Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits a Potential White House Run

Bloomberg entering the race is a potential game-changer – and no President would be better for education reform – but I think odds are slim that he actually runs. It would require either Trump or Cruz getting the Rep nomination (~50% chance) and Sanders winning the Dem nomination (~30% chance according to the betting sites, but I think this is too high), so that math works out to, at best, a 15% chance.


But him even considering running pressures Hillary to stop her tack to the left, especially on ed reform, which is great:

Mr. Bloomberg has lamented what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s lurch to the left in her contest against Mr. Sanders, especially her criticism of charter schools and other education reforms that he pushed as mayor and has continued to support since leaving office.

Pushing Hillary back toward the center has the added benefit of increasing her chances of winning the general election.


At the end of the day, only one of our parties is batsh*t crazy enough to nominate a totally unelectable extremist like Trump, Cruz or Sanders, so if Hillary doesn’t get panicked by a few bad polls and sticks to the center, the Presidency is hers. (The betting sites have her ~50% likely to be the next President, down from 62% a few weeks ago; I’d put the odds at 65%.)


Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits a Potential White House Run

Michael R. Bloomberg at City Hall in New York in 2013 on the day before his last day as mayor. The state of play in this year’s presidential election has prompted Mr. Bloomberg to consider a third-party run for the White House. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has in the past contemplated running for the White House on a third-party ticket, but always concluded he could not win. A confluence of unlikely events in the 2016 election, however, has given new impetus to his presidential aspirations.

Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

He has retained a consultant to help him explore getting his name on those ballots, and his aides have done a detailed study of past third-party bids. Mr. Bloomberg commissioned a poll in December to see how he might fare against Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton, and he intends to conduct another round of polling after the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9 to gauge whether there is indeed an opening for him, according to two people familiar with his intentions.

His aides have sketched out a version of a campaign plan that would have the former mayor, a low-key and cerebral personality, give a series of detailed policy speeches, backed by an intense television advertising campaign that would introduce him to voters around the country as a technocratic problem-solver and self-made businessman who understands the economy and who built a bipartisan administration in New York.

Mr. Bloomberg would face daunting and perhaps insurmountable obstacles in a presidential campaign: No independent candidate has ever been elected to the White House, and Mr. Bloomberg’s close Wall Street ties and liberal social views, including his strong support for abortion rights and gun control, could repel voters on the left and right.

But his possible candidacy also underscores the volatility of a presidential race that could be thrown into further turmoil by a wild-card candidate like Mr. Bloomberg.

If Republicans were to nominate Mr. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a hard-line conservative, and Democrats chose Mr. Sanders, Mr. Bloomberg — who changed his party affiliation to independent in 2007 — has told allies he would be likely to run.

Edward G. Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and a past Democratic National Committee chairman, said he believed Mr. Bloomberg could compete in the race if activist candidates on the left and right prevailed in the party primaries.

“Mike Bloomberg for president rests on the not-impossible but somewhat unlikely circumstance of either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz versus Bernie Sanders,” said Mr. Rendell, a close ally of Mrs. Clinton’s who is also a friend of Mr. Bloomberg’s. “If Hillary wins the nomination, Hillary is mainstream enough that Mike would have no chance, and Mike’s not going to go on a suicide mission.”

In a three-way race featuring Mr. Sanders and Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Rendell said he might back the former New York mayor.

“As a lifelong Democrat, as a former party chairman, it would be very hard for me to do that,” he said. “But I would certainly take a look at it — absolutely.”

Mr. Bloomberg declined to comment on his interest in the 2016 race, and most of his associates would speak only on the condition that they not be named. Mr. Bloomberg is irked by the perception that he has toyed too often with running for national office, according to several associates, and is said to be wary of another public flirtation.

At the same time, these associates said, he has grown more frustrated with what he sees a race gone haywire. A longtime critic of partisan primary elections, Mr. Bloomberg has lamented what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s lurch to the left in her contest against Mr. Sanders, especially her criticism of charter schools and other education reforms that he pushed as mayor and has continued to support since leaving office.

At a dinner party late last fall at the home of Roger C. Altman, an investment banker and former deputy Treasury secretary, Mr. Bloomberg delivered a piquant assessment of Mrs. Clinton as a presidential candidate.

In the presence of Mr. Altman, a longtime supporter of Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, Mr. Bloomberg described her as a flawed politician, shadowed by questions about her honesty and the continuing investigation into her email practices as secretary of state, according to two people in attendance.

