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August 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Arne Duncan’s Statement Today On Testing — Rhetoric Or Real?

Arne Duncan came out with a big statement on testing today that you’re going to want to read.

Here’s an except, followed by AFT President Randi Weingarten’s response:

I-believe-testing-issues

Here’s the Huffington Post’s take on his statement.

And here’s Barnett Berry’s take on it.

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August 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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How NOT To Make Public Policy Change Happen

I’ve written a lot about my perspective around making social change — much of which is informed by my nineteen year former career as a community organizer. You can see a collection of these posts at The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change.

Two recent articles bring me to this topic again today.

The first one appeared in The New York Times yesterday talking about the ongoing battle in Louisiana about Common Core Standards.

This is what one of the advocates for retaining Common Core in the state said:

“We have a saying,” Mr. Campbell added: “No permanent friends. No permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.”

No, no, no….

That is indeed the original quotation, though there is some dispute who actually said it at least one-hundred-fifty-years ago.

However, veteran organizers know that the legendary Saul Alinsky (see The Best Sites To Learn About Saul Alinsky) modified it to say:

There are no permanent allies, no permanent enemies — only changing self-interests

Notice the two significant changes:

* “friends” is changed to “allies” — friends are for private life where there is unconditional love present. “Allies” is for public life, where reciprocity is the currency.

* “no permanent interests” is changed to “only changing self-interests” — Living in a world of permanent self-interests make the possibilities of change and compromise more remote. We are all changing all the time, as is the world. If we live in a world of permanent interests then, for example, we live in one where, in the face of what’s happening in Ferguson right now, we progressive school reformers would only continue to  talk about Common Core and NCLB Waivers without modifying our present actions. We should have a small number of key principles we won’t compromise, but it becomes a huge problem when we turn so many of our beliefs into them.

The other related article that is making the rounds is from Commentary and is titled Why We Dehumanize Political Opponents.

We certainly need to be aware of different perspectives, but effective social change requires polarization.

Name-calling that’s done outside of the context of a well-organized political strategy is inappropriate, ineffective and counter-productive. But, within that context, it’s an important tactic. I wish the author of the piece in Commentary had recognized that reality at the same time he talked about how we should be nicer to each other.

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August 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Year’s Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Education Poll Just Released – Not Good News For President Obama

The-American-public-has

Every year for the past 45 years, Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup have done a Poll On Education issues. This year’s poll results were just released.

You can read a summary and the entire poll results here.

I’m going to just reprint parts of their press release because it gives a good overview of the results.First, though, here are links to my posts about the poll in previous years:

This Year’s Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Education Poll Just Released — Here Are Highlights (& “Reformers” Are Not Going To Be Happy)

The Best Posts/Articles On This Year’s Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Education Poll — 2012

The Best Posts/Articles On This Year’s Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Education Poll (2011).

Here’s are excerpts from their press release:

The American public has sharpened its belief that the federal government should not play a dominant role in public education, with a majority saying they simply do not support initiatives that they believe were created or promoted by federal policymakers, a new survey shows.

Moreover, only 27 percent of respondents give President Barack Obama a grade of “A” or “B” for his performance in support of public schools – down from 41 percent in 2011. A majority of those surveyed, 54 percent, do not think standardized tests are helpful to teachers; many do not understand how charter schools work, and the number of Americans saying they are familiar with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has skyrocketed in just one year, with a majority
saying they oppose the standards….

…The new survey suggests the American public has a lot more confidence in local school systems than in the federal government. Fifty percent gave their local schools a grade of “A” or “B” and 56 percent said their local school board should have the greatest influence in deciding what was taught. Only 15 percent thought the federal government should have the most influence.

Yet when the focus was shifted from the respondents’ own local schools to ask about the performance of the nation’s schools in general, only 17 percent extended a grade of “B” or better to America’s schools….

….When asked a series of questions about standardized testing, the public generally supported various specialized tests such as those used for college entrance and Advanced Placement courses. But 54 percent of those questioned said they simply do not believe standardized testing in the classroom really helps local school teachers decide what to teach. Public school parents are even more negative about the value of standardized testing with 68 percent believing they are not helpful to teachers.

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August 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Valuable Posts & Articles On Ed Policy

Here are some relatively recent important posts and articles on educational policy issues:

What’s the real purpose of educational benchmarking? is by Andy Hargreaves and appeared in The Washington Post.

Why The Atlanta Testing Scandal Matters is from NPR. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Atlanta Testing Scandal.

Professionalizing Teaching is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate is by John Thompson. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards.

Best Teaching Is Based on Relationships is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students.

