U.S. Graduate Schools Rely More on Asia

Douglas Belkin:

Applications to U.S. graduate schools from Asia, led by India, have jumped in recent years, but total enrollment at programs has only inched up as mounting debt appears to be suppressing the number of American applicants.

International students now make up 17% of all U.S. graduate students, with more than half studying engineering, science and business, according to a report to be released Wednesday by the Council of Graduate Schools. This year has seen an 8% uptick in overseas students, while enrollment from U.S. students has stayed flat, the report said.

Graduate-school debt may be keeping U.S. students away, said Jason Delisle, an education analyst at the New American Foundation, a left-leaning Washington think tank. The return on investment for graduate degrees in many programs is still solid, but taking on all that debt at relatively high student-loan rates has become increasingly risky in an unsteady job market, Mr. Delisle said.

“It’s possible that there are people who are choosing not to go to graduate programs because of the expense,” he said.

The End of Education Schools & Teacher Credentialing?

Rishawn Biddle:

When it comes to America’s system of training teachers, two things are crystal clear. The first? That America’s university schools of education, which train nearly all of the 200,000 or so teachers who attempt to enter the profession every year, are doing a shoddy job of recruiting aspiring teachers and providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the classroom. The second: That there is no correlation between the credentials teachers are granted and their ability to improve student achievement over time.

This week, two studies once again confirm both realities. And it is past time to take real action to improve the teacher training pipeline so that our kids get the high-quality education they deserve.

The first bit of latest news comes courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute, which released a study earlier this week on the abysmally high levels of grade inflation among ed school majors. The average ed school student at Indiana University’s ed school on its main campus in Bloomington had a simple grade-point average of 3.66, higher than the g.p.a.’s of students in the university’s other majors; as the study’s author, Cory Koedel notes in another study he conducted this year, math, science and economics majors only average g.p.a.’s of 3.06 , while those taking social science and humanities courses barely average over a 3.0.

Chinese Enrollment in U.S. Graduate Schools Dips as India Surges

Andy Thomason:

Attentive observers won’t be surprised by the new international-enrollment numbers released on Wednesday by the Council of Graduate Schools. But there’s something momentous about the annual report’s key finding: For the first time since the council’s reports began, in 2004, first-time enrollment by Chinese students in graduate programs at American universities actually dropped this year.

The writing has been on the wall for more than a year. In April 2013, the council reported that Chinese applications to American graduate schools fell 5 percent after seven consecutive years of double-digit growth. The drop was so unexpected that the council’s president at the time, Debra W. Stewart, didn’t believe it at first. The possibility that the dip was an aberration was proved unlikely this year, when the council reported that applications from China fell again.

Who’s to Say Teachers Can’t Modify Common Core? No One

Barry Garelick:

I currently am on a second career after retirement—I teach math in middle school. During my last few years of work, I started taking courses in ed school at night. The first course I took was taught by a professor who had what seemed to me to be a unique gift. He managed to agree with whatever anyone said about teaching. I learned very quickly that this was pretty much the norm, and that ed school was the place where there are no wrong answers—just the “greater truth,” which will eventually prevail. It is the place where future teachers see the light and embrace the principles of student-centered, inquiry-based, discovery-based teaching, and answering students’ questions is “handing it to the student” (aka the “struggle is good” philosophy).

I am seeing something similar with respect to the Common Core math standards. Peter Greene, on his blog Curmudgucation, puts it this way: “If the Common Core were to collapse and everyone in the country came to see it as a disaster and a Huge Mistake, exactly whose head would roll? Who would be held responsible?” And he answers it as follows: “To use the language of the ed revolution, nobody is accountable for Common Core.”

And another perspective is offered by Katharine Beals at her blog Out in Left Field. She points out a constant refrain heard about Common Core:

Q&A: Lamar Alexander On Education In The New Congress

Claudio Sanchez:

What’s your first priority?

Our first priority is to fix No Child Left Behind. The Republican proposal to fix NCLB would give states the option — not mandate — to take federal dollars and let those dollars follow children to the schools they attend. We want to expand choice, but my view is that the federal government shouldn’t mandate it. … Republicans would [also] transfer back to states the responsibility for deciding whether schools are succeeding or failing. Tennessee, Texas or New York would decide what the academic standards would be, what the curriculum would be, what to do about failing schools and how to evaluate teachers.

Do you support the Common Core State Standards?

I support giving states the right to decide whether to [adopt] the Common Core or not.

What about higher education? There’s a lot of pressure to hold institutions more accountable for the $200 billion they get in federal aid and to bring the cost of college down.

The cost of higher education is more affordable than people think. At a community college, average tuition is $3,600. At a four-year public institution, it’s $8[,000] to $9,000. Many students can get a Pell Grant they don’t have to pay back, up to $5,000. We lend $100 billion every year in student loans at an interest rate of about 4 percent to people with no credit history. Tennessee is the first state to say two years of community college is free. I expect more states to do that.

I’m [also] working with [Colorado Democratic] Sen. Michael Bennet to take the 108-question student-aid application form, known as FAFSA, and reduce it to two questions: ‘What’s your family income?’ and ‘What’s your family size?’ … The complexity of the form is discouraging students from attending college. So the greatest barrier to more college graduates is this federal application form.

Reading Resources & Conferences

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

IDA Dyslexia Handbook: What Every Family Should Know is now available online

Free Open LETRS Training An overview of the professional development program Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling. This session is especially for district administrators: superintendents, curriculum directors, special education directors, reading specialists, principals, etc. Let your district know you would like a few key people to attend!

Presented by Pati Montgomery, former executive director of the Colorado Office Of Literacy

Aimed at principals and other administrators responsible for raising reading achievement
Monday, December 8: WCTC Pewaukee
Wednesday, December 10: Madison College Truax Campus
8:00 – 3:30, lunch provided
Limit: two people per district
RSVP by November 15 to Kevin Kuckkan, 866-340-3692, kevin.kuckkan@voyagersopris.com

Lindamood-Bell Informational Session for Professionals and Parents

Learn about the Lindamood-Bell School Year Glendale Learning Clinic opening December 1st for 8 weeks: addressing dyslexia, hyperlexia, ADD/HD, and autism spectrum disorders
Thursday, November 20, 5:00 pm
Logemann Community Center, Ivy Room, 6100 W. Mequon Road, Mequon WI
Reserve your space by calling 888-414-1720 or email info@lindamoodbell.com

December repeat of Dyslexia 101 at WILDD

December 13, 9:00 – 12:00
636 Grand Canyon Drive, Madison 53719
Call 608-824-8980 or email madison@wildd.org to register

Spotlight on Dyslexia: Interactive Virtual Conference from Learning Ally

Keynote speaker Dana Buchman (fashion designer and founding chair of the Promise Project); panel members Barbara Wilson (Wilson Language Corporation), Kelli Sandman-Hurley (Dyslexia Training Institute), Davis Flink (Eye to Eye), Ben Foss (Headstrong Nation), Susan Barton (Bright Solutions for Dyslexia), and Jamie Martin (Assistive Technology)
Friday, December 5, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm CST
Learning Ally members $59 ($89 after 11/15); non-members $89 ($119 after 11/15)
Discounted Early Bird registration until November 15

Ed Week Webinar Every Child Reading with Margie Gillis now available on demand; Powerpoint available at http://www.edweek.org/media/102814presentation.pdf

London schools: the central role of ethnicity

Simon Burgess:

Urban areas are often associated with poor educational attainment. But London is different. Recent analysis suggests that the attainment and progress of pupils in London is the highest in the country. A leading education policy commentator argues that: “Perhaps the biggest question in education policy over the past few years is why the outcomes for London schools have been improving so much faster than in the rest of the country”. Some have argued that this is the result of policies and practices adopted by London schools. If so, identifying the key policies is a great prize, with the hope that they can be implemented more broadly. Another recent report emphasises more the importance of primary schools.

In this research I have set out the evidence that a big part, almost all in fact, of the answer lies in the ethnic composition of London’s pupils. More broadly, my interpretation of this leads to a focus on pupil aspiration, ambition and engagement. There is nothing inherently different in the educational performance of pupils from different ethnic backgrounds, but the children of relatively recent immigrants typically have greater hopes and expectations of education, and are, on average, more likely to be engaged with their school work. This is not by chance of course; a key part of the London effect is its attraction to migrants and those aspiring to a better life.

Word Problems, No Guess and Check, and a Sound Bite for an Interview

Barry Garelick, via a kind email:

I had come to the point in the chapter on systems of linear equations in my algebra 1 class where the book presented mixture, rate and current, and number problems. To prep them for the onslaught, I included a word problem into one of the warm-up problems I had them do as I checked in their homework.

The problem was: “The length of a rectangle is 3 units more than the width. The perimeter is 58 units. Find the length and width.”

Students asked me “How do you do this problem?” as I came around to check their homework. I offered one hint: “You can solve it using the substitution method”.

“What does this problem have to do with the substitution method?” a boy named Lonnie asked.

I answered his question when I went over the warm-up questions. “If you solve the problem to find length and width you will have two equations in two unknowns which you can solve by substitution.”

Many students shouted at once.

A Look at Ed Tech’s Biggest Money Magnets

Rebecca Koenig:

Investment in higher-education technology is booming. Venture-capital funding for individual companies trying to break into the market has climbed well past the million-dollar mark, and the growth shows no sign of slowing.

According to Peter Yoon, a managing director at the Berkery Noyes investment bank who specializes in the education and training sector, ed-tech investment has increased steeply since 2006. More than $1-billion was invested in ed-tech companies in 2013, he said, and in the first quarter of this year more than $50-million was invested.

“It’s quite a brisk pace in terms of the amount of investment,” Mr. Yoon said. “Compared to previous years, it’s a tremendous increase.”

– See more at: http://m.chronicle.com/article/A-Look-at-Ed-Tech-s-Biggest/149943/?key=Tj1wdAZma3UWZS1hYj5KMzZdaHBlZUIpZSYdOSohblpUEA==#sthash.9Lr5A2L2.dpuf

Charter School in NYC Pays Teachers 125K. Gets Same Results as Most Other Charter Schools in NYC.

Neerav Kimgsland:

When the media gets a charter school story wrong, I usually suspect political bias.

Progressive media outlets often underplay the effectiveness of charter schools, while conservative outlets overstate their impact.

But sometimes everyone misses a major part of the story.

All of the following media outlets reported on Mathematica’s study of The Equity Project: Vox.com (leans left), the Wall Street Journal (leans right), National Public Radio (leans left), the National Review (leans right), Shanker Blog (leans left).

Most of these education writers are top notch.

But all of them, I think, missed the mark.

The Mathematica Study; The CREDO Study

The Equity Project is a charter school in New York City. It pays teachers $125,000.

