Poll: Public supports testing, but not federal intervention

Education Next

By Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West | Education Next

Testing and accountability have become a focal point of the congressional debate over the new federal education bill designed to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB), originally scheduled to expire in 2007. The Senate and the House have each passed a bill revising the law, but disagreement persists on a key testing provision.

The Senate bill, passed by a bipartisan supermajority of 81-17, continues the current requirement that states test students each year in grades 3 through 8 and again in high school, but the House bill, passed along strict party lines, allows parents to “opt out” of state tests, despite the fact that the federal government does not require that the tests be used to evaluate the performance of individual students.

The difference is critical because one cannot assess school performance accurately unless nearly all (or a representative sample of) students participate in the testing process.

Even if the two houses of Congress reach agreement, another issue complicates the enactment of a new education law.  The Obama Administration, backed by civil rights groups, has threatened to veto the legislation unless it gives the federal government a say in defining what constitutes a failing school and in proposing remedies, something not provided for in the current bills.

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Morning Read: Judge rules ‘parent trigger’ can continue

‘Parent trigger’ campaigns can continue despite lack of new test scores
Parents are allowed to attempt to force major changes at schools considered failing based on tests that are at least two years old. EdSource

San Francisco middle schools no longer reaching ‘Algebra 1′
Districts like Los Angeles and Oakland are going to allow some high-achieving kids to go ahead and take algebra in middle school. But not San Francisco Unified. KQED

Using the restroom: A privilege—if you’re a teacher
Educators seldom have enough time to do their business. What’s that doing to the state of learning? The Atlantic

To get support for education bill, senators conjure lost art: Compromise
The 601-page bill dealt with the role of the federal government in the nation’s 100,000 schools and touched a number of hot-button issues. Washington Post

After principal’s suicide, report raises fresh test security questions
The principal of Teachers College Community School admitted to filling in questions left blank by third graders, according to a report. Chalkbeat New York

Anna Deavere Smith tackles school-to-prison pipeline in new solo show
A new play explores the “school-to-prison pipeline,” where children from poor communities are pushed into the criminal justice system. Playbill

A parent battles against bullies and laws for her transgender child

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By Terri Cook

Gender was something I took for granted because I was comfortable expressing my gender and fulfilling my gender roles (as expected by society and those around me). All that has changed now that I’ve seen how my son, and others like him, must think about gender all the time.

Let me explain. I’m the proud mom of two young men, but I didn’t always know I had two sons. For 15 years, my husband and I believed we were raising a daughter. Our younger child, who we now know is our son, is transgender.

Over the years I’ve been criticized and asked countless questions about my teenager, such as, How could a child possibly know who they are or what they want at that age?” and “What kind of parent would allow their child to make irreversible changes to their body with hormones and surgery?”

I get that. I had those questions too. And a whole lot of others.

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Morning Read: District to define ‘adequately-funded’ education

Building a tool to define ‘adequately-funded’ education
California’s second-largest school district is almost ready to answer a question that has prompted legal challenges across the nation. SI&A Cabinet Report

Head of LAUSD schools in northeast SFV to expand bilingual programs
Local Superintendent Byron Maltez started his new position overseeing 118 schools in the northeast San Fernando Valley earlier this month. Los Angeles Daily News

Early education gets noticed in revise of No Child Left Behind
The U.S. Senate’s version of the bill, which passed with bipartisan support (81-17), “ensures that federal funds can be used for early education.” EdSource

Gay history class a first at public S.F. high school
The LGBT social studies course is the first of its kind in San Francisco and a rarity in public high schools across the country. San Francisco Chronicle

What do we value more: Young kids or fast food?
New York state recently announced an increase in the minimum wage for fast food workers, to $15 an hour. It’s the fruit of a three-year labor campaign. NPR

States in Motion: Visualizing how education funding has changed over time
The project explores numerous datasets through interactive charts for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. EdSource

Commentary: Ravitch’s view on charters polarize rather than help

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch

Editor’s note: In the LA Times yesterday, Diane Ravitch argued passionately that the future of public education in Los Angeles depends on whom the LA Unified board selects as its next superintendent.

