Friday, February 24, 2006An Oldie But A Goodie
Hate to bring up the past but reading this whole growth model business the phrase "no controlling legal authority" keeps jumping to mind...
The Department of Education does a nice job laying out the process and put together a defensible peer review committee, but it's still unclear exactly how they're going to do this in terms of the letter of the law (and of course in a way that works and doesn't screw over poor kids).
They're either going to have some upset states (something they haven't shown much of a stomach for lately) or if they do approve ones that really offend the civil rights crowd, this could get interesting if the legal authority is challenged. Those guys litigate! Just ask CT's AG.
Update: Wash. Post ed board weighs-in.
More info on the new NEA-AFL-CIO solidarity agreement from USA Today's Toppo who broke the story.
You know how they say that when you hear your neighbor touting a hot stock it's time to sell? Well, the NEA is now all over the achievement gap (granted, though, their remedies are pretty
Update: You think this is just joshing, but the NEA has a department of Pubic Relations!
US News profiles KIPP's Feinberg and Levin and KIPP itself. I know that as I good Democrat I'm not supposed to like KIPP but I can't ever remember why...especially after spending time in the schools and reading stuff like this...
Update: See this one, too...
Where does USA Today find its op-ed contributors, a bar at 4 in the afternoon? Reading this rant about No Child Left Behind one expects the next line to be "and lemme tell ya something else, those damn commie liberals are ruining this country..." Leave aside lines like No Child, "sanctions the wholesale busing of children away from their neighborhood schools," which is not even accurate and warrants a correction, the piece suffers from a, how shall we say, lack of connection with what the law does and doesn't require and its implementation to date. Thing is, there are plenty of legitimate and sophisticated critiques of the law and its implementation. Pieces like this, however, seem to studiously avoid making them.
Boardbuzz keeps telling me not to worry because vouchers aren't popular and are not going anywhere and yet stuff like this keeps happening. Not to mention this ($). But it's OK, I guess, we'll get 'em in court!
The National Education Association and the AFL - CIO have signed a Labor Solidarity Partnership. This is no small thing. Typically, and ironically, Mike Antonucci has the actual document first.
It's a nice story about how Ed Secretary Spellings sized up her future hubbie (and she's a catch), but can't help thinking that if a male White House aide/cabinet secretary bragged to the newspapers about calling in a woman to "check her out" under the auspices of talking policy all hell would break loose...
Also, you could have a blog just about all the glowing profiles of Spellings...ironic since the ed press largely considers the current press shop at the Department of Ed to be all thumbs.
Update: If you just can't get enough Spellings here's another basically fawning star turn from the Harvard Educational Review.
Update II: And another one! Even includes a reference to the glasses...
Is all my street cred gone now?
Collective Bargaining in Education: Negotiating Change in Today's Schools will be released Tuesday at the National Press Club at noon. You can come and get a free lunch. Event and RSVP info here. Speakers include CCCR's Bill Taylor, UFT's Leo Casey, and CRPE's Paul Hill. Here are some the early reviews on the book, could be that there is a real issue here:
"It is unfathomable that, in light of recent efforts to close the student achievement gap, the body of research examining the impact of collective bargaining by teachers on public education is so scant. What are the facts and how do we find them? Hannaway and Rotherham rightly raise the issue and put forth real alternatives."—Andrew L. Stern, President, Service Employees International Union
"School districts and unions are among the most conservative institutions left in our country. Their reluctance to budge from the status quo and their fierce resistance to competition adversely impact student achievement, teacher quality, and fiscal equity. Hannaway and Rotherham confront the 800-pound obstacle to renewing public education and set the stage for a vigorous debate that is long overdue."—Alan Bersin, California Secretary of Education, former San Diego Superintendent of Schools, and Clinton Administration U.S. Attorney and Border Czar.