The outcome of that investigation, Mr. Bloomberg said, was anyone’s guess.

Setting a March deadline for making a decision allows Mr. Bloomberg to see how Mrs. Clinton and the more mainstream Republican candidates fare in the early primaries. And because of his vast wealth, there is no downside in laying the groundwork for a possible campaign, even if he ultimately decides against it.

Even a victory by Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primaries might not preclude a bid by Mr. Bloomberg, his associates said, if he believed she had been gravely weakened by the contest.

Mr. Bloomberg has maintained a constructive relationship with the Clintons over the years, working closely with Mrs. Clinton during her tenure in the Senate and at one point even suggesting that she run to succeed him as mayor.

One adviser said that Mr. Bloomberg’s preparations reflected the unsettled state of the race, and the perception that Mrs. Clinton was flagging against Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Bloomberg, this adviser said, believes voters want “a nonideological, bipartisan, results-oriented vision” that the early primary favorites have not presented.

“This isn’t about Hillary Clinton,” the adviser said in an email. “The fact is Hillary Clinton is behind in Iowa and New Hampshire. That should scare a lot of people — and it does.” (Public polls have shown Mr. Sanders leading in New Hampshire, a close race in Iowa and Mrs. Clinton with a solid lead nationally.)

Since the 2012 election, Mr. Bloomberg has repeatedly mused at private events about Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign as a cautionary tale for candidates from the business world. Mr. Romney assembled an impressive record as a private equity investor before serving as governor of Massachusetts; the Obama campaign branded him as a heartless corporate raider.

Social acquaintances and political and business leaders said they had been surprised to find their encouraging remarks about a possible 2016 campaign answered with intense seriousness by Mr. Bloomberg, who has stressed that he would run if he saw a path to victory.

Mr. Bloomberg’s brain trust has examined previous third-party efforts dating to Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, giving closest attention to the campaigns of John Anderson in 1980 and H. Ross Perot in 1992.

It is unclear whether Mr. Bloomberg would be more likely to draw support from a Democrat, like Mr. Sanders or Mrs. Clinton, or a conservative Republican.

While Mr. Bloomberg supports many of the Democratic Party’s social policies, he has been a fierce defender of the financial services industry, which is unpopular with many liberals, and enacted aggressive policing policies in New York City that are anathema to left-leaning voters.

And when he first ran for mayor in 2001, he did so as a Republican. But he has also poured energy and money into advocating policies that conservative Republicans detest, most notably gun control and immigration reform.

Mr. Bloomberg has seen the Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric on immigration as especially distasteful. But in an interview with ABC News that aired last weekend, Mr. Trump said he would welcome a presidential campaign by Mr. Bloomberg, whom he called “a friend” and “a great guy.”

Mr. Bloomberg, he predicted, would “take a lot of votes away from Hillary.”

Alan Patricof, a financier and longtime donor to the Clintons who is also friendly with Mr. Bloomberg, said it would be “a terrible thing” for the Democratic Party’s prospects of winning the White House if the former mayor ran as an independent.

“If it was President Trump or President Bloomberg, I’d certainly rather have President Bloomberg,” Mr. Patricof said. “But it certainly can’t help the Democrats.”

Some Republicans are less certain of the effect Mr. Bloomberg would have on the race. In swing states like Ohio and Virginia, suburban moderates who recoil from certain liberal policies might be more likely to support Mr. Bloomberg than a candidate like Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz.

Representative Daniel M. Donovan Jr., a New York Republican who is a friend and golfing partner of Mr. Bloomberg’s, said that many voters “who aren’t totally satisfied with any of the people who are running right now, would welcome a Mike Bloomberg candidacy.”

Mr. Donovan said he could consider supporting Mr. Bloomberg, depending on how the rest of the race develops.

“He governed more in pragmatic ways than in ideals,” Mr. Donovan said, adding, “That may be different from some of the folks, like Senator Cruz, who are apparently doing well among primary voters.”


