Education News Bulletin: 2 August 2010
NewSchools and Our Ventures in the News
Op-ed: Common educational standards for common good (By Ted Mitchell, President of the California State Board of Education and CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund)
CALIFORNIA--Strong academic content standards are critical to ensuring that all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in post-secondary education and the workforce. Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help teachers determine what their students need to know and when. Standards help students, teachers and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success. Currently, each state has its own process for developing, adopting and implementing standards. As a result, what students are expected to learn can vary significantly across states. Adopting common and demanding standards will help ensure that students are receiving a high-quality education consistently across the nation. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort to establish a single set of high and clear educational standards for English-language arts and mathematics that states can share and voluntarily adopt. (San Francisco Chronicle)
See also, National standards would harm math curriculum (By Ze'ev Wurman is an executive at a Silicon Valley high-technology company. Bill Evers is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and member of the institution's Koret Task Force on K-12 Education. ) at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/29/ED5Q1ELG9S.DTL#ixzz0vU4VYo5b
Gholson Middle School has 2 principals, a Pr. George's first
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY--Ebony Cross and Lacey Robinson are counting on two heads -- and then some -- being better than one when they take the reins at Landover's G. James Gholson Middle School this fall. Cross, 35, and Robinson, 37, will be the first co-principal model in Prince George's County Public Schools, and they are counting on collaboration with staff, students and parents to create a vibrant learning community. During the 2009-10 school year, Cross and Robinson participated in the New York City-based New Leaders for New Schools program, which gives educators who seek to become administrators training as resident principals. Cross and Robinson were resident principals at Adelphi's Mary Harris "Mother" Jones Elementary and Landover's Dodge Park Elementary schools, respectively. The program required Cross and Robinson to take a year-long look at a county school in need of reform and devise a plan to turn it around. The pair identified Gholson and proposed the co-principal model for the school to Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. (Washington Post registration required)
Venture Philanthropy gives $5.5 million for expansion of KIPP DC charter schools
WASHINGTON--It's another sign of private money shaking up public education in the District: A $5.5 million gift will dramatically help expand a network of high-performing charter schools in the city, with a goal of more than doubling the number of students enrolled by 2015. The grant by Venture Philanthropy Partners, a nonprofit organization using the principles of venture-capital investment to help children from low-income families in the Washington region, will fund Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) schools. The grant is to be announced Monday. (Washington Post registration required)
Jay Mathews: Two very different AP schools, both with good news
WASHINGTON--I received some interesting news recently from two Washington area high schools, Washington-Lee in Arlington County and the Friendship Collegiate Academy in the District. W-L, as it is often called, is a regular public school. Friendship is a public charter school. About 34 percent of the W-L students are low-income. That figure is twice as high, 70 percent, at Friendship. W-L graduates about 400 seniors a year, Friendship about 250. They both have dedicated teachers and ambitious programs to give as many students as possible exposure to college-level courses. W-L has both Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. Friendship also has AP, plus access to a significant number of University of Maryland and University of District of Columbia courses. Friendship has fewer affluent, college-educated families than W-L does. (Arlington, where W-L is, has just been declared by the Brookings Institution as having the largest portion of adults with bachelor's degrees, 68 percent, of any U.S. county.) Friendship students mostly come from D.C. schools with standards not as high as those in Arlington. So they start high school, on average, at a lower level. AP for them is a big challenge. Last year, only 21 of Friendship's AP exams received passing grades of 3, 4 or 5. The faculty has been preparing students for AP earlier, however, giving them more writing and reading in lower grades. This year it paid off, with 30 passing scores, a 43 percent increase. (Washington Post registration required)
Michelle Obama's food for thought
WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama, whose "Let's Move!" program has focused the national spotlight on the need for us to help our children be healthier, now wants schools to change the way they are feeding our children. In an op ed piece published today in The Washington Post, Mrs. Obama urges Congress to pass the Child Nutrition Bill to "bring fundamental change to schools and improve the food options available to our children." Good for her. Some local schools have taken steps to improve what they are feeding their students. Dr. Marian White-Hood, director of academics and accountability at the See Forever Maya Angelou Public Charter School, said last year the agency contracted with a company called Revolution Foods to provide students with organic meals and snacks. Fruits include kiwi, tangerines, plums and nectarines, favorites for the students. Meals are packaged attractively to make them more appetizing and students and faculty eat from the same offerings, she said. (Washington Post registration required)
Read Michelle Obama's op-ed: A food bill we need at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/01/AR2010080103291.html
Are Lunch Ladies Part of Recipe for Good Schools?