Seven things teachers are sick of hearing from school reformers appeared in the Washington Post.

Education isn’t enough for a just recovery is by Robert Kuttner. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Showing Why Education Reform Is NOT The Best Way To Fight Poverty.

Why Los Angeles sends failing students on to the next grade is from The Hechinger Report. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Grade Retention, Social Promotion & Alternatives To Both.

Reading by Third Grade – Or Else is by Robert Slavin. I’m adding it to the same list.

Sara Mosle writes a great review of Elizabeth Green’s new book, Building A Better Teacher. Look for my interview with the author in Ed Week — soon.

Michelle Rhee Will Leave CEO Job At StudentsFirst, Group She Founded is from The Huffington Post.

Steve Barr Tries to Bridge Union-Reformer Divide in Reboot of California’s ‘Democrats for Education Reform is from Ed Week.

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August 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Education Policy

Here are some useful and relatively recent posts/articles on ed policy issues:

Lunch lady rises to teachers union leader and takes on all comers, bluntly is from The Washington Post.

“D.C. halting key Michelle Rhee reform: One of the first U.S. cities to judge teachers off of student test scores is now putting the practice on hold” is from Salon.

Run schools like a business? Flip that theory to see flaws is a great op-ed appearing in a North Carolina newspaper. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Explaining Why Schools Should Not Be Run Like Businesses.

Should it be Harder to Become a Teacher? Harder How? is by Dana Goldstein. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Attracting The “Best Candidates” To Teaching.

Here’s a good video featuring a discussion of teacher tenure. I’m adding it to The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs:

The Holes in the Chetty et al VAM Study as Seen by the American Statistical Association is from Diane Ravtich’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On The NY Times-Featured Teacher Effectiveness Study.

What Explains KIPP’s Success? Peers May Be A Big Part of the Story is by Richard Kahlenberg. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

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August 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Education Policy

Here are some recent important posts and articles on education policy issues:

Social Capital Matters As Much As Human Capital – A Message To Skeptics is from The Shanker Blog.

Gary Ravani has written a great post that appeared in The Washington Post titled School reforms that actually work.

StudentsFirst Vice President Eric Lerum and I Debate Accountability Measures (Part 1) is another very important post by Ben Spielberg.

Unintended consequences: More high school math, science linked to more dropouts is the title of a report on a new study.

The Expanding Role of Philanthropy in Education Politics is a new study that, unfortunately, is mostly behind a paywall. I’m still adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy.

Michael Petrilli has posted what he thinks are The Top Twitter Feeds in Education Policy 2014. People might, or might not, find it useful.

Campbell Brown and now Whoopi Goldberg are making news with their attacks on tenure and due process:

In Teacher-Tenure Battles, a War for Public Opinion Can Obscure the Nuances is from Ed Week.

‘The View’ Hosts Apparently Love Teachers, Hate Tenure is from The Huffington Post.

California millionaire joins fight against teacher tenure in New York is from The New York Daily News.

Esquire had quite a commentary on Brown’s attempt to end tenure.

The Myth of Teacher Tenure is from The Teachers College Record.

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August 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Do We Really Want Our Schools To Be Like Those In South Korea?

An Assault Upon Our Children: South Korea’s Education System Hurts Students is an op-ed in today’s New York Times.

Here’s an excerpt, and contrast it with the following excerpt from a speech U.S. Education Secretary Duncan gave earlier this year:

The-world-may-look-to

Does-a-child-in-South

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites For Getting Some Perspective On International Test Comparison Demagoguery.

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August 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Rhee Becomes Chair Of Local Charter Schools — Will Have Less Time To Damage Rest Of Us

Michelle Rhee has just been named board chairwoman of St. Hope Schools, the small group of Sacramento charter schools begun by Mayor Kevin Johnson, her husband.

With luck, this means she’ll have less time to damage public education elsewhere.

Her national organization, StudentsFirst, has also just pulled out of five states.

Perhaps the headline on Salon’s recent article was accurate: Education “reform’s” new Ann Coulter: A reeling Michelle Rhee passes the lead to Campbell Brown

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August 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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McKinsey & Company Projects That Common Core Implementation Will Result In Doubling of Dropout Rate

Thanks to Lori Jablonski and Tom Hoffman (I’ve embedded Lori’s tweets below), I learned about a report from the Carnegie Corporation that includes charts created by big-time consultants McKinsey & Company.

First, the chart:

common core

So, based on my quick reading of the Carnegie report, titled Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success, unless we create small schools and do blended learning, the drop-out rate will double over the next few years.