Mathematica just completed a rigorous study and found that, over four years, The Equity Project delivered an additional 1.6 years of math gains and .4 years of ELA gains.

Minneapolis Schools Implement Explicit Racial Bias in Suspensions

Robby Soave:

The good: Minneapolis Public Schools want to decrease total suspensions for non-violent infractions of school rules.

The bad: The district has pledged to do this by implementing a special review system for cases where a black or Latino student is disciplined. Only minority students will enjoy this special privilege.

That seems purposefully unconstitutional—and is likely illegal, according to certain legal minds.

The new policy is the result of negotiations between MPS and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Minority students are disciplined at much higher rates than white students, and for two years the federal government has investigated whether that statistic was the result of institutional racism.

Related. Madison’s problematic discipline policy.

Discipline & school violence forum

Scientists have unlocked a state of child-like fast learning in the adult brain

Fiona MacDonald:

When we’re young, our brains are able to form new neural connections extremely quickly – an ability known as “plasticity” that allows us to learn how to walk, talk and play all in the space of a few years. But, as we get older, this ability fades and, sadly, it takes us longer to learn new things.

Now scientists from Stanford University in the US have managed to unlock child-like plasticity in the adult brains of mice by interfering with a protein known as PirB (or LilrB2 in humans).

The breakthrough is pretty exciting as it could not only lead to new mind-enhancing drugs, but could also help us work out how to make the brain more malleable and better able to recover from damage.

Do Schools Really Need Principals?

Matt Collette:

Rafiq Kalam Id-Din is walking down a hallway at Brooklyn’s Professional Prep charter school when he sees a fourth-grader in the doorway of a so-called “djed room.” The room, named after an ancient Egyptian symbol for stability, is a quiet, safe space where students can recollect themselves if they’ve been disruptive or a teacher suspects they’re about to become so.

“Are you here by choice, or did you get sent here?” Kalam Id-Din asks. The student’s head is down, and he hedges a bit before acknowledging that a teacher saw him acting up and suggested he step out before the behavior escalated.

At Professional Prep, teachers can’t send their kids to the principal’s office. Because there isn’t one.

One of three “managing partners” at the school, Kalam Id-Din is about the closest thing Professional Prep has to a school leader. Yet his main job is to teach a group of 20 or so fourth-graders rather than deal with the day-to-day administrative issues—hiring, discipline, staff and parent meetings—a typical principal might handle. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The school’s entire approach to discipline, for instance, was designed by teachers and was rooted in the idea that every action is a deliberate choice by a student. Kalam Id-Din says the djed rooms are much more effective than a trip to the principal’s office, citing the school’s low suspension rate as evidence.

Fight Is On for Common Core Contracts

Caroline Porter:

As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.

That jockeying has brought allegations of bid-rigging in one large pricing agreement involving 11 states—the latest hiccup as the math and reading standards are rolled out—while in roughly three dozen others, education companies are battling for contracts state by state.

Mississippi’s education board in September approved an emergency $8 million contract to Pearson PLC for tests aligned with Common Core, sidestepping the state’s contract-review board, which had found the transaction illegal because it failed to meet state rules regarding a single-source bid.

Schools & Taxpayers Receive Poor Broadband Value

Rick Barrett & Erin Richards:

Wisconsin schools and libraries rely on Internet service that’s often inadequate and overpriced, with the true cost obscured by millions of dollars in government subsidies, according to research by a University of Wisconsin-Extension professor that has pitted him against the state’s telecommunications industry.

Andy Lewis, a professor and community development specialist at UW-Extension, in Madison, says the issue is twofold: Schools and libraries aren’t getting the broadband service they need to keep pace with increasing demands of technology and learning, and taxpayers could be paying up to 10 times too much for the service through a telecommunications network called BadgerNet.

Broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second. Higher broadband levels can accommodate more Internet users at the same time, which is important to schools and libraries and data-intensive services such as video presentations.

“It’s hard to believe, but schools and libraries in Wisconsin — or should I say the taxpayers — are often paying about the same amount of money for a 5-megabit-per-second circuit that other school districts across the country are paying for 1,000 megabits per second,” Lewis said.

Why academics feel overworked

Philip Guo:

OK finally onto academic jobs … why do academics so often feel overworked?

One common but unsatisfying answer is that academic work is harder or more all-consuming than industry work, so it simply takes more time. I don’t buy that, since I know people with ultra-challenging industry jobs as well. They also work really hard but don’t have as much trouble managing their workload.

I think the answer lies in the fact that, as an academic, your work comes from multiple independent sources. One claimed benefit of being a PI-level academic (e.g., a research scientist or tenure-track professor) is that you don’t have a boss. However, without a boss to serve as a single centralized source of work, academics end up taking work requests from multiple independent sources that have no knowledge of one another.

Academics receive work from at least seven independent sources:

The Tar Heels’ State: Academic Scandal, Big Money, No Surprises

Charles Pierce:

One of my favorite John Wayne movies is Trouble Along the Way, in which the Duke plays Steve Williams, a former major-college football coach reduced by circumstances and scandal to hustling pool and making book to raise his young daughter. Into their lives comes Donna Reed, as a straitlaced social worker who knows offensive line play, and Charles Coburn, as Father Burke, an elderly priest and the rector of St. Anthony’s, a struggling Catholic college1 somewhere in New York City. Donna has come to make sure that the little girl isn’t becoming too damaged living in a bar and grill. Coburn has come to offer Steve a job, and gives him carte blanche to turn the program around. So Steve starts raiding recruits from other colleges, hiring coal miners and returning war veterans, and cutting in the help on the concessions and all the other ancillary revenue. Naturally, the whole thing collapses, but it all collapses in a heartwarming way. Steve stays at St. Anthony’s, Father Burke retires, and it is clearly implied that Donna Reed and the coach soon will be making the ol’ single-wing with each other.

Fearful Parenting Is Contagious

Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow:

On Immunity: An Inoculation
Eula Biss
Graywolf Press, $24 (cloth)

After my daughter was born, whenever I heard about parents who refused vaccines, I’d feel a flare of hostility. Not because I couldn’t relate to them—as an easily spooked new mom, I could relate all too well. No mother is thrilled to see a needle jabbed into her child. It hardly helps to know that the needle contains a substance derived from a disease-causing agent. Even leaving aside the debunked autism claims, the visceral reality of vaccination runs counter to every parental instinct.

But I had decided to trust the experts and not think about it too much. My daughter’s blue immunization book was fully up to date. Hearing about parents who opted out reminded me of my unease. Their existence was also an implicit rebuke; thinking of them put me on the defensive. They would, I imagined, deem me a bad mother, negligent and misinformed. I all but wanted to shout, “I know you are but what am I” at my hypothetical anti-vaxxer adversaries.

In On Immunity, Eula Biss’s quietly impassioned new book, the author evinces no such hostility (and considerably more maturity). She does attribute one pitch-perfect line to her father, a doctor who serves as the wry voice of reason in the book. Biss is groping for words to explain the phenomenon of chicken pox parties as alternatives to vaccinations. “I say, ‘Some people want their children to get chicken pox because,’ and pause to think of the best reason to give a doctor. ‘They’re idiots,’ my father supplies.”

Charter Schools Get Better over Time

Patrick L. Baude, Marcus Casey, Eric A. Hanushek, Steven G. Rivkin:

Studies of the charter school sector typically focus on head-to-head comparisons of charter and traditional schools at a point in time, but the expansion of parental choice and relaxation of constraints on school operations is unlikely to raise school quality overnight. Rather, the success of the reform depends in large part on whether parental choices induce improvements in the charter sector. We study quality changes among Texas charter schools between 2001 and 2011. Our results suggest that the charter sector was initially characterized by schools whose quality was highly variable and, on average, less effective than traditional public schools. However, exits from the sector, improvement of existing charter schools, and positive selection of charter management organizations that open additional schools raised average charter school effectiveness over time relative to traditional public schools. Moreover, the evidence is consistent with the belief that a reduction in student turnover as the sector matures, expansion of the share of charters that adhere to a No Excuses philosophy, and increasingly positive student selection at the times of both entry and reenrollment all contribute to the improvement of the charter sector.

More, here, including Madison’s ceaseless monolithic K-12 governance model.

Searching for consensus and New Jersey’s charter school wars

Laura Waters:

For those of you who follow N.J.’s charter school wars within the circumscribed twitter universe, the last few days have been pretty hot. The backstory here is that Mark Weber (a popular anti-reform blogger known as Jersey Jazzman who studies with Bruce Baker at Rutgers) and Julia Sass Rubin (professor at Rutgers and founder of the anti-charter organization called Save Our Schools-NJ) published a report on charter school demographics, paid for by an anti-charter foundation, also based at Rutgers. The study aimed to prove that charter schools “cream off” cohorts of kids who are less impoverished, less disabled, and more fluent in English than those enrolled in traditional district schools.

The conclusions imbedded in the report have been disputed by charter school leaders. Carlos Perez, head of the N.J. Charter School Association, for example, dismissed the report as “anti-charter propaganda.” But the primary igniter of this week’s heat wave was not the report itself but Ms. Rubin’s remark, printed in the Star-Ledger, that charter schools draw a less poor and more informed group of parents because “poor families are less able to focus on the best place to educate their children.” Here’s her quote:

This backpack designed for poor kids does so much more than carry books

Joonji Mdyogolo:

South Africans Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane are co-founders of the business Rethaka. Their brand of Repurposed Schoolbags are made from recycled and reinforced plastic shopping bags. Many of the recipients come from poor families.

But it’s so much more than a bag. Because the kids often live in shacks and remote areas with no electricity, Repurposed Schoolbags are built with some other smart features. On the outside of the flap is a pocket for a solar panel, which charges on the long walk to and from school. That screws onto a Consol glass jar that the kids use as a lamp at home when doing homework in the evenings. The bag is also reflective because many of these kids wake up at the crack of dawn and walk in the dark to get to school on time.

The Fine Art of Tough Love

Joanne Lipman:

What does it take to achieve excellence? I’ve spent much of my career chronicling top executives as a business journalist. But I’ve spent much of the last year on a very different pursuit, coauthoring a book about education, focusing on a tough but ultimately revered public-school music teacher.

And here’s what I learned: When it comes to creating a culture of excellence, the CEO has an awful lot to learn from the schoolteacher.

The teacher at the heart of the book Strings Attached is on the face of it an unlikely corporate role model. My childhood music teacher Jerry Kupchynsky, who we called “Mr. K,” was strictly old school: A ferocious Ukrainian immigrant and World War II refugee, he was a tyrannical school orchestra conductor in suburban New Jersey. He would yell and stomp and scream when we screwed up, bellowing “Who eez DEAF in first violins?” His highest praise was “not bad.” He rehearsed us until our fingers were raw.

