Editor’s Note And Odds & Ends

The remainder of this week representatives from the Obama campaign will be here, then back to normal.  Per this editor’s note, neither their blogging this week nor the McCain campaign’s last week constitutes an endorsement by ES.  A couple of readers wanted to know why I invited each campaign during the opposite convention.  The answer is logistics.  Representatives from each campaign were less busy during the other party’s gathering so it made more sense.  And, a few folks wanted to know why I wasn’t blogging on behalf of Obama.  The answer there is lawyers, which causes some tiptoeing around the campaigns on the blog in its current form.

Couple of odds and ends.  

Don’t miss this op-ed in the LA Times by Cory Booker, John Doerr, and Ted Mitchell.  Sara Mead and I have a paper coming from Brookings looking at some similar ideas later this fall.   And, speaking of Booker, he was a real undercard star at last week’s Democratic convention.  At a series of events he caused a serious “wow” reaction among donors, activists, and wonks.

This story the other day in The Times about Texas teachers carrying guns in school is unbelievable and Onion-like.  Apparently this is what it takes to get teachers some actual relevant and job-embedded professional development and some performance tools to help them do their jobs:

Teachers have received training from a private security consultant and will use special ammunition designed to prevent ricocheting, he added.   

Someone call Justin Cohen.

I can get that college presidents are sick of having to act like police officers because of a drinking age of 21.  But I’m not sure that just turning that problem over to high school principals makes a great deal of sense.  The 21 drinking age has plenty of problems, not the least of which is the oft-cited point that we trust many 18-20 year olds in the military with the power to take life but not the responsbility to have a beer on a hot afternoon, but one consequence of lowering the age is that it will be even harder to keep alcohol away from younger kids than it is today.

I was out of pocket when Eduwonkette outed herself as Jennifer Jennings.  The whole thing kind of speaks for itself and folks like Jay Greene have been quick to point out episodes where she tried to have more than one bite at the apple.   Though I suspect she’ll tigthen up her act now, I really don’t care about anonymous blogging, that’s up to readers to judge in what is a supremely democratic medium.   As this evolved it seemed more and more to me that the real problem here was Ed Week’s — our field’s most prominent newspaper — embrace of all this alongside its reporter’s own work.  They, at least as much as Jennings, and in my view moreso, crossed some lines here and the focus has been on her not on that.  The irony, is that Ed Week has a pretty strict policy on anonymous sourcing…Someone call Richard Colvin, he’ll sort it out… By the way, what I really want to know is whether she’s related to that guy from Jeopardy…

The District of Columbia Public Schools are looking for interns.  This is a great chance to get some hands-on experience in an urban school district and see some leading edge reforms up close.  I’ve spent time with past interns there and this is not envelope stuffing or coffee fetching.   If you’re interested, email Susan Cheng.

And ASQ is looking for your ideas on what the next president should do about schools.

Finally, thanks to everyone who guestblogged here in August.   Some great, and fun, content.   And a lot of fish…

16 thoughts on “Editor’s Note And Odds & Ends

  1. Cooler Heads

    Jennings is a sociology student. No wonder she is such an expert on teaching and learning.

    She’s a joke. But that was pretty obvious from the content of her postings. She doesn’t really know much about the technical core of teaching.

  2. 'Kette Fan

    Ah, Andy! I’m afraid you don’t get off quite that easily with regard to eduwonkette. Didn’t you confidently assert that she had “skin in the game”? What skin, and what game, did you have in mind? Didn’t you also tell us to “pay attention, because she’s quite close to” the dispute between the UFT and the New Teachers Project over data on excessed teachers? How close was this 29-year-old sociology graduate student, do you think? And, although I know you’re not responsible for what Kevin Carey posts over on The Quick and the Ed, he called eduwonkette “not exactly a disinterested observer.” Do you think that that’s accurate?

    When you say things with great confidence that are subsequently shown to be wrong, why should we believe you?

  3. Dave

    I can’t see the Times article you linked to, but I’ve been following the story about the Harrold, Texas school district (rather than “Texas teachers” in general) in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

    The quotes from the district and a visit to their district’s site really give the impression that this is a normal district, working hard for student academic achievement. The key point that gets buried even in Star-Telegram articles: “Harrold is 30 minutes from the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Department.”

