practically wrote NCLB, picked up where NCTAF left off on teacher quality, and had tremendous influence on federal legislation for several years before. There's no other organization that's gotten so much of its agenda enacted.

As for individuals, calling Bill Gates the most influential person in education ignores the fact that he's not only a latecomer to school reform but also an under-performer. Kati Haycock (ranked #3rd), Edward Kennedy (ranked #5th), Governor James B. Hunt Jr. (#7th), and Linda Darling-Hammond (#10th) should all come in ahead of Gates -- for NCLB, or NCTAF/teacher quality, or both. Seriously. Other ignored influentials: Kozol, Kotlowitz, Jaime Escalante.

As for information sources, it's hard to beat the New York Times for impact, but Fordham's list puts it at #4th behind EdWeek, NCES, and NAEP. I can't recall when any of those sources really set or shaped actions in the real world (and NAEP is a study, not an information source). Ditto for the rest of the list, though I'm a big admirer of EdNext. (Go, Fordham!)

Covered (unimaginatively) here and here

Morning Round-up December 15, 2006

Expert Panel Proposes Far-Reaching Redeisgn of the American Education System NYT
The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce proposed a far-reaching redesign of the United States education system that would include having schools operated by independent contractors and giving states, rather than local districts, control over school financing.

Students sink teeth into 'Read to Feed' Campaign
JS Online
The announcement Thursday that 170,000 books had been read by students at 199 schools in 55 communities over the last two weeks and that Time Warner was donating 170,000 cans of food to fight hunger.

Vocational education is shifting focus
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Signifying the changes, recent federal legislation even gave vocational education a new label. Now, officially, it's Career and Technical Education, or CTE. And the new CTE can mean anything from nanotechnology to robotics to biomedical sciences.


Report Ideas Pilfered, But Unlikely To Get Used

My sense is that the big 21st century skills report from earlier this week (Schools In A Time Warp) is going to have about as much real effect as the Baker Study Group report on Iraq (ie, little or none), but Eduwonk fills us in that already it's pissed off some folks by appropriating their reform ideas (Eduwonk.com). Is a reform idea still considered stolen if it's never used? I think so.

UPDATE: It's strange that Time and CNN had this a few days ago but others are just getting to it now: Commission pushes for overhaul of school system

Getting Your Hands On CRS Reports

As far as I know, there's still no easy way to get CRS reports, which can be great sources of information but are ostensibly just for Congressional staff and members. However, there are more and more ways to get your hands on them, thanks to the Open CRS Network, which posts CRS reports as they find them online, for free (CRS Reports for the People).

Not many of late have been focused on education, but that's bound to change in the upcoming months. This one is about the appropriations process, through which a lot of legislating gets done in between formal reauthorizations (or at least that's the way it used to work before the USDE decided to do whatever it wanted (ie, growth models and the SES flip).

If anyone has a better way to get these reports, let us know.

Foundations Fund More Pre-K Blogging

Remember a few months ago when Pre-K Now was advertising for someone to blog for them about teaching Pre-K -- for $1,000 a month? See here for some background: Blogging Universal Preschool. Well, apparently they found someone who wanted the job, and Sara at TQATE posts about the early results here (Meet Ms. Pappas).

To my knowledge, this is the second foundation-funded blog (along with Colvin's) that is explicitly set up to promote and inform us about universal preschool. Of course, foundations pay indirectly for lots of other blogs (Eduwonk, etc.) But it's the early childhood foundation folks who seem to have decided to go for it directly rather than let it happen by chance or on the side.

Johnson Collapse Puts Dem. Majority In Doubt

This story in the SJ Mercury News puts Senator Tim Johnson's emergency surgery into a political context (Democrats' Senate majority put at risk by senator's hospitalization).

Officials Eventually Find Out What Teacher Did

It's the most ridiculous but irresistable story of the week (Teacher suspended over bum art). A Richmond teacher likes to paint with his butt. He goes on TV to show how he does it, nominally disguised. Someone uploads the segment to YouTube last spring. School officials eventually find out. There's video if you're really brave, but I would advise against it.

