Smorgasbord: The politics of Ed

Chalkbeat takes a look at De Blasio’s campaign promises on education and how they’ve played out

Overall, seems to me De Blasio & Farina have rolled out some pretty solid stuff when you look at it as a whole, minus the politics. I think the district restructuring is a mixed bag and the top-down management is problematic, but the smooth roll-out of pre-K services, and Single Shepherd and AP and College Access programs will be gamechangers for kids in the long run.

Where we need to keep pushing De Blasio and Farina: autonomy and accountability for school leaders, reducing partisanship over charters and choice, and fighting segregation.

There’s always plenty to criticize in any Mayor or Chancellor’s reign. I’ve gotten into frequent arguments with my colleagues about Bloomberg and Klein’s administration because I’m unwilling to paint their leadership and policies with one broad stroke of good/bad. Let’s talk about what is working and criticize what’s not.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has made many education promises. Here’s what he’s delivered so far — and what he hasn’t, Chalkbeat NY

Speaking of critique–here’s the problem with the way we talk about improvement in ed

David Cantor at the 74 has insightful analysis of NY politics and how it’s affecting the Mayoral Control debate–and the way we talk about education.

“Preschools don’t yield the hard, annual data markers that reputations and public support are built on. The measurable impact of the program likely won’t reveal itself to researchers until this mayor is no longer in office.”

He’s right. This is one of the fundamental problems with how we look at education. If we are only focused on the short-term, then all we will get is short-term effects, which may ultimately be detrimental.

Here’s a case in point. Due to the outsized focus on test scores in elementary schools, many principals place their most effective teachers in the 3rd grade or higher, because that’s the grades that are tested. But a far better strategy, in the long-term, would be to place your hard-hitters in the earliest grades, because that investment will better build the foundations for learning that many kids desperately need.

Similarly, principals talk about focusing all their attention and resources on their “pushables”–the kids who are at the upper borders of a 1 or 2 or 3 on the state test. So what’s going to happen to the students that aren’t so labeled? And what’s going to happen to the coherence in your instruction across your school?

Interestingly, some reform pundit focus in response to Cantor’s cogent article is to highlight his criticism of De Blasio’s renewal school bloatware and his antipathy to the media. But here’s what Cantor says right after that:

There may be something more: apathy. Not his; ours. Fixing schools is difficult work; it’s slow; you lose people’s attention. “People are more concerned about the subways,” said Weisberg.

Holding attention is essential to warding off politicians and being able to do “the hard work that has to happen inside schools,” as Henig says.”

Indeed. The real work of education is incremental, it’s hard, and it won’t grab many headlines.

Analysis: The Fierce Fight Over Mayoral Control Reflects De Blasio’s Weakness on Education, the 74

Speaking of surface level judgments . . . college teachers grade attractive students higher

This result, they add, was “driven mainly by courses taught by male instructors.”

ATTRACTIVE STUDENTS GET HIGHER GRADES, Pacific Standard

All charters can’t be painted with the same brush–just like public schools

Sara Mead argues that “it’s hard to make any single statement that accurately characterizes the national charter school landscape as a whole.”

Indeed. It’s hard to make any single statement that accurately characterizes schools period. This is one of the core issues about how we talk about schools, whether public, charter, or private.

Look Beyond the Acela Corridor, US News

Lessons on desegregation from Dallas

1) Open up admissions (a lottery system, rather than selective admissions)

2) Set aside a certain percentage for low-income students

Dallas Schools, Long Segregated, Charge Forward on Diversity, NY Times

A new study says that diverse classrooms increase student well-being

In the more diverse schools, “kids have more opportunity to have cross-race friendships and then they become protective,” Graham said. “So if you’re in a diverse school and you’ve made friends with people from different racial and ethnic groups then they help protect you, they help introduce you to kids in their ethnic, racial group, there’s more opportunities to find your niche and fit in.”

New research: student well-being higher in diverse schools, KPCC

EdBuild releases a report on the secession of white parents from school districts that deepens segregation

“Alabama makes it particularly easy for small towns to secede from a larger school district, but 30 states have processes codified in state law that allow for secession, some more permissive than others. Procedures range from only a majority vote in a small, breakaway neighborhood in some states to a multistep process involving a state agency or legislative approval in others.”

Fractured: The Breakdown of America’s School Districts, EdBuild

Privatizing (aka “optimizing”) public services

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration was focusing on technology this week. He said there was “a lot of room for optimization in the federal government.”

What does “optimizing” our public institutions and services mean?

“Cook, the Apple CEO, requested that computer coding be taught in every public school. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said workers need more skills for a technology-based economy. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos encouraged the government to use commercial technology to save money and develop artificial intelligence to improve government services.

Venture capitalist John Doerr asked for the government to open up its databases to private firms, saying it would transform health care.”

In other words, use public institutions to serve private interests. Hmm. What does serving public interests mean again now?

Tech CEOs visit White House to talk modernizing government, AP

The ecosystem metaphor is used to argue for an ed reform focus on two-parent families

“The education reform community has a unique responsibility as keepers of perhaps the remaining civic institution—public schools—that interacts with almost every child for prolonged periods almost every week (or at least the thirty-six weeks of the school year). That is why two-generation solutions such as a parent-home-visiting program or the Success Sequence should be explored as part of a core curriculum, given the data that show it’s nearly impossible for a poor person to remain poor if that person makes a series of life choices—finish high school, secure a job, and get married before having a child, in that order.”

If not us, who will make humans human? If not now, a new generation of fragile families looms., Flypaper

Chester Finn slams book promoting free-for-all marketplace from charter school advocates

Finn uses some choice words against a recent book from charter school advocates that promotes reduced accountability to increase parental choice:

This is idiocy. It’s also entirely unrealistic in the ESSA era. It arises from the view—long since dismissed by every respectable economist—that education is a private good and the public has no interest in an educated citizenry. Once you conclude that education is also a public good—one whose results bear powerfully on our prosperity, our safety, our culture, our governance, and our civic life—you have to recognize that voters and taxpayers have a compelling interest in whether kids are learning what they should, at least in schools that call themselves “public.”

I wish more folks understood that education is a public good.

New book from charter school advocates offers lots of bad advice, Flypaper

Smorgasbord: Last Full Week of School for NYC

graduate01
By Shuoism (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
This is the last full week of school for NYC student and teachers. Congrats to graduates and to their teachers.

This is also the last week of the NY legislative season. The kerfuffle is over mayoral control of NYC schools. Lost in the kerfuffle is legislative action on segregation.

Success Academy release some of its curriculum publicly

One of my biggest criticisms of Success Academy’s Eva Moskowitz has been that she makes a big deal about terming her schools “public” schools, yet keeps her curriculum private.

Now I can’t level that criticism any longer. She has released some of SA’s curriculum, with more to come. Right now there’s only K – 4.

It’s also important to note that this material is not openly licensed.