White Philanthropy for Black (mis)Education

Michael Barker:

Controlling the spread and evolution of institutionalized education has always been a foremost concern of the ruling class. Barely disguised by the humanitarian rhetoric of philanthropy, white power brokers have played a central role in ensuring that the steady extension of educational facilities across the globe serves to miseducate the bulk of its recipients: promoting the freedom to exploit others (for a few) and the freedom to endure exploitation (for the rest).

William Watkins’ book The White Architects of Black Education: Ideology and Power in America, 1865-1954 (Teachers College Press, 2001) thus provides a clear-sighted analysis of the history of black education. A historical undertaking which Manning Marable has described as “an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the complex relationships between white philanthropy and black education.”[1]

Watkins “destroys the myth that the debate between [W.E.B.] DuBois and Booker T. Washington over the character of schooling actually determined the future of educational policy toward African Americans.” Demonstrating that while the debates between such influential men may have been important, ultimately they “were minor players in the formation of black schooling and the philosophy that lay behind it.”

In this way Watkins “cuts to the very heart of the matter,” reviewing the key contributions made by the real power brokers such as General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, J.L.M. Curry, William Baldwin, Robert Ogden, Thomas Jesse Jones, Franklin Giddings, and the Rockefeller and Phelps Stokes’ family, friends and funds.[2]

Education, Inc.

George Joseph:

Over the summer, FBI agents stormed nineteen charter schools as part of an ongoing investigation into Concept Charter Schools. They raided the buildings seeking information about companies the prominent Midwestern charter operator had contracted with under the federal E-Rate program.

The federal investigation points to possible corruption at the Gulen charter network, with which Concept is affiliated and which takes its name from the Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen. And a Jacobin investigation found that malfeasance in the Gulen network, the second largest in the country, is more widespread than previously thought. Federal contracting documents suggest that the conflict-of-interest transactions occurring at Concept are a routine practice at other Gulen-affiliated charter school operators.

The Jacobin probe into Gulen-affiliated operators in Texas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California found that roughly $4 million in E-Rate contract disbursements and $1.7 million in Department of Education Race to the Top grantee awards were given to what appear to be “related parties.” Awarding contracts to firms headed by related parties would seem to violate the FCC’s requirement that the school’s bidding process be “competitive” as well as “open and fair.”

Related: Philadelphia Schools, Another Year, Another Crisis.

They want to raise tuition again

ReClaim UC:

The UC Regents want to hike tuition again. At their upcoming meeting, they are planning to vote on a new policy that, if ratified, would make 5% annual tuition increases the default for the next five years. According to Napolitano, the tuition hikes (as much as $3,400 over five years) would go forward unless the state government increases UC’s budget by amounts to be named later.

The Regents are trying to preempt what was supposed to be a four-year tuition freeze (spanning 2012/13 through 2015/16). They are threatening to end what has been a brief span without tuition increases and to again make annual tuition hikes the new normal.

The Regents’ strategy is fairly evident. In announcing the new tuition policy only two weeks before their meeting, they are hoping to establish the policy before mass student and worker opposition can materialize. And in making the decision to hike tuition contingent upon state inaction, they are trying to redirect students’ focus to Sacramento, and to create some ambiguity about when a tuition hike ultimately would happen, so as to prevent students from establishing a clear calendar of protest.

More broadly, the Regents are trying to set themselves up for a win-win situation. Either students, workers, and our allies, through our collective actions and power, will be able to compel the state to increase UC’s budget and to stave off hikes; or we won’t, and the Regents will get their money anyway in the form of higher undergrad tuitions.

The Sanctity of the Classroom

Harvard Magazine:

During the question period, Harry R. Lewis, Gordon McKay professor of computer science (he is also director of undergraduate studies in computer science, and a former dean of Harvard College), rose and made the following statement:

Madam President, I learned recently from two of my faculty colleagues that students in their courses had been surreptitiously photographed throughout the past spring term using cameras trained on the seats in the lecture hall. This was done under the cloak of research on class attendance. A senior university official called in these professors and explained that by means of this electronic monitoring, images of all the students in attendance had been captured at each class. These faculty colleagues, neither of them tenured, first learned that their classes had been under surveillance when this senior central administration official called them in without informing the computer science area dean, and asked them to comment on the attendance data. And contrary to a basic principle of research involving human subjects, the students who were subjects of this study still, I believe, have not been informed that their images were captured and analyzed.

This study raises many important and troubling questions. Questions about the oversight relations between faculty, deans, and department heads in the FAS, and the plethora of provosts we now have. Questions about who controls the classrooms in which we teach—this study seems to me at odds with a vote of this Faculty that describes the classroom as “a special forum” where the teacher determines the agenda. But I will focus on just the most obvious and urgent action item.

This university took great efforts under your leadership and Professor Barron’s to get a grip on issues of electronic privacy. Yet some basic principles seem not to have sunk in everywhere. Just because technology can be used to answer a question doesn’t mean that it should be. And if you watch people electronically and don’t tell them ahead of time, you should tell them afterwards.

2005 UNC basketball champs: 2 semesters, 35 bogus ‘paper’ classes

Dan Kane:

During the season that the UNC men’s basketball team made its run to the 2005 NCAA championship, its players accounted for 35 enrollments in classes that didn’t meet and yielded easy, high grades awarded by the architect of the university’s academic scandal.

The classes, some advertised as lectures but that never met and others listed as independent studies, were supervised by Deborah Crowder, a manager in African and Afro-American studies whoa report from former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein says graded required end-of-semester work leniently as part of a “paper class” scheme to keep athletes eligible. Crowder was not a professor and admitted to investigators that she assigned grades without reading the papers.

Of the 35 bogus class enrollments, nine came during the fall semester of 2004, when eligibility for the spring was determined. Twenty-six were during the spring semester, when the season climaxed with a victory over Illinois in St. Louis.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/11/08/4305374_2005-unc-basketball-champs-2-semesters.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

The Rise of Extreme Daycare

Alissa Quart:

In the garden of Dee’s Tots Childcare, amid the sunflowers, cornstalks, and plastic cars, a three-year-old girl with beads in her braids and a two-year-old blond boy are shimmying. These are Deloris Hogan’s 6:45 p.m. pick-ups. Nearby, also dancing, are four kids who won’t be picked up until late at night, as well as two “overnight babies,” as Deloris calls them. Dee’s Tots stays open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; the children’s parents work unconventional hours, producing an unexpected cycle of drop-offs and reunions. One afternoon in August, the kids bounce on the center’s inflatable castles, rustle around at the sand tables, and eat a watermelon snack. Then it gets dark.

Well-paid professionals who work evenings may be able to afford one or two nannies, or they may have partners who stay at home. But parents like the ones who rely on Dee’s can’t afford such luxuries.

Wisconsin superintendent seeks an Increase in Redistributed State Tax Dollars to $12,800,000,000

Erin Richards & Kelly Meyerhoffer:

State Superintendent Tony Evers wants to boost funding for Wisconsin’s K-12 schools by $613 million in the next biennial budget, combined with increases to the amount of money schools can raise in local taxes, and a new way of funding the Milwaukee voucher program.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s 2015-’17 budget request released Monday kicks off the conversation about the future of public school funding, ahead of Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature putting together the biennial state budget in early 2015.

But the newly elected Legislature is even more conservative than the previous two Legislatures — neither of which warmed to Evers’ similar “Fair Funding for our Future” budget proposals in 2010 and 2012.

“This is our third kick at the cat to get Fair Funding passed,” said DPI spokesman John Johnson.

The proposal calls for a 2.5% increase in state aid in the first year of the budget, which Johnson said would put the state back on track from the education cuts in the last four years. The 2016-’17 school year would see an even larger increase, 4.9%, in state aid. In total, that accounts for a $453 million increase in general school aid, according to the DPI.

The plan also calls for a $160 million increase in separate aid for specific uses, known as categorical aid.

More significant for school districts is Evers’ aim to increase the revenue limit — or the amount districts can raise in state aid and local property taxes — by $200 per pupil in 2015-’16 and $204 per pupil in 2016-’17.

Current state law calls for no increase to the revenue limit in 2015-’16 and thereafter, according to the DPI.

The DPI wants to tie the revenue limit increase each year to the rate of inflation.

Props to Molly Beck for including total spending. Ideally, the article would incorporate performance information…

Wisconsin’s K-12 taxes & spending have increased substantially over the years. Outcomes

I taught my black kids that their elite upbringing would protect them from discrimination. I was wrong

Lawrence Otis Graham:

I knew the day would come, but I didn’t know how it would happen, where I would be, or how I would respond. It is the moment that every black parent fears: the day their child is called a nigger.

My wife and I, both African Americans, constitute one of those Type A couples with Ivy League undergraduate and graduate degrees who, for many years, believed that if we worked hard and maintained great jobs, we could insulate our children from the blatant manifestations of bigotry that we experienced as children in the 1960s and ’70s.

We divided our lives between a house in a liberal New York suburb and an apartment on Park Avenue, sent our three kids to a diverse New York City private school, and outfitted them with the accoutrements of success: preppy clothes, perfect diction and that air of quiet graciousness. We convinced ourselves that the economic privilege we bestowed on them could buffer these adolescents against what so many black and Latino children face while living in mostly white settings: being profiled by neighbors, followed in stores and stopped by police simply because their race makes them suspect.

But it happened nevertheless in July, when I was 100 miles away.

Related: The Poverty & Education Forum.

Dormant for now, expect Common Core to flare in next Scott Walker term

Alan Borsuk:

January approaches and so, presumably, does the first hot round of education action of the second term of Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

There will be many other rounds, especially by the time the state budget is completed in June. In solidly re-electing Walker on Tuesday, Wisconsin voters made clear which side is going to prevail on some big questions about the future of kindergarten through 12th grade education.

But start with January, when the new Legislature convenes with solid Republican majorities in both the Assembly and Senate.

On July 17, Walker issued a remarkable, one-sentence statement:

“Today, I call on the members of the state Legislature to pass a bill in early January to repeal Common Core and replace it with standards set by people in Wisconsin.”

Pretty much nationwide, the Common Core went quiet as an issue during the several months leading up to the election.

At the time of Walker’s statement, several states had acted to drop out of the nationwide effort to have consistent goals for what students should learn in reading, language arts and math at each grade level.

The objecting states set standards of their own, and the Common Core had become a hot-button issue for opposing President Barack Obama and liberal educators, even if sometimes facts got in the way. Oh, well.

MTI’s Michele Ritt Honored

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF):

AFL-CIO Wisconsin President Phil Neuenfeldt presented MTI activist Michele Ritt with the State Union’s Public Sector Organizer of the Year Award, at last Tuesday’s MTI Faculty Representative Council meeting. Neuenfeldt commented that in spite of Governor Walker’s pledge to “divide and conquer” public sector Unions, that he sees the opposite as he travels Wisconsin. He said, “Solidarity among working people is really strong – and that it is because of activists like Michele Ritt, and Unions like MTI.” Neuenfeldt said success is built on one-to-one organizing and that MTI is in the forefront of that.