She wrote, “The ideal superintendent would have the courage, and the support of the board, to resist those who seek to undermine and privatize public schools.” The entire commentary, which was included in yesterday’s LA School Report, can be read hereIn a response, Sarah Angel, the California Charter Schools Association Managing Director, Regional Advocacy—Los Angeles, offers a different view. 

In a recent L.A. Times op-ed, pundit Diane Ravitch called on the LAUSD board to hire a superintendent who would prevent new charter public schools from opening. Vilifying charters as an enemy of public education, Ravitch hurls her usual accusations against the charter school community, including its teachers and students. But just because she repeats the same incendiary messages over and over again, that doesn’t make them true.

Ravitch accuses charter schools of excluding students, but the data here in Los Angeles says otherwise. Independent charters in LAUSD serve 1 percent more English learners and 2 percent fewer students with special needs than traditional schools do. In other words, there’s basically no difference in the students being served. It’s also worth noting that both English learners and students with special needs perform better in local independent charters than in traditional schools.

Ravitch laments charter schools’ lack of accountability, but charter schools are held to greater accountability standards than other public schools. How? Each charter school has to petition for renewal every five years using data that shows how well it is educating its students; if it has failed to perform, it gets shut down. No other type of public school has to prove that it is actually helping students learn.

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Experts say California’s vaccine law may serve as national model


By Clifton D. Parker

California’s tough new vaccination law is legally sound and will serve as a model for how to keep children healthy, Stanford professors say.

On June 25, California Gov. Jerry Brown approved a new state law (SB277) that substantially narrows exceptions to school-entry vaccination mandates. In doing so, California becomes the third state (Mississippi and West Virginia are the others) to disallow exemptions based on both religious and philosophical beliefs. Only medical exemptions remain.

“The move represents a stunning victory for public health that affects not only California schoolchildren, but the prospects for strengthening vaccination requirements nationwide,” wrote Michelle Mello and David Studdert, professors in both Stanford’s law and medical schools, in a July 22 New England Journal of Medicine article. Their co-author was Wendy Parmet, a Northeastern University law school professor.

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Morning Read: One man’s quest for statewide arts education

Carl Schafer works to get CA to enforce its own arts education law
Carl Schafer has spent the last three years lobbying to get arts instruction to every student in the state. KPCC

Finally some help from the feds on ELL with disabilities
The special education system in many schools is plagued by over- or under-representation of different ethnic groups or genders. SI&A Cabinet Report

Evaluating teachers: Precise but irrelevant metrics?
It’s not controversial to argue that some teachers are more skilled or effective than others. Hechinger Report

Career Pathways Trust allowing students to explore the universe
Eight high school students are spending the summer helping scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. EdSource

Survey: Teachers spend $500 a year of their own money on supplies
Teacher verification provider SheerID and Agile Education Marketing today released the results of an annual survey. The Journal

Education groups urge Congress to finish the job on No Child Left Behind
Ten national education groups on Wednesday urged Congress to move quickly to finalize revisions to No Child Left Behind. Washington Post

Torlakson coming to LA to present new plan for state public education

Tom Torlakson

Tom Torlakson

For anyone bemoaning current trends in state public education, hold your complaints, at least until tomorrow.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has scheduled an event downtown at the LA Area Chamber of Commerce to unveil “a new action plan,” that his office says will provide “the steps to take in the next four years to enhance learning, capitalize on the state’s recent progress, and provide all California children with a world-class education in the 21st century.”

A slew of education and business leaders from throughout the state has been invited to join him in presenting what he’s calling, “A Blueprint for Great Schools, Version 2.0.” His office says it builds on the 2011 report. “A Blueprint for Great Schools,” which helped transform California’s education system and turn the state into a national model.

