The Public School Insights Blog
Eli Broad is counting his chickens before they're hatched. In a Detroit Free Press op-ed, he counts Washington, DC among urban school districts that "have successfully turned around after producing abysmal student outcomes."
Seems a bit premature to declare victory in DC schools, doesn't it? Apparently, Broad is confusing the implementation of his favored reforms with their success:
In every one of these cities, real changes for students happened only after mayors or governors took over and put in place strong leaders who had a serious desire to rebuild.
It's true that DC's test scores rose significantly a scant ten months after Mayor Fenty took over the schools and Michelle Rhee became superintendent. But those gains could just as well have resulted from her predecessor's efforts to upgrade and align standards, curriculum and assessments. Before those gains became news, Rhee herself argued quite reasonably that it would take a few years for her reforms to show results.
Broad's op-ed illustrates a common, though worrying, tendency. We celebrate a short-term improvement as proof positive of our favorite reform's success--And then we campaign to multiply that reform in every city across the land.
The benefits of mayoral control are of course hardly beyond dispute. But to those who believe they have found the magic beans in mayoral ...
Dr. Suess gets with the times:
Would you forego a raise?
Would you, could you work for praise?
I would not, could not forego a raise.
My creditors want money, they don’t accept praise.
Would you, could you work for free?
We’re short 102 million dollars, you see.
I would not, I could not work for free.
I’m broke and tired, please let me be.
I do not like budget cuts with a slam,
I do not like them Sam-I-Am!
I'm not sure who wrote this riff on Green Eggs and Ham, but I found the full version here. ...
From the Washington Post:
Educators across the country are counting on a federal stimulus windfall to prevent teacher layoffs and improve schools. But while Washington is giving, some state and local governments are taking away.
After hearing that an initial batch of $11.8 million in federal funds would soon arrive in Loudoun County, supervisors slashed $7.3 million from the schools budget. They also made clear that if more federal recovery money flows to schools, schools might be asked to give back an equal amount of county dollars.
This does not bode well for the fate of school improvement efforts tied to stimulus funding.
According to Post, Secretary Duncan has spoken out against this kind of "shell game":
"Where we see a state or district operating in bad faith or doing something counter to the president's intent, we're going to come down like a ton of bricks," Duncan said in a March conference call with reporters. ...
A new Johns Hopkins study of privately managed public middle schools in Philadelphia suggests that such schools have performed worse than they city's district-run schools.
This study contradicts the findings of a 2007 study by Harvard researcher Paul Peterson, who gave privately-run schools the upper hand. Peterson, a well-known advocate for privatization, will no doubt reexamine the Hopkins research and conclude that it supports a utopian vision for private management.
There may be reasons for the differences between the two studies: Each examines different grade levels; they examine different time spans; they employ different methodologies; etc....
But the very fact that researchers have to break out their statistical magnifying glasses to discern any difference between the effects of the two governance models suggests that a change in governance isn't a miracle cure. We still have much more fundamental questions to answer about teaching and learning. ...
Like many others, members of the New York Times editorial board hope stimulus funds for education will promote sound economic reform even as they forestall economic ruin. Fair enough. But let's make sure that, in our haste, we don't opt for superficial reforms that don't properly address longstanding systemic problems.
The way the Times describes one essential target of reform--the inequitable distribution of effective teachers--gives me pause. According to this morning's opinion page: ...
Apparently, a woman from Rochester, New York has been jailed for enrolling her children in a suburban public school miles away from her urban home . Students at the largely affluent suburban school perform well on state-mandated tests. Students at her local urban school, which serves mostly low-income students of color, do not.
Susan Eaton finds this punishment outrageous. She writes in The Nation that the suburban district "reportedly hired a private investigator and sent him after... urban parents who'd done the same thing. The taxpayer-supported sleuth will continue to trail mothers and fathers suspected of trying to cross the line and 'steal' from the town...."
Eaton links the difference between the two schools' performance to racial and economic segretation, laying some of the blame on "discriminatory practices in the nation's housing and lending markets." Setting the dogs on those who ...
Editor's Note: Yesterday, Hollywood producer turned Montana educator Peter Rosten sent us the following remarks about his school's innovative filmmaking program:
Greetings from Montana!
A friend of mine, Jan Lombardi, is the education policy advisor for Montana’s Governor, Brian Schweitzer. Recently Jan forwarded me a “Learning First” newsletter and pointed to an article titled “Learning in the Community: Teen Filmmakers Talk About Their Work and Its Impact on Their Lives”.