CHICAGO--In Chicago, dozens of lunch ladies are leaving the schools they've worked atsometimes for years. That's because those schools are being "turned around"a strategy that involves removing the entire staff at failing schools to "reset" the culture there. It's a strategy Education Secretary Arne Duncan is now pushing nationwide. But a question is: Is it necessary to remove lunch ladies, janitors, and security guards to create better schools? Tim Cawley says if you want to improve learning, you need a culture that fosters that everywhere in the school. Cawley is with the Academy for Urban School Leadership, or AUSL. The group runs a dozen Chicago Public School turnarounds. They took over Deneen this month. (Chicago Public Radio)
Students turn tables, give lesson to adults asking them to `rethink'
NEW ORLEANS--If you'd like to know what area schools might look like in the year 2015, just ask a Rethinker. This summer, as many of us look back and reflect five years after Hurricane Katrina, the young visionaries of Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools (Rethink) are already looking ahead to New Orleans ten years after the storm. Rethink held a press conference recently at Langston Hughes Academy to give an update on improvement programs initiated in the past two years and urge local education leaders and school officials to adopt the group's recommendations for better schools, which in turn, will create a better New Orleans. The theme of the press conference was "Healing Our Schools, Healing our Earth-Visions" for the 5th Anniversary of Katrina . The group of 30 summer 2010 rethinkers spent six weeks at Langston Hughes, brainstorming and envisioning ideas for change to share with the community. This is the fifth summer Jane Wholey has gathered local students in efforts to put their vision into action. "I happen to also agree with you all in saying that you are the best thing that's happened since Katrina," said Sarah Usdin, founder and CEO of New Schools for New Orleans. "It's amazing to me to think of the impact that you guys are having, for not just yourselves, but for adults also. It is an honor and inspiration to learn from you." (Louisiana Weekly)
Schools: Turnarounds and Charter Schools
New analysis blasts Obama's school turnaround policy -- and tells how to fix it
NATIONAL--The Obama administration's approach to improving the most troubled schools are nothing more than a toughened version of largely unsuccessful strategies concocted under president George W. Bush and should be replaced with a flexible system that involves parents and communities, according to a new analysis being released today. The sternly worded analysis is the second punch that the administration has received this week over its education policies. It is landing on the same day that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is addressing the Urban League's convention in Washington D.C., and a day before President Obama defends his education policies in a major speech to the same gathering. The report, by a new national coalition of 24 community-based groups, includes a proposal for a new school transformation model that emphasizes community involvement, and a list of more than 2,000 schools across the country targeted for one of the four transformation models now allowed by the administration. (Washington Post registration required)
New Proficiency Standards Hit Charters: Statewide, They Fall Further Than Traditional Public Schools, but in the City, They Still Outperform District Competitors
NEW YORK--The Equity Project Charter School garnered headlines and accolades when it opened last September with an unusual plan: recruit top teachers and pay them $125,000substantially more than the average teacher salary anywhere in the country. Its test scores did not match the hoopla: Only 37.4% of the students were proficient in math and 24% were proficient in English. On average, the other public schools in Equity Project's Washington Heights district performed better, the test scores released last week showed. "It's not unexpected" for a first-year school, said Zeke Vanderhoek, founder and principal of the middle school. "I'm very confident in the vision of the school and the teachers we have, but we're not there yet." Last week was a difficult one for Equity Project and many other charter schools. Statewide, charter schools lost more ground than traditional public schools when the state raised proficiency standards. (Wall Street Journal subscription required)
People: Teachers and Leaders
The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers
NATIONAL--How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life? Early this year, Mr. Chetty and five other researchers set out to fill this void. They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who had been part of a well-known education experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. The children are now about 30, well started on their adult lives. .Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more. All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too. (New York Times registration required)
Giving Lousy Teachers the Boot: Michelle Rhee does the once unthinkable in Washington.
WASHINGTON--Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to get attention with the words, "You're fired." Michelle Rhee, chancellor for the District of Columbia schools, has just done a pretty nifty job of it herself. On Friday, Ms. Rhee fired 241 teachersroughly 6% of the totalmostly for scoring too low on a teacher evaluation that measures their performance against student achievement. Another 737 teachers and other school-based staff were put on notice that they had been rated "minimally effective." Unless these people improve, they too face the boot. (Wall Street Journal subscription required)
D.C. charters to split $10 million for teacher pay
WASHINGTON--D.C. charter schools will share nearly $10 million to use during the 2010-11 school year for "innovative compensation strategies" for their teachers, according to an announcement Tuesday by District officials. The money -- part of $20 million the federal government gives the city's charters each year -- is aimed at helping them keep pace with a new D.C. Public Schools teachers contract. The DCPS contract, passed in early July, offers a nearly 22 percent pay raise by 2012 and bonuses of up to $30,000 for the top-performing instructors. The average DCPS salary is predicted to jump from about $67,000 this year to more than $81,000 in the fall. Teachers at the District's 57 public charter schools are slated to see more modest salary increases in the fall, if any. While charters serve about a third of the city's 75,000 students, they are operated independently and outside the domain of Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the new contract. (Washington Examiner)
Brown unveils education reform plan: The Democrat calls for changing the state's end-of-year testing system so teachers receive results quickly, and he backs increasing the amount of spending on colleges.
