Saturday, August 20, 2005
In This Corner Weighing-In At....
Two new edublogs to keep an eye on:
MO's Sager is going to have his hands full now! The UFT has started a blog called EdWize. It's only a few days old but they're off to a fast start with posts on the contract situation, our friends at SOB, and teacher mobility. Sure to be a handy way to keep tabs on one view of eduhappenings in Gotham.
Meanwhile, Mike Antonucci of EIA who writes the widely read Communique and School News Monitor is dropping SNM and now focusing his energy and wit on the blog Intercepts. Agree or disagree with Mike, he's well regarded for his accuracy and breadth of coverage so the blog should be worth your time.
Update: NY Daily News on EdWize.
If you didn't like the recent Thomas Wolfe take on undergraduate life, try this book on for size.
Per this new report from U of W's Roza, check out this front page article in yesterday's Washington Post about racial disparities in health care. It's a vitally important issue, but don't the racial disparities in education deserve equal treatment? Granted, medicine is further along than education in terms of a willingness to measure and quantify (sadly, if medicine were education we'd still be having a debate about whether blacks can really be healthy at all...). Still, there is a not-insignificant body of evidence about disparities in education, some clear causes, and steps policymakers could take.
Over at School of Blog Julie points out that teachers' unions are not always opposed to what's good for kids and many things on their agenda are good for both students and teachers. This is, of course, true and outside the ranks of the cranks it's hard to find anyone who argues that everything that teachers' unions support is adverse to the interests of students or society or even that there are not many policies which are not good for both teachers and students.
However, she then implicitly takes an equally extreme position dismissing the criticism altogether. This argument doesn't hold up either. Just because teachers' unions are not always at odds with the public interest doesn't mean they're not sometimes pursuing policies that are. For instance, it's pretty hard to square the seniority and bumping provisions in most contracts and the refusal to allow challenging schools to pay their teachers more with what's best for poor kids.
Interest groups are not one dimensional. The NRA does a lot of good work on gun and hunter safety, that doesn't mean their position on assault weapons isn't ludicrous. The teachers' unions are no different.
Update: For more context also read this important follow-up post from SOB drilling-down a little more.
There are plenty of reasons why Rep. Henry Bonilla's (R-TX) idea to rename Washington's 16th Street "Ronald Reagan Boulevard" is spectacularly silly (don't take Eduwonk's word for it, VA Republican Tom Davis called it "ridiculous").
However, an Eduwonk correspondent sends along one reason why there would at least be a redeeming comedic value: The NEA's address would be 1201 Ronald Reagan Boulevard...so they'd be left opposing the so-called No Child Left Behind Act from the so-called Ronald Reagan Boulevard...
NY Daily News reports on kids and drugs, meanwhile LA Times says Snoop's youth football league taking off...
Very important new report (pdf) from U of W's Roza about Title I funds. Punchline: Often rather than augmenting poor schools, these funds are merely compensating for inequitable intra-district resource patterns.
The problem is two-fold: First, district funds-allocation practices are so murky and complex that it is difficult to determine how much money is spent at any individual school. The assumption that non-categorical funds are spent equitably is incorrect. Second, the spirit of the law—that these federal funds are used only to augment services for disadvantaged students—is easily broken. This is true even when school administrators are committed to the intent of the law and make every effort to follow it to the letter.
If you want to work at Education Sector here are three ways, right now. Development, editorial and web production and communications. More listings soon.
Per this item, here's what NYC Mayor Bloomberg had to say today. It's significant on the work rules comment and politically clever on the vacation dig...
A: I didn’t hear what she had to say. I mean, I hope there’s a contract soon. If she does not hope there’s a contract soon, I think she should tell her members. Everyone who I meet wants to have a contract. And we’re trying very hard to negotiate one. There’s been a lot of back and forth, she’s been on vacation and last week was a little bit hard to reach. I know our labor commissioner tried two or three times; so, that probably held up negotiations a week. But the fact finding by the arbitration panel has been proceeding. We’ve been testifying. So, did the UFT. It’s an advisory thing. So, you know, anything they can suggest would be helpful. But the city, you know, look, the city needs teachers. We have great teachers. We’d like to pay ‘em more. The same rules apply, however. We do need to have some changes in work rules that are inhibiting our ability to educate our kids, which is the fundamental purpose that the Department of Education exists for. It’s not a, the Department of Education isn’t there to create jobs. It’s there to educate our kids, and, so, we need to get some changes, which, I think, would not be onerous to teachers. And, then, if they want to get paid more than the pattern, they have to come up with some work saving, productivity enhancements, money saving things because that’s where the money is going to come. It’s where it’s come on every other contract and it’s where it’s going to come on this. We do not have any extra money, and, as you know, the ‘07 (budget) is going to be problematic, I think, for all of us. So, we’re sticking to trying to do everything we can to negotiate a contract. And I’m still optimistic. I don’t know why she’d say that. She is a woman who wants to get a contract, as far as I know. Everything I’ve ever heard from her says she do (sic).
Update: Clever, but perhaps not quite right? From the NY Daily News:
The mayor's comments infuriated Weingarten, who said she wasn't vacationing - she was on jury duty and City Hall officials knew it.
"I haven't been the one that is hard to reach," she said. "The mayor's representatives know I served on federal jury duty and was completely available when not empaneled."