"Jane Hannaway and Andrew Rotherham have turned a searchlight on an important and neglected subject. Collective Bargaining in Education assembles experts who often have strongly contrasting views but whose knowledge and perspectives are invaluable. This is a must-read for anyone concerned about reforming public education."—William L. Taylor, Chairman, Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights
"We have waited decades for such a comprehensive overview of collective bargaining and teachers unions. A fascinating mixture of solid empirical studies and balanced, informed debate."—Mike Kirst, Professor of Education and Business Administration, Stanford University
Every year Newsweek anoints America's 100-best high schools using the Challenge Index, a measure devised by WaPo's Jay Mathews. Problem is, as a new Education Sector "Evidence Suggests Otherwise" analysis shows, many of the schools on the list are not among what presumably is the top less than one percent of all American high schools. The Challenge Index measures AP and IB test taking in relation to the number of graduating seniors. It's one measure of one thing that's important but a flawed way to pick the 100 best high schools in the nation and consequently unfair to other good public high schools and it's misleading for readers. The paper includes a response from Mathews.
It's almost like there are warning signs that Democrats persist in ignoring...
If Lynn Swann wins in Pennsylvania -- a state that was pretty much as close as media-darling Ohio was and a state that is pretty much a must-win for Democrats in presidential politics -- the school choice issue will be a real nightmare for Democrats come '08 because there are prominent pro-voucher urban Democrats in Philly who will presumably be at odds with the party's nominee on a big issue. It's one thing to be at odds when it's not a major issue and another when a state's governor can inject it into the race to drive a wedge in the Democratic base.
Seems like potential '08 candidates can get ahead of this now by making the issue accountability not choice by supporting public school choice and charter schools consequently taking the issue of "choice" itself off the table. If Democrats are for choice and accountability and Republicans are just for choice that's a debate Democrats win. But if it's choice v. no choice that's a pretty lousy place to be in American politics. Failing to get ahead of this means it could get messy as Democrats gets squeezed between fed-up minority parents and the teachers' unions and continue to needlessly take a beating for it. Same dynamic in Ohio, too, where there is already a big state voucher program ($) further complicating things.*
Special Bonus: Politics aside, isn't giving parents more choice in a key public sector service a good way to build support for it anyway?
*I still can't figure out why Gwen Ifill didn't ask a question about Cleveland vouchers in the Cleveland VP debate. Could have gone to public funding for religious activities, accountability for low-performing schools, immediate help for parents, or just the issue of school choice. Regardless, would have been a hell of a lot more interesting and potentially revealing from both candidates than the predictable back and forth about NCLB funding...
Top 10 Finish...
C'mon, 8th out of 3.5 million for this...not too shabby! Backstory here.
Update: A heads-up reader notes that with "quotes" we soar to #2! We've got the Chowderhead-Swaggering and Big-Girl-Panty-Wearing market cornered!
OK, maybe Jal is right. Higher ed is hard!
In the NYT Michael Winerip does some source-greasing of his favorite idea mill for stories: FairTest. Russo said a while ago that FairTest is on the fringe. That's basically true though as Eduwonk said it's not a reason to not call them. The real problem is that FairTest has basically become (a) No-test* and consequently not a helpful force to improve the quality of standardized testing (b) a crutch for lazy reporters and (c) in the last few years an anti-NCLB propaganda machine more than a testing group.
In other words, while there is a real need for an organization dedicated to policing the standardized testing industry for quality, FairTest is not, or rather is no longer, that organization. That might have something to do with their current financial woes, which the newest member of their fundraising team -- Michael Winerip -- tries to help with today...
*For instance, Ted Sizer says that the MCAS, the K-12 standardized tests in Massachusetts, is a pretty good test yet FairTest simply has no use for it.
Update: If you had any doubt how cozy this all is, FairTest's website prominently thanks their friend "Mike" for today's
More Diabolical Madness!
They'll stop at nothing! The Broad Foundation is "insinuating its agenda" which is "reactionary" and "right-wing" into Portland, OR! Eli Broad to Portland: I will destroy your schools unless you give me...one million dollars...[Disc: In the past, they've insinuated my work, too!]
Also -- Agree or disagree with them, it's hard to make the case that the ed reform crowd are the reactionaries in the ed debates…
If you've ever followed higher ed policymaking in the U.S. Senate you might have concluded that there are a lot of Perry Farrell fans running around because every third phrase is usually "Jane says..."