CALIFORNIA--Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown unveiled an education reform plan Wednesday that calls for a wholesale restructuring of California's public school system, from changing the way schools are funded to revamping the state's higher education system. The eight-page plan touches upon the major issues facing the state's education system, from the increasing cost of college to the state's dismal dropout rate. Some of the proposals, such as changing the way schools are funded, would take years. Brown urged patience. (Los Angeles Times registration required)
Tools: Academic Systems and Solutions
$200 Textbook vs. Free. You Do the Math.
NATIONAL--INFURIATING Scott G. McNealy has never been easier. Just bring up math textbooks. Mr. McNealy, the fiery co-founder and former chief executive of Sun Microsystems, shuns basic math textbooks as bloated monstrosities: their price keeps rising while the core information inside of them stays the same. "Ten plus 10 has been 20 for a long time," Mr. McNealy says. Early this year, Oracle, the database software maker, acquired Sun for $7.4 billion, leaving Mr. McNealy without a job. He has since decided to aim his energy and some money at Curriki, an online hub for free textbooks and other course material that he spearheaded six years ago. In California, a state board is studying whether open texts meet state requirements. The CK-12 Foundation, a nonprofit financed by another Sun co-founder, Vinod Khosla, has created several texts that have met the board's criteria. (New York Times registration required)
Shifting Risk to Create Opportunity: A Role for Performance Guarantees in Education
NATIONAL--In "Shifting Risk to Create Opportunity: A Role for Performance Guarantees in Education," the authors suggest performance guarantees, similar to car warranties or a home builder's bonded contracts. These guarantees would establish a standard of performance and provide financial compensation for failed promises. Most importantly, these performance guarantees would make someone other than the state or district at least partially responsible for outcomes. (AEI)
Public Policy: Federal, State and Local
Obama Defends Education Program
WASHINGTON Saying that reforming education is perhaps "the economic issue of our time," President Obama went before a major civil rights organization on Thursday to defend his main education program against criticisms from some minority and teachers groups. Mr. Obama, in his speech before the 100th anniversary convention of the National Urban League, acknowledged "some controversy" about his education initiative, which he attributed partly to "a general resistance to change, a comfort with the status quo." But he chose the civil rights organization as his audience to address specifically the complaints of minority groups that schools and teachers in impoverished communities and inner cities will be unfairly neglected in the competition to meet higher standards and the drive to impose accountability for students' standardized test results. (New York Times registration required)
Education Insider: ESEA Reauthorization
NATIONAL--Secretary Duncan is aggressively urging Congress to complete the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year. In March, the Secretary released a Blueprint for Reform articulating the Administration's priorities in areas such as college and career ready standards, programs to support teacher and principal effectiveness, funding to support STEM, and policies to expand charter schools, Promise Neighborhoods, Investing in Innovation Fund, and Race to the Top. At the same time, existing programs including Supplemental Educational Services and the Enhancing Education Through Technology were proposed for elimination. As was the case with NCLB, the reauthorization of the federal law will likely have a tremendous impact on the education landscape over the next decade. The law guides the vast majority of federal K12 spending and also includes key parts of the regulatory and policy framework for state departments of education and school districts. (White Board Advisors)
Detroit Council Says No to Mayoral Control of Schools
DETROIT--The Detroit school board dodged a challenge to its existence Thursday when the City Council voted against placing a question on the Nov. 2 ballot asking voters whether they wanted the mayor and the council to have authority over the troubled Detroit Public Schools. While those opposed to the ballot question claimed victory, City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown was joined by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Sharlonda Buckman, executive director of the Detroit Parent Network, in saying the fight is not over. Several council members said they opposed mayoral oversight of DPS. Still, Brown, who wrote the failed ballot question, said the council next should consider presenting the state Legislature with a resolution to change DPS's governance. (Education Week subscription required)
New York Times Editorial: Who Profits? Who Learns?
NATIONAL--Enrollment at for-profit colleges and trade schools has tripled in the last decade to about 1.8 million, or nearly 10 percent of the nation's higher education students. These schools, partly because they serve poorer students who need more support, receive almost a quarter of the federal aid. This year, federal financing for financial aid is expected to total $145 billion. Some for-profits provide an important service for students who don't qualify academically for traditional colleges. Too many have been cited for enrolling students who have no chance of graduating and tossing them out once that flow of aid is exhausted. The Obama administration is right to tighten the operating rules for these for-profit schools and right to press states to vigilantly monitor them. (New York Times registration required)
College Students Hide Hunger, Homelessness
LOS ANGELES--For many college students and their families, rising tuition costs and a tough economy are presenting new challenges as college bills come in. This has led to a little-known but growing population of financially stressed students, who are facing hunger and sometimes even homelessness. UCLA has created an Economic Crisis Response Team to try to identify financially strapped students and help keep them in school. (National Public Radio)