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Monday, January 11, 2016

Principals’ Union Says Mayor de Blasio Has Lost Focus on Students

STOP THE PRESSES! This is a total disaster for de Blasio and Fariña – and, most importantly, for NYC schoolchildren (who account for 2% of all U.S. schoolchildren). Ernie Logan, the long-time head of the NYC principals' union, is a good man, highly respected, not known for throwing bombs, and no fan of Bloomberg and Klein, so for him (and his members) to say that they have "lost confidence in the de Blasio administration" and that "a majority of [principals] would say they probably had a better shot of being able to effectively do their job under the old administration" is incredibly stunning and damning:

Now, however, Mr. Logan says he — and by extension, the 6,000 members of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators — has lost confidence in the de Blasio administration. In a column to be published in the union's newsletter this month, Mr. Logan writes of the Education Department, "Sadly, in the timeworn tradition of the D.O.E., there are so many cooks running around in the kitchen, the chefs don't know what kind of dish they're concocting." So many different mandates have been thrown at these schools, he writes, that "all we have is a recipe for disaster."

…During the Bloomberg administration, Mr. Logan was a frequent critic of the Education Department, including of the policy of closing schools. In the interview this week, he said many of his members had initially been pleased by the appointment of Ms. Fariña, a former teacher and principal, who as chancellor spoke about respecting educators.

Nonetheless, he said, if he were to ask all of his members now, "I think a majority of them would say they probably had a better shot of being able to effectively do their job under the old administration."

Principals' Union Says Mayor de Blasio Has Lost Focus on Students

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At Supreme Court, Public Unions Face Possible Major Setback

I have very mixed feelings about this:

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Monday in a case that could deal a severe blow to organized labor.

The justices will consider whether government workers who choose not to join unions may nonetheless be required to help pay for collective bargaining. The California teachers who brought the suit say the requirement violates the First Amendment, as they say they are being forced to subsidize activities with which they disagree.

Should the teachers' argument prevail, public-sector unions across the nation, already under political pressure, could lose tens of millions of dollars and find their effectiveness diminished.

I'm no fan of the teachers unions (to say the least), but in general, I think the decline of unionization in this country has been a total disaster – a major contributor to wages that haven't kept up with productivity gains and corporate profitability, the hollowing out of the middle class, and the surge in income inequality. Most of the decline has taken place in the private sector, where the unionization rate has gone from more than 30% in the early 1970s to 6.6% today, whereas the public sector rate has remained fairly steady in the mid-30s (35.7% in 2014). Thus, an unfavorable ruling in this case would be a big blow to the last remaining bulwark of unionization in this country.

At Supreme Court, Public Unions Face Possible Major Setback

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Every Student Succeeds Act, the long-awaited successor to NCLB/ESEA

The biggest news in a long time is that both houses of Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, the long-awaited successor to NCLB/ESEA. While I have mixed feelings about it – as does everyone – I'm glad it passed, as I think (hope) that it'll be better than continuing the status quo.
a) Below is a NYT editorial about it:

When federal lawmakers took up a draft proposal earlier this year, they seemed poised to weaken the law by watering down its protections for impoverished children. Fortunately, the compromise version that passed the House last week and that deserves to pass the Senate as well preserves important parts of the original law while eliminating some significant flaws.

…The bill isn't perfect. But it is a considerable improvement over the original law and would continue pushing schools toward better performance.

Civil rights groups, which fought hard to keep some requirement that states intervene in the lowest-performing schools as well as schools that consistently failed to educate racial minorities or poor students, cautiously welcomed the bill.

But they expressed concerns that without sufficient federal intervention, numerous children would still be left behind.

"This certainly makes us nervous," said Liz King, director of education policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "The lesson of the civil rights movement and community is that the federal government is the defender of vulnerable children and we are worried that with new state and local authority, vulnerable children are going to be at risk."

But others said states and local communities were better able to meet the educational needs of students. "This now means that instead of directing your attention to Washington, you now need to direct your attention to Albany and Trenton and Columbus," said Andy Smarick, partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit education consulting and research group.

"Over the past 10, almost 15 years," he continued, "we've so focused on reading and math scores and this is the real opportunity to make sure we're capturing the things that are important, whether it's grit and persistence or school culture or parent engagement, and the only way to do that is to give power back to the states. You cannot centrally manage an innovative, creative accountability system from Washington D.C."