Morning Round-up December 14, 2006

Irvine parents settle claim over gifts to educators LAT
A couple who contended they were forced to spend $100,000 in gifts on school employees to ensure proper care for their autistic son have settled a claim against the Irvine Unified School District, according to a district spokesman and the family's attorney.

Special-Ed Changes To Get Trial Run
The pilot program, called hours-based staffing, is part of an urgent effort around the region to rethink special education, or risk widespread failure under the federal mandate.

More generous Congress could do much more for schools
Mercury News
It should use, as a model, the Academic Competitiveness Grants that the Bush administration proposed and Congress approved this year.

Spellings Bounced Out Of Holiday Extravaganza

I'm starting to feel bad - almost -- about everyone making fun of Secretary Spellings. Here US News makes fun of the EdSec for playing the role of loser (again) -- this time in a disturbingly cute White House video about a holiday extravaganza put on by the First Dog.

In the sketch, Spellings auditons as a dancer but loses out to none other than Karl Rove. Wearing her best winter whites and her trademark spectacles, Spellings dances off camera with Rove. Yikes.


District Variations In Length Of School Days Add Up

Thanks to a friend for sending me this chart from yesterday's Fordham confab, which shows big variations in school day length and, to a lesser extent, number of days a year that students are in school.

As you can see, New York comes in at 1271 hours of instruction a year, while Chicago comes in at 1001 -- or about 40 days of school (or 8 weeks) less per year for the Windy City.

Download here: Kate Walsh Summary PDF

NCLB In Jail

No, NCLB hasn't been imprisoned (though the suspension of habeus corpus creates some interesting possibilities). Instead, this Sara Neufeld story in the Baltimore Sun (No Child Left Behind applied behind bars) wins the Exception-Finding Story Of The Week award. Of course, a jailhouse school housed in the Baltimore City Detention Center isn't likely to make AYP. But I'm guessing that the kids and teachers have other, more pressing things on their minds than NCLB's toothless sanctions. And saying that failing to make AYP demoralizes teachers and makes it hard to recruit ignores the fact that the school likely isn't everyone's favorite to teach in the first place.

NEA Gets CIA To Tap Di's Phone

Looking for a holiday conspiracy theory to chew on? According to this post from The Chalkboard (Clinton, Princess Di and Wiretaps), Slate blogger Mickey Kaus thinks that the CIA bugged Princess Diana because she was dating Ted Forstmann, the voucher/charter/tax credit billionaire, and that the NEA must have had something to do with it. Excellent.

Predator Panic Vs. Parental Abuse & Neglect

"News stories invariably exaggerate the true extent of sexual predation on the Internet; the magnitude of the danger to children, and the likelihood that sexual predators will strike," according to this piece in the journal Skeptical Inquiry (Predator Panic). "The tragic irony is that the panic over sex offenders distracts the public from the real danger, a far greater threat to children than sexual predators: parental abuse and neglect."

Carnival Returns Home For 97th Edition

Today The Education Wonks brings the Carnival home and here is a taste from the Education Policy category: "Hey! Here's a great idea whose time has finally come 'round at last: pay teachers for good lesson plans! But before we begin saving our nickels and dimes for that new Range Rover, it may be a good idea to take a look at this reality check from What It's Like on the Inside."

Obama's Big Announcement on Monday Night Football

He's toying with us.

NYT Magazine's Paul Tough On The HotSeat

In the two weeks or so since Paul Tough’s NYT Magazine cover story What It Takes to Make a Student has come out, the article has been a topic of near-constant discussion (and nearly universal admiration).

Some of that interest comes from educators’ desperate desire for attention. That the piece is long and complex enough to be read as supporting a variety of positions is another. But most of all it's that Tough, an editor who's working on a book about the Harlem Children's Zone, links ideas together clearly and powerfully
(a la Malcolm Gladwell, another talented Canadian). He gives NCLB the Gladwell treatment better than Gladwell himself did three years ago.