Success Academy Education Institute (requires registration) http://successacademies.org/edinstitute/

Success Academy Charter Network Opens Up Literacy Curriculum, Ed Week

Robert Pondiscio suggests that the strength of SA’s curriculum is that it’s based around rich knowledge and texts.

Though from my (admittedly cursory) glance at a unit, SA literacy looks pretty darn similar to the “balanced literacy” approach that has been utilized for years across NYC.

So what’s the difference? There are firm guidelines for how a classroom must look and the practices that accompany the curriculum. And the units do seem to be firmly oriented around text sets that can build knowledge.

To my mind, the key differentiator in SA’s favor here is coherency and consistency.

Success Academy puts its “School Blueprints” online: How many will follow the lead of our highest achieving charter network?, Ed Next

Questions to ask about charter schools

In his new seat at Chalkbeat, Matt Barnum compiles a useful list of questions that need to be asked about charter school for further research.

Beyond the test score horse race: 5 big questions researchers are asking about charter schools, Chalkbeat

The differences between De Blasio’s and Farina’s leadership

“With Bloomberg, it was like running a hamburger joint, but it was my own hamburger joint,” Hoogenboom said. “And with de Blasio, I’m running a McDonald’s and I have to serve the Big Mac.”

From power to paperwork: New York City principals adjust to a reined-in role under Carmen Fariña, Chalkbeat NY

Doesn’t matter, really, who’s on Devos’s staff

“They could bring John Dewey back from the dead, slap a MAGA hat on him, give him one of the myriad open roles, and he’d still get rolled.”

Does It Matter Who DeVos Hires? Tucker V Finn, Allen On Choice Privilege, New Paharans, Campus Politics, Pizza Essay, Bear Punching, More!, Eduwonk

Most college students can’t make a cohesive argument because they lack knowledge

“Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.”

Exclusive Test Data: Many Colleges Fail to Improve Critical-Thinking Skills, WSJ via TopSheet

Well, yeah, chaos isn’t good for any kid

“The theory here is that chaotic schools — a loud hallway, a messy class — simply reproduce the stress that children may bring from home. Rules should be the same across the school, so students know what to expect. And students should be met with understanding and patience.”

How To Apply The Brain Science Of Resilience To The Classroom, NPR Ed

CMOs, on average, are more effective than independent and for-profit charters

My guess is this is because a CMO provides greater knowledge sharing and network effects.

“Students attending a school run by a charter management organization seem to benefit the most. CMOs lead to small but statistically significant annual gains in math and reading, relative to both traditional public schools and other types of charters.”

Who’s helping and who’s hurting? New national study looks at how charter networks measure up, from KIPP to K12, Chalkbeat

Mike Antonucci: Keep your employees happy

“I’ve had charter school people call me lots of times over the years and ask for my advice on how they keep the union out of their schools. My advice has always been the same and it’s not what they want to hear. You don’t keep the union out, your employees keep the union out because they’re happy. Happy people don’t say *we really need a union here.* They form unions because they’re unhappy and they need protection and the unions provide that.”

He also has some good advice for NEA and AFT union heads worth heeding.

Labor Pains

Rolling back accountability is NYSUT’s gameplan

NYSUT, unsurprisingly, heralded the NY Board of Regent’s recent move to limit testing from 3 days to 2.

As a next step, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta stated, “NYSUT will be strongly advocating that the new benchmarks be age appropriate, fair, and accurate in order to ensure that students and public schools are not unfairly labeled.”

So. . . All kids should get an achievement award! Woohoo!

Reduction in testing days a positive step, NYSUT

NCTQs Kate Walsh on recent moves to jettison teacher tests and credentialing requirements

“While there is good research describing the benefits of matching teacher and student race, let’s remember that those benefits are based on studies involving black and white teachers of otherwise comparable ability. Any benefits from matching race are erased when we no longer make our first priority the effectiveness of a teacher or our best estimates about who will be effective. While it’s uncomfortable to push back for fear of appearing insensitive to real problems of educational inequity, we must insist on prioritizing what’s best for students—having the most skilled teacher”

via Edu Wonk

I’ve written about Hochman’s writing method before. New book out

Here’s an article for American Educator based on the book: https://www.aft.org/ae/summer2017/hochman-wexler

Link to the book: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1119364914.html

Healthier lunches don’t decrease obesity–but they increase test scores!

“In this paper, we test whether offering healthier lunches affects student achievement as measured by test scores. Our sample includes all California (CA) public schools over a five-year period. We estimate difference-in-difference style regressions using variation that takes advantage of frequent lunch vendor contract turnover. Students at schools that contract with a healthy school lunch vendor score higher on CA state achievement tests, with larger test score increases for students who are eligible for reduced price or free school lunches. We do not find any evidence that healthier school lunches lead to a decrease in obesity rates.”

School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance, NBER

Smorgasbord: Week of May 29

Photo von de:Benutzer:Rmarte und für GFDL freigegeben nach commons verschoben von Ixitixel

Ruby Bridges on our “moral obligation” for school integration

“Change won’t happen if we keep children separated. So it’s crucial that schools are integrated.”

Half a century after integrating a New Orleans school, Ruby Bridges says America is headed in the wrong direction, Chalkbeat NY

Integration advocates call for NYCDOE to take action

I am one of the signatories on the letter. I signed as a Policy Fellow with America Achieves, but please note that my views do not necessarily reflect that of America Achieves.

Advocates call on Chancellor Fariña to take ‘morally necessary’ steps to end school segregation, Chalkbeat NY

City Councilmen Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres sign on to letter calling for citywide plan to desegregate schools, Chalkbeat NY

Connor Williams on the need to carefully design systems of school choice to buffer against privilege

“Look: If we set up a system that sorted students with higher weight and/or blood sugar levels into higher-quality schools, I assure you that privileged families would start feeding their children lard milkshakes for breakfast, with cotton candy on the side.”

Williams: The D.C. Enrollment Scandal Shows How Critical It Is to Guard Against Parent Privilege, the74

Traditional schools put up barriers against the highest needs kids, too

“Would that Burris worried as much about traditional schools that are working hard to keep out poor kids of color.

Across the country, public schools, unfortunately, are re-segregating.”

Tucker Haynes: Proof That Charters Offer Excellence to All Children Goes Beyond U.S. News’s Top 10 Ranking, the74

The correlation between conservatives and Eva Moskowitz

This piece picks at some knots about Success Academy that I’ve gnawed at myself: namely that Moskowitz’s laser focus on a meritocracy at all costs creates both extreme results and controversy. It is that she is so pragmatically focused on merit and achievement that endears her to conservatives.

Incidentally, I think this piece highlights the problem with making education such a dramatically partisan political issue. Moskowitz is a pragmatic leader and she gets results, however one may disagree with her methods. I don’t like her political maneuvering, such as pretending that her schools are “public” but then keeping her curriculum private, but I admire her chutzpah and there is clearly something to learn from her operations. I can say this both as someone who is liberal and who is deeply skeptical of her approach.