c) Here's DFER's Charles Barone in this Time article (
"It's middle ground," said Charles Barone, the director of policy at Democrats for Education Reform. "I don't think it's perfect policy by any stretch of the imagination, but it has some of what both sides wanted. The folks primarily concerned with rolling back the federal role in education were handed a big treat."
… "The silver lining here may be that, because states and districts have to come up with their own accountability and intervention plans, they'll have more ownership," Barone said. "Before they could say, 'The feds are requiring us to do this. We don't like it, but we have to do it.' Now they have to own their own plan."
d) Below is a memo from Barone with more details:
Dear Senior Leadership Team and State Directors  -
Wanted to let you know that the House of Representatives will bring the ESEA reauthorization - the Every Student Succeeds Act - conference report to the floor for a vote today, and we expect it to pass by a wide, bipartisan margin. The Senate will likely take up the conference report next week, where we expect it to pass also by a wide margin and after which President Obama will sign it into law.
This is not a perfect bill - no bill ever is - but because of the hard work of those with whom we've worked in coalition, as well as many of you, we beat the political odds in making significant improvements over the course of this year, especially in conference over the past few months. 
As such, it's a bill that: 
Big Picture. Contains key safeguards on assessment and accountability, including a focus on closing achievement gaps; 
Annual Testing. Maintains annual, statewide testing in grades 3-8 (which was in jeopardy early on in the process) and testing at least once in high school i.e., grades 9-12;
e) Below are two infographics that nicely summarize the bill and how it benefits high-quality charter schools.
f) Lastly, here's Andy Rotherham with his concerns:

That's why the champion of the bill in Congress, former Secretary of Education and current Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, is probably right when he says that the new law will unleash innovation in some states and school districts. At times federal rules and programmatic requirements do interfere with state and local innovation. But those rules and requirements also play a vital role in protecting groups of students who have traditionally been underserved by the public schools – in particular low-income students, minority students and those with special needs. It's not by accident that more attention was paid to the needs of these students during the No Child era than ever before.

Many conservatives have long argued that the costs of these federal rules outweigh their benefits, making this sort of quality unevenness at least preferable to the alternatives. That's a debatable premise in the face of both actual data and history, but not a crazy one if one assumes times have changed and this is an era of reform. And the teachers unions and the traditional education establishment are on board with all this. They see the accountability rules, which are hard on adults in the education system and embarrassing for the underperformance they lay bare, as loathsome. Localized decisionmaking is a boon for them because they hold more political sway in states and localities. That's the odd political marriage and the two bets that birthed this new law. 

For students in states with leaders who are deeply committed to equity and prepared to stand up to the myriad special interests in the education sector on behalf of students the new policy could be a win. There is plenty of room for innovation. But students in states without those elements or lacking alignment among key policymakers may be facing years of educational stagnation, or worse backsliding, at a time when they and the country can ill afford it. There is plenty of room for cosmetic rather than real fixes – traditionally the way things are done.

So for individual Americans, whether this law represents progress or not depends a lot on what side of our educational wall you happen to live on and where you go to school. That's exactly the kind of randomness and inequity the federal government has traditionally tried to hedge against in education policy. Now, creating the conditions for it is heralded as a bipartisan breakthrough. And although you'd be excused for thinking otherwise given the craziness of the education debate, it's not a fantasy show. For American students, especially the most disadvantaged among them, this is real life.

A New Education Law Is Coming

States now have free rein on accountability, and that'll be bad news for some students.

This might not end well.

By Andrew J. Rotherham Dec. 10, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. + More

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Most States Have Cut School Funding, and Some Continue Cutting

To Rotherham's concern, check out this report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: 

Most States Have Cut School Funding, and Some Continue Cutting

December 10, 2015

Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools than before the Great Recession.Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — than before the Great Recession, our survey of state budget documents over the last three months finds.  Worse, some states arestill cutting eight years after the recession took hold.  Our country's future depends crucially on the quality of its schools, yet rather than raising K-12 funding to support proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding access to high-quality early education, many states have headed in the opposite direction. These cuts weaken schools' capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs. 

Our survey, the most up-to-date data available on state and local funding for schools, indicates that, after adjusting for inflation:

·         At least 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2014 school year (that is, the school year ending in 2014) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold.  In at least 15 states, the cuts exceeded 10 percent.
·         In at least 18 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period.  In at least 27 states, local funding rose, but those increases rarely made up for cuts in state support.  Total local funding nationally ― for the states where comparable data exist ― declined between 2008 and 2014, adding to the damage from state funding cuts.

