Headlines, 2/17/2013

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth (New York Times)

Amazing article by Joseph Stiglitz. -jk President Obama’s second Inaugural Address used soaring language to reaffirm America’s commitment to the dream of equality of opportunity: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

Is high-stakes testing ending in Texas? (the one and only Jason Stanford)

There’s a reason hundreds of parents and kids protested at the New York City headquarters of the standardized testing company Pearson last year, and it wasn’t just because of the infamous “Pineapple” test question. There’s a reason that a Florida school board member with a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees made national news when he flunked his state’s 10th-grade math test.

Teacher Gets Valentine’s Card 67 Years Straight (EdWeek Teacher)

Here’s a cute story to give you some Valentine’s Day cheer:

Every Feb. 14 since 1946, Daryl Zevely, now 77 and retired, has sent his 3rd grade teacher a Valentine Day’s card, reports The Longview News-Journal.

Incoherent L.A. Times Editorial Okays Sale of School Board (Diane Ravitch)

If you can make sense of this editorial in the Los Angeles Times, you are a whole lot smarter than me. It speaks disparagingly of the board president, then endorses her.

New Ohio Plan Aims to Re-test Teachers in Failing Schools (Education News)

Ohio is pioneering a plan to force teachers in the bottom of 10% of schools, as ranked by the Performance Index (a measure of student test performance), to retake licensing exams if their subject is included in a list of ‘core subjects’

Colbert skewers Phoenix school ‘gun posse’ and trainer Steven Seagal (The Answer Sheet)

In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff-category, an Arizona sheriff recruited actor Steven Seagal to train volunteers to be part of an armed posse to patrol Phoenix-area schools.

MacDowell: Rebuilding the Middle Class Starts with Education (Education News)

The race up to the presidential election in November clearly was dominated by important debates over taxes, job creation, and the vanishing middle class. The middle class may be an endangered species, but it’s not for the reasons many politicians would have you believe.

Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide (Education News)

As the dissatisfaction with the U.S. education system among parents grows, so does the appeal of homeschooling. Since 1999, the number of children who are being homeschooled has increased by 75%. Although currently only 4% of all school children nationwide are educated at home, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year.

Deasy wants 30% of teacher evaluations based on test scores (LA Times)

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy announced Friday that as much as 30% of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student test scores, setting off more contention in the nation’s second-largest school system in the weeks before a critical Board of Education election.

Why America’s Prep Schools Aren’t Following Arne Duncan’s Public Education Reforms (GOOD)

Our public education system, with all of its admitted flaws, manages to nurture the vast majority of young people, many of whom go on to be hugely successful. But the prevailing education reform movement in the United States, premised upon market-based solutions, economics, disruption, and similar sounding corporate buzzwords, seeks to standardize curriculum, teaching, and assessment as a method of control.

Media’s Misguided “Miracle” Meme (Schools Matter)

Paul Tough has built a career on “no excuses” approaches to teaching “other people’s children” in the charter school racket, most recently touting the importance of “grit” (see “Paul Tough Is Way Off-Base. And Stop Saying ‘Grit'” by Katie Osgood to understand
why Tough is misguided).

Popular Public School Loses Out to Charter School for Space in Harlem

HARLEM — Parents and administrators at a pair of district East Harlem public  schools say the Department  of Education is undermining their efforts to grow into a middle school,  giving away nearby expansion space to a charter school just months after Schools  Chancellor Dennis Walcott said no space was available.

How Trying to Get Rid of Bad Teachers had Demoralized Our Best (Mark Naison)

Every time I have a discussion with someone who claims to be passionately committed to improving schools, they bring up the subject of the “bad teacher.” They see public schools as zones of cultural and economic stagnation in an otherwised dynamic society, saddled with a smug and incompetent teaching force that prevents schools from playing their assigned roles of creating a competitive global workforce and elevating people out of poverty.

Study: Kids’ Social Networks Influence Academic Achievement (Education News)

High school students can influence their casual friends to earn higher or lower grades to match, according to a study done in Binghamton, NY. Scientific American reports that the study, published in PLOS One, is the first to compare social networks with grades over the course of a year.

Paterson Collegiate Charter School Approved. What Now? (Mother Crusader)

Yesterday Education Commissioner Cerf approved two new charters for New Jersey.  Both will be located in Paterson, where as Jersey
Jazzman has reported, some serious reformyness seems to be underway.

From Portfolios to Parasites: The Unfortunate Path(ology) of U.S. Charter School Policy (Bruce Baker)

I recall several years ago attending an initial organizing meeting for a special interest group on Charter Schools at the American Educational Research Association. Note to outsiders – AERA has several special interest groups, some research oriented, some advocacy oriented…  many somewhere in between. These are member organized groups and many are very small.

This Columbia Student Will Not Join TFA (Diane Ravitch)

This is an interesting article by a Columbia student, explaining why he will not join TFA.

Following the Evidence: Early Education for all Kids (Gates Foundation)

“Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime … studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works.”

James Heckman: In early childhood education, ‘Quality really matters.’ (WonkBlog)

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He shared the 2000 Nobel for his work on correcting for selection biases when doing econometric studies, developing techniques which he applied to measuring everything from the economic effects of civil rights laws on African-Americans to the economic benefits (or lack thereof) of GEDs.

Is “Scalable” a Code Word for Top-Down Reform? (Anthony Cody)

About a week ago, John Thompson posted a note in which he conceded that “Educators who oppose the testing mania must admit that our preferred strategies would require high-quality implementation, and neither do we know how to scale them up.”

Parents decry closing of two Broward schools for special-needs kids (Miami Herald)

If you ask parents why they value Broward’s Wingate Oaks Educational Center — and why they’re so furious about its imminent closure — the answer often boils down to trust.

Obama touts plan for universal preschool (Washington Post)

DECATUR, Ga. — President Obama visited a preschool here Thursday to tout early education for all 4-year-olds from low- and modest-income families, part of a three-day campaign-style promotion of ideas outlined in his State of the Union address.

“Won’t Back Down” revived as centerpiece of corporate lobbying campaign (Larry Ferlazzo)

The cringe-inducing anti-teachers’ unions movie may have had the backing of wealthy corporate education reformers, but the magnates couldn’t seem to use their entrepreneurial spirit to cobble together a decent flick. The astroturfers dream, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, completely flopped at the box office when it was released last fall. In fact, if movie-goers’ taste is the sole metric, “Won’t Back Down” was the worst major film in the history of cinema. The Huffington Post reported that the $2.6 million it took in on its debut weekend set “the record for worst opening of a film that released in over 2,500 theaters.”

Occupy 2.0: The Battle for Public Schools (@thechalkface)


Independent Schools and Public Schools–Is There a Common Perspective? (EdWeek)

Last month Alan Jones wrote an eloquent “Commentary” essay titled “Mr. Obama: Most Schools Aren’t Like Your Daughters’ School.” He offered a painful comparison between his observations of many public schools and the environment at the independent school attended by the First Daughters. Dr. Jones noted that many policies favored by the Obama administration, like those of preceding administrations, are likely to further dilute the quality of the student experience in public schools.

487: Harper High School, Part One (This American Life)


Spotlight on Choice (Cowen Institute)

School choice and open enrollment policies play a growing role in education reform across the country.


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