When it comes to practice — school leadership, pedagogy, and curriculum — knee-jerk partisanship doesn’t often lead to real learning; instead, our hastiness to confine ourselves to one side or the other seems only to result in a blind commitment to failure.

Paul Ryan’s Favorite Charter School, Politico

A smart op-ed pushing back on partisan posturing against school funding

School funding matters. Saying this doesn’t make you a union hack.

You’re Not an ‘Interest Group’ Just Because You Believe School Funding Matters, the74

Matthew DiCarlo points to the continuing problem with most ESSA accountabilty systems

He outlines the distinction between “status” and “growth” measures, and notes that most states are just mixing the two will-nilly, with little understanding of what they actually measuring.

Improving accountability measurement under ESSA, Flypaper

Even the winners are losers in Trump’s budget proposal

“While Appalachia would receive $80 million from the new infrastructure fund, it would lose $120 million through deep cuts in the Appalachian Regional Commission, a state-federal partnership that funds a variety of development projects in the economically rough region. It would also lose the region’s share of a $90 million pilot project to use Abandoned Mine Lands Fund dollars to support reclamation efforts tied to economic development.

Cuts or eliminations of $855 million are also proposed for USDA programs that support business development, job training, water treatment plants, electricity and communications infrastructure, and community facilities. Another $680 million in salaries and expenses would be eliminated from the Rural Development program area or shifted to other parts of USDA, according to the White House budget document.”

TRUMP BUDGET SLASHES RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT PROGRAMS, The Daily Yonder

Dual-language programs are more effective for ELLs, yet they are few and far between

“Dual-language schooling closes the academic achievement gap… This is the only program for English learners that fully closes that gap”

Unmentioned in this article: dual-language programs also can serve as an enticement to families who want their children to learn Spanish — which can help to diversify our segregated schools.

ENGLISH LEARNERS: STRUGGLING CT SCHOOLS IGNORE A PROVEN PATH, The Mirror

Los Angelos votes to maintain zoning barriers (and segregation)

The deciding vote was cast by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, whose core argument, tellingly, was “Can we take some time to understand the impact on districts?”

. . . time and time again, we see that while Sacramento politicians are quick to praise the virtues of “local” control, they really mean “district control” and are more worried about protecting the system as it exists right now than affording families that opportunity to get a great education for their children.

When Kids Can’t Attend the Great School Just Across the Street: We Must Break Down the Invisible Walls, the74

Saying no to kids is about harnessing positive effects of scarcity – but those effects are most likely only positive when there’s a base of abundance

An op-ed in NY Times makes the relatively germane argument that we should say no to our kids so they’re not spoiled, but adds the twist of two research studies to suggest that scarcity can make our kids more resourceful.

Makes sense to me, but I think it’s important to bear in mind here that research on scarcity shows much more than such positive takeaways. In a book on the subject, Scarcity, by Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan, the authors lay out a wider body of research that suggests that experiencing scarcity also tends to make us operate with tunnel-vision to the detriment of our long-term goals and planning.

So in thinking about advice for how to raise your kids, how about this: if you already have a base of relative abundance, then allow your kids to experience bouts of scarcity. But if you live in scarcity on a daily basis . . . Well, let’s hope this universal basic income becomes a thing.

To Raise Better Kids, Say No, NY Times

The problem with personalized learning

“it’s easy for schools caught up in these sweeping changes to lose sight of what will really push student learning forward: high-quality, challenging, rich content.”

The author could have stopped right there.

Betheny Gross — The Key to Effective Personalized Learning: Rigorous Content, Standards, and Experiences, the74

And this surprise performance wasn’t even a good Iris Chacón impersonation

“Then he dropped to the ground and began to writhe on floor. He rolled onto his back, spread his long legs and flashed his white underwear to the shrinking crowd.

Morales’ 10-year-old son, J.D., said he was uncomfortably surprised by what he saw.

“I saw her doing things like sticking her legs out and shaking her bottom and it felt weird,” said the boy. “I don’t know why they would do that for an elementary school.””

. . . “I left the show the minute he started sticking his tongue out. I had my children with me and I wasn’t going to allow them to see that,” the irate mom said. “It was a very poor presentation of Iris Chacón, anyway. She was not like that.”

Parents ‘horrified’ after man performs surprise drag show at Manhattan school talent event, NY Daily News

Cities where teachers can be a big fish in a small pond

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “David and Goliath,” makes the point that to be successful, starting out in the biggest and best universities and companies may not always be the best game plan, and that in fact, it can be much more effective to be a big fish in a smaller pond.

Along the same lines, a comparison of cities for cost-of-living and salary and other factors finds that for teachers, smaller cities, mostly in the Midwest, offer opportunities to be those bigger fish.

New Report Names the Best Cities to Live in if You’re a Teacher, Ed Week

Daniel Willingham blasts Eric Barker’s claim that valedictorians just “follow orders” and are unsuccessful later in life

“Maybe the book is better. If so, this is a case of careless reporting. Either way, it’s a case of careless thinking.”

I should note I’m a fan of Barker’s wide-ranging posts and enjoy his newsletters (http://www.bakadesuyo.com). But when reading this piece, I was disappointed to see Barker’s blithe statement that “School rewards people who follow the rules, not people who shake things up.” This is typical anti-public ed Silicon Valley tripe.

So I am glad to see Willingham challenge these “research-based” claims.

Valedictorians, disruptors, and sloppy thinking, Daniel Willingham’s blog

Dogs provide emotional support in schools

“As incongruous as it might seem to have a dog wandering the halls, Carmen Fariña, the New York City schools chancellor described it as a very successful program, and one the city could expand if other schools were interested in having a “nonperson” in the building.”

Where the Teacher’s Pet Sleeps in a Dog Bed, NY Times

This made me recall an earlier NY Times piece (What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?) about rescued birds and how they could bond with war veterans suffering from PTSD.

Maybe we need more birds in schools, too. After all, they are already being used to enliven nursing homes . . .

Smorgasbord: Week of May 22

By Ranveig (Uploaded by Pete, on 14 May 2005) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I took a break for the extended Memorial weekend. Here’s a belated few items of interest from over the last week in the world of ed news.

Some depressing statistics on college remediation

“not only will most students fall short of a degree — about 40 percent nationally who started community college in 2010 earned a credential in six years — but also that 80 percent of the school’s incoming students each year are assigned to remedial classes, according to administrators.”

When $7B in Remediation Falls Short: The Broken Promises Colleges Make to Students Who Need More Help, the74

More backstory on the Central Park East conflict that led to the principal’s ouster

“To the minority of parents who supported Garg, the controversy only exposed existing tensions at the school — issues that preceded Garg and remain after her departure.

“What you hear in every meeting — ‘that’s not how we did it before,’” said Laura Lugo, a first-year parent at the school who supported Garg.

She said teachers, and some parents, seemed to hold the traditions of the school so dear that they were resistant to change or to meeting the needs of families who were not progressive school purists — such as some parents supporting Garg’s idea of a test-prep program after school.”