I’m no fan of the Common Core, though I have also recognized its inevitability in most states, including here in California (see A Collection Of My “Best” Lists On The Common Core).

But I am surprised that this chart has not received wider circulation to inform the debate.

Here are Lori’s tweets:

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July 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Education Policy

Here are some recent good posts and articles on educational policy issues:

“Stupid, absurd, non-defensible”: New NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on the problem with Arne Duncan, standardized tests and the war on teachers is from Salon.

The Problem Isn’t Teacher Recruiting; It’s Retention is from The Journal. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

Lessons from a school that scrapped a longer student day and made time for teachers is from The Hechinger Report. I’m adding it to the same list.

Teachers Can’t Be Effective Without Professional Working Conditions is from Gatsby in LA, and I’m adding it to the same list.

Low Salaries Keep Many Teachers Out Of The Middle Class: Report is from The Huffington Post. I’m adding this, too, to the same list.

New York Educators Fight Back on Attacks to Tenure is from The New York Times.

David Berliner Responds to Economists Who Discount Role of Child Poverty is from Diane Ravitch’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

Let’s Have a Moratorium On Sports Analogies In Education is by Paul Bruno.

Will Free Online Courses Ever Replace a College Education? is from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On MOOC’s — Help Me Find More.

Why public education needs teachers unions is by Gary Ravini. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teachers Unions Are Important.

A Double Dose of Math Has Diminishing Returns, Study Finds is from Education Week.

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July 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Articles Highlighting Parallel Critiques Of Increasing School & Health Care “Efficiency”

There have been a number of articles and posts over the years highlighting efforts in education and in health care to institute similarly misguided changes in both areas.

Here are ones that I’ve seen, and feel free to suggest more:

Medicare Penalizes Nearly 1,500 Hospitals For Poor Quality Scores is from NPR, and shows that some hospitals get penalized unfairly for the same reasons inner-city schools receive criticism.

Why Evaluate Teachers and Doctors Differently? is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

Should “Efficiency” Really Be The Driving Force In Hospitals (And Schools)?

Here’s an interesting NY Times article about performance pay for doctors, and here’s Paul Thomas’ commentary on it.

Walt Gardner wrote another post — Preparing Doctors and Teachers.

Coaching is Good for Doctors and Teachers Both is by John Thompson.

Bad Medicine is by EduShyster, and discusses the impact of similar elements of “school reform” into the medical profession.

NY Times Column Skewers Performance Pay

Quote Of The Day: Doctors & Teachers

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July 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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NY Times Column Skewers Performance Pay

Many school reformers view teacher merit pay as one of the “be all, end all” solutions to the challenges facing schools, even though it’s been found to never work (see The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea).

Today, The New York Times published a column that highlights all of what is wrong about merit pay. However, they talk about it in the context of doctors and the medical profession and not teachers.

Here’s an excerpt from The Problem With ‘Pay for Performance’ in Medicine and it’s all very applicable to teachers, as well:

Pay-for-performance-is

I’m adding it to a collection of resources I’ve been accumulating about the parallels between school and medical reformers.

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July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Are Researchers Who Helped Popularize VAM Having Second Thoughts?

Two-and-a-half years ago, economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff published an extremely influential and well-known study that popularized Value-Added Measurements as a teacher evaluation tool and has caused huge damage to teachers, students and their families. You can see a collection of commentaries on their study here. They have also been public advocates of policy solutions using their studies as evidence (that same link will lead you to examples).

Flashforward to now. Gene V. Glass (you will be able to see an interview I did with he and his co-author David Berliner next week in my Ed Week blog — their book is titled 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education)> just tweeted out a new report from those same three researchers that indicate they might be having second thoughts.

It seemed to me a bit odd — they seemed to be defending VAM for most of it, but then ended with this kicker:

other-measures-of

Interesting…

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

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July 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Race To The Top Was A ‘Wasted Opportunity’”

Race To The Top Was A ‘Wasted Opportunity’ is my latest Education Week Teacher post, and comes on the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of that program.

Today, educators John Kuhn and Gary Rubinstein provide response to this question. On Monday, I’ll be publishing guest responses from several more educators, as well as comments from readers.

Here are some excerpts:

Years-from-now-I-hope-we

Race-to-the-Top

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July 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Education Policy

July 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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12 MORE New Yorker Articles On Ed To Read While The Archives Are Free

Yesterday, I posted “12 New Yorker education articles to read while the archives are free,” a link to a a great collection of links that Vox identified.

Now, today, Alexander Russo published links to his own choices at 12 New Yorker Ed Articles Vox Missed/Got Wrong.

All twenty-four are worth reading this summer….

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