Michele enthusiastically recruited numerous new MTI members last school year and began recruiting during the summer at the school to which she transferred last school year. Last spring, Michele was elected to the Dane County Board. She also chairs MTI’s Special Education Sub- Committee.

Don’t fight school choice in Camden

Arthur Barclay:

Why does a Rutgers University professor from one of the most affluent towns in New Jersey want to take away great schools from Camden families?
Everywhere I turn, Julia Sass Rubin seems to be talking for Camden’s poor. Just last week she told one of the state’s largest newspapers: “People in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. It’s just not going to be high on their list.”

Excuse me? That deeply offensive comment toward low-income families in Camden shows not only her complete disregard of our families, but a dangerous misunderstanding about what our families want.

Meanwhile, Madison continues with its monolithic, one size fits all K-12 governance model.

Minneapolis offers students a wide variety of choices.

Anti-charter backlash grows

Laura Waters:

Everywhere I turn, Julia Sass Rubin seems to be talking for Camden’s poor. Just last week she told one of the state’s largest newspapers: “People in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. It’s just not going to be high on their list.”

Excuse me? That deeply offensive comment toward low-income families in Camden shows not only her complete disregard of our families, but a dangerous misunderstanding about what our families want.

Absurd. Yet we have similar “we know best sentiments in Madison“. This despite long term disastrous reading results.

Why parents prefer charters.

Deep Learning


Added 152 new Deep Learning papers to the Deeplearning.University Bibliography, if you want to see them separate from the previous papers in the bibliography the new ones are listed below. There are many very interesting papers, e.g. in the medicine (e.g. deep learning for cancer-related analysis such as mammogram and pancreas cancer, and heart diseases), in addition to the social network category as shown here:

UNC students blame capitalism, white supremacy for academic scandal

Kate Griese:

UNC students blamed racism and heteropatriarchal capitalism for the recent UNC academic scandal during a rally Wednesday afternoon.
A report released last week found that special classes were created for student athletes in order for them to remain grade-eligible to participate in games.

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill blamed racism and heteropatriarchal capitalism for the recent academic scandal that has plagued the university.

Gathering Wednesday afternoon, members of the Real Silent Sam coalition gathered to share their response to the recently released “Investigation of Irregular Classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” which found that certain classes in the former African and Afro-American Department were created simply to keep athletes grade-eligible.

“I think that, intentional or not, words have a lot of power and the language and proceedings of this investigation have shown that we don’t value athletes and we don’t value black studies.”

Commentary and Results of the Madison School District’s Maintenance Referendum Survey (3% Response)

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

MMSD received a total of 3,081 responses to the online survey. However, only Question #1 received the maximum number of responses; Questions #2-13 averaged around 2,200 respondents. Normally, a response rate is calculated by dividing the number of responses by the number of invitations to complete the survey. However, it is difficult to estimate an exact response rate to this survey, given that there was not a set number of invitations. The denominator, or number of possible respondents, could be calculated in a variety of ways, and that the survey allowed for an individual or family to take the survey multiple times. However, we have provided a couple possibilities for calculating a response rate, which should be considered very coarse estimates:

Per Housing Unit in MMSD Boundaries – According to ACS data, MMSD has about 100,000 occupied housing units, so about 3% of households within MMSD boundaries responded to any portion of the survey.

Per Households of MMSD Students – About 1,600 respondents reported having children in MMSD, and MMSD’s students as of October 2014 live in about 17,000 different households, so about 9% of households with MMSD students responded.

These response rates are high enough to be relatively certain about the survey results; the 2,200 responses to most questions out of 100,000 households would lead to a margin of error of about 2% with 95% confidence, and the margin of error relative to MMSD households would be similar.

Madison’s 2014/2015 budget includes a 4.2% property tax increase while spending between $15,000 and 16,000 per student – double the national average.


Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.

Substantial questions have been raised about the District’s last maintenance referendum. Unfortunately, we’ve not seen any additional information.

K-12 taxes and spending have increased substantially over the years, with little change in academic outcome.

Are the Kids Really All Right?

Sandra Knisely:

As the cost of higher education increases, campus experts debate how to protect students from making disastrous choices — and explore whose responsibility it is to do so.

“This is insane.”

That’s what Susan Fischer ’73, ’79 told an out-of-state father when he called the UW–Madison Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss taking out a loan package totaling almost $160,000.

The response? “He said, ‘I appreciate your opinion, but our children want to go [to the UW], and we’re going to let them,’ ” says the office’s longtime director.

For the UW experts who study or work closely with student borrowers, discussions about debt usually lead to discussions with and about parents. After all, the current federal financial aid system is built on the assumption that parents will provide their college-aged children with at least some measure of financial support until age twenty-four. Yet for students who come from families less adept at financial decision-making, the existing student-loan structure can put them at a disadvantage.

A growing number of UW researchers are focused on developing a better understanding of the impact of indebtedness, both on the well-being of individual students and on the system of higher education as a whole. For example, School of Human Ecology Dean Soyeon Shim is overseeing the first longitudinal study of its kind to track the effect of financial literacy and indebtedness on young-adult well-being. And Nicholas Hillman, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy analysis, is developing ethical frameworks for college financial-aid strategies and policy recommendations related to student loans.

The Price is Right

Jenny Price

Who decides how much college tuition will be each year? Why does it keep going up (and up)? Is it worth the price? Studies — and graduates — say yes.

Once upon a time, students could make enough money to cover the entire cost of going to college by working during their summer and winter breaks.

These days, that sounds like a fairy tale.

Consider this recent headline from the Onion, which didn’t quite feel like satire: “New Parents Wisely Start College Fund That Will Pay for 12 Weeks of Education.”

The price tag for attending college has increased dramatically over the last two decades, with tuition more than tripling at public universities between 1988 and 2008, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That trend includes the UW, where tuition went up 140.6 percent between the 2002–03 and 2012–13 academic years.

About one-fourth of that increase was directly due to the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates (MIU), a program students approved to address access to classes, improve advising, and offer more financial aid.

The intense focus over ever-increasing tuition bills even prompted New York Senator Charles Schumer to suggest penalizing schools that don’t keep tuition costs within the rate of inflation. Yet frustrated students and parents continue to find ways to pay because they believe that a four-year degree is worth the expense — and there is plenty of evidence that they are right.

How the “performance revolution” came to athletics—and beyond.

James Suroweicki:

The arms race centers on an obsessive scrutiny of every aspect of training and performance. Trainers today emphasize sports-specific training over generalized conditioning: if you’re a baseball player, you work on rotational power; if you’re a sprinter, on straight-line explosive power. All sorts of tools have been developed to improve vision, reaction time, and the like. The Dynavision D2 machine is a large board filled with flashing lights, which ballplayers have to slap while reading letters and math equations that the board displays. Football players use Nike’s Vapor Strobe goggles, which periodically cloud for tenth-of-a-second intervals, in order to train their eyes to focus even in the middle of chaos.

Training is also increasingly personalized. Players are working not just with their own individual conditioning coaches but also with their own individual skills coaches. In non-team sports, such as tennis and golf, coaches were rare until the seventies. Today, tennis players such as Novak Djokovic have not just a single coach but an entire entourage. In team sports, meanwhile, there’s been a proliferation of gurus. George Whitfield has built a career as a “quarterback whisperer,” turning college quarterbacks into N.F.L.-ready prospects. Ron Wolforth, a pitching coach, is known for resurrecting pitchers’ careers—he recently transformed the Oakland A’s Scott Kazmir from a has-been into an All-Star by revamping his mechanics and motion.

Then there’s the increasing use of biometric sensors, equipped with heart-rate monitors, G.P.S., and gyroscopes, to measure not just performance (how fast a player is accelerating or cutting) but also fatigue levels. And since many studies show that getting more sleep leads to better performance, teams are now worrying about that, too. The N.B.A.’s Dallas Mavericks have equipped players with Readiband monitors to measure how much, and how well, they’re sleeping.

Why Parents Prefer Charters

Marlene Gonzalez and Hector Nieves:

What wasn’t said in the Oct. 29th NJ.com story, “N.J. charter schools see smaller percentages of poor and special needs students than districts,” was the implication that charter schools are the creation of better-off, better-educated parents who want to make sure their children are spared the miserable education of the state’s failing urban schools.

But the author of the study, Rutgers professor Julia Sass Rubin, seemed to blame poor parents for not getting more of their children into urban charter schools, saying, “People in abject poverty don’t have the band-width to even evaluate charter schools.”

Speaking on behalf of more than 1,000 families who made the choice to send their children to the LEAP Academy charter school in Camden, we have had the bandwidth to evaluate the education available to children in traditional public schools in cities such as Camden, Trenton and Newark. In spite of the thousands of dollars that poured into these districts, even when they have been under state oversight, the results have been atrocious and simply unacceptable.

Commentary on standardized Tests

Grant Wiggins:

An old lament. Here’s what bugs me. Many of us made this argument 25 years ago. The limited value of secret one-shot standardized tests as feedback has been known for decades. They may be acceptable as low-stake audits; they are wretched as feedback mechanisms and as high-stakes audits. Why don’t audits work when they are high-stakes tests (unlike, say NAEP or PISA)? Because then everyone tries to “game” them through test prep. This inevitability was discussed by George Madaus and others 40 years ago.

Openness is everything in a democracy. Without such openness, what difference does it make if the PARCC or SB questions offer better tests – if we still do not know what the specific question by questions results are? There can be no value or confidence in an assessment system in which all the key information remains a secret. Indeed, in some states you can be fired for looking at the test as a teacher!

PARCC or no PARCC, educators and educational associations should demand that any high-stakes test be released after it is given, supported by the kind of item analysis noted above. We don’t need merely better test questions; we need better feedback from all tests. Fairness as well as educational improvement demand it. And PS: the same is true for district tests.

K-12 Grants & Outcome Responsibilty

Larry Cuban

When foundation grants fail to achieve the objectives officials sought, philanthropists turn their backs, shrug, and walk away. They have no responsibility to districts, individual schools, teachers, students and parents for hopes raised and dashed. Donors are beyond the reach of being fired or voted out of office. Yet as anyone knows from personal experience, admitting error is crucial to insights into a problem and, ultimately invention of better ways to solve it.