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Next Steps in Newark: Superintendent Chris Cerf Responds to Dale Russakoff’s ‘The Prize’

Chris Cerf, former NJ state ed commissioner and now superintendent in Newark, responds to The Prize:

The book was considerably more balanced than the book tour. As it got out there and in dozens of presentations on the radio and in bookstores around the country, it became a very reductionistic, simple story that was distorted in a number of important respects. Probably the biggest casualty was the failure to acknowledge the many successes that have occurred over the course of the last several years.


The Newark Public School graduation rate is 70 percent this last year. That is up from the high 50's four years ago. It has been up every single year for the last three years, and the 5-year graduation rate is now nearly 73 percent. That should be an above-the-fold, banner headline.


When you disaggregate the data and you really look at the numbers, you'll see that the percentage of African-American children who attend public schools in Newark that beat the state average has doubled, and that is combining traditional schools and charter schools, but you see a substantial increase in both.

A recent study put out by the Center on Reinventing Public Education out of the University of Washington entitled Measuring Up: Educational Improvement and Opportunity shows that 40 percent of Newark students are enrolled in so-called "beat the odds" schools, as compared to the average across the country of 8 percent in other cities.

Newark is by far the best performer among every city in the country in terms of the percentage of beat the odds schools. I think an excellent reference to this is a piece on NJ Left Behind called Getting Past False Dichotomies.

Next Steps in Newark: Superintendent Chris Cerf Responds to Dale Russakoff's 'The Prize'

Posted Dec. 3, 2015 in Better Conversation
Chris Cerf is superintendent of Newark Public Schools. Full profile →

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Bloomberg’s early school closures benefitted future students

Good to see the results of this study:

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's policy of closing bottom-ranked high schools did not harm students at the shuttered schools and benefitted later students who were forced to enroll elsewhere, according to a new study.

The study, which looked at 29 high schools whose closures began during the first half of Bloomberg's tenure, is sure to rekindle debates over one of the most divisive education policies in the city's history. It found that students who would have attended the shuttered schools landed at higher-performing schools — in many cases, new small schools that the city created in droves during that 2002 to 2008 period — and ended up with better academic outcomes.

"They were prevented from attending the low-performing schools that were their most likely choice," said the report's author, James Kemple, executive director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, a nonpartisan center based at New York University. He said the evidence suggests school closure "may be beneficial, but only if you think about it in the context of providing better options for students and opening up a choice process."

Bloomberg's early school closures benefitted future students, new study finds

Published: November 19, 2015 - 5:00 a.m. EST 

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Justice Scalia

A great response to Scalia:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia might have thought he was simply debating the merit of race-based admissions at the University of Texas. But he lit a fire when he cited a friend-of-court brief that argued some blacks would do better at "slower-track" schools instead of being "pushed ahead in classes that are too fast" for them.

Scalia's comment came from "mismatch theory," which ironically advocates for the soft bigotry of low expectations.

According to its proponents, affirmative action harms students who aren't ready for a strenuous academic environment. In a ripple effect, they will avoid struggle by opting for easy majors or dropping out altogether. Therefore, it's best that they be guided to the shallow end of the educational pool: less-selective institutions where they can be more comfortable and successful.

The only thing new about the mismatch theory is the name. It's actually the same old institutionalized racism that steered generations of African Americans into trade schools instead of universities. It's the pernicious whisper beneath current suggestions that perhaps college isn't for everybody.

The mismatch theory gets one thing right: Under-prepared black students will struggle at a demanding educational institution.

I know, because I was one.

Dear Justice Scalia: Here's what I learned as a black student struggling at an elite college

Washington Post, December 11, 2015

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US still falling behind

The latest OECD report, showing again that we're stagnating educationally while our economic competitors aren't:

The United States continues to fall behind internationally in producing a college-educated workforce as other nations send more of their citizens to university. And in the very early years, many countries are now sending a much higher percentage of their kids to preschool than the United States.

Topic: International comparisons

What it means: The U.S. isn't keeping up with other nations' education gains

The data showing that other nations are investing more than the U.S. in both early childhood programs and advanced degrees comes from a new report released Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The more than 500-page report analyzed the education systems of 46 nations and highlighted long-term trends from preschool to Ph.D. programs.

"The U.S. hasn't backslid, but other countries have made big gains," said OECD Education Director Andreas Schleicher, in a pre-publication briefing with journalists.

In the past, the U.S. ranked second in the world in the percentage of adults with some sort of college education, ranging from a post-high-school vocational degree to a Ph.D. Today, the U.S. has slipped to fifth position.

