Education News Bulletin
Education News Bulletin
June 30- July 6, 2009
New York Times Editorial: Lessons for Failing Schools
NATIONAL--The $100 billion education stimulus package gives Education Secretary Arne Duncan unprecedented leverage to energize the languishing school reform effort. Mr. Duncan has said from the start that he wants the states to transform about 5,000 of the lowest-performing schools, not in a piecemeal fashion but with bold policies that have an impact right away. The argument in favor of a tightly focused effort aimed at these schools is compelling. We now know, for example, that about 12 percent of the nation's high schools account for half the country's dropouts generally - and almost three-quarters of minority dropouts. A plan that fixed these schools, raising high school graduation and college-going rates, would pay enormous dividends for the country as a whole. Mr. Duncan can use his burgeoning discretionary budget to reward states that take the initiative in this area. But Congress could push the reform effort further and faster by granting the education department's request for two changes in federal education law. The first would be to come up with new federal school improvement money and require the states to focus 40 percent of it on the lowest-performing middle and high schools. The second change would allow the secretary to directly finance charter-school operators that have already produced high-quality schools. Mr. Duncan is on the mark when he says the country needs bold action. It can no longer tolerate schools that have trapped generations of students at the margins of society and locked them out of the new economy. (New York Times - registration required)
CHARTERS CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS
Press Release: California Education Reformer Caprice Young will serve as chair of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools - Mashea Ashton, John Lock and Deborah McGriff also elected to Board officer positions
WASHINGTON--Veteran education reformer Caprice Young of Los Angeles has been elected as Chair of the board of directors of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Also elected as officers of the board are Mashea Ashton (Vice Chair), John Lock (Treasurer) and Deborah McGriff (Secretary). "The charter school model - the freedom to be more innovative and at the same time being held accountable for improved student achievement - is making a tremendous difference in the lives of students all across the country," said Young. "In more and more communities, charters are providing vital educational options within the context of public schooling. Yet we have real challenges, such as caps on growth, equitable funding, and the continuing need to emphasize that expansion and high-quality must go hand-in-hand. I'm looking forward to meeting these challenges head-on and helping to guide the strategic development of the Alliance in the coming year." Young is the President and CEO of KC Distance Learning, a division of California-based education provider Knowledge Universe (KU). McGriff serves as a Partner with the NewSchools Venture Fund, a national organization that support education entrepreneurs, especially those helping low-income and minority children in urban communities. Prior to this, she served as Executive Vice President and Chief Relationship Officer of Edison Schools. As a senior executive with Edison from 1993 to 2008 she served as President of its Teachers College and Executive Vice President of its Charter Schools division. (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)
Education secretary challenges NEA on teacher pay
WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan challenged members of the National Education Association Thursday to stop resisting the idea of linking teacher pay to student achievement. It was Duncan's first speech at the union's annual meeting, a gathering at which President Barack Obama was booed when he mentioned the idea of performance pay last year. By contrast, Duncan drew raucous applause and only a smattering of boos. "I came here today to challenge you to think differently about the role of unions in public education," Duncan told the 3.2 million-member union in San Diego. "It's not enough to focus only on issues like job security, tenure, compensation, and evaluation," he said. "You must become full partners and leaders in education reform. You must be willing to change." Unions are an important part of the Democrats' political base of support. Duncan, even as he challenged NEA members, promised to include teachers in his decision-making. (Washington Post - registration required)
See also, DOE Press Release: Secretary Duncan Challenges National Education Association to Accelerate
Remarks of Arne Duncan to the National Education Association-Partners in Reform
Duncan's Speech: Remarks of Arne Duncan to the National Education Association-Partners in Reform
Education secretary treads where teachers unions don't want to go http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teachers3-2009jul03,0,2383447.story
Duncan Presses NEA on Merit Pay, Tenure http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/07/02/36neaduncan.h28.html?tkn=OYMFmDTyY9hpgWs3y5Z7d5ib4rEjbsl6Z%2BJV
Best in Class: The Obama administration, the unions and rewarding teachers who teach http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/30/AR2009063003183.html
Number of Black Male Teachers Belies Their Influence
WASHINGTON--Tynita Johnson had attended predominantly black schools in Prince George's County for 10 years when she walked into Will Thomas's AP government class last August and found something she had never seen.