Torlakson was aided in developing the 2.0 version by “education leaders and experts from across the sate,” said his office. The report focuses on how California can improve in five key areas: state standards, teaching and leading excellence, student success, continuous improvement and accountability systems, and systems change and supports.

Commentary: Helicopter parenting is crippling children

politico logoBy Lenore Skenazy

Back in 2009, the parenting site Babble listed the top 50 “mom” blogs in America—funniest, most fashionable, etc., and “most controversial.”

That would be my blog, Free-Range Kids. Then it was voted most controversial again, a year later.

What crazy idea was I pushing? Don’t vaccinate your kids? Clobber them when they cry? Teach them to play piano by threatening to burn their stuffed animals? Actually, my message was—and is—this: Our kids are just as safe and smart as we were when we were young. There’s no reason to suddenly be afraid of everything they do, see, eat, wear, hear, touch, read, watch, lick, play or hug.

That idea runs smack up against the big, basic belief of our era: That our kids are in constant danger. It’s an erroneous idea that is crippling our children and enslaving us parents.

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Morning Read: Torlakson plans new school accountability system

State’s top education official plans new accountability system to rate schools
Torlakson said he will announce the creation of a committee to formulate a new accountability system for evaluating and rating schools. Los Angeles Daily News

Commentary: What LAUSD needs in its next superintendent
The Los Angeles Unified School District has at most a year to replace Ramon C. Cortines as superintendent. Los Angeles Times

Educators take aim at needs of younger foster youth
LA Unified put most of its funding for foster youth into high schools. But research and advocates suggest that the problems start far earlier. Chronicle of Social Change

Issue of collective bargaining threatens evaluation reform
The chief authors of the two nearly identically worded bills would open all aspects of an evaluation to collective bargaining. EdSource

Common Core politics and elections: Where the standards stand
RealClearEducation compiled an (unscientific) heat map that assesses Common Core’s risk of revocation in each state. Real Clear Education

Lottery sales to hit $6b; record contribution set for schools
Surging revenues haven’t just been limited to the state’s general fund – the lottery has had a healthy upswing this year, too. SI&A Cabinet Report

Important education bills on the table as legislators take break

Edsource logo

By EdSource Staff

Legislators who headed out of town on Friday for a month have already decided the fate of many key bills. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed, including a much debated child vaccination law that eliminates the personal belief exemption to school-required vaccinations.

All of the bills to rewrite the teacher evaluation law have been defeated or appear, at least for now, delayed until next year. Efforts to rescind last year’s limit on school districts’ reserves have foundered.

But when they return in mid-August, lawmakers will take final action on key bills that remain very much alive: suspending the high school exit exam; expanding preschool for low-income children; and creating new options for high school students to take community college courses.

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Morning Read: Cortines defends Esquith investigation

L.A. superintendent: ‘When it comes to student safety, we are going to choose students over adults every single time.’
Los Angeles schools superintendent Ramon C. Cortines e-mailed me Monday night with a reaction to my latest column. Washington Post

Teacher training course aims to boost students’ college readiness
Nearly 5,000 teachers across the state in grades 7 through 12 will sign up this summer and fall for CSU’s Expository Reading and Writing Course. Ed Source

5 questions with LAUSD School Board President Steve Zimmer
Steve Zimmer won the backing of his colleagues on July 1 to step in as Los Angeles Unified’s new school board president and his plate is already piled high. KPCC

Long Beach school board to consider renaming Robert E. Lee Elementary
The announcement comes more than two weeks after civil rights activists from the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable began calling on district and city officials to rename the elementary school. Long Beach Press-Telegram

Hopes dim for rewrite of school transit funding formula
The shortcomings of California’s current home-to-school transportation funding system came to light during the 2011-12 school year. SI&A Cabinet Report

Teen pregnancies hit all-time low
The highest number of teen births was recorded in 1990 when there was a birth rate of 60 babies per 1,000 teens. SI&A Cabinet Report

Zimmer, on success of public (ed) system in LA: ‘A very open question’

ZImmer Board Meeting March 3, 2014

LA Unified’s new board president, Steve Zimmer, had a recent chat with Politico, and some of his comments reached its Education Morning Edition today.