On the HotSeat, Tough clarifies what he meant by saying KIPP teachers work 16 hours a day, describes how he came to write the piece, reports that the response has been larger and – perhaps surprisingly – more positive than he expected, and says that the Times Magazine doesn’t actually send its education writers to Siberia (it only seems like that). He seems to say he's more of a SchoolRef than a PovRacer, but I'll leave it to you (and him) to have the final say. Enjoy.


Your old boss Ira Glass said in an interview that there should be at least one line in each story that a writer loves and is willing to fight for – what’s that line in your education story, and did you have to fight for it?

PT: I think Ira is generally right about everything, but I don’t think there are any lines that I would have fought too hard for. Ideas, sure, but not lines. Maybe it’s because I’m an editor myself–I’m convinced that my editor has better judgment about individual lines than I do.

Idea, then – which of them would you have fought to keep in there, or had to?

PT: I didn’t really think about it that way. My goal with the article was to connect a lot of different ideas and pieces of research that I hadn’t seen connected. I thought they were all important. I didn’t have to fight to keep any of them, fortunately.

The conventional wisdom is that editors loathe education stories unless they’re wildly original or affect the lives of wealthy readers True or false, and how much convincing, if any, did it take for the folks at the magazine to greenlight the story?

PT: It wasn’t hard to convince the editors at the magazine to green-light this story, but maybe that’s because I work here. I think editors here do like to assign and run education stories; we run quite a few of them. But I recognize the reluctance you’re referring to, and I think it comes from the fact that education is such a sprawling topic. It’s hard to put any individual story into the right context: Here’s a school that has a new approach, and that approach seems to be working. Well, what does that mean? How does it compare to what has come before? What kind of impact is it having? That context is hard to deliver. Without that context, those stories can be hard to read.

What’s that mean – “hard to read”? Boring? Stupid?

PT: Neither. I think like any complex subject, education policy can be hard for laypeople to follow. It took me a long time to be able to understand regular AP stories on No Child Left Behind. So I think readers are well-served when education stories are put in a larger context.

Whatever happened to the folks who used to write education stories for the magazine – James Traub and Sara Mosle? Have they been killed off or sent to Siberia or something?

PT: James Traub is a contributing writer to the magazine still, but he has moved beyond education and for or the last few years he’s been writing mostly about the U.N. and global development. He wrote the Bono cover story a year or so back, and he just came out with a book on Kofi Annan and the U.N. Sara Mosle is writing a book about a town and a school in Texas that were devastated by a tragedy in the 1930’s. She has been one of my favorite writers on education ever since her cover story on her own teaching experience in The New Republic in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, so I’m really looking forward to her book.

Generally speaking, what’s the response to your article been like, both substantively and in terms of volume? More, less, or just about what you expected?

PT: It’s been much bigger and more positive than I expected. We got a lot of letters to the editor, and they were mostly saying good things about the article.

What did you think about the editorial page picking up on your piece but then going in another direction – back towards NCLB’s teacher equity provisions (
Why the Achievement Gap Persists)?

PT: I liked it. I think it helped demonstrate that the New York Times does not have one monolithic approach to its coverage of education.

One of the things that folks have glommed onto is the idea that KIPP teachers work 16 hours a day. Where’d you get that from, and does it really matter?

PT: Dave Levin, one of the co-founders of KIPP, said that to me. I wish in retrospect that I’d made it a bit more conditional, and Dave might wish that, as well. (I don’t know that he does, I should say; I’m just guessing.) I think KIPP teachers work really hard and work long hours, and I think that was the point Dave was making. But I don’t think they all work 16 hours a day every day. I think both points are important to understand – and it’s obviously a critical question because of the debate over the replicability of the KIPP model. I do think there are a lot of really good and really committed teachers and potential teachers out there who would be (and are) eager to teach in a school that is well-run and is achieving great results, even if it means a lot of hard work and long hours.

Sixteen hours a day or no, not everyone’s willing to go what I’m going to call the “KIPP route.” Where did you come out from your reporting on the topic of broader, non-instructional approaches- health insurance, living wages, affordable housing, financial incentives to attend and complete school, and – most timely – integration efforts?