In several countries, nearly 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds have a college education. Korea tops the list, with nearly 70 percent of this age group earning a college degree, a huge increase from their older generation of 55- to 64-year-olds, among whom fewer than 20 percent have a college education.

41 percent of 3-year-olds and 66 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschools in the U.S., compared to more than 70 percent in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations

In the United States, by contrast, only 46 percent of the younger generation has a college education, not significantly more than the 41 percent of the American older generation who went to university.

US falls behind other nations in the global knowledge economy, says 46-country report

Fewer Americans are going to preschool and college compared to other nations

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Use More Expressive Words!

Gotta love this!
English teachers were once satisfied if they could prevent their pupils from splitting infinitives. Now some also want to stop them from using words like "good," "bad," "fun" and "said."
"We call them dead words," said (or declared) Leilen Shelton, a middle school teacher in Costa Mesa, Calif. She and many others strive to purge pupils' compositions of words deemed vague or dull. 
"There are so many more sophisticated, rich words to use," said (or affirmed) Ms. Shelton, whose manual "Banish Boring Words" has sold nearly 80,000 copies since 2009.
Her pupils know better than to use a boring word like "said." As Ms. Shelton put it, " 'Said' doesn't have any emotion. You might use barked. Maybe howled. Demanded. Cackled. I have a list."
So does the Powell River Board of Education in British Columbia. Its website provides a list of 397 alternatives to the dreaded "said." They include "emitted," "beseeched," "continued," "sniveled," and "spewed."
The goal is livelier writing. The result can be confusion.

'Use More Expressive Words!' Teachers Bark, Beseech, Implore
To encourage lively writing, instructors put certain words to rest; no more 'fun'
Megan Riley displays a list of banned words outside her middle school in Mt. Lebanon, Pa. Photo: James R. Hagerty/The Wall Street Journal
By James R. Hagerty
Nov. 29, 2015 5:15 p.m. ET

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To Catch a Journalist: Rutgers Ed Professor in Pay-for-Play

Incredible how crooked these profs are: To Catch a Journalist: Rutgers Ed Professor in Pay-for-Play

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Chinese enrollment in the US

What an incredible increase:
"At the university level, the Chinese now make up 31 percent of all international students in the U.S."

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Arne Duncan

A great, short article (attached) in Sports Illustrated about the past and current hoops history of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who was All-Ivy at Harvard (three years ahead of me, so I saw him play a few times).
I've met him a few times in past years at education events -- what a great guy (and he's been an amazing great Sec. of Education).
Here's a link to the awesome no-look pass Duncan made to Skyler Diggins at the Celebrity All-Star game in 2/14, which the SI article mentions: (0:13). And here are all the Duncan highlights from that game: (3:23)

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More on the sensational gang rape at UVA story in Rolling Stone

This is so unbelievable, horrifying and upsetting. Even after the sensational gang rape at UVA story in Rolling Stone was thoroughly discredited, I still figured that something awful must have happened to "Jackie", and in the traumatic aftermath, she fabricated something much worse. It now appears clear that nothing whatsoever happened to her – rather, she invented everything in a demented attempt to win the affection of a fellow student. 

Ryan Duffin was a freshman at the University of Virginia when he met a student named Jackie.

Both teenagers were new to campus in September 2012, and the pair quickly became friends through a shared appreciation of alternative rock bands such as Coheed and Cambria and the Silversun Pickups. Early on, Duffin sensed that Jackie was interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him. Duffin valued her friendship but politely rebuffed Jackie's advances for more.

Just days after he met her, Duffin said, he was goaded into a text message conversation with a U-Va. junior named "Haven Monahan," whom Jackie said she knew from a chemistry class.

What followed was what lawyers representing U-Va. associate dean Nicole Eramo described in new court documents as an elaborate scheme to win him over — a practice known as "catfishing" — that morphed into a sensational claim of gang rape at a U-Va. fraternity and a Rolling Stone story that rocked the U-Va. campus and shocked the nation.

A Charlottesville Police investigation later determined that no one named Haven Monahan had ever attended U-Va., and extensive efforts to find the person were not successful. Photographs that were texted to Duffin that were purported to be of Monahan were actually pictures depicting one of Jackie's high school classmates in Northern Virginia. That man, now a student at a university in another state, confirmed to The Post that the photographs were of him.

Police ultimately determined that no gang rape occurred, and Rolling Stone retracted its story.