But, in fact, the references were to Jane Oates who ran higher education policy for Senator Kennedy. But she's leaving the Hill and heading to New Jersey to work for newly elected Governor Corzine up there where she'll also do higher education work. Since higher ed is going to be popping, this matters -- and it also matters because she wielded huge influence on the issue as she was smart and effective. Keep an eye on the Ed schools...
There is a battle shaping up in FL where Jeb Bush is proposing a performance-based pay initiative for teachers. Just in case you were laboring under the illusion that this might spark a sensible and serious debate about an important issue, check out this op-ed from the Orlando Sentinel. It's two op-eds in one -- and not because it covers a lot of ground. Rather, it argues hysterically against performance-based pay, argues for across-the-board raises, and then proposes a test-based performance-based pay scheme. Huh? Is it me or are both Bush Bros blessed in their adversaries...More background and analysis from St. Pete Times here.
The homies have their own blog carnival, too. Check out the Carnival of Homeschool Blogs here.
Dan Gerstein is all over the Joel Greenblatt story from NYC.
New Vision - New Blog...And A New Debate!
New Vision has launched a new blog, Foresight. Good stuff including this post taking on Eduwonk's contention that higher ed should fear Spellings and her Chowderhead swagger. Disc: I'm on the NV advisory board.
In today's Washington Post Jay Mathews lays out some interesting questions about testing. Essentially, if a state's standard are good, what's so bad about "teaching to" them? It reminds me of a great article a few years ago in the Washington Monthly by Georgia Alexakis about the MCAS resistance in Massachusetts. Many of these perceived ills take on a life of their own and few journos take the time to really think them through and/or debunk them. Hawken notes that there are problems with testing implementation which is certainly the case, but that's a different point than the one it seems Mathews is making here.
PS--This blogger accuses Mathews of altering his class size story without alerting readers. That's either complete BS or it's serious since corrections should clearly be noted (I'd strongly bet on the former, BTW). Still, send along any relevant info/evidence… Also, sneak preview, if you think I'm completely in the tank for Jay, the WaPo, etc..., please hold off on sending the nasty gram for 24-48 hours, you'll save us both some time...
So, you're a mayor and you wake up each morning just wanting to do something on education...but you don't know quite what. Well, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has produced a handy guide just for you (pdf) that is just stuffed with ideas and resources.
Matt Yglesias takes issue with Richard Cohen's "who needs algebra?" column in Thursday's Washington Post (as did Mr. Sun, Pharyngula, and others...). Isn't a more fundamental issue the irony of the column coming the day after U.S. Department of Education whiz Clifford Adelman released an updated version of his Answers In The Toolbox data that again reinforced the importance of an intense high school curriculum to college-level success? This is particularly important for disadvantaged youngsters. Now what bothers Eduwonk is that states are happily laying graduation requirements tied to more advanced courses on kids without doing the serious work to ensure they can meet those standards by addressing the tough issues like teacher quality, for instance here(pdf), here(pdf), here(pdf), and here(pdf). It's almost as though the kids get the shaft because they don't have lobbyists running around state capitals…nah, couldn't be that, everyone knows the normal rules of politics and human behavior don't apply to education!
Also, while you're poking around Yglesias' place and messin' with his stuff also check out this post about the necessity of college. It makes a good point, but as far as K-12 is concerned shouldn't the issue be letting kids make these decisions themselves rather than having them made for them because some kids get good preparation and others don't in large part depending on their skin color or family income? Besides, there is an increasing convergence between the skills needed for almost any post-secondary career and what we generally consider "college prep" type skills anyway.
I go away (work related no less) for three days and all kinds of things happen:
I learn that I'm Rick Hess Bi*ch is plum dog mean and a bully and the AFT's One-L learned that not all teachers think alike because Alice In Eduland didn't offer up the stock response One-L was hoping for! And, I also learned that Paul Hill is diabolical! He, of course, henceforth will be known as "Dr. Diabolical" as he hatches his wicked plans from his lair in the Pacific Northwest!
And finally, and most importantly, because of a lot of emails I learned that while all the guest bloggers are popular you all really like Alice in Eduland so we'll have her back again for sure. In fact, newspapers even reached out to inquire about her services as an op-ed writer...So, a big thanks to Alice for her blogging the past few days.