"I was kind of shocked," said Tynita, 15, of Upper Marlboro. "I have never had a black male teacher before, except for P.E." Tynita's experience is remarkably common. Only 2 percent of the nation's 4.8 million teachers are black men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, Thomas, a social studies teacher at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, never had a black teacher himself. "I love teaching, and I feel like I am needed," said Thomas, 33, of Bowie. The shortage of black male teachers compounds the difficulties that many African American boys face in school. About half of black male students do not complete high school in four years, statistics show. Black males also tend to score lower on standardized tests, take fewer Advanced Placement courses and are suspended and expelled at higher rates than other groups, officials said. (Washington Post - registration required)
Why We Need a National College for Civilian Leadership (By Chris Myers Asch A former Teach for America corps member and Executive Director of the U.S. Public Service Academy)
NATIONAL--As the Fourth of July approaches this weekend, we can expect the standard paeans to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the rest of the Founders. Though some of the celebration amounts to little more than hero worship, we do indeed have much to learn about leadership from that generation -- not only by understanding what they did but also by exploring what they didn't do. The Founders studied, lived, and argued about leadership, both military and civilian, and they worked to build institutions that would foster leadership qualities in American citizens: civic virtue, selfless service, a sense of duty to country. Some of our strongest public institutions for civilian leadership were created within a generation of the Revolutionary War, including West Point and the University of Virginia. But one institution that many of our Founders - including our first six presidents - advocated has never come to fruition: a national university for developing civilian leadership. Political parochialism and economic restraints derailed plans for a national university two centuries ago, but the need to educate talented, energetic, and effective public leaders endures. The challenges of the 21st century - from 9/11 to Katrina to the financial crisis - only underscore this need, and the leadership crisis that looms as Baby Boomers retire demands that we address it immediately. That is why a grassroots movement to build a U.S. Public Service Academy has emerged in recent years. (Huffington Post)
ACCOUNTABILITY AND ASSESSMENT
ED to fund unified student data systems : Grants are available for states to create longitudinal data systems--and states that do so will have an advantage in vying for other stimulus funding
NATIONAL--Backed by a strong and unprecedented federal investment in education, the Obama administration has identified multiple objectives intended to help revamp the nation's education system--and a persistent use of student data to improve instruction is one of those objectives. President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have emphasized the need for all states to implement longitudinal data systems to track the progress of students from kindergarten through college and the workforce. Those data systems also would link students to their respective teachers and help school leaders identify strengths and weaknesses within their districts. A portion of the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) stimulus funding is intended to help states create comprehensive, longitudinal data systems to track the academic progress of individual students from kindergarten through college and the workforce. (eSchool news)
States weigh setting one bar for students: A 'common' standard for K-12 education is in the works.
NATIONAL--Efforts to establish national education standards have always foundered on the shoals of culture wars and fears of too much federal control. But the time may be ripe for something close: a common set of standards for K-12 math and reading that states could opt to adopt. Forty-seven states now support drafting such standards by year's end. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been using his bully pulpit, and the promise of federal stimulus money, to encourage states to abandon the current mishmash of individual standards."We've got the best shot we've ever had at getting national standards and tests in this country," says Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research group in Washington that recently hosted a discussion on internationally benchmarked standards. (Christian Science Monitor)
NEWSCHOOLS AND OUR VENTURES IN THE NEWS
L.A. Group In Talks to Run D.C. High School: Nonprofit Manages 18 Charters, Took Over Calif. Campus
WASHINGTON--D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is talking to a Los Angeles nonprofit group that has improved one of that city's most troubled high schools about running at least one low-achieving high school in the District, expanding her strategy of pursuing outside partners to manage public schools. Rhee met last week with Steve Barr, founder and chairman of Green Dot Public Schools, which operates 17 small charter schools in Los Angeles and one in the Bronx, N.Y. He is perhaps best known for his forcible takeover of Locke Senior High School from the Los Angeles Unified School District last year. Green Dot replaced most of the faculty, divided the 1,800-student school into smaller "academies" and dramatically increased spending on security. Although signs of academic success are unknown -- this year's round of standardized test scores has not been released -- Green Dot has won praise for making the campus safer and sparking significant increases in attendance and student retention rates. That was enough for Rhee to consider Green Dot as a possible partner. (Washington Post - registration required)
See also: Rhee in talks with Calif. group to run school
Charisma? To Her, It's Overrated: This interview with Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive of Teach for America, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.
NATIONAL--Q. Tell me about the first time you started hiring and managing people.
A. I was dismal at it. Some people seem to sort of have a gut for hiring. I literally had a gut that was exactly the opposite. So whenever I thought someone would be great, it was sort of the opposite.
You meet people and they seem nice and charismatic and they seem to have presence. And at that time, I was looking for people who could, in fact, build a movement on campuses. So maybe I was going on that, versus diving into people's past experiences and figuring out how they actually operated. But I have since become obsessed with building the right team.