"All available evidence demonstrates that 'Haven Monahan' was a fake suitor created by Jackie in a strange bid to earn the affections of a student named Ryan Duffin that Jackie was romantically interested in," Eramo's lawyers wrote in court papers filed this week.

I hope prosecutors throw the book at her. The harm she has done is incalculable, especially to the countless genuine victims of sexual assault/rape, who are now less likely to come forward and, if they do, are more likely to be disbelieved. (If I recall correctly, various studies have shown that fewer than 10% of sexual assault/rape claims are found to be meritless.)
For more on what I believe is a national crisis, I highly recommend Jon Krakauer's excellent book, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.

'Catfishing' over love interest might have spurred U-Va. gang-rape debacle

 January 8 at 5:26 PM

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Sara Mead with comments on pre-K

I thought you might be interested in this piece I wrote about the Tennessee pre-k study: 
As I write in the piece, I don't think that Vanderbilt study can/should be interpreted as offering definitive evidence that pre-k doesn't work. We have enough compelling evidence from other sources--including large-scale, high-quality publicly funded programs in New Jersey, Boston, Tulsa, and Chicago--that pre-k can work. But the Tennessee research should be a wake-up call to early childhood advocates, funders, and policymakers that actually implementing pre-k with quality requires a lot more than just making some money available and setting rules about class sizes and teacher qualifications. We need smarter policy design; a conscious effort to build the supply of diverse, high-quality pre-k providers; and a real strategy to attract, develop, and retain talent and leadership in early childhood. 
As Ashley LiBetti Mitchel and I learned when conducting our recent national study of pre-k and charter schools, in many states there's been a real lack of systematic thinking how to build systems of pre-k funding, delivery, and oversight that incorporate multiple types of providers (e.g. districts, community-based providers, private pre-k and charter schools) under a common set of expectations with the right balance of autonomy/flexibility and accountability/oversight to foster supply of quality programs that produce results for kids. We think that the experience of the charter movement and the thinking of folks like my colleague Andy Smarick around how the K-12 system needs to evolve offer a lot of potential insights/and lessons here that are not well understood within the early childhood policy community. 
One of the goals/purposes of Bellwether's work on early childhood is to help early childhood leaders and policymakers reach new ways of thinking about pre-k quality, delivery, and supply that are informed by those lessons, as well as a deep understanding of the unique needs of very young children and their families. (We also work on improving the effectiveness of existing pre-k programs, particularly Head Start, and with early childhood providers and funders). 
Just wanted to share another perspective here. And encourage you not to give up hope on the potential of well-designed preschool to help mitigate some of the disparities that emerge long before children enter school. 

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Why teacher unions hated Hillary Clinton when she was Arkansas First Lady

Hillary (and Bill) have a long history of breaking with the teachers' unions, which bodes well:

…after Bill got elected governor four years later, many of his early boosters from labor felt betrayed. Specifically, the teachers unions were infuriated over the couple's advocacy of an education reform proposal that mandated teacher testing. The National Education Association and its Arkansas affiliate worked against the Clintons after they backed the measure in 1983.

— Hillary's first significant public role was heading an education commission for Bill, a precursor to her role as health care czar in his first term. The efforts she supported were heartily endorsed by the business community, including a dark-money nonprofit group funded by WalMart founder Sam Walton. (Tom and Matea Gold explored this in part one of their story on the Clinton money machine yesterday, which you can read here.)

— Hillary was booed by teachers when she showed up at education forums as Arkansas First Lady to pitch her proposal. "I believe the governor's teacher testing bill has done inestimable damage to the Arkansas teaching profession and to the image of this state," Peggy Nabors, the president of the Arkansas Education Assn, wrote in a 1983 letter to her members. She called it "a radical departure from what educators or the makers of standardized test themselves believe is appropriate or fair." She added that the proposal "represents the final indignity" and closed by urging teachers to "make a contribution to political candidates who will support a more progressive education program."

The Daily 202: Why teacher unions hated Hillary Clinton when she was Arkansas First Lady

 November 20, 2015

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Camden graduation rate rises again

This is great to see – kudos to Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard and his team! Keep an eye on what's happening in Camden – it's a model for other cities.

Camden's graduation rate has increased for the fourth straight year, school district officials said Thursday, and stood at 64 percent for the last school year.

The graduation rate for the 2011-12 school year was 49 percent. The state took over the district the following year, with Gov. Christie appointing Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard to lead the city's schools.