Reed On Roberts
Eduwonk has long believed that Democrats would be in stronger political shape if they listened to Bruce Reed more. And, on the same day that panic about the Roberts nomination is seizing the Left, Reed offers the most promising line of attack yet (and it involves education, no less...).
It's the time of year when states are reporting results state tests and whether schools made "adequate yearly progress". Two quick thoughts:
First, the media often does a lousy job of unpacking these figures so they make sense for the average person. Assuming that a sufficient number of students took the assessments, then whether or not a school made AYP depends on several things notably the test used, what the cut score to be "proficient" is, and what percent of students in a particular school must score proficient in order for the school to make AYP (for instance, in some states its as few as about one in three while in others it's as much as seven in ten). Then there are the secondary issues. Is a state averaging school scores over several years, using confidence intervals, or are schools combining scores across grade levels? These variances are all allowable under the law and central to understanding how the AYP figures are arrived at in different states.
Second, how the media talks about these things matters, too. This story from today's Wash. Post is instructive. According to the Post, offering parents public school choice or tutoring constitutes "penalties." They don't arrive at that verbiage by accident, Virginia and many other states, too, refer to "sanctions" and "penalties" for schools and it's the common way the issue is framed. The media is merely, albeit uncritically, passing along a cue. But, it's a cue rooted in the dubious assumption that the schools exist as an institution of their own right rather than one intended to serve students and parents.
In fact, Eduwonk doesn't care much for the supplemental services provisions as they're currently employed; too often they're a throwback to ineffective pull-out programs rather than a coherent instructional program raising serious questions about the wisdom of financing them through Title I. Yet participating parents don't view supplemental tutoring or a broader choice of public schools as a "penalty" or "sanction," at least not in the common usage of those terms. And, like the provisions or not, surely there is more neutral language to describe these provisions outside of the editorial page.
Looking for a chance to share your views with an influential reporter in a relaxed setting? Well, unknown to most readers, on weekends Ed Week's usually reliable Robelen puts down the notebook and picks up the guitar. He's an accomplished musician.
His current band, the Paul Minor Band, plays gigs all around the Washington Metro area. You can check them out Friday at the Fox Chase Tavern.
In the 19th Century, schools caused Bible riots. In the 21st, laptop riots:
Jesse Sandler said he was one of the people pushing forward, using a folding chair he had brought with him to beat back people who tried to cut in front of him.
"I took my chair here and I threw it over my shoulder and I went, 'Bam,''' the 20-year-old said nonchalantly, his eyes glued to the screen of his new iBook, as he tapped away on the keyboard at a testing station.
"They were getting in front of me and I was there a lot earlier than them, so I thought that it was just,'' he said.
...are all posting over at the Carnival of Education Blogs.
Goldstein, still going wild, writes to note the following:
Results from the California standardized tests (STAR) from 2005 were published August 15. One note: the Achievement Gap in Algebra II proficiency was 27 percentage points....58% vs. 31%
Snooze, right? But that's not the black/Hispanic to white gap. That's the Asian to white comparison! The black/Hispanic to white comparison is actually SMALLER, where Algebra II proficiency is 9% black, 15% Hispanic, 31% white.
Scholarship on the Asian-American "high end gap" is not that common. Harvard Scholar Vivian Shuh Ming Louie has done some work but it's still relatively unexplored.
None of this is to say that the Achievement Gap does not primarily remain one that describes the difference between black and Hispanic kids on one hand, and white and Asian kids on the other. As a noted Achievement Gap author says: "Still, those numbers have Asian students 1.9 times as likely as white students to gain proficiency, whereas white students are twice as likely as Hispanics and 3.4 times as likely as black students to gain proficiency."
Decode This, Part II
Per this from February, Success For All and its fellow travelers are now fighting back and getting an investigation of the federal Reading First program says USA Today's Toppo and Ed Week's Cavanagh. Backstory from Ed Week's Viadero here. Hmmm...if true, such cronyism seems shockingly out of character for the Bush Administration...keep an eye on the fleet of feet Earth Mother and whether she moves to hang this on Paige, that's a good gauge of how serious it all is...
Interesting edupolitics sidelight: Some folks who hate Success For All and similar programs (and Reading First for that matter) have apparently decided they hate George Bush even more and are now the cheering on the investigation and demanding fairness...
Per this article in the Salt Lake Trib. it seems like UT could use some of the tough love charter operators applied in California and elsewhere. May not be illegal, but it sure smells.
Remember that study on charter school finance in Texas? Well, according to the Dallas Morning News the state education agency now acknowledges that it was fatally flawed because of some reporting errors. One charter apparently reported a budget of $66 million when in fact its budget was $9 million. That's enough to skew the average results statewide. Also, close-reading reveals something in this article that Eduwonk's more literary friends might call "foreshadowing."
Meanwhile, a well-connected Tarheel reader writes to say:
The NC Senate and House have signed off on the state's two-year budget, and unless Governor Easley vetoes it (he is expected to sign it), there is NO chance for the cap on charters to be raised this year. (While the bills to raise the cap in NC never made it out of committee, a change in the cap could have been amended to the state budget.)
So, all 100 charters are taken. No more new charter schools in North Carolina, unless an existing charter school has its charter revoked.
BTW, in NC, the very top performing schools are charters; and charters are among the worst performers. There is a strong demand among parents for charters, but all in all, NC just "doesn't do" charters well! No charter school resource center, no lobbying force, etc.