Interesting demonstration of how sometimes being inflexibly “progressive” really means being reactionary.

More to this story, for sure.

With Principal Out, a School Community Faces Lingering Tensions, WNYC

An analysis shows that 4th graders aren’t learning much science

Which surprises no one who knows what curriculum actually looks like in most elementary schools.

4th Graders Are Getting ‘Thin’ Diet of Science Instruction, Analysis Shows, ED Week

One wonders how closely former Success Academy lawyer’s charter will hew to the SA mold?

That Emily Kim, a “top lawyer” at SA is leaving to start her own charter is interesting in two ways:

1) It puts SA’s ideal of competition as the best source of educational improvement to the test.

2) If Kim does not adhere to the SA mold in terms of disciplinary practices and test-prep focus, then this could be read as a censure of SA practices.

So worth watching to see what happens here.

Success Academy’s top lawyer is leaving — to start her own charter schools, Chalkbeat NY

Smorgasbord: Advocacy, Accountability, and Singing Together

IMG_9754.JPG

This Tuesday I had the opportunity, thanks to a NY Educator Voice Policy Fellowship, to advocate for the desegregation of our schools in Albany. Many thanks to Assemblyman Michael Blake, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Senator Jesse Hamilton, Senator Marty Golden, and Assemblywoman Yu-Line Niou and their staff for listening and for their time. And many thanks to America Achieves and the Educator Voice fellows who joined me in this advocacy: Arthur Everette, Ingrid Lafalaise, Darlene Cameron, Jodi Friedman, and John Heneghan. They were truly a great team. You can read more about them here.

On to our roundup of links and thinks on education and more:

de Blasio, supposed progressive champion, keeps hedging on school desegregation

“Could we create the perfect model for diversified schools across the school system? No,” de Blasio said. “Because you have whole districts in this city that are overwhelmingly of one demographic background. You would have to do a massive transfer of students and families in order to achieve it. It’s just not real.”

It blows my mind that someone who campaigned on progressivism and “a tale of two cities” can make blithe statements like this.

When we talk about desegregating schools, I don’t think any advocate is saying that every school should be some perfect mix representative of the entire city. That’s not geographically possible. What we are talking about is leveraging the many opportunities to promote diversity where they exist.

If our mayor can’t understand the nuance of that, which he and his chancellor have repeatedly demonstrated, then I have little hope that this mysterious “big vision plan” will do anything at a structural level to address the issue.

And by the way, mayor: no one expects you to wipe away 400 years of American history of discrimination and poor housing and schooling policy. But we do expect you to take leadership when you are in charge of one of the largest and most segregated school systems in our nation.

Mayor de Blasio: I can’t ‘wipe away 400 years of American history’ in diversifying schools, Chalkbeat NY

The relationship between property and segregation

Matthew Desmond has a powerful piece on the housing subsidies for the middle and upper class and it’s devastating effect on increasing inequality. This problem relates strongly to segregation in the northeast — starting with the GI Bill and extending to the selfish property value battles over public schools today.

How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality, NY Times

Meanwhile, white and wealthy districts are quietly splitting away to further segregate themselves

Behind the rhetoric of “local control,” what we see is more for some kids, and less for others. Guess who.

The Quiet Wave of School District Secessions, US News

School choice alone is not enough to diversify schools, nor provide quality options

If schools are going to become more diverse, than school choice must be coupled with admissions policies to cultivate diversity more intentionally. And all schools must be held to a higher standard to ensure quality.

The Broken Promises of Choice in New York City Schools, NY Times

Emotional expressiveness is correlated with diversity

“In the countries with more immigrants, people smiled in order to bond socially. Compared to the less-diverse nations, they were more likely to say smiles were a sign someone “wants to be a close friend of yours.” But in the countries that are more uniform, people were more likely to smile to show they were superior to one another.”

Why Americans Smile So Much, The Atlantic

Insights from a researcher

On Head Start:

“The bottom-line question is whether Head Start helps kids in the long run, and the answer is yes.”

On accountability system design:

“I think that there is a lot of evidence, not just from our study but others, that we should be kind of small-c conservative in the design of these [accountability] systems. The more complicated you make it, the more incentives you create for strategic responses. I think really complicated systems and multiple targets and multiple ratings are kind of like technocratic exuberance. I think we really should scale back our ambitions with the accountability systems and focus on the most important challenges.”

On crime and social context:

“I think of school as the main social institution for kids at the age of peak criminality. When you think about it that way, it’s not surprising that the school context could have an important effect on crime.”

On school integration:

“I think [school integration is] about the non-academic outcomes: crime, civic participation, racial tolerance, all those things. If you look at the original justification for Brown v. Board of Education, it had nothing to do with achievement gaps.

It’s about, we want to bring society together, so that we can live together. Somewhere along the line, with the Coleman Report, we started to think about integration as a tool for closing achievement gaps. When actually to me, the first-order reason to integrate schools is so that we can all get along as a society and so that people can be more civically engaged and appreciate the perspectives of those who are different from them.”

Another way to say it is, we have other tools for closing achievement gaps. Like, we can do separate-but-equal if we want to — that’s what some of these no-excuses charter schools are: really good schools that are highly segregated. To me that’s an incomplete solution, because schools aren’t just factories for producing achievement — they’re social institutions, they’re democratic institutions.”

Word.

Harvard Researcher David Deming Takes the Long View on Head Start, Integration, the74

Let’s put our metrics on social relationships

“If relationships are a core component of opportunity, why not treat them as a 21st-century outcome unto themselves?

Alternatively, if our notion of an ideal graduate does not include a strong and diverse network, we’re likely to find ourselves routinely underinvesting in relationships.”

Really interesting point to consider here. As far as I know, absolutely no ESSA plans are considering social metrics for inclusion in accountability measures.

But I don’t know that accountability would be the right focus for these kinds of measures in any case, though I agree they should be measured. The author suggests utilizing name generator surveys, surveys of whether students know people in different professional fields, and relationship mapping between students and adults. This could be critical information for school staff to consider, alongside the kind of environmental survey information that is obtained from surveys like the NYC student/teacher/parent surveys and surveys like the Tripod survey or Panorama surveys.

If you think of a school as an ecosystem, mapping the social networks of students and adults and seeking to expand and diversify those networks makes a whole lot of sense.

For HS Grads, 21st-Century Thinking, Skills (and Robots) Can’t Replace Importance of Human Networks, the74

The only way to ensure there’s no lead in school water is to install new pipes

While we’re at it, might as well update the infrastructure and install air filters.

Replacing fixtures will get rid of lead in schools’ drinking water: expert, NY Post

Cormac McCarthy writes a science article, and it’s brilliant

What does it have to do with education? Well, his topic is language, and if you teach, then you should know something about linguistics. And his points about the relationship between problem-solving, the unconscious, and language bears some interest to educators as well.

Plus, it’s Cormac McCarthy.