    This is how small schools work. They don’t hire a full-time webmaster to make the district site, they find someone already on staff who has the skills to make the site or to work with a consultant and is willing to step up. They probably don’t have the money to hire a school resource officer (they only have 45 teachers), and the nearest officer of the law is 30 minutes away, so they planned for the worst-case scenario as best they could — requiring special approval from multiple people, training, approved equipment, etc. The decision is about balancing risk, and they’ve decided they had to do -something-, so they’ve mitigated the risk of accidents in every way possible while still having a plan.

    And really, as long as people believe it’s possible that there is a trained, licensed gun operator in the school, that gun probably will never be used.

    I would be more worried about random cars or drunk drivers; there are no bike lanes or sidewalks on the roads those kids are taking to get home.

  4. Growing chorus

    “Cooler heads” points out here that eduwonkette is a “joke” who, as a sociology phd student, does not know much about the “technical core of teaching.” Would this person like to explain how she is less qualified than Eduwonk in this regard? (Or Jay Greene, or Kevin Carey, or the countless other talking heads out there?) Give me a break.

    And lest anyone forget: according to his bio, Andy Rotherham is also still a graduate student, so I fail to see how this matters.

  5. chitown

    I think this is silly. An anonymous blogger posts a supposedly disinterested third party rebuttal to an article that contains a longish critique of her work… how can anyone say she never had any skin in the game? Someone who posts a “nefarious” network of interconnected relationships among researchers as if that is reason enough to condemn the work they produce, and yet refuses to reveal her own identity and open her own affiliations to similar scrutiny? That is just bad precedent. I have no doubt that all of eduwonkette’s defenders would be pretty pissed if Education Next sponsored a similar stunt from an anonymous blogger who’s opinions they disagree with. Why they tolerate it when it comes from one of their own makes no sense.

  6. 'Kette Fan

    chitown, you’re missing the point. Regardless of how one feels about anonymous blogging, the point is that Andy Rotherham confidently told his readers that eduwonkette had certain affiliations, and it’s now obvious that he didn’t have a clue. The bad precedent here is Eduwonk just making stuff up.

  7. Growing chorus

    For anyone fooled by chitown’s comments:

    * The article he/she refers to (Springer, in the Economics of Education Review, and Education Next) does not contain a “longish critique” of her work, or any critique of her research for that matter. The journal article does not even cite her work (look for yourself). The only similarity is the research question of interest. Even there, Springer looks at low-stakes tests, and Jennings looks at high-stakes tests. Readers can look at these articles and judge for themselves.

    * Jennings refused “to reveal her own identity and open her own affiliations to similar scrutiny?” What affiliations does this graduate student have, exactly? As far as I can tell, she does not sit on the board of *any* advocacy organizations, and has not taken money from any of the usual suspects who fund the other bloggers. And somehow we’re supposed to accept the critique of the likes of Jay Greene, who sits in a Wal-Mart funded faux academic department that doesn’t have a counterpart in any other university, and publishes the vast majority of his work un-reviewed through the largesse of advocates? This makes no sense.

    The fallout from the Jennings revelation has demonstrated one thing clearly: the education blogosphere is populated by bullies, who–having little substance to stand on themselves–turn to swift boat techniques to discredit those they disagree with. I don’t blame her for going anonymous.

  8. john thompson

    The LA Times Op Ed was great. Just because he hangs out with the wrong crowd at the EEP doesn’t mean that Cory Booker isn’t on the right track on most things. Follow the medical model and we will get a deeper understanding of the complexity of education.

  9. Cooler Heads

    I have more credentials that eduwonkette. For starters, I am not a graduate student, but actually have a doctorate. It is actually in education, and is from a name brand university…one comparable to eduwonkette’s.

    Sociologists see teaching through the lens of organization and institutions. But that’s a bit like trying to understand medicine by considering the layout of patient rooms, or the distribution of patients into the rooms. it doesn’t tell anything about the quality of instruction.

    I’m not a teacher, and never have been. But I’ve studied enough teaching to know that there is a technical core of the work of teaching, and the few if any policymakers (or sociologists) bother to learn anything about it.