PT: When you say “not everyone,” do you mean not every parent, not every child, not every teacher or not every administrator? I think the one thing we know is that there are many more parents and children willing to go the KIPP route than are now going the KIPP route. So I think that’s the first problem to solve. That seems like a good first principle, in fact: if there are poor children and poor parents willing to put in the kind of effort and hard work that KIPP students exert, we shouldn’t be denying them that opportunity.

Getting to the actual question: I’m certainly interested in broader, non-instructional approaches. That’s why I’ve chosen to write a book about the Harlem Children’s Zone, an organization that is trying to develop a new model for improving the lives of poor children. I think their approach – combining education with social and other supports -- is a very important one. I think Geoffrey Canada, the group’s founder, is right that it’s hard to improve the lives of large numbers of poor students through education alone.

But I don’t necessarily agree that the approaches you list are the most important ones for the educational success of poor children. I do think it would be good for more people to make a living wage and get health insurance. But I don’t think we need to wait until that happens to make big improvements in the education of poor children.

The additional supports that I think are more important are the kind that the Harlem Children’s Zone offers: ones that are targeted directly at poor children, and directly at the goal of preparing them for college. They include parenting classes, all-day pre-kindergarten, after-school programs, family-support programs, a greenmarket, an asthma initiative and other interventions.

Providing affordable housing for everyone might take a while. These are programs you can put in place pretty quickly, if you want. And in Harlem, at least, they get results.

To vastly oversimplify the debate over child poverty, it strikes me there are two camps. People in the first camp are more excited by the idea that if we improve the economic situation of poor families, their children will wind up being better educated. People in the second camp are more excited by the idea that if we improve the education of poor children, we will improve their economic situation.

I’m in the second camp.

What should those folks who voted for NCLB, or are about to reauthorize it, keep most in mind when considering its future?

PT: I would hope that they would mostly think about what it would take to make it work. Start from a vision of 2014 in which there is no achievement gap and high levels of proficiency across the board. O.K., what does 2013 need to look like, and what would it take to get there? And then what does 2010 need to look like, and what would it take to get there? And then 2008?

Tell us a little about your education: Public or private? Coed or single sex? Loved it or hated it? Jock or nerd?

PT: I grew up in Canada, where I attended an unusual high school called the University of Toronto Schools. It had an entrance exam and fees, but it wasn’t exactly private. It was what I think you’d call a progressive education – a lot of independent projects, student presentations, Latin and Geography and Music and Art and German and History and other non-core subjects. We were all nerds, needless to say. I was on the basketball team, but I don’t recall ever winning a game.

So far, your piece has generated a slew of blog posts, as well as editorials by David Brooks and Jon Chait. What did you think of the Brooks and Chait pieces – has anyone written anything that qualifies as noteworthy?

PT: I’m not sure what you mean by noteworthy, but I’ve been interested in all of the responses I’ve read. David Brooks’s column does stand out for me; I was really pleased that he mentioned my article, in part because his column has been such a good resource for my research over the past year. He has been developing in his columns an argument about human capital and the importance of home life in education that I think is very important and quite new.

How did the book project lead to the article?

PT: One of the projects the Harlem Children’s Zone runs is a charter school called the Promise Academy, which is now in its third academic year. At the beginning of its first year, the teachers and administrators were surprised and a little overwhelmed by how far behind their middle-school students were when they arrived in sixth grade – most were reading at a fourth-grade level, and some were reading at a second-grade level. On the first day of school, Geoffrey Canada promised them and their parents that they would all get to college. This seemed to me to be an extremely difficult promise to keep, and perhaps an impossible one.

I started looking around for research relating to what the teachers and administrators were up against, and I also went looking for schools that were accomplishing, or coming close to accomplishing, what Canada was promising to do. For a long time I didn’t think anyone was achieving it. The first school that started to convince me otherwise was Amistad Academy, in New Haven. From there I got to KIPP and the Uncommon Schools and the charter debate and the Education Trust debate and Richard Rothstein and Ronald Ferguson and the Thernstroms, all of which was really just to help me figure out an answer to the question of how Geoff Canada might be able to keep his promise. I still don’t know the answer. But the book isn’t due till the end of next year.