“The evolution of language would begin with the names of things. After that would come descriptions of these things and descriptions of what they do. The growth of languages into their present shape and form—their syntax and grammar—has a universality that suggests a common rule. The rule is that languages have followed their own requirements. The rule is that they are charged with describing the world. There is nothing else to describe.”

The Kekulé Problem, Nautilus

Have kids first attempt to write a new word before showing them the correct spelling

Maybe a little tiny piece of initial “discovery learning” ain’t always a bad thing–when it comes to spelling and reading new words?

“To put this into practice, Ouellette recommends that teachers let students attempt to write words before showing them the correct spelling. “Instead of giving them a word list and telling them to memorize it, before a student has ever seen the word, you’d encourage them to spell it,” he said. “It’s a spelling-first approach.”

Invented Spelling Leads to Better Reading, Study Says, Ed Week

IEPs are the inspiration for personalized learning, apparently

“Our public education system essentially piloted personalized learning when it adopted the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for students with disabilities. Perhaps ironically, special education is one of the few areas where policy and practice recognizes that kids are unique and that the one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. With personalized learning, we can take that idea to scale.”

It’s interesting to premise your advocacy for personalized learning on IEPs. Here’s a question: have IEPs demonstrated a significant impact on outcomes for students with disabilities?

IEPs are important to ensure that a student is guaranteed services and that they are given education commensurate with all other children. But unfortunately, they don’t necessarily equate with an improvement in outcomes.

Time for a New Conversation in Education, HuffPost

Though actually, personalized learning originated in the 1960s

It’s precursor was called “Individually Prescribed Instruction.”

The Rear-View Mirror on Personalized Learning, Larry Cuban

Multiage classrooms are an interesting idea, but they may present a problem for building knowledge

In order to effectively build and reinforce essential knowledge and skills, a curriculum must be carefully sequenced and aligned across classrooms and grades, as we’ve explored here before.

Fannie Lou Hamer, a school in the Bronx, is profiled in this Atlantic article on the potential of multi-age classrooms. But their approach necessitates a non-sequential curriculum:

Sumner says this fits with his school’s commitment to inquiry-based education, which teaches students certain key skills instead of facts that they can “regurgitate” on command.

“We’re leaving a lot of things out—we acknowledge that,” he says, explaining that their approach prioritizes depth over breadth. Students do not cover American history from the beginning to the present day, he says, but instead “learn to think like a historian and to understand the social, economic, and political drivers of any situation, so they know what the right questions are to ask about any period in history.”

Seems to me like this runs counter to everything we know about effective retention of information and learning. I’m not opposed to the idea of multi-age classrooms — I think it makes sense not to make curriculum dependent on a grade — but approaching curriculum like this is a disservice to students most in need of support.

Inside a Multiage Classroom, The Atlantic

A special education teacher on the importance of accountability

“The accountability part is really key. I started teaching with the implementation of No Child Left Behind, and that was really the first time where we required states to report on their testing scores for students with severe disabilities … As a classroom teacher and someone who is advocating for inclusion, that gives me a leg to stand on when I go talk to administrators about why kids need to be in academic, grade-level classes, that we didn’t have before. I think focusing on designing assessments that align to standards, and that are also accessible to students with severe disabilities, is really important to show that there’s growth happening.”

Teacher of the Year Finalist Megan Gross on Embracing Students With Severe Disabilities, the74

Maybe public education needs to be run more like Central Park

Meaning more public-private partnerships

How Central Park Could Fix Public Education, The Atlantic

Maybe we need to sing together more, folks

“It dawned on me not long ago that people don’t gather to sing together much anymore. And it might help if we did. People do go to hear other people sing quite a lot these days. But it might help us all to move our muscles, get out of our heads, breathe the air, and sing together so that we might feel human again.”

TO MAINTAIN HARMONIOUS COMMUNITIES, HAUL OUT THE HYMNALS, SHOW TUNES, OR ANTHEMS, The Daily Yonder

Smorgasbord: Nuance, Segregation, and A/C for All

By Jason Kuffer from East Harlem, USA (Air Conditioners) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sara Mead on the need for nuance in ed policy

“There’s a tendency to see data as a cudgel for combating one’s opponents, rather than a tool for making sense of an uncertain reality.”

Education Needs Complex Conversation, US News

Patrick Wall on the elephant in the room of school integration

“How can you persuade parents with other options to choose integration?”

The Privilege of School Choice, The Atlantic

The NY Times explores parent choices and segregation

“I think public school shaped me in a lot of ways — that I feel like I can relate and talk to and be with people who are different from me racially, economically, socially,” Ms. Shneyer said. “It was very valuable in that way.”

Family by Family, How School Segregation Still Happens, NY Times

Andrew Rotherham on the need for in-school integration

“What happens to students inside the school via class assignment, course taking for older students, tracks and pullout enrichment programs, etc…is where the real experience of students plays out. Integrated classes not just integrated schools should be the standard.”

School Transportation, Schooling In DC, Protest And Results, Homeless Girl Scouts, Massachusetts, Tampa Class Assignment, School Choice Still Popular, The Education Debate Explained, More!, EduWonk

Valerie Braimah on the intersection of school choice and integration

“The missing link in conversations about choice is around the types of school communities these policies will create: integrated and diverse communities, or segregated, economically isolated ones. By discussing choice without considering diversity and integration within schools, we inevitably miss the mark on equity.”

Ways to Think About School Choice Through the Lens of Equity and Diversity, the74

Shael Polakow-Suransky on DeBlasio’s Pre-K expansion

“Nationally, we spend close to $600 billion a year on K-12 education, while only allocating $20 billion to childcare and educational supports before children start school.”

. . . “We now know the precise time when our children’s brains are most responsive to support, and as a nation we’re ignoring it.”

Bring young brains to full potential with pre-K for 3-year-olds, NY Daily News

NY’s Common Core free curricular materials are serving the function that CCSS supporters hoped it would

“New York was the SEA with the largest number of in-ties, with nine other states connecting to resources created or sponsored by the New York State Education Department. These ties were mostly to EngageNY, the collection of CCSS instructional materials and professional development resources created by New York with its RTTT funds.”

“. . .If a potential benefit of the CCSS is that states can collaborate more easily due to common standards, we see evidence of that happening.”

But there is still a lot of work to be done in developing higher quality and widely accessible curriculum.

“A greater number of practical resources, especially full-fledged units, would help provide a big-picture sense of what the standards look like and help teachers enact new standards. Of the practical resources in our database, few were units, and many were piecemeal graphic organizers or single-day lesson plans. Similarly, other kinds of resources seemed less helpful for teachers, such as the large number of collections in our sample.”

(Un)Commonly Connected: A Social Network Analysis of State Standards Resources for English/Language Arts, SAGE Journals

A/C for All in NYC

A worthy investment. Next step should be air filters for all.

NYC to spend $28.75M to install air conditioning in all public school classrooms, NY Daily News

A parent of a student with a disability fights the good fight

“It is a parent’s responsibility to be involved, to embrace the struggle, and to demonstrate how collaboration and cooperation can yield much, much more than anger, blame, or avoidance ever will.”

