Tag: Joel Klein


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Read: Monday Morning Champions Edition


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What’s happening in the dropout nation that doesn’t involve pigskin: In New York, Randi Weingarten’s successor as head of the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local is using…

If only if this was the Redskins instead of the Jets. Photo courtesy of ESPN.

What’s happening in the dropout nation that doesn’t involve pigskin:

  1. In New York, Randi Weingarten’s successor as head of the American Federation of Teachers’ New York City local is using the language of Gary Orfield and Richard Kahlenberg in his opposition to the lifting of New York State’s charter school cap. In the Daily News , United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew declares that “charter schools are actually becoming a separate and unequal branch of public education”, citing the low levels of ELL students in some charters. Could it be that the parents of these students, mostly immigrants themselves, don’t have the sophistication or access to information about charters to make a different choice than send their kids to traditional public schools? Or could it be that, like parents of special ed students, ELL parents tend to think that traditional public schools can handle those children better than charters, even though the evidence of this is sparse (and often, would lean against that conclusion)? Mulgrew doesn’t ponder either of these matters. But certainly he wouldn’t. Mulgrew isn’t thinking about equality or integration. Or even about the kids under the care of his rank-and-file.  He’s thinking about the best interests of his union.
  2. Meanwhile in Albany, the notoriously dysfunctional state legislature is looking to strip the State University of New York of its power to authorize charters, according to Cara Matthews. This is the price Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (and his ally, the AFT’s New York State affiliate, which opposes charters altogether) hope to extract in exchange for lifting the cap on charters. As you would expect, Gov. David Paterson and charter school advocates oppose this exercise in school reform futility. This isn’t exactly New York’s Race to the Top.
  3. Even worse, as the New York Times , the New York City Department of Education, one of the most-aggressive charter authorizers, would also lose the authorizing role under the plan. Apparently, Silver and the AFT’s New York State local wants to make sure that either New York State is out of Race to the Top or that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools chief, Joel Klein, lose as much as possible under the plan. Although I am generally against allowing school districts to have authorizing power (mostly because they tend to never use it and keep out charters), New York City has been the exception and should keep the authorizing ability. As usual, this is typical teachers union/Sheldon Silver politics. Neither are worthy of respect.
  4. Meanwhile Paterson proposes to give SUNY and the City University of New York freedom from state budgeting, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin. This includes allowing the universities to raise tuition without legislative approval. As I’ve noted in a 2008 Hechinger Institute report, such freedom tends to not work out well for college affordability or for expanding access to higher ed among poor students.
  5. As for higher ed, InsideHigherEd reports that public funding for state universities is on a “historic” decline. Now this depends on what you mean by decline. As their chart notes, higher ed funding has still increased by more than 19 percent (and a 29 percent increase, if you add federal stimulus funds into the equation). Cry me a river.
  6. San Diego Union-Tribune writer Dean Calbreath looks at the recent Alliance for Excellent Education, EdWeek and Bureau of Labor Statistics data and concludes that dropping out equals fewer job opportunities.
  7. The L.A. Times opines about the Matthew Kim teacher termination saga and concludes that the entire system of teacher hiring and compensation needs an overhaul.
  8. Speaking of teacher compensation: Battles over teachers pensions and retirement benefits are starting to heat up. Vermont is the battleground this time around. The NEA’s Vermont affiliate is already on the warpath.
  9. John Fensterwald reports on the growing opposition to Common Core Standards, especially among mathematicians. This battling over the value of a national curriculum — some would say it already exists — is going to be an undercurrent in the battle over the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.
  10. Entrepreneur Sramana Mitra takes a look at how technology can be deployed to improve education.
  11. EducationNews‘ Michael Shaughnessy interviews Anthony Rao, who looks at how schools teach boys and girls and how it may contribute to the former’s achievement gap issues.
  12. Jay Mathews thinks the Brookings Institution’s recent study on education news coverage overstates the problem of mainstream reporting on ed news.
  13. Don’t forget to check out this week’s Dropout Nation podcast. The commentary focuses on the need to improve leadership throughout school districts. Sure, teachers unions are part of the problem. But leadership at the district and school levels are also the reasons why so many school districts are in academic and bureaucratic freefall.
  14. And given this is Martin Luther King day (and courtesy of Eduflack), don’t forget to listen to the famed ” Have a Dream” speech today. And remember, when it comes to education, we are far away from fulfilling either the dream and even further from the Promised Land. But we will get there soon.