After reading this inspiring story, I reached out to Claus von Zastrow. Perhaps he’d be interested in a pretty cool media program here in the Bitterroot Valley in rural Western, Montana.
Rules that would allow schools to get credit for students who take more than four years to graduate are causing some debate. Critics of the rules worry that they relieve necessary pressure on high schools to improve their four-year graduation rates. Supporters argue that they encourage schools to take a chance on students who would drop out in four years.
NSBA's Center for Public Education offers some insight into the issue. The Center recently studied the academic performance, academic attainment, job prospects, civic involvement and health of people who take longer than four years to graduate. Center researchers concluded that:
On-time graduation remains the best prospect for students, and districts should make on-time graduation the first priority for all students. But the extra work late graduates and their schools put toward earning a high school diploma pays off—not only in academic ...
Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey believes we can make the college graduation prospects of inner city children every bit as strong as those of their suburban peers. As president of Say Yes to Education, she has the data to back up her claims. Schmitt-Carey recently spoke with us about her model and its astonishing impact in several U.S. cities.
Say Yes topples barriers to college by offering disadvantaged youth comprehensive supports ranging from health care to college scholarships. The results of this work are stunning. In communities where it is active, Say Yes has dramatically narrowed the high school and college graduation gaps between inner-city students and their suburban peers.
Schmitt-Carey emphasizes the need to rally many community partners around common goals. In Syracuse, for example, Say Yes has built a strong a coalition including the school district, mayor, city council, school board, teachers unions, higher education community, business organizations and community-service organizations. Rather than pointing fingers of blame, Schmitt-Carey says, these partners share responsibility for children's long-term success.
Hear highlights from our interview (6 minutes). [A transcript of these highlights appears below]
Or listen to the following excerpts from ...
The battle over traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs is distracting us from a much more important conversation about teacher quality: How do we substantially increase teacher capacity and effectiveness? That's the conclusion Linda Darling-Hammond and David Haselkorn reach in a new Education Week commentary.
To make their case, Darling-Hammond and Haselkorn cite a Mathematica study that found few differences between the impact of traditionally and alternatively certified teachers on student performance in hard-to-staff schools. While this study is bound to "fuel the debate" about traditional vs. alternative routes, they argue, many commentators are missing the more important point:
The real story, however, is that none of the teachers in these high-need schools did well by their students. The students of teachers from what the study called “low coursework” alternative programs actually declined in their reading and math achievement between fall and spring, while those taught by their traditional-route counterparts improved little. Students of teachers in the "high coursework" alternative programs, and those of their traditional-route counterparts, improved by only 1 and 2 percentile points, respectively—not nearly enough, given how far behind these students already were.
Put bluntly, no one who is serious about raising standards and closing achievement gaps can find these outcomes acceptable. It is time to put aside the tired debates over routes into teaching and focus on a clearer destination: substantially higher levels of teacher effectiveness, especially for those teaching ...
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- Actress/Mathematician Danica McKellar on girls and math
- Best Selling Author Kenneth C. Davis on engaging with history
- Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Danielson on providing health care at school
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
Excellence is the Standard
At Pierce County High School in rural southeast Georgia, the graduation rate has gone up 31% in seven years. Teachers describe their collaboration as the unifying factor that drives the school’s improvement. Learn more...
- Ed Prep Matters
- PTA's One Voice
- ISTE Connects
- NASBE's On the Road
- PDK Blog
- AACTE's President's Perspective
- The EDifier
- School Board News Today
- Legal Clips
- Learning Forward’s PD Watch
- NAESP's Principals' Office
- NASSP's Principal's Policy Blog
- The Principal Difference
- ASCA Scene
- Always Something
- NSPRA: Social School Public Relations
- Transforming Learning
- AASA's The Leading Edge
- AASA Connects (formerly AASA's School Street)
- NEA Today
- Angles on Education
- Lily's Blackboard
What Else We're Reading
- Advancing the Teaching Profession
- The Answer Sheet
- Edutopia's Blogs
- Politics K-12
- U.S. Department of Education Blog
- John Wilson Unleashed
- The Core Knowledge Blog
- This Week in Education
- Inside School Research
- Teacher Leadership Today
- On the Shoulders of Giants
- Teacher in a Strange Land
- Teach Moore
- The Tempered Radical
- The Educated Reporter
- Taking Note
- Character Education Partnership Blog
- Why I Teach
We do not accept unsolicited postings for Public School Insights.
We remove comments we deem offensive or advertorial.