    The idea that a sociologist is blogging about teaching, on the EdWeek website, is a joke. The joke’s on anyone who took her seriously. Please, Eduwonkette, go back to grad school and study the effect of the role of gender on automobile usage, or something.

  10. chitown

    Lest anyone be fooled by GC’s comments:

    *Springer’s article in EdNext begins with a longish quote from Jenning’s published work (fully attributed). In other words, he uses her work as THE counterpoint upon which to frame his article. If “critique” was the wrong word to describe Springer’s treatment of Jenning’s work, I believe most honest brokers would be dismayed by the lack of transparency involved in eduwonkette’s retort. I wouldn’t accuse her of outright deception, but I do think her actions ought to raise some questions about the value of a respectable media institution allowing its contributors to cloak themselves in anonymity.

    *The “she’s-just-a-graduate-student” argument holds no water. A month ago, GC would not have been able to use that argument because no one knew that she was “just a graduate student.” She was just an anonymous blogger who could have had any number of conflicts of interest safely hidden from public scrutiny. We could only speculate (and perhaps arrive at false conclusions… as per ‘kette fan’s beef). And who’s to say the next anonymous blogger given free reign at Ed Week wouldn’t possess such conflicts of interest? I will say again, bad precedent. How could we ever discredit said hypothetical anonymous blogger for being on the payroll Wal-Mart!?

    For someone who so haphazardly throws around accusations of swiftboating, I would think that GC might have a little bit more concern about the use of anonymous sources and anonymous bloggers, especially by reputable trade publications that nearly every professional in the field consults. The potential for swiftboating is rife!

  11. 'Kette Fan

    Let’s see. Cooler Heads is not a teacher and never has been. But s/he knows more about teaching than eduwonkette, because … why? No policymaker or sociologist knows anything about teaching? Not the most persuasive argument.

    Check out eduwonk’s very first post about eduwonkette, http://www.eduwonk.com/2007/09/new-edublog-11.html, in which he describes her as “an academic who taught for a few years in an urban school.” Hmm, Cooler Heads. Maybe eduwonkette actually does know more about teaching than you do. Of course, maybe Andy got this wrong too.

  12. Growing chorus

    Chitown: Just to clarify, I said that Springer did not cite Jennings in the published *journal article*, not the propaganda that is Education Next. It is more likely in Education Next (a magazine) that the editorial staff put Jennings quote front and center.

    Either way, this misses the point entirely made on eduwonkette: the Springer paper has serious design flaws, and is inconsistent with other very good research on this subject (see papers by Reback and by Neal and Schwazenbach, both unmentioned in the fair-and-balanced Ed Next). I consider it quite responsible of her to point her readers to these facts, so they can make their own informed assessment. Nowhere did I see her use language that said, in effect, “take it from me–anonymous blogger–that the Springer paper is wrong.”

  13. Cooler Heads

    Kette, have you read Eduwonkette lately? Does she write anything about teaching? No. Wanna guess why? No, instead she posts warmed over statistics on spending and on (stop the presses!) poor minority kids have lower test scores. Gee, I am so glad that we’re relying on this kind of probing reporting to inform the policy debate.

    It’s kind of like letting Madonna dictate foreign policy. Sure, she’s got a big mouth and opinions, but she’s no expert.

  14. Cooler Heads

    One last point: the NY mag article did not mention her teaching background. So did she teach? Where? What? And how about the sociology grad school work for giving her the insight to know about instruction and reform.

  15. 'Kette Fan

    Cooler Heads: This is getting tiresome. If you did your homework, you could figure out the answer to your questions. But it’s obvious you won’t be swayed by data. Which university did you get your doctorate in education from?

  16. Sherman Dorn

    Okay, folks. Here’s someone who is NOT anonymous pointing out that (a) all of the comments critical of Jennings tagged to this entry thus far are by people remaining anonymous; (b) the worst thing thus far said about Jennings blogging anonymously that one can say from Greene’s criticism (and echoed by Carey) is that she criticized a study that when in a digested form quoted (without analyzing) an article of hers; (c) if that’s the worst mistake she’s made in her life (and I’m not convinced it’s a mistake), I’d like to have that record; and (d) you don’t really want to be criticizing anonymous writing on public policy where an historian can see it.

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