For those who support philanthropic giving, this unaccountability is an exercise of personal liberty in taking actions for the public good and is in the best tradition of a democracy. Moreover, some have argued: “[S]uch virtual immunity represents foundations’ greatest strength: the freedom to take chances, to think big, to innovate, to be, in the words of the late Paul Ylvisaker of the Ford Foundation, ‘society’s passing gear.’ “ [i]

Being society’s “passing gear,” however, assumes that funders and their retinue of experts know best how to identify educational problems, sort out symptoms from fundamental causes, and adopt solutions that solve the problem. When donors bet foolishly or are simply wrong and projects and programs fail who are these funders answerable to for their errors in judgment? No one, as far as I can see.

related: “the grants made us do it “. “Small learning communities“.

Risky bonds prove costly for Chicago Public Schools

Jason Grotto and Heather Gillers,:

Fresh from the world of high-stakes trading, David Vitale arrived at Chicago Public Schools a decade ago with a plan to transform the way it borrowed money.

With the district thirsty for cheap cash, plain old municipal bonds weren’t good enough anymore, and banks were standing by with attractive new options.

So Vitale, then the chief administrative officer at CPS, and other officials pushed forward with an extraordinary gamble. From 2003 through 2007, the district issued $1 billion worth of auction-rate securities, nearly all of it paired with complex derivative contracts called interest-rate swaps, in a bid to lower borrowing costs.

The Places in America Where College Football Means the Most

Neal Irwin & Kevin Quely:

It is hard to explain to someone who grew up in a big city in the Northeast just how big a deal college football is in the Southeast.

College sports, and particularly football, occupy a role at the center of daily life in the South — like in South Carolina, where one of us grew up — that is hard to imagine for many people who grew up in New York or Boston.

Last month we published The Upshot’s map of college football fandom, showing where people root for what college teams. That map offers great detail about what teams college football fans root for in a given location, but nothing about how concentrated college football fans are in that place.

Here, we are looking at another question: not which teams fans root for, but the proportion of the population in various places who are fans of any college football team. We asked Facebook to compile that information, and the results offer a portrait of America’s college-football obsession — or lack thereof. To be more specific:

Law Schools & Legal 1%

Jeffrey Toobin:

After every recession since the Second World War, the legal profession swiftly and robustly recovered. Not this time. The market for lawyers shrank following the post-2008 recession, and no one thinks that it’s coming all the way back. What’s happened in the legal world represents a twist on developments in the larger economy. In law, as in the nation, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. With lawyers, though, it’s the system of professional education that’s directly contributing to inequality.

In the legal world, the haves are doing better than fine. In 1985, average profits per partner in The American Lawyer’s list of leading law firms was $309,000 ($623,000 in current dollars); today, the profits per partner for roughly the same group is about $1.5 million. These numbers hide an even greater disparity. Those at the very top of the pyramid—firms such as Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; and a handful of others—are thriving as never before, with annual profits per partner in the multimillions.

On Student Loan Debt

Michael Haltman:

The cartoon below provides a tongue-in-cheek alternative payback method for unemployed or under-employed recent college graduates!

Currently the recent college graduate unemployment rate in the nation is running in the range of 8.5% compared to the overall national average under 6% (new employment data will be released tomorrow).

This statistic, when coupled with an average individual student loan debt burden of more than $29,000 and outstanding aggregate student loan debt nationally above $1 trillion, poses a problem.

In addition there are few parents of college-age students who haven’t heard the stories of college graduates unable to find full-time work in their chosen field instead taking part-time jobs or unpaid internships simply to build their resume.

Using photos with English language learners

Larry Ferlazzo:

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
— Unknown

Though the origin of this popular adage is unclear, one thing is clear: using photos with English-Language Learners (ELLs) can be enormously effective in helping them learn far more than a thousand words — and how to use them.

Usable images for lessons can be found online or teachers and students can take and use their own.

The activities presented below connect to multiple Common Core Standards including the following ELA Standards:

On B-School Test, Americans Fail to Measure Up; “Improve K-12 Math”

Lindsay Gellman:

New waves of Indians and Chinese are taking America’s business-school entrance exam, and that’s causing a big problem for America’s prospective M.B.A.s.

Why? The foreign students are much better at the test.

Asia-Pacific students have shown a mastery of the quantitative portion of the four-part Graduate Management Admission Test. That has skewed mean test scores upward, and vexed U.S. students, whose results are looking increasingly poor in comparison. In response, admissions officers at U.S. schools are seeking new ways of measurement, to make U.S. students look better.

Domestic candidates are “banging their heads against the wall,” said Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mbaMission, a New York-based M.B.A. admissions-consulting company. While U.S. scores have remained consistent over the past several years, the falling percentiles are “causing a ton of student anxiety,” he said.

we continue to play in the “C” (D?) leagues.

Madison’s disastrous reading scores.

Math forum audio and video. Math task force.

Madison School Board Accountabilty Commentary.

New on Campus: The 3-Year Degree

Melissa Korn:

To combat rising college costs and student debt, more schools are offering a time- and money-saving idea: a three-year bachelor’s degree.

Schools including Purdue University, the University of Iowa and the University of South Carolina are betting that students will want to finish college sooner by spending a year less on campus. Whether there will be many takers, however, remains unclear.

Many early experiments with accelerated degrees have fallen flat. While cost is a crucial consideration for most families, and the vast majority need to borrow money, many students are eager to enjoy every bit of traditional college life, including social activities, athletics and summers off. The accelerated programs require students to give up some of these perks.

“Parents are really interested in saving time and money, [but] the students are really interested in the four years of a college experience,” said Jenna Templeton, vice president of academic affairs at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

“major issue of these schools is the high concentration of low-quality teachers who tested poorly when receiving their teacher licenses.”

Education News 3:

The report suggests that these schools make a concerted effort to hire both veteran teachers and new teachers, with more incentives such as merit pay being offered to high performing teachers. The Legislature suggests allowing schools to use $5,000-$15,000 each year for this purpose.

“Those teachers that are the best prepared to teach these children should be able to get greater income and be rewarded for the wonderful job that they’re doing,” said Senator Sue Wilson Beffort.

However, not everyone agrees with the report. The Albuquerque Teachers Federation claim the report is merely pushing solutions based on half of the story.

“They don’t have an evaluation system that can truly identify effective teachers because they’re just relying on test scores I think it’s a wrong-headed reform scheme that has been disproven in many, many states,” said Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.
In order to create a successful school, low-income school leaders must use financial resources wisely to give the most support to the areas that need them, coordinate services, help teachers, keep track of student progress, and also maintain a good relationship that keeps parents and the community involved.
– See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/new-mexico-report-weak-teachers-not-just-poverty-hurt-learning/#sthash.ireU175S.dpuf

In California education debate, the tide is turning

UT San Diego:

The easy re-election win of state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Tuesday was a big disappointment to education reformers. They believed Marshall Tuck — a polished, well-funded Democrat with a strong record as an education executive in Los Angeles — was the perfect candidate to unseat Torlakson, a Bay Area Democrat who has acted more like an appendage of the state teachers unions than a nonpartisan officeholder devoted to improving schools.

But in the big picture, we think Tuck’s candidacy will be remembered as one of the turning points in a period in which the school reform debate at long last took center stage in California. The education establishment is like a supertanker that requires the application of vast energy to make it to change course. There are subtle but unmistakable signs this course change has begun.

UW Madison to assist liberal arts majors in job search

Dean Simmons:

Call it the cranky parent appeasement program, designed to arm UW-Madison students majoring in art history or Polish or zoology with answers to a common question: How will you get a job in that?

John Karl Scholz, dean of the College of Letters and Science, is launching a large new program to improve career planning and job outcomes for students in his college, by far the largest at the university with more than 16,000 undergraduates in 39 departments.

The effort comes amid some questions nationally about the value of a college degree, especially in liberal arts majors that don’t lend themselves directly to a career path but cost the same — and result in the same debt loads — as more job-ready majors such as accounting or nursing.

Scholz pointed to evidence that majoring in what makes the heart sing does lead to jobs that make the wallet smile.

“Trying to spark their imagination about what they can do with different majors strikes me as really important,” said Scholz, in his second year as dean.

Harvard secretly photographed students to study attendance

Matt Rocheleau:

Harvard University has revealed that it secretly photographed some 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study of classroom attendance, an admission that prompted criticism from faculty and students who said the research was an invasion of privacy.

The clandestine experiment, disclosed publicly for the first time at a faculty meeting Tuesday night, came to light about a year-and-a-half after revelations that administrators had secretly searched thousands of Harvard e-mail accounts. That led the university to implement new privacy policies on electronic communication this spring, but another round of controversy followed the latest disclosure.

“You should do studies only with the consent of the people being studied,” Harvard computer science professor Harry Lewis said in an interview Wednesday.

Lewis said he learned about the study from two nontenured colleagues and asked administrators about it during the packed faculty meeting.

Midterm Election Survey

Whiteboard Advisors:

54% of Insiders say the Republican win in the Senate will make post-secondary education a higher priority.

Exactly half of Insiders think Senate newcomers are unlikely to impact education policy or it’s too soon to tell. Echoing October’s report, Insiders said Lamar Alexander will “lead the charge.”

Education Insiders express slight optimism that both K12 and higher education policies will become higher priorities with Republican control of the Senate, though agreement between the President and Congress is unlikely. Insiders see attention gainful employment regulations as a possible area of focus.

Insiders repeatedly cite Senator Lamar Alexander, the presumptive chair of the HELP committee, as the key driving force behind both K12 and higher education legislation in the Senate. With the political winds in his favor, Alexander may have the support he needs to gain traction on key education policies. But Insiders do not see the newly elected senators as having a great impact on education policy.

Madison Superintendent’s Perspective

Jennifer Cheatham:

Our strategy is no longer a laundry list of ever-changing “initiatives,” but instead a set of inter-related, long-term work aimed at eliminating the gaps in opportunity that lead to disparities in achievement.

It is directly focused on the day-to-day work of great teaching and learning. Put differently, our strategy directly impacts the daily work of teachers in a way that other efforts that have focused on the classroom periphery have not.

To be successful, this strategy requires us to continually monitor our progress, respond to issues as they arise, and manage the natural stages and pace of change.

As a district, we conduct a deep review of progress once a quarter — that first review is scheduled for this month. This process provides a space for us — school based leadership teams, central office, and board — to examine both implementation and outcomes, process concerns and questions from our staff, families and community, and to make adjustments, even major shifts in direction, if necessary.

If we use this process the way it was designed, we’ll continually identify strengths and challenges, understand root causes, collaboratively problem solve and chart our course forward.

Related: Madison’s disastrous reading results.

Jennifer Cheatham.

“Plenty of Resources”.

Seeing Red: Stanford v. Harvard

Meg Bernhard:

STANFORD, Calif.—Stanford buzzes. Walk across any of the 8,000-plus acres of earthy-red tiles and dusty, rolling hills of the university’s grounds and you’ll find yourself dodging hundreds of bicycles, whose moving gears and wheels make the campus hum.

