May 3

“I said there was nothing so convincing to an Indian as a general massacre. If he could not approve of the massacre, I said the next surest thing for an Indian was soap and education. Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run; because a half-massacred Indian may recover, but if you educate him and wash him, it is bound to finish him some time or other.”

―     Mark Twain

   U.S. Sec. of Education Arne Duncan has been traveling around the state this week.  Speaking on Tuesday before the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco he surprised the audience by admitting that there are many flaws in the current testing regimen.  He didn’t suggest doing away with it but would like to see a new, improved testing 2.0.  EdSource reports on this and some of the other topics he commented on and his rather frosty reception by the people he addressed:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/duncan-admits-flaws-in-current-standardized-testing/31379#.UYG4uljn-ov
    An Assembly bill (AB 484) was taken up in the Education Committee on Wednesday.  It would make some major changes to the current testing system and offer new online tests that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.  The old STAR system is scheduled to be phased out in July, 2013, to be replaced in the 2014-15 school year by CalMAPP21 (extra credit for anyone who knows what that stands for).  This story appeared in the SI&A CABINET REPORT:  http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=3792  Another bill (AB 549) received a hearing before the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday.  It offered specific guidelines and limits for the role of police officers on California school campuses according to this lengthy item from the Center for Public Integrityhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/04/30/12587/california-lawmakers-latest-consider-limits-cops-schools?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+publici_rss+(The+Center+for+Public+Integrity+Latest+Stories)
   MIchelle Rhee has been facing major charges of testing “irregularities” while she served as chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS).  The “Ed News” highlighted that breaking story last week.  Despite that, the Walton Family Foundation decided to increase its funding to her StudentsFirst organization to the tune of $8 million.  This brief article from EdSource describes the investment and why they upped the ante:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/walton-foundation-increases-donation-to-studentsfirst/31235#.UYG9vFjn-ov  Valerie Strauss comments on this new grant and lists other “reform” groups that have received its largesse:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/01/walton-foundation-giving-8-million-to-rhees-studentsfirst-plus-2012-donations/?wprss=rss_national&utm_source=feedly   More and more criticism is being aimed at Rhee for a variety of reasons.  This brief story from The Sacramento Bee looks at her claim that her organization is bipartisan in its positions and the people that it supports:  http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/05/studentsfirst-under-scrutiny-from-the-left.html#storylink=cpy

   Online classes for credit are becoming more and more common.  A big problem has to do with security.  Is a person cheating on the test or having someone else take it for them?  How are companies offering these courses dealing with this?  Those issues and several others are covered in this front-page feature article from yesterday’s L.A. Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-online-cheating-20130502,0,795806,full.story  The use of online courses at the college level is not without controversy.  Professors in the Philosophy Department at San Jose State are up in arms about the use of online materials in their program according to this piece in The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/education/san-jose-state-philosophy-dept-criticizes-online-courses.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&utm_source=feedly&_r=2&
   A big “thank you” to Susie Smith for sending along an excellent web site.  It’s called the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) and is published by UC Berkeley.  Not everything they do is education related but those that are seem to be down-to-earth, practical kinds of things.  Check this one out.  It was first published in March but is still quite pertinent.  It offers a number of excellent suggestions on how to ease the stress that can build up around standardized testing for all involved–students, teachers, administrators and parents.  Be sure to look at the “Related Articles” section at the end of the this piece for more helpful hints and information:  http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/compassion_for_the_tested?utm_source=GG+Ed+Newsletter+April+2013&utm_campaign=GG+Education+-+April+2013&utm_medium=email  You can access the GGSC’s “Education” articles here:  http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/education
   On her eponymous blog, Dana Goldstein takes a look at what is happening at Crenshaw High by focusing on one key faculty member, Alex Caputo-Pearl, who was not rehired as the school went through an LAUSD reconstitution.  She also reprints the letter from the faculty that the “Ed News” previously highlighted about what has been taking place there:  http://www.danagoldstein.net/dana_goldstein/2013/05/activist-teachers-targeted-for-dismissal-in-la.html
   Does the name Michael Fullan ring a bell?  He’s the highly successful education reformer in Ontario, Canada, who has helped turn that province into one of the best school systems in the world.  He’s been sharing his ideas and theories with California education leaders as of late.  Want to learn more about who he is, what he believes and how this state might benefit?  Read this extended story from EdSource for all those answers and more.  For more specifics about Fullan and some of the things he’s written see the “Going Deeper” sidebar:  http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/california-looks-to-ontario-schools-reformer-for-guidance/30644#.UYP9MCv5nye
   Diane Ravitch reprints a blog from a teacher in Queens, New York, who asks: “How Smart Will Common Core Make Our Kids?”  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/05/03/will-common-core-make-kids-smarter/
   Students take standardized tests.  Teachers and schools are evaluated on the results.  In Louisiana teacher training programs have been measured by the exam scores.  You can read all about how they fared and what they did as a result in this article from The HECHINGER REPORT titled “Grading the Teachers’ Teachers:”  http://hechingerreport.org/content/grading-the-teachers-teachers_11939/

   Valerie Strauss, in her blog for The Washington Post, reprints a very interesting post from Alfie Kohn about why using international test scores to compare nations may not be all that valid and that the U.S. may not be doing as poorly as reported:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/03/were-number-umpteenth-the-myth-of-lagging-u-s-schools/
   And finally, the Friday UCLA IDEA “Themes in the News” reviews the LAUSD issue regarding providing low-income students with breakfast in their classroom.  The program has been expanding since it was instituted several years ago.  However, a survey by UTLA found that it often left rooms messy and cut into instructional time.  This item, titled “Hunger is Not an Option,” looks at the pros and cons and offers some suggestions for retaining the program:  http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=b0a80b41b6&e=f7d7cb8d5d
The weekend should be MUCH cooler.  Enjoy it!   

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