Q. So how do you hire people now for staff positions?
A. I start with someone's experience, just to try to understand how they've operated in past environments and challenges, to see if they have demonstrated what we would think of as the core values for Teach for America. (New York Times - registration required)
FEDERAL POLICY AND THE NEW ADMINISTRATION
Q & A with Education Secretary Arne Duncan
CHICAGO--Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently answered questions about his goals and relationship with the business community. An edited transcript: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-mon-burns-duncan-qa-0706-jul06,0,4371558.story
Aspen Ideas Festival: Arne Duncan, It Is Also About the Building (By Cameron Sinclair Co-founder of Architecture for Humanity and the Open Architecture Network)
ASPEN--At the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday Secretary Arne Duncan was under the spotlight on his plans to revamp the education system in America. With $100B in play, there is a lot of opportunity to encourage and support innovative educational reform and there was no denying his passion and eloquence in speaking about pushing the entire system back to being one of the best in the world. While a small sliver of the pie I felt the most exciting aspect of this far-reaching plan was the $5B being set up to encourage and reward states that are proactively pushing reform. Additionally while I can write about the many, many positive things said what worried me, as someone involved in improving school environments, was his comment that 'it is not about the building'. Sorry Arne, while I agree it is about the children and while teacher performance is important -- it is ALSO about the building. (Huffington Post)
Stimulus dollars released for schools
WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan is releasing $2.7 billion in stimulus dollars earlier than planned to help states confront increasingly tighter budgets. Duncan said Wednesday he is distributing $2.7 billion to states that he had planned to distribute in October or November. The money comes from a fund for state government priorities that has very few strings attached. It doesn't have to be spent on education, although the administration hopes it will be. Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement: "These Recovery Act funds will enable states to move quickly to protect critical jobs and will help states cope with their immediate budgetary challenges." The stimulus law passed earlier this year provided about $100 billion for education. The department is releasing the money in stages and has distributed about $38 billion so far, though much of the money has not yet reached schools. (Washington Post - registration required)
Obama promises support for social innovators
WASHINGTON--President Obama promised yesterday that the White House will do its part to find and support grass-roots organizations that are successful in their efforts to improve communities.
At the gathering, Obama praised a New Hampshire nonprofit that helps poor people buy fuel-efficient, reliable cars. He named Robert Chambers, president and cofounder of Bonnie CLAC, who attended the event and came up with the idea for the group after working at an auto dealership and seeing low-income individuals forced to pay high interest rates when they purchased cars. Since its founding in 2001, the group has guaranteed more than $12 million in loans for more than 1,200 clients, the White House said. Obama paid tribute to such nonprofits, saying they hold the promise of finding solutions to persistent problems and to meeting unprecedented challenges because government can't do everything. (Boston Globe)
Senate Impasse Forces City to Revive Old School Board, in Name
NEW YORK--Back from the dead, almost by accident, the New York City Board of Education met for the first time in seven years Wednesday as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg technically lost control of the school system. The scripted scene under the chandeliers of the Tweed Courthouse, the headquarters of the city's Department of Education, was not the chaos Mr. Bloomberg had predicted if mayoral control of the schools lapsed. The meeting was marked by "ayes" and raised hands, free of any of the verbal fireworks and political grandstanding that marred the old board, which ruled for three decades. The board was reborn after a political stalemate prevented the State Senate from voting on a bill that would have extended the mayor's control of the school system past June 30, 2009. (New York Times - registration required)
See also, Mayoral School Control Less Assured in Senate
Oakland school district: Is it better off after the state takeover?
OAKLAND - In the months leading up to the state takeover of Oakland's public schools, the size of the district's financial problem was a source of speculation. Estimates of the deficit ranged wildly, from $35 million to nearly $100 million. All anyone knew for sure was this: Without an influx of cash, paychecks would start to bounce. Six years after the largest state loan ever made to a California school district, the Oakland school district is emerging from state receivership $89 million in debt. It faces a budget hole of $18 million for the 2010-11 school year, even if the state government makes no additional cuts. But now, at least, the Oakland school district's leadership knows - or appears to know - how much money is available. At a news conference Monday, state Superintendent Jack O'Connell touted the progress the district had made under state receivership. Others say any gains were made despite the state administration, not because of it. Robert Blackburn, a former Oakland schools superintendent who was badly wounded in 1973 during the assassination of his colleague, then-Superintendent Marcus Foster, by the Symbionese Liberation Army, said the state takeover has done damage to the school system and to the city. (Oakland Tribune registration required)
L.A. school board allows largest high school to become charter
LOS ANGELES--Los Angeles' Birmingham High School will become a charter school beginning next fall, in a move approved Wednesday by the district's school board. Board member Tamar Galatzan, an alumna of the school, said it was unfortunate that the district's schools feel they must leave the system to be innovative. (Los Angeles Times - registration required)
New Plan Ties Reduced College Loan Payments to Income
NATIONAL--For the first time in years, there is good news for college students who borrow to pay for their education. Starting Wednesday, the federal Education Department will begin offering a repayment plan that lets graduates reduce their loan payments, based on their income. "We know today's borrowers are concerned about their ability to repay student loans in the current economic environment," Arne Duncan, the education secretary, said in a statement. "This new plan addresses the issue head-on by giving them the option of a reduced monthly payment tied to their annual income." Also on Wednesday, the interest rate on new federal Stafford loans, the most widely used federally guaranteed student loan, will drop to 5.6 percent, from 6 percent. By 2012, the rate will fall to 3.4 percent, under a schedule mandated by Congress. (New York Times - registration required)