More than 13,000 bikes belonging to students and faculty traverse campus daily, according to the school’s website, and it’s no wonder why. Stanford University, a massive tract of land that occupies what was once Leland Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm, is its own city, so large it requires an individual zip code.

In a way, the constant motion of Stanford’s bikers is indicative of the university’s dynamism. Even the university’s motto, “Die Luft der Freiheit weht”—or, “The Winds of Freedom Blow”—nods at Stanford’s focus on the cutting-edge of research and education in the 21st century.

Thousands of bikes decorate the Stanford campus.

Fired school leaders get big payouts

Melanie Gutierrez:

A former Union City superintendent took home more than $600,000 last year, making her the top earner on a new online database tracking salary and benefit information for California public school employees.

Kari McVeigh, former superintendent of New Haven Unified School District in Union City, and two other superintendents from the Bay Area were among the highest-paid school employees in the state last year in large part because they were fired and received six-figure severance payouts, according to a Chronicle analysis of pay data recently made public by the state Controller’s Office.

The data shows that both small and large public school districts awarded administrators six-figure salaries, sometimes with lifetime health benefits, low- or no-interest home loans and golden parachutes, even as California emerged from a financial crisis that forced huge cuts to social service programs for the poor and elderly.

Too Many Kids Quit Science Because They Don’t Think They’re Smart

Alexandra Osola:

For most students, science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) subjects are not intuitive or easy. Learning in general—and STEM in particular—requires repeated trial and error, and a student’s lack of confidence can sometimes stand in her own way. And although teachers and parents may think they are doing otherwise, these adults inadvertently help kids make up their minds early on that they’re not natural scientists or “math people,” which leads them to pursue other subjects instead.

So what’s the best way to help kids feel confident enough to stay the STEM course? To answer this question, I spoke with Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University in California. Over the past 20 years, Dweck has conducted dozens of studies about praise’s impact on students’ self-esteem and academic achievement. Here is a transcript of our conversation, which has been condensed and lightly edited.

Alexandra Ossola: What sparked your interest in this field?

The Changing Profile of Student Borrowers Biggest Increase in Borrowing Has Been Among More Affluent Students

Richard Fry:

Share of College Graduates From High-Income Families who Borrow Has DoubledIn 2012, a record share of the nation’s new college graduates (69%) had taken out student loans to finance their education, and the typical amount they had borrowed was more than twice that of college graduates 20 years ago. A new Pew Research Center analysis of recently released government data finds that the increase in the rate of borrowing over the past two decades has been much greater among graduates from more affluent families than among those from low-income families. Fully half of the 2012 graduates from high-income families borrowed money for college, double the share that borrowed in 1992-93.1

The rise in the rate of borrowing was also substantial among upper-middle-income graduates, with 62% of 2012 graduates from upper-middle-income households leaving college with debt, compared with 34% roughly 20 years ago.

Somewhat related: Wisconsin Governor Walker on the student loan crisis. Walker’s comments on the Doyle era mirror my limited experience.

The best thing parents can do for schools

Lisa Grey:

I’m the parent of a public school student myself. So I know how much parents want to help.

American parents are more involved in the schools than ever before — much more so than in other countries.

I followed three American kids who studied as foreign exchange students in Finland, South Korea and Poland. You didn’t see parents at those schools. They weren’t coaching soccer or accompanying classes on field trips. I didn’t see those kinds of extracurricular activities. Instead, the parents were involved at home, working directly with their child’s education.

Research shows that it’s much more impactful to prioritize learning at home over community-building activities.

There’s this amazing study: The more time that parents spent on extracurriculars in a country’s schools, the worse the kids did in reading. It’s shocking.

Five-year high schools challenge the K-12 model

Tim Nesbitt:

For years now, some school districts in Oregon have been allowing their high school seniors who are ready to graduate stay for another year, letting them take community college courses on the school district’s dime and bolstering their budgets with an extra year of state funding. Are these districts taking unfair advantage of the state’s school funding system? Maybe, but they are doing something that other districts should emulate for its purpose, creativity and results.

Critics contend that districts which offer extended high school programs have been helping themselves to a larger and unfair share of the state school fund, which provides funding for students until receipt of a diploma. (Restrictions kick in at ages 20 and 21.) Dallas High School enrolls 25 percent of last year’s senior class in its Extended Campus Program with Chemeketa Community College. Those students have earned the credits needed for a high school diploma. But, by postponing the award of their diplomas, the district can claim state funding averaging $6,500 for each of them – enough to pay for a full load of community college courses and provide support from the high school’s counselors as well.

Smaller districts like Lebanon and Redmond have copied the Dallas program. But, if any of Oregon’s large urban districts were to follow suit, they would spark a run on the K-12 bank. Suppose 25 percent of all high school seniors in Oregon were to opt into a program of this kind. The state would then have to come up with an extra $70 million a year or districts would have to redistribute that amount from their K-12 classrooms to support these additional students.

Rather than more years, the trend, imho, should be towards a shorter, more rigorous K-12 experience.

The Teachers Unions First Lost The Media; Have They Now Lost Everyone Else, Too?

Andrew J. Rotherham & Richard Whitmire:

This may mark one of the great missed opportunities in education. With a sympathetic president as a partner, national union leaders could have spent the last five years telling their members the truth: The nation’s classrooms are changing fast, now at 50 percent poor and minority students, and our schools are simply not good enough for too many students. So the entire education sector, including teachers, must change as well.

But they didn’t. Instead, union leaders spent the last five years telling their members that change was not necessary. You are blameless, they insisted in their fight against “reformers.” You’re being demonized. Poverty is to blame, not our schools.

Those demanding change, they insisted, are “corporate reformers” out to “privatize” your schools. What’s needed instead, they told their teachers, was a massive digging-in to block those very changes.

Stanford MBA’s shift away from tech

Poets & Quants:

Lured by some of the most exorbitant pay packages ever given to MBAs, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business made finance once again the industry of choice this year. Nearly three of every ten MBA graduates at Stanford, or 29% of the Class of 2014, accepted job offers in finance, up from 26% last year. So much for all those reports suggesting that finance is out of favor.

The increase, largely due to more acceptances in private equity, investment banking and investment management, came at the expense of the technology industry and consulting. Last year 32% of Stanford’s graduating MBAs rushed into tech. This year, the percentage fell to just 24%. Consulting fell to 16%, down three full percentage points from the 19% who chose to become consultants last year. For the consulting industry, it’s one of the lowest draws out of the Stanford pool ever. Only five years ago, in 2009, 32% of the class headed into the field.

Lies, Damned Lies, and College Admissions

Steve Cohen:

College-application season is shifting into high gear, and with it comes anxiety and abuses—on both sides of the admissions desk. Some wealthy parents will pay private counselors more than $40,000 for “tweaking” their kids’ essays, on the implicit promise that these consultants have connections inside admissions offices, where many once worked. For their part, admissions directors want more applications so that they can reject a higher percentage of qualified kids. By boosting their rejection rates, they improve their school’s position in most rankings. While the current admissions system works well for a small number of colleges and over-achieving kids, for everyone else, the process is broken. Colleges, government, and the media all share in the blame.

Recently, Inside Higher Education, with Gallup’s help, published its annual survey of college- admissions officers. The report was sobering: 93 percent of the college-admissions officers surveyed said they believed colleges lie about key data they report, such as average SAT scores of admitted students. Why? It makes their schools appear more selective, which attracts more applicants. Sixty-five percent of admissions officers said that their institution did not meet its enrollment goals last year.

FL families begin using new parental choice scholarship accounts

Redefined Ed:

One of the nation’s newest parental choice programs is shifting into higher gear.

PLSAFamilies of hundreds of Florida students with significant special needs, including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, have been given the green light to begin using Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts for the 2014-15 school year.

So far, parents of more than 1,200 students have been awarded PLSAs, which give them the resources and flexibility to access a range of educational services, including private schools, tutors, therapists, curriculum and materials. The Florida program is the second of its kind in the country, and some education policy experts see it and a similar program in Arizona as models for a new wave in parental choice.
– See more at: http://www.redefinedonline.org/2014/11/fl-families-begin-using-new-parental-choice-scholarship-accounts/#sthash.aUCDrsjl.dpuf

Philadelphia Schools: Another Year, Another Budget Crisis (spends $21,425/student)

Claudio Sanchez:

“Lets say you’re an employee making $70,000 a year.” says Stanski. “That’s about a $14,000 payment to your pension fund. It’s just not sustainable and yeah, it worries me tremendously.”

Philadelphia’s school superintendent, William Hite, says the math just doesn’t add up. The district, he says, has seen “years of reductions of revenue, years of spending beyond what the district was taking in — not just over the last two years but for the past decade.”

Marjorie Neff agrees. She’s a former principal and one of five members of the School Reform Commission that took over the district in 2001 to stabilize its finances. Instead, the commission has lurched from one budget shortfall to the next.

It has had to shut down 31 schools and lay off thousands of teachers, reading coaches, librarians, nurses and counselors in the last two years.

Related: Philadelphia spends $21,425 per student!

97 Percent of Md. Teachers Receive ‘Effective’ Grades


A report card released Tuesday for Maryland public school teachers reveals nearly three percent of those educators are rated ineffective, the Maryland State Department of Education says.

Evaluations completed for the 2013-14 school year show that 97 percent of teachers were rated either “highly effective” or “effective” in the state’s three-tiered rating system.

The majority of those teachers, about 56 percent, were rated effective, while 41 percent received the highly effective rating and almost three percent were found ineffective.

MSDE says schools in the highest quartile for poverty and minorities have more ineffective and fewer highly effective teachers than schools in the lowest quartile for poverty.

Why I Wasn’t Able to Talk to New York City’s Teachers

Joel Klein:

What makes for a great teacher? For generations, educators operated on the belief that great teaching was mostly an art, which the talented refine in the privacy of the classroom over many years of work. Think Sidney Poitier’s Mark Thackeray in To Sir with Love or Richard Dreyfuss as Glenn Holland in Mr. Holland’s Opus. The trouble with this romanticized idea is that it all depends on the individual. Yes, some educators grow and develop on their own initiative. But this model assumes that all teachers will naturally progress and negates the possibility that any educator can be coached or challenged to improve.

And because teaching happens behind closed doors, this conventional wisdom protects less-competent teachers from being assessed and, if necessary, removed. Truly awful teachers can effectively commit malpractice (like bad doctors) against thousands of unsuspecting students throughout a thirty-year career and still collect the same pay, benefits, and pensions as their most effective peers.

Minneapolis’ worst teachers are in the poorest schools, data show

Alejandra Matos:

Minneapolis officials say they’re taking action to balance needs with abilities.

New teacher evaluation data show that Minneapolis schools with the largest number of low-income students have the highest concentration of poor-performing instructors.

