Friday, August 27, 2004
AYP Veterans For Truth? The other day Eduwonk came to the defense of the beleaguered Bushies in the Department of Education about the charter school data arguing that they were guilty only of ineptness not nefariousness. Anyway, it's still true on that issue, but this inordinate delay in releasing information about how Texas schools did under No Child Left Behind's standards for "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) stinks of nefariousness. That's in no small part because, conveniently enough, the delay in releasing the data will take us until right after the election in November. Moreover, the state is making their school ratings (like many states Texas has state ratings and No Child Left Behind ones) available at the end of September so data on school performance do exist; it's not like we're waiting on a test the kids will take in October.
*Will someone leak some of it? There must be a Democrat somewhere in the Texas Education Agency... *Couldn't this be another case of the cover-up is worse than the crime? This election will not turn on whether or not Texas schools made "adequate yearly progress" but it could well turn on whether or not President Bush's administration can be trusted. *Instead of lobbing cheap shots at charter schools, why isn't the NYT looking at this? It's a good chance to hit President Bush and, bonus, it's factually accurate! Isn't this administration big on the idea of data and transparency? Release the records! Update: Yoo hoo! NYT! Here's another legit story.
Four points to ponder:
*Will some enterprising souls, reporters perhaps, try to obtain and analyze the No Child data themselves?
The other day Eduwonk came to the defense of the beleaguered Bushies in the Department of Education about the charter school data arguing that they were guilty only of ineptness not nefariousness. Anyway, it's still true on that issue, but this inordinate delay in releasing information about how Texas schools did under No Child Left Behind's standards for "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) stinks of nefariousness. That's in no small part because, conveniently enough, the delay in releasing the data will take us until right after the election in November.
Moreover, the state is making their school ratings (like many states Texas has state ratings and No Child Left Behind ones) available at the end of September so data on school performance do exist; it's not like we're waiting on a test the kids will take in October.
*Will someone leak some of it? There must be a Democrat somewhere in the Texas Education Agency...
*Couldn't this be another case of the cover-up is worse than the crime? This election will not turn on whether or not Texas schools made "adequate yearly progress" but it could well turn on whether or not President Bush's administration can be trusted.
*Instead of lobbing cheap shots at charter schools, why isn't the NYT looking at this? It's a good chance to hit President Bush and, bonus, it's factually accurate!
Isn't this administration big on the idea of data and transparency? Release the records!
Update: Yoo hoo! NYT! Here's another legit story.
TICAS, a new organization started by former Clinton White House aide Robert Shireman has released its first report. It's sure not a ringing endorsement of the student loan industry! But, if you follow this issue it is very much worth reading, as is this must read from NYT's Winter about student loans.
Does rooting for/against federal education spending really float your boat? Then you won't want to miss this new compendium of data spanning 1980-2003 from NCES. You can relive the lean years, the fat years, it's all here for a great trip down memory lane!
More on single-sex classes from CNN. Via Endless Faculty Meeting.
Attempted charter cheap shot in Dayton, OH, thwarted by good reporting. And, things are heating up on the anti-charter referendum in WA.
Finally, these new poverty and health insurance numbers are bad news.
Dear Dr. Janey: Rick Hess: It's kicking ass! Joe Viteritti: It's choice! Larry Cuban: It's hopeless! Ron Suskind: It's poetic! DC Education Blog, where are you? Update! He's back! And not truant...
The Washington Post offers four views about what the new D.C. schools superintendent should do. If you're short on time, here's the punchline:
Rick Hess: It's kicking ass!
Joe Viteritti: It's choice!
Larry Cuban: It's hopeless!
Ron Suskind: It's poetic!
DC Education Blog, where are you?
Update! He's back! And not truant...
By popular demand following this post the other day, here is Eduwonk's one-stop shopping guide to hot-saucing: Wash Post story here, Poynter's Al Tompkins here, AU gets all worked up here, random internet chatters here.
The second year report on charter schools in Indianapolis is now available here. Overall encouraging news. Note the transparency in what the mayor there, Bart Peterson, is doing. These reports are a model not just for charter schools, but for all schools.
Local coverage via Indy Star here.
No Child Left Behind AYP results from PA. Punchline: Sky not falling there either.