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Read: Monday Morning Edition


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What’s happening inside the dropout nation: The Detroit News takes Michigan’s public education leadership to task for subjecting kids to woeful standardized tests that don’t meet the National Assessment of…

What’s happening inside the dropout nation:

  1. The Detroit News takes Michigan’s public education leadership to task for subjecting kids to woeful standardized tests that don’t meet the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ much higher standards — and damning the children to low expectations. Declares the paper: “e standards for passing the exam — called the cut scores — have been lowered so much, a student who tests well on the Michigan assessment would not score nearly as well on the NAEP or even the national ACT test.” As Dropout Nation readers already know, this, unfortunately, isn’t an isolated occurrence.
  2. Clarence Fanto argues in The Boston Globe that charter schools are a problem in school reform. Why? He uses the long-refuted position that charters take money from traditional public school districts. Actually, the fact that states don’t divert funding from traditional districts — and, in fact, offset enrollment losses with additional funding — is the very reason why there isn’t true competition within education. If traditional public schools truly had to compete with charters for funding — and in the suburbs, compete for students in the first place — school reform wouldn’t be such a hot topic in the first place.
  3. On Red State, Vladimir asks why can’t Republicans make the expansion of charter schools a winning platform in their 2010 election campaigns. My response: Republicans first have to embrace school reform; and save for centrists and conservative elements in the party, many in the GOP are either uncomfortable with a form of school choice that still involves government funding, or represent suburban areas, whose school districts are aggressively opposed to charter schools.
  4. The Washington Post details efforts by the U.S. Department of Education to focus states on turning around laggard public schools. Whether it will work or not? Andy Smarick doubts it, as everyone already knows.
  5. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson thinks schools should add computer science and programming to their curricula. Meanwhile, programs are sprouting up encouraging more children and teens to take up computer science. This is fine, but schools need to focus mostly on the things they are struggling to do. Like teaching reading and math.
  6. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation streams a video of New York City school czar Joel Klein discussing his own background growing up in the projects and his efforts in education reform. Interesting and worth watching. By the way, you may also read my Foundation Watch report on the Gates Foundation’s efforts in the education reform arena.
  7. And speaking of Klein, Dropout Nation thoughts: In the comments of Thursday’s edition of Read, Kathy offers a rebuttal to his decision to close Jamaica High School.

Finally, subscribe to the Dropout Nation Podcast. This week, the focus is on giving parents power in school reform. Enjoy.

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Read: Happy Holidays Edition


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Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and your families. And to those celebrating other holidays: Happy holidays to you and the ones you love. Here is what’s…

Christmas at the Waldorf-Astoria by RiShawn Biddle

Scenes of the Season: New York's Waldorf-Astoria at Christmastime

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and your families. And to those celebrating other holidays: Happy holidays to you and the ones you love.

Here is what’s going on in the dropout nation:

  1. The NEA’s Los Angeles local is suing L.A. Unified over its school reform plans. John Fensterwald’s response? The suit is merely “an attempt to preserve dues-paying members.”
  2. By the way: Check out my latest report, this on the pressures forcing the American Federation of Teachers to make some (small) moves towards embracing school reform, in The American Spectator.
  3. Tom Vander Ark offers on the role of entrepreneurism in education and how it can improve education for all students. He also discusses some of the changes that need to come to education philanthropy.
  4. While some parents and teachers in the New York City borough of Queens are battling the closure of Jamaica High School, schools Chancellor Joel Klein isn’t backing down. Says he: “I would like to know — who would send their kid to a school that has a lower than 50 percent graduation rate. Well, if your kids wouldn’t go there, whose kids should go there?” He’s got a point.
  5. The Merced Sun-Star isn’t too thrilled with the California legislature’s struggle to pass a second round of Race to the Top-related legislation. Meanwhile, in Maryland, a former state board of education member accuses Gov. Martin O’Malley of being more-interested in teachers union votes than in take advantage of the federal money to improve academic achievement.
  6. And in Indiana, the state Department of Education has unveiled its plan for competing for Race to the Top dollars. It admits that it doesn’t meet many of the data system requirements. It will also require school districts to fully embrace reform in order to receive whatever RttT money the Hoosier State can muster. At least the state’s making some progress on the teacher quality front.
  7. For those looking for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act data on education stimulus spending, here is the state and program data for this month (in Excel spreadsheets).
  8. In Rochester, the mayor there wants to take over the city’s atrocious school district. He’ll likely have more success than his colleague in Milwaukee has had this year.
  9. At EducationNews, teacher Marion Brady accuses Arne Duncan, the charter school movement and education philanthropists of attempting to “hasten the destruction of… universal, free, public schooling.” But then, Brady offers suggested reforms that would fully alter traditional public education as we know it. Enjoy.
  10. Heritage Foundation’s Dan Lips reads Walter Williams’ discontent with graduation rates for blacks, then offers examples of how to improve educational achievement.
  11. The Economist discusses how technology disrupted the media business — in 1845. The interesting question for education policy types and teachers should be: What technologies will disrupt education policy as we know it today.
  12. U.S News & World Report looks at the role of post-Katrina New Orleans as the epicenter of the charter school movement and education reform. Slowly, the city’s education model is starting to resemble the Hollywood Model for education I touted some years ago.
  13. Edurati Review offers up its best posts of 2009. One of them: A well-thought explanation of why American public education must be reformed.