Students in the most affluent neighborhoods of the city are far more likely to have the best and most experienced teachers, according to school district records obtained by the Star Tribune.

The new information is emerging as Minneapolis schools are facing federal scrutiny for an achievement gap between white and minority students that is among the worst in the nation.

“It’s alarming that it took this to understand where teachers are,” Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said Friday. “We probably knew that, but now have the hard evidence. It made me think about how we need to change our staffing and retention.”

Once Sleepy Campaign Issue, Education Gains Clout

Philip Elliott:

Middle school art teacher Cynthia Bliss laced up her sneakers, grabbed a jacket and spent most of a recent Saturday asking strangers to help her oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker from office.

“We’re teachers in the area and this election is very important to us,” Bliss told one voter on the front steps of a house.

“You don’t even have to talk,” the older woman at the door replied. “We’re the choir you’re preaching to.”

Bliss, who teaches in Fort Atkinson, wrote down the answer and marched back to the sidewalk, where autumn leaves crunched underfoot. For her — and hundreds of other Wisconsin teachers — booting Walker from the Capitol has been a priority.

“If Scott Walker wins re-election, he will keep his current policies and put them on steroids,” Bliss said as she walked to the next house. “That’s not acceptable to me.”

Returns on College Endowments Average 15.8. Percent

Tamar Lewin:

The average return, after fees, on college and university endowments was 15.8 percent in the fiscal year that ended in June, up from 11.7 percent the previous year, according to the preliminary data collected for the annual Nacubo-Commonfund Study of Endowments, which will be released in January. The largest endowments — those over $1 billion — had the highest average return, 16.8 percent. The study, based on data from 426 colleges, found that colleges were allocating more than half their investments — and almost two-thirds of the largest endowments — to alternative strategies such as hedge funds and private equity.

State Education Rankings

Dr. Matthew Ladner & Dave Myslinski:

The 19th edition of the Report Card on American Education is a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels, focusing on performance and gains for low-income students, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Report Card details state-by-state grades in the following policy areas:

1. State Academic Standards

English and Language Arts

2. Private School Choice Programs

“A” Grade or Multiple programs
3. Charter Schools

Charter Schools Allowed
Charter School Law Grade
4. Teacher Quality

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers
Expanding the Teaching Pool
Identifying Effective Teachers
Retaining Effective Teachers
Exiting Ineffective Teachers
5. Online Learning

Multi-District, Full-time Online SchooDigital Learning Now! Metrics Achieved
6. Home School Regulation Burdens

‘We have to do better’ – Trenton school officials seek reversal of low test scores

Jenna Pizzi:

For students from third to eighth grades, achievement has remained stagnant over the last five years. Last school year, the district had 26.9 percent of third graders ranked as proficient or above in language arts. That proficiency stayed in the low 20 percent range for grades four through seven. In eighth grade, 42.2 percent were ranked as proficient or higher in language arts and literacy.

Math scores hovered between 44 and 32 percent proficient in the 2013-2014 school year for grades three through six. For grades seven and eight, scores sank to 20 and 25 percent, respectively.

In the HSPA test given to 11th graders, there was a 71 percent proficiency in language arts and a 39 percent proficiency in math. There has been an improvement in language arts in the last four years, said Edward Ward, supervisor of instructional technology and accountability.

Johnson said her team is crafting a response by gathering information from teachers in high achieving schools in the district about their best practices and proven methods while also examining what works throughout the state and country.

Via Laura Waters.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Walter Benjamin’s Radio Plays for Kids (1929-1932)

open culture:

Benjamin’s youth and adult programming has been collected by Verso press in a new book entitled Radio Benjamin, which “brings together some of his most accessible” thinking. “Fascinated by the impact of new technology on culture,” writes Verso, Benjamin “wrote and presented something in the region of eighty broadcasts using the new medium of radio.” Between 1929 and 1932, he delivered around 30 broadcasts he called “Enlightenment for Children” (Aufklärung für Kinder), many of which you can hear read in the original German by Harald Wiesner at Ubuweb (German speakers, listen to an episode above). These, Ubuweb informs us, focused on “introducing the youth to various, some of them classical, natural catastrophes, for instance the Lisbon earthquake of the 1750’s that so shook the optimism of Voltaire and the century.”

Another of Benjamin’s subjects was “various episodes of lawlessness, fraud and deceit, much of it recent.” During one such broadcast, “The Bootleggers,” Benjamin wonders aloud rhetorically, “should children even hear these kinds of stories? Stories of swindlers and miscreants who break the law trying to make a pile of dough, and often succeed?” He admits, “It’s a legitimate question.” He then goes on to elucidate “the laws and grand intentions that create the backdrop for the stories in which alcohol smugglers are heroes” and tells, in fascinating detail, a few “little tales” of said heroes.

Greek Letters at a Price

Risa Doherty:

Imagine finding a bill for $200 in your mailbox because your daughter was late to a couple of sorority events. Imagine, too, that those who snitched were her new best friends. This is one of the unwelcome surprises of sorority membership.

Depending on the generosity of the vice president of standards, a fine can be reversed with proof of a qualifying reason, such as a funeral, doctor’s appointment or medical emergency, so long as a doctor’s note is forthcoming. A paper due or a test the next day? No excuse. (Fraternities, by the way, rarely impose even nominal fines to enforce punctuality.)

Now imagine attending mandatory weekend retreats, throwing yourself into charitable work, making gifts for your sisters and, at tradition-thick schools like the University of Alabama and University of Missouri, investing 30 to 40 hours pomping — threading tissue paper through chicken wire to create elaborate homecoming decorations or parade floats that outdo rivals’.

Continue reading the main story

Go to Education Life »
During fall or winter rush, sororities court starry-eyed freshmen. They showcase their joyful conviviality with skits and serenades. They stress the benefits of joining, and brag about attracting the prettiest, smartest or most athletic. At many traditional sororities, however, not much energy is spent explaining what is expected, leaving many pledges unaware of the considerable time commitment and costs.


Some sororities will fine members for being late to events. It can be reversed, with a doctor’s note.

The Crusades in Arab School Textbooks

J. Determine:

This article examines the depiction of the Crusades in Arab school textbooks. In theintroductory first part, perceptions of the Crusades manifest in Arab historiography aredescribed. In addition, modern political discourses referring to the Crusades among Arabauthors, politicians and representatives of political Islam are explained. In the second part,accounts of the Crusades in school textbooks from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon,Palestine, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are analysed, focusing on the sources used by the books’authors, the terminologies, conceptions, reasoning, and narratives found in them, and the resultsof the Crusades as they are portrayed. The third part concludes by explaining three different approaches to how the textbooks relate the history, and shows the historical sensibilitiesconcerning the Crusades as taught by the schoolbooks

Despite angst over standardized testing, Wisconsin may be on right path

Alan Borsuk:

This may be the most politically incorrect thing I’ve ever said in this space: There are positive things to say about what’s going on in standardized testing in Wisconsin.

Everybody hates testing. Kids, teachers, politicians of all stripes. Even the biggest testing advocates in the country say there is too much testing. Testing is useless. It interferes with real education. There is a lot of reason to take the criticism seriously.

But I say: Maybe there’s hope, and maybe Wisconsin is on a new and good path.

First, an anecdote: About 15 years ago, I attended the annual gathering of testing chiefs from states across the country. I remember a panel discussion in which four experts described what was wrong with the way testing was being done.

The fifth person on the panel was the education adviser to the then-governor of Indiana. His message: That’s nice, but my boss and legislature want test scores.

Guess whose viewpoint prevailed. And things got only bigger, more pervasive and more controversial. In 2002, the No Child Left Behind federal education law went on the books, with its requirement that pretty much every public schoolchild in America be tested in reading and math every year from third through eighth grade and at one grade in high school.

Wisconsin’s WKCE has long been criticized for its lack of rigor and poor timing. Yet, it continued for years…

“Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.

Commentary on Monolithic K-12 a Governance

Larry Cuban:

I do not suggest that educational philanthropists have caused centralized policymaking or loss of faith in professional educators’ judgment since both had begun in the mid-1960s with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act underwriting federal and state actions and continued through the 1980s–A Nation at Risk called for states to act on their recommendations–and into the 1990s with the spread of mayoral control in big cities. And of course, No Child Left Behind (2002) has the U.S. Secretary of Education intervening into local schools as never before.

I do suggest, however, that “muscular philanthropy” has accelerated consolidation of authority at local, state, and federal levels with the consequence of even further shrinking citizen and school professional participation in governing schools.

Donors have also helped governors and state legislatures compete for federal funds offered through Race To The Top by bankrolling organizations helping officials negotiate federal eligibility rules to apply for funding. State legislation allowing more charter schools, evaluating teachers on the basis of student test scores, and adopting Common Core State Standards and tests strengthened state applications for federal funds. Few local school boards were involved or practitioner voices heard as these state laws imposed top-down requirements on every district and school.

Centralized governing of schools over the past decades has been done not only in the name of increased efficiency in operations and developing excellence in schooling but also in seeking egalitarian outcomes: leave no child behind, college for all, and equipping minority and poor students with essential skills to enter a 21st century workforce. This deep concern for those who have been educationally disadvantaged over decades is part of the belief system of foundation and corporate executives who push for centralized governance, curriculum and testing mandates, and accountability rules.

Via Noel Radomski.

The students from Hong Kong who daren’t voice open support for Occupy

The South China Morning Post:

For Leo, one of about 5,000 Hongkongers studying at Jinan University in Guangzhou, the democracy movement feels achingly distant but its effects ripple through his daily campus life, widening the gulf with mainland students.

Leo often travels home on weekends to visit his family and has seen the street skirmishes up close.

He strongly supports the protest but, back on campus on weekdays, he’s careful about how he shows his interest. He shares photos about the movement with mainland friends but they express little interest, he says.

Organising a social activity, even one as benign as a Christmas get-together, is frowned upon by the campus administration, so a gathering with a political bent is out of the question.

“Many of us [Hongkongers] support and understand the students who remain in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok,” said Leo, whose full name cannot be used due to fears of possible reprisals by the school. “So far, we haven’t felt a taboo on talking about it on campus. But the conversations are usually only among the Hong Kong students.”

Jinan has the most international student body of any mainland university. Nearly a third of its 35,320 students come from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or overseas countries.

Philadelphia schools crippled by budget “crisis” ($2,814,500,000 budget or $21,425/student!)

PBS Newshour:

JOHN TULENKO: Last month, about 1,000 ninth graders marched to the football field at Northeast High School for a very different kind of kickoff ceremony.

WOMAN: We are doing a mock graduation. It’s an opportunity for our incoming ninth grade class to make a commitment. We want to put the urge in them that they promise they are going to be right back here in June 2018.

