Friday, December 22, 2006
If you're a teacher and looking for a holiday break in February, Ithaca, New York, is rolling out the red carpet for you...
So, Turkmenbashi finally met the one thing he couldn't control. The Eduwife has spent some time in Turkmenistan and we've got some friends in the teaching ranks there. One, in particular, wanted to start a charter school there, he liked the idea and the autonomy. So we helped him with some resources here and he pushed the idea as safely as he could, but to no avail. So I'm left wondering...who is more likely to see a charter school anytime soon, kids in Turkmenistan or kids in Washington State?
But, kids in Kansas might see one sooner...and a pretty signal one at that...
AFTie One-L notes that good reporter and good guy Ben Feller has left the AP ed beat to cover the White House and needles me for not mentioning it sooner. 'Tis true. Only thing I can add to her round-up is that more than a few women in the ed policy space -- in and out of government -- have noted that they're going to miss him...and I don't think they're referring to the prose...
Here, for your enjoyment, is a list of 100 education blogs!
Higher Ed Ed...
Kevin Carey, who knows a lot more about higher ed policy than I do, tells you what you need to know about today's NYT story.
Join the vast conspiracy! National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is looking for a federal policy director. Disc here.
Don't miss the new Ed Trust school finance report, just out today. This year looks at federal, state, and local. I wish it had trend data, there were some formula changes made in 2001 and it would be nice to see impact or lack thereof, but it's well worth checking out. Shows clearly how the kids that need the most get thrust into a system that gives them the least. And, shows that while there are some tough issues like state finance inequities that take a long time to fix, there are also some immediate steps Congress could take when No Child Left Behind is reauthorized -- like fixing Title I's comparability provisions.
The current issue of Education Week can only be described as an orgy of Chester Finn! There is a big splash profile and then no less than one, two, and in fact three articles about Fordham's charter authorizing work in Ohio. It's all Finn all-the-time! All that is missing is a pin-up. To be clear though, Usually Reliable Robelen's work on Fordham in Ohio is well worth checking out.
But was it all Finn all the time in '06? People wonder and speculate (and miscalculate) what organizations get a lot of ink in Ed Week. Well, for 2006, here are the best numbers I could come up with. It is a lot of Fordham (but not all Finn) but a lot of ink all around among the DC-based eduideas organizations. The chart shows the number of online or print articles various organizations were cited in during the year. (Click for a larger view).
Pre-K Now is hiring for a federal policy director.
A missive by Tony Carnevale has been circulating related to/attacking the recent Skills Commission report (see here and here, too). Now you can read it yourself by clicking here, sure to spark some debate...I don't quite get the stridency and think some of the concerns can be dealt with pretty easily as a matter of policymaking and execution, but you decide.
En passant AFTie One-L confirms the existence of teachers' union goons, this will no doubt be disconcerting to the Eduwife.
But good a time as any to mention that almost everyone on teachers' union watch around the '08 Democratic primary is looking in the wrong place. The parlor game is about which candidate, or potential candidate, will have the most cachet with the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union.
Yet the union is very unlikely to get too involved in the primary* and similarly very unlikely not to support the ultimate Democratic nominee. A good model is the '04 race where the union asked candidates to submit to an interview and then rated them acceptable or unacceptable. Only Senator Joe Lieberman earned an unacceptable rating, presumably because of his support for school choice and generally maverick instincts on education. And yes, you read that right, the organization representing most of the nation's teachers felt that Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton were more fit to serve as President of the United States than Lieberman...
Anyway, rather than national, the action is mostly in the states, especially early primary states. Getting the support of the state teachers' unions can mean bodies, access, publicity, etc...resources that are valuable in these primaries (though as Howard Dean found out, not invincible...his relentless slashing on No Child Left Behind didn't really pay off with voters). So in terms of candidates currying favor, staking out positions that play to or against type with the unions and so forth, that's the ball to watch. But of course, if you’re pro-reform there is nothing to worry about there because the state teachers’ unions are cornucopias of progressive reform ideas!
A candidate who succeeds without strong teachers' union backing can find themselves freed up to stake out bold positions on the education issue since -- despite occasional head fakes -- the unions will almost certainly prefer the Democratic nominee to the Republican one on a host of issues when push comes to shove. John Kerry had this opportunity in 2004 but didn't leverage it to full advantage. Voters want independent candidates, change oriented ones, and ones who will make tough stands. On education there is a powerful mantle to be grabbed there and one that reinforces other values. Also, in terms of currying favor versus currying reform, there is also a little bit of “stag hunt” going on and some group benefit if the candidates act strategically, though don’t hold your breath.
*Update: Mike Antonucci notes that the NEA is considering hatching some sort of kangaroo court endorsement convention. I remain skeptical this will amount to much beyond a PR sideshow because why would state leaders want to give up some real power they have now unless it is taken from them...? Of course, there could end up being consensus, an ideal outcome for the NEA, but state leaders have a lot of juice...And worth pointing out that I think the environment has changed and the idea that teachers move in lockstep is wrong. This is about activists and bodies, which can help generate votes, rather than actual votes.
WaPo's Shapira looks at the IB elementary school program in Sunday's paper.
NCLB's "adequate yearly progress" provisions have some problems, sure. But the reality is that they're not nearly as bad as the rhetoric about them, and some of the problems fall in the "lesser of several bad choices" category because of the current state of play of state policy. These Hill staffers are not as dumb or out of touch as people think...This chart from the Olson-Hoff NCLB sweepstakes opus in Education Week debunks some of the common myths, especially the scapegoating of English-language learners* and special-ed kids. In the end, despite some sharp edges we're back to the question of whether we're going to hold schools accountable for educating discreet subgroups of kids, or not. In other words, is the right unit of analysis kids or schools? And also, again we face the disconnect between really grim achievement gaps and concerns that NCLB is telling us that some schools aren't doing a very good job...those kids do go to school somewhere!
*Though the figure above should be taken in the context that LEP kids are the least dispersed of these various groups. In other words, the n of schools (not the n-size of the subgroup) that could miss AYP because of LEP kids is smaller than these other groups to begin with. But it’s still not the millstone it's being made out to be.
Graphic courtesy of Education Week.
Transparency is easy to say, harder to do, but here's one important stab:
The National Council on Teacher Quality is launching a new online database designed to help researchers, the media, and the public make sense of various provisions in teacher collective bargaining agreements and board policies from the nation's 50 largest school districts. The website is the first of its kind—empowering users to compare over 300 distinct provisions that impact the day-to-day operations of schools. In other words, it's bad ass. That's a technical industry term for you lay readers.
You can, and should, join the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights on January 4th at 10 am at the Charles Sumner School (1201 17th Street NW, Metro Farragut North) for the launch of this revolution! Speakers include journalist and ES non-resident senior fellow Joe Williams and researcher Julia Koppich. For more info or to R.S.V.P. please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-222-0561. Disc: I'm on the NCTQ board and served on the advisory board for this project.