In California the NEA pulled off an ambush and some political strong-arming. They're understandably very proud. This is clearly post it on the refrigerator caliber work! ABCTE has the facts on its side in all this, and today's licensing and credentialing system is demonstrably broken. Yet, ABCTE seems strikingly unable to execute, even in light of the challenging politics. If ABCTE were a stock Eduwonk would have to downgrade them to a "hold" right now.
Also in CA, Peter Schrag has more about the chaos that passes for education policymaking there. And, if you're really a CA political junkie, Mickey Kaus has more on Schwarzenegger's Pecker problem. David Pecker that is...get your minds out of the gutter!
RMN's Seebach (a mathematician by training) says don't draw too many math lessons from TIMSS or NCTM either! Who can you believe here? Perhaps we need TIMSS Veterans For Truth? Via Educationnews.org
Update: Joanne Jacobs has more.
College football formally kicks-off this Saturday with USC (-18) v. VA Tech* in Washington. To help everyone get in the spirit Wash Post's Schlabach takes a look at big time football schools that give players academic credit for football classes. It's a really good story and a legitimate gripe. A number of athletic directors at other schools (including some big time football ones) expressed surprise at the practice. But, in fairness, at most schools, including elite schools, there are plenty of cushy classes that upper-middle class non-athletes can take to avoid work and/or pad GPA's. If righteous indignation is the order of the day then some ought to be directed that way, too. What's the over-under on righteous outrage about this anyway?
NYT's Harmon takes an interesting look at how technology is modernizing bullying. Ah...progress...
If you, or someone you know, is considering teaching then this book by Ben Wildavsky and a team from U.S. News is must-reading. It's a thorough compilation of the policy debate and practical resources in every state.
Finally, mostly unrelated to education, but it's August. If you're a bluegrass fan be sure to check out the Biscuit Burners from Asheville, NC.
*USC is tough but if the Hokies can't cover 18 it could be a really long season...
Is This Rowback? Or, Does Samuel Freedman Just Think For Himself?
In today's New York Times emerging national treasure Samuel Freedman takes a look at the charter school flap that seems to implicitly note that the way the Times covered it was, well, tendentious and led to a polarizing rather than illuminating debate. Paging Mr. Okrent. Freedman's piece, a thoughtful must-read, makes the answer to the above question pretty obvious. The NYT has found gold here. It's great that this prominent education news analysis column has a voice, Freedman's voice, however, is conveniently backed up by evidence...
Also -- There is a full-page ad in today's NYT about all this. Mostly it's the usual suspects (plus a Nobel laureate who is not Friedman) but Paul Hill and Mary Beth Celio are on there, too, lending extra heft in the non-Kool-Aid drinking department. Loveless too, another non-imbiber.
The new Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup Poll on education is now available. Read it because it always gets a lot of play, but not because you're seeking too many insights into what the public thinks about public education. Although there are some interesting questions again this year, overall what was once a very useful barometer of public opinion has become a political exercise. For instance, some of the No Child Left Behind questions are factually flawed rendering the data basically worthless.
Moreover, in public opinion polls about issues they're not very familiar with, people have a tendency to say whatever is most accessible to them even if this means their views are contradictory. See this book for a good discussion on problems with opinion research. That issue seems to be very much in play here. For example, despite understandably reacting negatively to most of the various descriptions of NCLB, when asked if support for it would make them more or less likely to vote for a candidate, a comfortable margin of voters say "more likely." Vouchers engendered a similar, albeit more narrow, result. See tables 41 and 42.
Still, the voucher crowd will no doubt again holler about the choice questions. Mostly they're on shaky ground doing so because they cook their own questions, too. To read a good debate between Stanford's Terry Moe and Alex Gallup and Lowell C. Rose of Kappan about this, click here, here, and here. Moe plays it straight on this issue, if you're really interested in all this, his book Schools, Vouchers, and the American Public is well worth reading.
Bottom line? Surprise! Results vary depending on how questions are phrased and respondents have a frustrating tendency to say about anything. And, like a mutual fund, past results are no guarantee of future performance...
Sac Bee says bravo to the school finance settlement in California. Also on the equity issue, in Ed Week New York finance litigator Michael Rebell lays out the case for why adequacy suits matter. The Salt Lake Tribune is going to follow a kindergarten class all year. And, action on pay-for-performance in Delaware. Local coverage here.
The Facts Of Life?
You just can't make this stuff up.