How I learned not to be ‘that mom’ — while keeping up the good fight for my son with a learning disability, ChalkBeat

Another parent of a student with a disability argues that Educational Savings Accounts can provide opportunity

“The scholarship, in short, has been a lifesaver. It has given me the power and flexibility to oversee my child’s education, and for us, it’s working.

I appreciate that many parents will get the services they need for their special-needs children in public schools, thanks to IDEA. But for those who don’t, it’s vital to have options.”

A Parent’s Perspective: For My Son Kevin, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act Wasn’t Enough, the74

What the heck are ESAs? And how are they different than vouchers?

Here’s a good primer from Nat Malkus explaining ESAs and what they can offer.

Building an Education Marketplace, US News

Vouchers gets a dent from new research

Studies to date haven’t shown very much promise from voucher programs, though of course they are mixed. A recent study adds another negative note to the slurry. But don’t expect Devos or her team (or any other voucher proponent, for that matter) to let that put a damper on their righteous battle for “parent choice” at all costs.

What a New Study on Vouchers Means for Trump’s Agenda, The Atlantic

Setting the record straight on the importance of agriculture in rural communities

“Like the rest of America, the lion’s share of earnings and jobs for rural Americans comes in service sectors such as healthcare and retail; business services such as insurance and leasing; the public sector; and manufacturing.”

WHITE HOUSE ADVISER ERRONEOUSLY CALLS AG THE ‘PRIMARY DRIVER’ OF RURAL ECONOMY, The Daily Yonder

Thoughtful piece on how to listen respectfully to Trump voters

“When you leave the cost side of the equation out — easy to do when you don’t bear them — then the residual reasons you’re left with are racism and “just doesn’t care about people in other places.” Those are sometimes the correct explanations, but they are not all of the explanation, and they are extraordinarily self-flattering for the people who rely on them, at the expense of the people they disagree with.”

Trump Voters Want Respect. Here’s How to Give It to Them, BloombergView

There are test consortia out there flying under the radar of outrage

What can we learn from them?

“interstate collaborations might be more sustainable if they stay out of school accountability”

Why Underground Testing Consortia Are Thriving, the74

Smorgasbord: Magical Easter eggs and education reform

First thing in education reform news for this Passover / Easter Weekend, my wife and I were given the greatest of blessings on Friday night: a beautiful baby boy.

He didn’t come in either the manner we had hoped nor planned for, but he came when he needed to in the way that he needed to, and we are truly grateful.

In other news, Education Post published an op-ed penned by yours truly on the need for both parents and policymakers to fight segregation. The post was then shared on Ebony. If you haven’t read it yet, please let me know what you think. Whether you are for or against diversity in our schools and communities, I believe we all need to be talking and thinking more about this issue.

On to our weekly roundup.

Conor Williams suggests that the greatest danger of a Devos USDOE lies in what she will not do, rather than what she will do. But her recent actions suggest otherwise.

“In a February interview with Axios, after her confirmation, DeVos expressed skepticism about the federal role in overseeing public education. While she suggested that government involvement made sense “when we had segregated schools and when … girls weren’t allowed to have the same kind of sports teams,” she couldn’t think of any current issues that might warrant attention from her department.

This is either supremely cynical or gobsmackingly naive. Folks who spend their lives working in education are aware that U.S. school segregation is a present-day plague, not some conquered problem of the past. And they know that, absent oversight, states routinely use federal education dollars for purposes that do not help underserved students succeed.”

Williams is right that the position of USDOE Ed Secretary is more a bully pulpit than a seat of great power. But Devos’s actions, not only her inaction, carries larger consequences than I think he acknowledges here.

Devos recently canceled the grant program, “Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities” that could have provided a significant opportunity for districts to invest in fighting segregated schools.

And she has undone Obama-era protections on student loans.

Seems to me like those are actions of great consequence for some of our most vulnerable students. Yes, let’s pay attention to the “sins of omission.” And let’s dial down needlessly polarizing rhetoric. But we can’t lose sight of the choices she is making that are truly damaging to public education.

It’s Not What Trump’s Education Department Will Do That Should Worry Critics; It’s What It Won’t Do – the74

SCOTUS took a big step forward for SPED students. Now the USDOE needs to lead.

“Serving the students was mandatory; improving their lot in life was not. But Endrew F. changes that.”

…”States and districts will now look for guidance and leadership from an understaffed U.S. Department of Education in the application of Endrew F.”

The Supreme Court Sets a Higher Standard for Special Education – RealClearEducation

Researchers discover that when it comes to merit pay, context is everything

“We found that effect sizes are highly sensitive to program design and study context. . .

For instance, the evidence suggests that rewarding teachers as a group is almost twice as effective as rewarding them individually based on rank-order.”

Teacher merit pay has merit when it comes to student scores, analysis shows – Chalkbeat

Richard Whitmire suggests a simple formula for ed reform

“Let’s grow quality schools, shut down terrible schools, and not worry so much about whether they are charter or traditional schools.”

In Bridging Charter-District Divide, Educators Collaborate to Make the Impossible Happen – the74

Garrison Keillor on Trump’s “visual learning style.”

“Clearly, the way to influence the man is not to write scholarly books about climate change or health care. . . . Our country may someday get a national health-insurance program for everybody, but only after there is a video of a father carrying two dead babies out of an ER where they arrived too late to be saved, the father unable to pay his doctor bills.”

The president of visuals – The Washington Post

The need to increase teacher diversity

“I think the biggest policy implication of these two studies is teacher diversity — just increasing it.

. . . in fall 2014 the majority of public school students is now minority, but the teaching workforce is about 80 percent white, and it’s flat.”

5 Things We Now Know About Teacher Diversity: What Researcher Constance Lindsay Has Found About Race in School – the74

Losing ACA would be a blow to NY state farmworkers

“The authors write that community health centers “would be forced to lay off mission-critical staff, including doctors, nurses and others who provide care to high-risk, vulnerable people” in already underserved communities.”

HEALTH-LAW CHANGES COULD FURTHER FRAY THE MEDICAL SAFETY NET FOR FARMWORKERS – The Daily Yonder

TNTP’s Dan Weisburg suggests a better–and both more rigorous and inclusive–path to teacher certification

“Our teachers earn a permanent license only after they’ve built a track record of success after one or two years in the classroom.”

A literacy test without merit: People who really care about teacher quality should turn their attention elsewhere – NY Daily News

A small group of ed reformers got together to talk about how to talk about race and social justice in ed reform

“We wanted some norms for how we engage with each other that even in our disagreement might preserve the potential for working together for when we do agree,” Childress said. “It’s still a pretty small group, even with the mix of thinkers, policymakers, and funders. We need to make sure it broadens to include people on the ground.”

Including people “on the ground,” one might argue, is truly the biggest problem in “ed reform.”