JOHN TULENKO: But hanging over this ceremony and the odds students will graduate is a school budget crisis that’s been called the worst in the country. Northeast has 3,000 students and two principals, Sharon McColskey and Linda Carroll.

SHARON MCCOLSKEY, Northeast High: In past years, operating budgets were probably 10 times what ours is right now, if not more.

Just the thought of opening the schools with what we have in the bank, real or in our budget, was really scary.

Philadelphia’s 2014-2015 $2,814,500,000 budget for 131,362 (2013–14) students. That’s $21,425 per student!

Related: Philadelphia school reform commission cancels teacher union contracts.

UCLA faculty approves diversity class requirement

Larry Gordon:

The faculty of UCLA’s largest academic unit voted by a narrow margin to require future undergraduates to take a course on ethnic, cultural, religious or gender diversity. The move came after three previous efforts had failed.

Officials announced Friday that the faculty of the UCLA College of Letters and Science voted 332 to 303, with 24 blank ballots, to start the requirement for incoming freshmen in fall 2015 and new transfer students in 2017.

Paul Vallas Criticizes Rauner’s Position On Charter Schools, Education Issues

“Progress Illinois”:

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s running mate Paul Vallas, a former school executive, says he and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner have fundamentally different views on education reform.

Vallas is the former head of the Chicago Public Schools as well as the school districts in New Orleans and Philadelphia. He was most recently the schools chief in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

In the past as a school district leader, Vallas has promoted some controversial education reforms like charter school expansion, which Quinn opposes.

Both Rauner — a millionaire venture capitalist who has been a leader in the corporate education reform movement — and his running mate Wheaton councilwoman Evelyn Sanguinetti support charter school growth.

Much more on Paul Vallas, here.

2 firms that won LAUSD’s tech program most active in seeking meetings

Howard Blume:

More than a year before the Los Angeles Board of Education agreed to an iPads-for-all program, Apple and a leading curriculum company repeatedly sought meetings with school board members, newly released emails and records reviewed by The Times show.

The communications with the board and representatives from Apple and Pearson far exceeded those with other vendors vying for a share of the $1.3-billion initiative to provide a computer, loaded with curriculum, to every student, teacher and campus administrator.

The emails and documents do not indicate that board members violated laws or L.A. Unified’s ethics policy. But they show how the two companies tried to win lucrative contracts with the nation’s second-largest school system. Both companies offered to give school board members informational sessions about their products and to explain how they were currently being used within the district and elsewhere.

Is Sudden Decline Of For-Profit Colleges Good For Education?

James Marshall Crotty:

Though most for-profit college programs will remain open under the new Obama administration gainful employment regulations, the brand value of the for-profit college industry has been significantly hurt by intense scrutiny at all levels of government. Investigations by 37 state attorneys general, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the SEC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have heaped a world of financial pain – enrollment at for-profit colleges is down 9.7% this year – and negative publicity on the sector. While some for-profits will fight the administration’s new regulations in court — or hope that a newly Republican Congress will block spending for the mandates – many for-profits have already decided to opt out of the market altogether.

Last week, the Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporation (EDMC) decided to go private, in part to avoid quarterly scrutiny by investors of its sizable legal issues. Moreover, Grand Canyon University (GCU) – whose spirituality-inflected curriculum, sports teams (Go Antelopes), and profitability set it apart from other for-profits – is considering going nonprofit in part to avoid the “stigma” that is attached to the “for-profit college” label. Then there’s the case of Corinthian Colleges, which was forced to “teach out” or sell most of its North American locations.

K – 12 tax and spending climate: Child poverty in U.S. is at highest point in 20 years, report finds

Gale Holland:

Child poverty in America is at its highest point in 20 years, putting millions of children at increased risk of injuries, infant mortality, and premature death, according to a policy analysis published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

As the U.S. emerges from the worst recession since the Great Depression, 25% of children don’t have enough food to eat and 7 million kids still don’t have health insurance, the analysis says. Even worse: Five children die daily by firearms, and one dies every seven hours from abuse or neglect.

Missouri education department facilitators are paid $500 per meeting “plus necessary expenses”

Alex Stuckey:

Every couple of weeks since late September, educators, parents and business leaders have traveled to Jefferson City to participate in work groups tasked with developing standards to replace Common Core.

The meetings were scheduled by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in two-day clusters during the work week, forcing participants to miss work to attend. Participants aren’t paid. They’re not even reimbursed for their travel, food or lodging.

But the controversial department-appointed facilitators and note takers are: $500 per meeting plus “necessary expenses,” department spokeswoman Nancy Bowles said.

“That’s surprising, especially since they say they don’t have money to pay the (group) members’ … travel expenses,” Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon, said. “That does seem like a pretty good wage. The meetings are an all day affair but no more than a standard work day.”

Voter Turn-out Needed for MTI Recertification Elections

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF):

Getting Organized! MTI now has over two hundred (200) Member Organizers including teachers, educational assistants, clerical-technical employees, substitute teachers, security assistants, and retired MTI members who are committed to helping the next generation maintain their Union. Member Organizers are volunteers who have agreed to serve as point people in their building/work location to help build awareness and support for MTI’s recertification elections.

Get-out-the-vote! In political elections, voter turnout is critical. In Union recertification elections, it is even more critical. The experiences of other Wisconsin public sector Unions show that when employees vote, they overwhelmingly vote Union YES! Where recertification elections have lost, it is because less than 51% of the eligible voters cast a ballot. Unlike political elections, in recertification elections a non-vote counts as a “no vote”.

In MTI’s recertification election, ballots can be cast 24 hours per day, seven days per week, via phone or computer, beginning at Noon on November 5 and continuing through Noon on November 25. The process is quick and efficient and should take no more than a couple minutes. That said, others have reported difficulties where votes were not counted, when they failed to accurately complete each step in the balloting process. It is for that reason that MTI is providing all MTI-represented employees with detailed voting instructions on posters, flyers and palm cards.

The MTI Recertification Election palm cards provide MTI-represented staff the phone number, web address and voting instructions. On the reverse side of the palm card, voters are asked to complete their name, work location & bargaining unit and give the completed card totheirMTIFacultyRepresentativeorMemberOrganizer.

After doing so,one will receivean“IVoted”button. Someworklocations will hold raffles using the completed palm cards. By collecting completed palm cards, your Union organizing team will be able to try to assure that the 51% threshold is met, as mandated by Walker’s Act 10, during the 20-day election period. Additional information on MTI’s recertification elections is available at www.madisonteachers.org.

Power, Money, Schools, Influence & Elections: The $30,000,000 California Superintendent Race

Caroline Porter:

The campaign for California’s top education post, typically a low-wattage contest, has become this state’s hottest race because of a division among Democrats over tenure rules and other policies that diminish teachers’ union power.

One sign of the high attention: Nearly $30 million has been spent on campaigns for the post—of state superintendent of public education,—compared with $13 million on the contested race at the top of the ticket, for governor.

The amount of direct campaign contributions, donations to independent groups and advertisements is more than triple the amount spent in the last superintendent’s race, in 2010, according to Autumn Carter, executive director of California Common Sense, a nonpartisan think tank.

The two candidates for superintendent,–incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck, both Democrats,–are squaring off on hot-button issues in education, such as tenure laws, teacher evaluations and the role of testing in schools. Recent polls suggest voters are evenly split between the two men.

“The fact that the superintendent race is an almost $30 million race,…that’s a little mind-boggling,” said Ms. Carter.

Dive in:

Tom Torlakson: duckduckgo | Candidate Website.

Marshall Tuck: duckduckgo | Candidate Website.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: A few charts

Jason Karaian & Matt Phillips:

4. America’s escalating student debt…

The stock of outstanding student debt in the US has surged to more than $1.1 trillion. This isn’t all bad news—more people are in college, which is a good thing. But some economists suggest that the burden of student debt is reshaping the spending patterns of younger Americans, prompting them to put off buying houses, cars, and much else besides.

5. …And its outlandish university tuition costs

Everyone knows that higher education is a costly undertaking in the US. But until they see this chart, it’s hard to understand exactly how expensive it is. Since 1978 college tuition costs have surged more than 1,200%, compared with an increase of 280% for overall prices, as measured by the consumer price index. For the record, US colleges counter that this measure only captures the “sticker cost,” and actually overstates the amount most students really pay because of grants and other financial breaks.

New report by the Sutton Trust: What Makes Great Teaching

Daisy Christodoulou:

Today the Sutton Trust and the University of Durham have published a fascinating new report called What Makes Great Teaching? It sets out to answer that title question, as well as looking at ways we can measure great teaching, and how that could be used to promote better learning. Here is my short summary of some key points from the report.

1. What is effective teaching? This report is very honest about the fact that we don’t have as clear an idea of what good teaching is as we think we do. I think this is an important point to make. Too often, reports like this one start from the point of assuming that everyone knows what good teaching is, and that the challenge is finding the time/money/will/methodology to implement changes. This report is saying that actually, there are a lot of misconceptions about what good teaching is, and as such, reform efforts could end up doing more harm than good. We need to think more clearly and critically about what good teaching is – and this report does that. As well as listing what effective teaching practices are, it also lists what ineffective practices are. This list has already received some media attention (including a Guardian article with a bit from me), as it says that some popular practices such as learning styles and discovery learning are not backed up by evidence. The report draws its evidence from a wide range of sources, including knowledge from cognitive psychology. It cites Dan Willingham quite a lot, and quotes his wonderful line that memory is the residue of thought. As regular readers will know, I think cognitive psychology has a lot to offer education, so it is great to see it getting so much publicity in this report.

It’s All About Nuance. How to Convey and Discern Email Tone.

Karen Lachtanski:

Everyone has been there. You’re emailing back and forth with someone at work and then all of a sudden, a sentence gives you pause. You think, Wait a second. Is she mad at me?

You reread it. Five minutes go by and you still can’t tell if you somehow offended this person or are completely missing a joke. Eventually, you just craft a vague response and hope for the best.

Tone can be hard to discern and convey over email and any other digital communication. In fact, a 2005 study, amusingly titled “Egocentrism over e-mail,” found that people vastly overestimate how often the recipient of a message will correctly identify their intended tone, whether serious or sarcastic. Senders estimated nearly 80 percent accuracy. In reality, recipients sensed the right tone only 56 percent of the time.

Pushing back on reckless critique of charter schools

Crystal Williams:

Who is Julia Sass Rubin and what does she have against my kids?

Yesterday, the Rutgers University associate professor was quoted in The Star Ledger saying that “people in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. . . .It’s just not going to be high on their list.”

And about a month ago, in her quest to restrict the choice that parents like me have, she falsely suggested that the school my child attends in Newark loses more black boys to attrition than the district schools and that our school doesn’t serve “difficult” black boys.

Nothing could be further from my reality.