Nothing surprising until the final paragraph, when he expresses his hope that the selection of a new superintendent to replace the soon-to-be-leaving Ramon Cortines doesn’t “devolve into another ground war over schooling, pitting traditional public school advocates against education reformers,” as Politico put it.

Zimmer responds by saying he hopes to elevate the conversation, adding, “The premise, the baseline assumption, is that a large public system can’t work,” he said. “But that’s still a very open question in Los Angeles.”

He did not elaborate. Or if he did, it wasn’t included in the Politico report.

Elsewhere, Zimmer acknowledged the disruptive issues of the last year or so — iPads, MiSiS, questions over contract bidding, an FBI probe, the departure of former superintendent John Deasy —  and said, “We’re literally at a pivot point.”

“The bruises and wounds that John Deasy and all the controversy around him had left were almost as dangerous to the district as the budget crisis itself,” he added, describing Cortines as a major stabilizing force in helping to balance a budget and in reaching agreement with the teachers union on a new contract.

“So we have to transition from a person who is literally the most skilled school system leader in the country,” he said, “to new leadership in a community that is just healing.”

Crystal ball test says it can predict child’s literacy skill at 3 years old


By Corey Turner

If this isn’t an honest-to-goodness crystal ball, it’s close.

Neurobiologist Nina Kraus believes she and her team at Northwestern University have found a way — a half-hour test — to predict kids’ literacy skill long before they’re old enough to begin reading.

When I first read the study in the journal PLOS Biology, two words came to mind: science fiction.

Because flagging some 3-year-olds as potentially troubled readers — before they’ve even tried reading — feels eerily like being handcuffed by Tom Cruise in Minority Report for a crime that hasn’t happened yet.

Kraus herself says the test is nothing short of “a biological looking glass into a child’s literacy potential.”

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Long Beach Unified pressed to rename Lee Elementary

Long Beach board under pressure to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary
Dozens of schools throughout the nation bear the name of Lee, who commanded the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. NY Daily News

Why NYC is experimenting with new ways to desegregate public schools
Advocates of school integration say the tide is starting to change in the country’s largest school district. Slate

CA improves in children’s health but slips to 49th in financial security
The annual KIDS COUNT report on the welfare of the country’s children tells a mixed story of how California is faring in providing for its kids. KPCC

Flat funding threatens push for quality after-school programs
State leaders have rejected a proposal to provide cost-of-living increases for after-school program. Ed Source

U.S. Department Of Education releases parent checklist
The checklist follows the set of rights that the U.S. Department of Education recently released. iSchoolGuide

Kids learn to hack and crack in cyberspace at NSA summer camp

New York Times logo

By Nicholas Fandos

This is not your typical summer sleepaway camp.

Bonfires and archery? Try Insecure Direct Object References and A1-Injections.

The dozen or so teenagers staring at computers in a Marymount University classroom here on a recent day were learning — thanks to a new National Security Agency cybersecurity program that reaches down into the ranks of American high school and middle school students — the entry-level art of cracking encrypted passwords.

“We basically tried a dictionary attack,” Ben Winiger, 16, of Johnson City, Tenn., said as he typed a new command into John The Ripper, a software tool that helps test and break passwords. “Now we’re trying a brute-force attack.”