Remember Lisa Whelchel? She was Blair on "The Facts of Life" and the object of many an adolescent crush (though Eduwonk was always partial to Jo). Well, she's back in the public eye as an advocate for "hot saucing." Hot saucing is a bizarre form of discipline for kids involving applying hot sauces to their tongues as punishment (obviously, Louisiana parents will have to think of something else...).
For a lot of people, like these Washington Post readers (and Eduwonk), hot saucing leaves a bitter taste. But, if this is the new craze it could be great news for these folks...
No word on whether Tootie, Natalie, or Jo are also big on hot saucing. Let's hope not.
Don't miss Jay Mathew's long and boffo feature look at KIPP schools in today's Washington Post Style section. It has history, status quo, and great anecdotes. Too many must-read bits in here to pull them all out.
Mathews writes that there is no organized opposition to KIPP. Presumably that was written before the events of the last week. Broadsides like the NYT's don't differentiate high and low-performing charter schools but simply indict them all.
Also, in his online column, Mathews looks at math instruction.
Two SC professors have been fired for refusing to assign grades based on effort rather than merit. Chronicle of Higher Ed on this, too, here ($). This has all the ingredients to make some news.
Atlanta Journal Constitution weighs-in on the charter flap and Phil Andrews notes that charters are doing pretty well in magnolia country. Also, good news from Florida and Wisconsin (from John Witte who is certainly not a Kool-Aid drinking choicenik...). Here's Witte:
"...the editorial board of the New York Times was incautious and reckless when interpreting the report's findings on the August 18th editorial page. The AFT's report does not show many statistically significant findings, nor does the report's text claim to. Instead, when one considers two major educational factors, race of students and their families' income, the AFT's simple tables report that public charter school students do not achieve differently than similar traditional public school students."
And, The Times clarifies the charter school story here. The Washington Times...Meanwhile, EIA's Antonucci says all this is good news.
A Pennsylvania court has rejected a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) lawsuit there. This suit, which was not just a knee-jerk reaction against NCLB, alleged that the state had not done enough to help school districts meet the requirements of the law. Appeal coming. Decision here (pdf). More from NSBA's legal department here.
In Japan, a Northwestern trained researcher is having a big impact on education policy decisions there.
Good news from the U.K.
On the left you'll find a link to Scotusblog, a terrific resource for anyone following Supreme Court activities and appeals. The new Washington Monthly includes an article about whiz lawyer Tommy Goldstein who, along with his wife Amy Howe, are the Goldstein and Howe that produces Scotusblog. It's quite a story (and quite a blog).
School is starting for Hip Teacher, fun to keep up with this.
NYT Update...And, Is The Education Sciences Reform Act Working?
Still no accountability for last week's hatchet job on charter schools. The apparent strategy is either "dig in heels" or "ignore." Sunday's Week in Review reiterated the findings with no additional context, and today's paper includes only a short letter from NCES Commissioner Robert Lerner.
Inside Baseball Afterthought: A big goal of the reorganization of the Department of Education's research operation in 2002 was trying to separate educational research from politics. The fact that the political folks at the Department of Education were blindsided by the revelation that NCES was working on its own analysis of the NAEP charter school data seems like evidence the new system is actually working...
Still, the Bushies should have known about the NYT story and been more proactively ready to deal with it. Even Eduwonk in the backwoods of Alaska with no Internet knew it was coming!
Update: A new blog, Miscellaneous Objections, written by Ryan Sager an editorial writer for the NY Post, has a lot more on the charter flap.
Writing on National Review Online Ronald Kessler offers education as one reason why many common perceptions about President Bush are wrong (full disclosure, Eduwonk has not read Kessler's book, just this essay). Kessler notes Bush's reading efforts in Texas and as President as evidence.
As far as it goes, it seems like Kessler is right. Eduwonk does not doubt that Bush (a) cares a great deal about the reading issue and (b) has sought to advance policies to improve reading instruction during his time in public life.
Yet Bush's concern about education is weak evidence to counter the perceptions of him as incurious and staff-driven. For starters, despite his concern about education, his administration has done a remarkably ham-handed job of policy implementation. And, even if Bush is intellectually curious about education (as many people Eduwonk respects argue he is) that's not evidence that he's eager to learn as much as he can about a host of other pressing issues. In fact, it makes his apparent unwillingness to all the more troublesome.