Sign up for the Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute news. Also, check out Dropout Nation’s featured reports:

  1. Making Families Consumers — and Kings — in Education
  2. Ability Tracking: Outmoded Idea in the New Education Paradigm
  3. Voices of the Dropout Nation: Walter Dozier on Education and Violence

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Read: Monday Morning Memo Edition


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What’s happening in the dropout nation: How many teachers — and schools — use the Internet to engage with parents? Jay Mathews notices that many teachers stubbornly won’t do so….

Cartoon by Gary Varvel

Cartoon by Gary Varvel

What’s happening in the dropout nation:

  1. How many teachers — and schools — use the Internet to engage with parents? Jay Mathews notices that many teachers stubbornly won’t do so. Unfortunately, as with much with the use of technology and data in education, this isn’t so shocking. It would be great to have a technology argument in education similar to what’s going on in the media business.
  2. Julia Steiny on the overuse of harsh school discipline: “Schools banish kids often and self-righteously.. It’s barbaric.”
  3. Big Ed Reform Andy #1 provides a round-up of Race to the Top news out of the Wolverine State. As I had mentioned in October, for many states, it is as much a pursuit of the dollars as it is about achieving substantial education reform. This isn’t a bad thing if the correct results are achieved.
  4. Tom Vander Ark wants the nation’s dropout factories to be fixed or replaced. Who can disagree? This should also apply to the schools that serve as feeders into them.
  5. Mark Kleiman thinks the No Child Left Behind Act’s focus on testing all students at just one point in a school year is rather inefficient; according to him, management guru W. Edwards Deming would be “appalled” by it. Maybe. But it doesn’t have to be an either-or. All students need to be tested in order to assure that each child gets the highest-quality education possible based on his needs. At the same time, sampling would also make sense to do in order to see the long-term results of broad-based reforms. How about that.
  6. School reform isn’t about popularity. Judging by the protests over the closing of Jamaica High and a few other New York City schools, Joel Klein and company know this all too well.
  7. Meanwhile in New Jersey, Gov.-elect Chris Christie is looking to expand a limited public school choice program, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. If successful, New Jersey would be following up on California’s recent expansion of a similar program.
  8. Want to learn more about how many California students aren’t making it from high school into college. Check out Measuring Success, Making Progress, which is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (hat tip to The Educated Guess).

Subscribe to Dropout Nation’s Twitter feed to get up-to-the-minute updates.

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Read: Weekend Watch Edition


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What’s happening in the dropout nation: – The Foundry takes aim at the opposition among some D.C. politicos to reviving the soon-to-be-shuttered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Harry Jaffe of the…

More opportunities to learn. Photo of St. Anthony Catholic School, Washington, DC

More opportunities to learn. Photo of St. Anthony Catholic School, Washington, DC

What’s happening in the dropout nation:

The Foundry takes aim at the opposition among some D.C. politicos to reviving the soon-to-be-shuttered D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Harry Jaffe of the Washington Examiner offered his own thoughts — and gave one of the District’s city councilmen the business earlier this week. Jaffe thinks vouchers “will get funded for another five-year program.”

– Meanwhile, in The Catholic World Report, I take a look at one of the key alternatives to D.C. Public Schools: The Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic schools. Two years after Archbishop Donald Wuerhl decided to spin off several of its financially-lagging schools and convert them into charters, the proverbial Mother Church is working hard to ensure educational opportunities for its poorest families while fostering additional funding and support from the flock.