Almost 80 more students graduated last year than in 2011, district officials said. Not only has the overall rate improved, but the graduation rate among Latino students has increased from 44 percent to 66 percent since 2012, Rouhanifard said Thursday at a panel discussion among students at Brimm Medical Arts High School, one of the city's three magnet high schools.

The graduation rate among special education students rose from 38 percent to 56 percent, he said. At Woodrow Wilson High School, the graduation rate has increased for four consecutive years since 2012, climbing from 46 percent to 63 percent.

"We need to acknowledge that we have a lot of work left to do," Rouhanifard said. "But progress matters. Growth matters."

Camden graduation rate rises again

Allison Steele, Staff Writer

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A Half-Charter School District for L.A.?

Speaking of exciting things happening in some cities, what Eli Broad is proposing in LA is incredibly bold and revolutionary:

Eli Broad made his fortune in construction and real estate. But he's building a legacy as a philanthropist and an education reformer. In September, the Broad, a $140 million museum of contemporary art, opened in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of a revitalizing Grand Avenue and 2nd Street, across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. That same month, the Los Angeles Times published a leaked memo detailing Broad's proposal to revitalize L.A.'s sclerotic public school system. Working under the auspices of his family foundation, Broad would gather some of the biggest names in private philanthropy—Gates, Walton, Ahmanson, Bloomberg, Annenberg, and Hewlett, as well as David Geffen, Kirk Kerkorian, and Elon Musk—to open 260 new charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District over an eight-year period, with an enrollment goal of at least 130,000 students. The memo discusses how to raise $490 million to pay for the effort, which includes recruiting teachers, acquiring real estate, providing outreach to parents, and navigating political battles. If the octogenarian Broad succeeds, half of L.A. Unified's schools would be charters by the mid-2020s.

Naturally, L.A.'s education establishment detests the idea. The LAUSD board's president, Steve Zimmer, denounced Broad's plan as "a strategy to bring down LAUSD." In November, board member Scott Schmerelson pushed a resolution announcing the board's opposition to the Broad Foundation's plan by name. Later, Schmerelson changed the language to say the board opposed any "external initiatives that seek to reduce public education to an educational marketplace and our children to market shares while not investing in District-wide programs and strategies that benefit every student." As an L.A. Times editorial pointed out, by that standard, "the board would have to oppose many of its own programs—magnet schools, programs to teach students fluency in English and alternative schools for students with chronic behavioral problems." (In response, Broad's new educational nonprofit expanded its proposal to support traditional public schools, including pilots, magnets, and other high-performing schools that serve low-income children.)

A Half-Charter School District for L.A.?
Eli Broad has a plan to shake up America's second-largest school district.
December 30, 2015
Larry Sand

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Bloomberg and Klein’s reform strategy benefitted students (yet de Blasio and Farina are abandoning it)

Yet another study showing that a key part of Bloomberg and Klein's reform strategy benefitted students (yet de Blasio and Farina are abandoning it nevertheless):

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's policy of closing bottom-ranked high schools did not harm students at the shuttered schools and benefitted later students who were forced to enroll elsewhere, according to a new study.

The study, which looked at 29 high schools whose closures began during the first half of Bloomberg's tenure, is sure to rekindle debates over one of the most divisive education policies in the city's history. It found that students who would have attended the shuttered schools landed at higher-performing schools — in many cases, new small schools that the city created in droves during that 2002 to 2008 period — and ended up with better academic outcomes.

"They were prevented from attending the low-performing schools that were their most likely choice," said the report's author, James Kemple, executive director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, a nonpartisan center based at New York University. He said the evidence suggests school closure "may be beneficial, but only if you think about it in the context of providing better options for students and opening up a choice process."

The new study did not examine how the years-long closure process affected educators, local communities that lost historic institutions, or surrounding schools that absorbed many challenging students. Over the years, the strategy became increasingly unpopular among parents and educators, eventually prompting lawsuits, rancorous public hearings, and scathing criticism by the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, who has largely rejected that approach.

Despite the backlash, high school graduation rates improved under Bloomberg, and this latest study suggests that individual students fared better as a result of the school closures. Former Bloomberg officials seized on the report as another vindication of their approach, while opponents such as the city teachers union downplayed the findings.

Bloomberg's early school closures benefitted future students, new study finds

Published: November 19, 2015 - 5:00 a.m. EST 

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