Morning Round-up December 13, 2006

Ranking High Schools, 2006 WaPo
As The Washington Post unveils its 10th annual Challenge Index rankings of Washington area public schools this week, I want to see how low-income schools in this region are doing.

Gates Beats Bush as Most Influential in Education, Survey Says Bloomberg.com
Billionaire Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., beat out President George W. Bush as the most influential person in U.S. education for the past decade, according to a survey by a nonprofit education publisher.

Virginia leads internet safety push eSchool News
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell on Dec. 11 said he will seek legislation requiring convicted sex offenders to register their online identities with the state to help MySpace and other online teen hangouts more easily block their access.


Cupcakes & BlackBerries

In our mad desire to distract ourselves from real problems and, with the help of journalists and editors, focus on smaller, more manageable issues, there are two somewhat new villains out there: cupcakes in school (Once a Sweet Treat, Cupcakes Now a Cause), and parents with BlackBerries (BlackBerry Orphans). Both via Ednews.org.

Miller Previews "Retro" NCLB Priorities, Uncertain Timeline

At a press conference earlier today, it became clear just how much incoming education committee Chairman George Miller has on his plate -- and perhaps how those other things might affect the education agenda and timetable.

Some of the pressing issues mentioned by Miller or reporters included not just the minimum wage and college affordability stuff we already know about but also mine safety, collective bargaining (aka 'card check'), pensions, and paid sick leave. There are also scads of funding issues that Miller has no real control over, including annual funding levels for NCLB.

Miller noted that there had been some NCLB oversight hearings and that he and Senator Kennedy want to get something done this year, but reminded everyone that he's got a lot of new members on his committee (each of whom will have their own petty concerns and "when I was a kid" preconceptions) and talked a lot about "e-hearings" (which sound like a longer, even more boring form of field hearing that you can listen in on from your desk). No mention of Reading First oversight, though he hired an investigator last week (Miller Ramps Up For Oversight & Investigations).

As to specific changes, Miller is still focused on AYP and funding changes, which are in some ways -- a school rating system and a symbolic issue -- the least substantive parts of the law (and also very 2003). He talked a little about an expanded growth modeland -- my favorite line -- said "it has to be growth to somewhere." He also mentioned -- barely -- teacher equity (under the umbrella term of "deployment") which is surely going to get him some calls from CCCR and the EdTrust.

The NYT's Paul Tough Won't Win This Award

EWA makes a big deal out of how independent and prestigious its annual writing awards program is, and I've got no real issue with that (though I wish that the prize amounts were bigger so that I could get more free drinks out of the winners). I do wish they had a category for new media/bloggers (not that I'd win it), or best article that wasn't submitted (aka the Paul Tough category). In real life, here are 18 categories this year, and you have until January 10 to submit an application.

Previous Posts: Who Are The Best Writers -- And Why Don't They Win the EWA Contest?, Not Another Rant About The EWA Writing Contest, & Education Reporting -- The Good, the Lousy, the Lousy.

Miller Ramps Up For Oversight & Investigations

We'll hear more about George Miller's priorities later today, but this press release (Rep. Miller Adds Chief Investigative Counsel) about a new investigations staffer coming to the committee from GAO suggests that Chairman-to be Miller might want look into a few things (think Reading First) as well as create or revamp laws.

Morning Round-up December 12, 2006

Progress seen at 'failing' school LAT
Spellings toured two classrooms, effusively praised Principal Margaret EspinosaNelson and staff, and took part in a round-table discussion with education officials, parents and civic leaders.

Michigan: Affirmative Action Ban's Delay Sought NYT
The voter-approved initiative to ban the use of race and sex preferences in university admissions and government hiring is to take effect Dec. 23.

More Than One Way To Make the Grade WaPo
Experts say good time management, careful selection of courses, avoiding wasted effort and inquiring into what the professor really wants.