– One of the three School Reform Andys (Rotherham, in this case) and Education News Colorado take aim at the Denver school district’s decision to hire a counselor to help school board members with their marriage problems (among other personal issues). Why should the kids — half of whom are likely to never graduate — count for anything? Well, at least it isn’t all going into administrators’ salaries, as it seems to be happening in the case of Indianapolis Public Schools.

– Will the AFT embrace school reform? Based on its New York City affiliate’s response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Race to the Top efforts, keep the money off the betting line.

– In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger prods the Democrat-controlled legislature to take further steps in competing for federal Race to the To funds. The president of the state’s AFT affiliate isn’t thrilled with any of it.

– In research: The Center on Education Policy surveys state government uses of federal stimulus funds for education. The conclusions are mixed.

– Joanne Jacobs takes a look at the Deloitte study on the disconnect between the expectations of high school from parents and children, and the expectations of those who teach the latter. My thoughts will come later.

– In Charleston, S.C., one school superintendent is lambasted for winning an award, one that doesn’t have to do with improving the education of the children in the district’s care.

More news coming the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, follow Dropout Nation on Twitter for continuous news and updates.

– Parent Revolution’s Ben Austin offers his own reasons why California needs to reform public education and prepare for Race to the Top.

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The Daily Read


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What’s inside — and outside — the dropout nation (updates and new articles marked with an *): It’s about the teachers: Jay Mathews hits on this point in this latest…

Caring, highly-qualified teachers are important in keeping children in school. So the nation must improve the way it recruits, trains and retains instructors. The status quo just won't do.

Caring, highly-qualified teachers are important in keeping children in school. So the nation must improve the way it recruits, trains and retains instructors. The status quo just won't do. (Illustration courtesy of PBS.)

What’s inside — and outside — the dropout nation (updates and new articles marked with an *):

  • It’s about the teachers: Jay Mathews hits on this point in this latest Washington Post column. Although parents and even administrators spend much time on the less-than-ideal conditions of the buildings in which children learn, Mathews notes that the highest-quality learning occurs in buildings in which boilers are broken down and dilapidated churches…
  • And keeping the at-risk students in school: Mathews also rehashes an earlier debate he had with a California vocational school teacher, who argues that not every child wants to go to college and therefore, should be given a strong shop-and-technical school education. My view: The emphasis on college isn’t a bad thing at all, especially in light of the reality that college coursework is becoming an increasingly important qualification in getting blue-collar jobs; the same math skills (algebra and trigonometry) still apply in both cases. Besides, why shouldn’t a plumber also know about Chaucer? The real issue isn’t a need for vocational education — which public schools do an even worse job of providing — but engaging the minds and souls of children in the first place.
  • Bad teacher policymaking, Volume M: California’s legislature is looking to shut down a loophole that allows teachers who plead ‘no contest’ to sex offense charges to continue teaching until their case is heard before the state teacher certification commission. As Joanne Jacobs and Darren Miller of Right on the Left Coast notes, the California Teachers Association — well-known for throwing its heft around in that statehouse — opposes closing the loophole. And given the union’s influence on the legislature, the bill may well fail to pass.
  • A time for innovation in education: Newark Mayor Cory Booker hooks up with venture capitalist John Doerr (a longtime sponsor of school choice efforts) and California Board of Education President Ted Mitchell to argue for a school innovation venture fund in the Los Angeles Times. The goal: Pour more money into vouchers and other innovations to improve the performance of the nation’s public education system.
  • The value of school choice: David W. Kirkpatrick uses his weekly EducationNews.org column as a Q-and-A on the value of vouchers, public charter schools and other choice plans. Reader Bill O’Dea responds with a Q-and-A of his own.
  • Keeping mayoral control of schools: Michael Bloomberg’s fairly successful effort to reform what was one of the nation’s most dysfunctional school systems has been highly lauded nationally. As the New York Times points out today, this doesn’t mean that the powers that be in Albany will extend mayoral control beyond 2009. Bloomberg has long had support from the state Senate Republicans who run the upper house, but Sheldon Silver (who helped orchestrate the end of tenure reform earlier this year) and his Assembly Democrats are notorious for cowtowing to the New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers, United’s largest affiliate and the key union in New York City schools. As usual, all of this will not come down to the best interest of the city’s children.

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