Bipartisan Group of Ed Leaders Commits to ‘Productive Dialogue’ on Race, Social Justice, School Reform – the74

Smorgasbord: A National Lack of Knowledge

“’Tempus omnia manifestat’: Allegory of Art and Knowledge” by Johann Melchior Füssli (Swiss, Zurich 1677–1736 Zurich) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

E.D. Hirsch, Jr on how a lack of shared values and culture relates to poor literacy

“I believe that our current schools have not understood how great a quantity of specific knowledge is needed to gain mastery of the written and spoken national language.”

A Sense of Belonging – Democracy Journal

A nation that barely reads has elected a president that barely reads

“When President Trump began receiving his intelligence briefings in January, his team made a request: The president, they said, was a visual and auditory learner. Would the briefers please cut down on the number of words in the daily briefing book and instead use more graphics and pictures?”

This deficit in knowledge and reliance upon shallow sources of visual information means that many people are easily manipulated by propaganda—whether from Russia or marketers.

‘Horrible’ pictures of suffering moved Trump to action on Syria – Washington Post

Speaking of a deficit in knowledge

Chester Finn highlights the difficulty in reforming curriculum

“Curriculum, therefore, is generally left to districts, which frequently leave it to individual schools and often to individual teachers or departments within them.”

“In other words, however much importance an education reformer or public official may place on curriculum, in America it’s hard to find and grasp any levers that enable one to do anything about it.”

Curriculum becomes a reform strategy – Flypaper

Middlebury professor who was attacked for interviewing Charles Murray speaks out about the need for civil discourse

Professor Stanger’s NY Times piece on the “Middlebury affair” is worth reading. I wonder what, exactly, student protestors at Middlebury found so extremely frightening about Murray’s work that they couldn’t even bear to read, let alone rebut, his actual research and arguments. Perhaps they are afraid of their own racism and prejudice, and attack him to make themselves feel righteous and morally upright.

As Stanger suggests, the real enemy here is “ignorance empowered.”

Middlebury, My Divided Campus – NY Times

High school muckrakers out their principal’s lack of credentials

“[The principal] declined to comment directly on students’ questions about her credentials, ‘because their concerns are not based on facts,’ she said.

In an emergency faculty meeting Tuesday, the superintendent said Robertson was unable to produce a transcript confirming her undergraduate degree from the University of Tulsa, Smith said.”

There is still hope for our future.

These high school journalists investigated a new principal’s credentials. Days later, she resigned. – Washington Post

The New York Times mistakenly equates absolute test scores with school quality

“To attribute test scores solely to ‘school quality’ ignores the powerful role that family background plays in shaping opportunity,” Reardon writes in his comment on the Times story. Research has found that although schools are important, out-of-school factors, including poverty, have an even greater influence on student achievement levels.”

New York Times Misuses Their Data When Linking School Quality to Home Prices, Researchers Say – the74

Personalized learning platforms ≠ school-based autonomy

I’m not at all opposed to efforts to marry individual student performance data with automated feedback mechanisms. There’s plentiful space for innovation and advancement there. But I also believe we need to be clear-eyed about what such systems may entail.

A Providence superintendent reveals what may be a common fallacy around what a “personalized learning” platform really means:

” ‘Providence is committed to school-based autonomy, with each school involved in choosing its own technology and instructional methods to support personalized learning,’ says Christopher N. Maher, the district’s superintendent. ‘By owning these choices, school leaders and teachers truly buy into personalized-learning concepts and practices.’ “

A “personalized learning” platform developed by Facebook does not equate with greater “school-based autonomy” beyond the ability of a school to “choose” that platform (and curriculum). But the platform itself necessitates reliance upon a non-public system, which dictates the content that students are exposed to and which collects and houses that student data. So put the stress there on “buy,” rather than on “autonomy.”

If a school truly wants to be “autonomous”, they would not cede their content and instruction to a non-public platform. Just saying.

Will Personalized Learning Become the New Normal? Inside Rhode Island’s Statewide Tech Initiative – the74

Seattle shows us how to battle privileged NIMBYism

“By emphasizing outreach to underserved groups such as renters, immigrants and refugees, Nyland is shaking up traditional notions of community engagement and redefining community as something based not on geographic proximity, but on personal and cultural affinity.”

…”For the first time since its inception in the late ’80s, the city’s neighborhoods department would spend as much time engaging with underrepresented communities as it did listening to the concerns of white property owners.”

How Seattle is Dismantling a NIMBY Power Structure – Next City

How segregation affects the affluent

“In many ways, students in Lexington are the byproduct of the self-segregation that Enrico Moretti writes about in his book “The New Geography of Jobs,” which addresses the way well-educated, tech-minded adults cluster in brain hubs. For their children, that means ending up in schools in which everyone is super bright and hypercompetitive. It’s hard to feel special.”

It Takes A Suburb: A Town Struggles to Ease Student Stress – NY Times

NY State is making moves to battle segregated schools

Finally.

New York state plans to use new federal education law to help integrate schools – Chalkbeat NY

Rick Hess points to the potential horror of federal involvement in education

“what happens ‘when you get a Democratic administration, an Elizabeth Warren administration, and they decide that eligible schools … need to have anti-bullying programs and other accommodations? ‘“

Yes. Truly frightful.

Conservatives to DeVos: Be careful what you wish for on school choice – USA Today

A reminder from David Kirp: The real work of education is incremental

“The truth is that school systems improve not through flash and dazzle but by linking talented teachers, a challenging curriculum and engaged students.”

Who Needs Charters When You Have Public Schools Like These? – NY Times

Best of best: curriculum and effective schools

“Victory Surrounded by Prisoners and Trophies” by Frans Floris I via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

Best of the Best

This compilation of ideas on improving education sounds really interesting.

Speaking of compilations and the best of the best

Paul Kirschner has compiled a list of articles in response to the question, “What article or articles do you feel are seminal articles in our field [educational psychology] that every (young) researcher should be aware of?”

More best of the best: the most effective schools aren’t only charters, even according to Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Institute has published a report on the characteristics of the most effective schools, according to it’s Schoolgrades.org rankings. Nice to see a healthy balance of both district and charter schools in this mix, and the report highlights the work of Brooklyn’s PS 172.

The report highlights the following generic traits of effective schools:

  • Strong Leaders
  • Engaged Parents
  • Discipline and a Culture of High Expectations
  • A Well-Mapped, Well-Rounded Curriculum
  • Extended Learning Time
  • Frequent Assessment
  • Highly Effective Teachers

Most of these are pretty common sense, but I truly wish more attention were paid to the necessity for a well-mapped, well-rounded curriculum.

Speaking of curriculum

 

Mike Petrilli on a promising model for OER.

“Anyone interested in helping teachers and students innovate and meet new standards should support this type of marriage of top-down funding and bottom-up design. Those of us in education reform have a bad habit of not finishing what we started, of chasing a new shiny idea every few years. Doubling down on curriculum reform is one important way to get the Common Core job done.”

Common Core may have helped increase the challenge in school curriculum, but it’s still too easy for most high school students

“more than half of 12th graders reported that their math work was always or often “too easy.” Many high school students also say that they don’t get much from school, and nearly 20 percent of high school seniors across the nation don’t “feel like they are learning” in math class.”