The Journal of Spurious Correlations

No, that's not just a funny headline from The Onion. Instead, it's the subject of my favorite of the many New Ideas in the Times Magazine this past weekend.

According to the piece, "Medical journals began publishing negative results a few years ago, but social science didn’t follow the trend. This is a problem. Not publishing negative results means that generations of researchers can waste time and money repeating the same studies and finding the same unpublishable results. Then there’s publication bias."

Schools In A Time Warp

"There's a dark little joke exchanged by educators with a dissident streak," begins this week's Time cover story about how outdated and insufficient public education is even outside of low-performing schools (and timed to coincide with the release of a report from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. "Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls--every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. "This is a school," he declares. "We used to have these back in 1906. Only now the blackboards are green."

UPDATE: Kevin Carey at TQATE reads all about it and asks the impertinent question: Why Is It So Important That American Students Learn a Foreign Language? I tend to agree -- especially if it ends up that software can do the translating work for us someday soon. But then I flunked out of Mandarin spring of my freshman year.

UPDATE 2: Sherman Dorn says Carey is all wet about foreign languages (The value of foreign languages) and that we should all stop overgeneralizing from our own personal experiences.

An Unholy Alliance Against NCLB

This post from Gerald Bracey (Things Fall Apart) contains nothing new or unexpected in terms of anti-NCLB information but does -- as Joe Williams did last week -- highlight the current situation in which liberal opponents of the law like Bracey find themselves of a similar mind with conservative critics of the law like Checker Finn.

Of course, they want different things out of bashing NCBL -- Bracey wants a rollback, Finn wants national standards. And they both understand NCLB's limits differently -- Bracey has a wildly exaggerated view of the federal role and a sadly diminished sense of state and local agency. But talk about an unholy alliance.

Morning Round-up December 11, 2006

A well-meaning end to discrimination Boston Globe
Depending on who you talk to, the passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan last month was either a great victory for freedom and equal rights or a disastrous setback for minorities and women.

Before Children Ask, 'What's Recess?'
Heather Buch joins a growing legion of parents and educators who fear that recess is disappearing from the school schedule and needs to be rescued.

Internet2 gets high-speed upgrade
eSchool News
Internet2 officials unveiled the first major segment of a new advanced network between New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with an initial bandwidth capacity of 100 gigabits per second (Gbps)--or 10 times the previous network's capacity.

Week In Review December 4 - 10


The Week Gone By: Articles I Should Have Blogged

The right's education fantasy LAT
Conservatives' model for improving schools relies too much on high expectations, and not enough on money.

Outsider in the Locker Room EdWeek
In the current education reform movement, we try again to make bricks without straw. We pretend that schools and their students exist within a social and economic vacuum.

Teens try cough medicine for a high LA Times
About two-thirds of abusers now take Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold, whose candy-red tablets are nicknamed CCC, triple C and skittles. Robotripping takes its name from Robitussin, the second most abused cold medicine.

Turning Good Intentions Into Educational Capital Carnegie Perspectives via PEN
Education needs philanthropic foundations to enliven imagination, spur improvements and test solutions. Foundations need education to increase individual and collective capacity to act effectively in the world. The problem we face today is that these two cultures are spinning away from each other, particularly in the key arenas of teaching and learning.

Study says localities curb ed reform Boston Globe
The federal No Child Left Behind law has produced only limited educational improvement because local school officials have too much power to resist change, a nationwide series of studies has concluded.

The Real Value of Public Preschool NY Times (TS)
The State of Virginia is joining New York, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma in attempting to bring free, voluntary preschool to all 4-year-olds, and in the case of Illinois, to 3-year-olds as well. That’s good news. But I am finding the rhetoric in the debate over universal preschool disheartening. [blogged here]


Johnson Retires: Let The Exodus From USDE Begin

As happened during the last two years of the second Clinton administration, USDE officials are already leaving the Spellings camp.

Today, it's Henry Johnson, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.

According to the Department, Dr. Johnson will "retire to North Carolina to do consulting work with state and local education agencies."