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Morning Read: Man wins $25,000 for voting in LAUSD board election

Voter in L.A. school board race wins $25,000 for casting a ballot
An experiment in boosting chronic low-turnout local elections ended Friday when Rojas, a 35-year-old security guard, received a check. Los Angeles Times

Commentary: LAUSD still persecuting one of the nation’s best teachers
Esquith is being treated like a Wall Street cheat. Washington Post

Homeless students get new attention in school accountability plans
School districts must spell out how they will help the state’s 310,000 homeless students and make goals for their progress. ED Source

Senate ESEA rewrite fits Brown’s ed agenda
The surprisingly bipartisan rewrite of ESEA would remove a lot of uncertainty surrounding key policy work undertaken by Gov. Jerry Brown. SI&A Cabinet Report

LAUSD audit allegations still under internal review
In November, the inspector general’s investigation unit was called-in to begin reviewing allegations that could rise to criminal activity. Los Angeles Daily News

Saving the last links to Native American culture
Preserving a record of California’s indigenous culture is at the heart of a new law that creates a specialized teaching credential for American Indian culture. SI&A Cabinet Report

New National PTA president wants to move beyond bake sales

seattle-times-logo11By Caitlin Moran

These days, parent-teacher associations are about more than bake sales and art projects.

Individual regions and councils tackle concerns that range from cyber-bullying to achievement gaps and from the importance of early reading skills to including families that speak a language other than English at home.

Laura Bay says she’s ready to take on all of those issues in her new role as president of National PTA, the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the country. Bay, who lives in Poulsbo, first got involved in the PTA in the early 1990s when her oldest son, Andrew, started kindergarten at Bremerton’s View Ridge Elementary School.

Click here for the full story.

Morning Read: Vergara group brings new lawsuit over teacher evaluations

Group sues 13 districts for not using test scores in teacher evaluations
The lawsuit targets school systems in the state that have barred the use of test results through collective-bargaining agreements with teachers unions. Los Angeles Times

CA law bars consent as a defense in child sexual-abuse lawsuits
Gov. Brown announced he signed legislation introduced after LAUSD avoided liability for a teacher having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Orange County Register

No-bid practice for funding school projects found illegal
Billions of dollars in California school construction projects are now in legal limbo. San Francisco Chronicle

Half of new teachers quit profession in 5 years? Not true, new study says
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics made the new finding in a study released in April. Ed Source

Crime stats show troubling trend at nation’s schools
A general decline in serious crime on K-12 school campuses nationwide appears to be reversing. SI&A Cabinet Report

Senate approves bill to revamp ‘No Child Left Behind’

New York Times logoBy Jennifer Steinhauer

WASHINGTON — For this first time in 14 years, the Senate on Thursday approved a revised version of No Child Left Behind, the signature Bush-era education law that ushered in an era of broadly reviled, high-stakes standardized testing.

But the passage of the bill on an 81-17 vote, coming just a week after the House narrowly passed its own version, sets up a showdown between the two chambers, and leaves the fate of a final measure in doubt.

Both bills return some key power to local governments but differ over the role of the federal government and funding allocations.

Congress has repeatedly failed in its efforts to rewrite the law over the last several years.

At the heart of the debate between Democrats and Republicans is the appropriate role for the federal government in education programs, which are largely a function of state and local governments.

[In Los Angeles, LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines issued the following statement:

“We would like to applaud the bipartisan effort of the U.S. Senate, which cleared a major hurdle today by ending debate and voting to pass the Every Child Achieves Act, (S.1177). We would especially like to thank Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray for their strong leadership in moving this bill through the Senate. The passage of this compromise bill is a major step in overhauling the long-overdue Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Though not perfect, this Senate bill reflects positive progress toward fixing the punitive accountability standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. It also moves our national education system toward a structure that provides more control for states and local school districts, while preserving reasonable federal accountability parameters with increased transparency.

“We do continue to have serious concerns with the House’s Student Success Act (H.R. 5), and hope the harmful provisions will be resolved during conference committee. We strongly urge that any final conferenced bill not include the harmful Title I ‘Portability’ provision that is included the House bill.

“Today’s action shows that our federal government can overcome the disagreement and gridlock that regularly affects Congress and, instead, work together to pass a bill with broad consensus. While this vote is a major step in the right direction, we urge Congress to provide the resources needed to assist L.A. Unified and school districts throughout the country to effectively implement a reauthorized education act, allowing us to continue our work of helping all students succeed.”]

To read the full New York Times story, cluck here.