Interesting results of a curriculum review from Louisiana

I focused mostly on the ELA 6-8 side of things, since that’s my wheelhouse.

What was really interesting is that they slammed ReadyGen’s K-5 program, which is rated highly by EdReports.org, rating it as a Tier 3 curriculum—meaning “not representing quality.” ReadyGen is also the only Core Curriculum K-5 offered in NYC next year (a school can feasibly go it’s own way, but then must pay it’s own money to do so).

The other surprise was that they rated NYC’s other two middle school core curriculum, Code X and Expeditionary Learning (EL) EngageNY, as Tier 2, only “approaching quality.” Again, EL’s was rated top by EdReports. But I have to agree with the items that they knocked EL’s curriculum on: the fact that “It is unlikely that a teacher will be able to complete all modules in on school year” and that “there is no formal or consistent structure in place re: grammar and language conventions.”

What did they rate top tier ELA curriculum? Great Mind’s (of Eureka Math) new ELA curriculum, Wit & Wisdom, and Pearson’s new fancy online curriculum, myPerspectives.

I’ve taken a look at the samples available for both of the above, and I have to say that I’m a fan of Wit and Wisdom. It seems well-designed, clear, knowledge-based, and engaging. If anyone out there is using it in their school, please share your thoughts!

Pearson’s is also interesting. It’s got a fully digital platform for both teachers and students, making one wonder: are they attempting to slowly cut out the teacher altogether? Also making one wonder: maybe this is darkly ingenious . . . Other than the platform, however, this kind of sleekly packaged curriculum always rings alarm bells for me, as does Scholastic’s Code X. If it’s too pretty, I don’t trust it.

So we need more research on curricular impact

“Because no “taxonomy” exists of curricular features, research has not explored the elements of curriculum that really matter in student learning. We know very little about what makes a curriculum effective.”

From a new report on curriculum from StandardsWork

Comparability of state data is out the window

Part of the effort to set consistent standards across states naturally involved the desire for comparability of student performance. The Smarter Balanced and PARCC organizations were created to partner with states to do just that. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, states have opted for cheaper, less politically contentious, and less rigorous options. Just goes to show you what happens when there is a lack of federal “overreach” on such efforts.

Outsourcing grading.

A great idea.

Smorgasbord: Collective Memory and Vouchers

“Diverse teste dal naturale.” by Denon, Vivant (1747-1825) is licensed under CC0 1.0

Social structure affects collective memory; or, why fake news is such a big problem

“memory convergence is more likely to occur within social groups than between them — an important finding in light of survey data suggesting that 62% of US adults get their news from social media, where group membership is often obvious and reinforced”

How Facebook fake news and friends are warping your memory

http://www.nature.com/news/how-facebook-fake-news-and-friends-are-warping-your-memory-1.21596?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews

So we need to counter groupthink

“a certain amount of contrarianism can go a long way”

There really was a liberal media bubble https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/there-really-was-a-liberal-media-bubble/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits

Another method of fighting groupthink: When diverse groups interact, everybody ends up smarter and healthier

“The researchers conclude that society would be better off if governments promoted more interaction between groups. They point to public housing and school districting policies as ways to encourage such mixing.”

When diverse groups interact, everybody ends up smarter and healthier

https://qz.com/939404/economists-have-measured-the-benefits-of-diversity-to-education-health-and-public-investment/

People who don’t have regular interactions with others who are different are the most afraid of others who are different

How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe’s Rising Far-Right Movements

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/world/europe/how-a-sleepy-german-suburb-explains-europes-rising-far-right-movements.html?_r=0

Does diversity strain—or develop—solidarity?

“You might argue that this just goes to show that diversity strains solidarity. Or you might argue that, because we need solidarity, we must learn to recognize America in other accents, other complexions, other kitchen aromas.”

Why does Donald Trump demonize cities?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/17/why-does-donald-trump-demonize-cities/?utm_term=.d7f92e837c62

Reading failure cuts across subgroups

“These staggering numbers of failed reading proficiency underscore our nation’s massive collective failure to effectively teach literacy and build verbal proficiency across all races. It also shatters the accepted truth that racism is the sole or even primary cause of low proficiency rates among all Americans.”

White kids can’t read, either (and other unacknowledged truths)
https://edexcellence.net/articles/white-kids-cant-read-either-and-other-unacknowledged-truths

Shakespeare received a classical education. Maybe that’s what fueled his creative mastery.

Daisy Christodoulou examines the type of curriculum and pedagogy Shakespeare would have been exposed to. Perhaps drilling and memorization centered on a core body of knowledge are not such horrifying things, after all.

Shakespeare and creative education
https://thewingtoheaven.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/shakespeare-and-creative-education/

Just as privatization has ensured that dentistry remains separate from a larger system that would better serve all students, privatizing schools. . .

“Private organized dentistry protects the marketplace for care and the power of private practitioners to provide it but that leaves a lot of people out.”

Why Dentistry Is Separate From Medicine

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/03/why-dentistry-is-separated-from-medicine/518979/?utm_source=atltw

Unreal. But oh so real

Corey Stewart advocates for Confederate flags, statues at Roanoke rally

Corey Stewart Advocates for Confederate Flags and Statues at Roanoke Rally

http://www.roanoke.com/news/politics/roanoke/corey-stewart-advocates-for-confederate-flags-statues-at-roanoke-rally/article_d1befc53-4d30-5f96-a754-8c1767e6c15a.html

Time to drop the term ‘microaggressions’?

“The scientific evidence for microaggressions is weak and we should drop the term, argues review author.”

“Lilienfeld also suggests we all consider putting aside the word microaggression in favour of “perceived racial slight’”

The scientific evidence for microaggressions is weak and we should drop the term, argues review author

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/03/16/the-scientific-evidence-for-microaggressions-is-weak-and-we-should-drop-the-term-argues-review-author/

Physical infrastructure requires long-term vision

“Basic physical infrastructure is like that. It requires long-term vision and patient capital — think horizons of 10 years or more, rather than two or three. In return, investments in basic infrastructure will pay steady, reliable returns until the sun explodes. And the spillovers from those investments in terms of economic growth and social justice for everyone in a community are routinely extraordinary.”

Google Fiber Was Doomed From the Start

https://backchannel.com/google-fiber-was-doomed-from-the-start-a5cdfacdd7f2#.4f3cndu4d

Empiricism and Vouchers

“Post Trump and De Vos, I see plenty of commentators and researchers reporting “vouchers don’t raise test scores” and virtually no “vouchers increase parental satisfaction.” Is that empiricism? In isolation, maybe. In terms of reflecting the broader spirit of science, not so much. It is also not humility.”

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/03/empiricism-and-humility.html

Marilyn Rhames on why she wants vouchers as a parent

http://educationpost.org/when-the-only-real-choice-is-private-my-unlikely-attraction-to-school-vouchers/