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Teach For America (TFA) is one of the nation’s largest alternative routes into the teaching profession. In the 2013–14 school year, there were 11,000 corps members reaching more than 750,000 students in high-need classrooms all around the country, including nearly 150 TFA members in the Cleveland and Cincinnati-Dayton areas. Yet even with TFA’s growing scale, its teachers are a proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the country’s teaching force of approximately 3 million. This raises the question of how best to allocate these young, enthusiastic teachers. Should corps members be dispersed widely across a district’s schools, or should they be “clustered” into targeted schools? Would having a high density of TFA members in a few, high-need schools provide positive learning benefits even for students with non-TFA teachers (“spillover” effects)? This new study analyzes the impact of clustering TFA members in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), using district level data from 2008–09 to 2012–13. TFA altered its placement strategy in M-DCPS in 2009–10 and began to cluster members in a smaller number of turnaround schools. For example, among middle schools with a TFA member, 18 percent of the school’s teaching staff was, on average, TFA in 2012–13,...

The Education Tax Policy Institute in Columbus released a new report that says the tax burden in Ohio has shifted significantly since the early 1990s, from businesses onto farmers and homeowners, to the detriment of school districts and local governments. Much hay is being made over this report by the usual suspects, including the alphabet soup of education groups (BASA, OASBO, and OSBA) who commissioned it. Here are a few examples of media coverage the report has garnered:

While this report is interesting and describes changes to the state’s property-tax policy over the years, it doesn’t offer much in the way of...

  1. Student journalists connected to the Beacon Journal are pushing hard on Horizon and Noble charter school board members. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  2. The big Dog himself seems not so pleased about a private school from the Akron-adjacent town of Green which is moving to a new and expanded campus in Springfield. Odd that he didn’t note that Chapel Hill has been a long-time taker of students on the EdChoice voucher program. (Akron Beacon Journal)
  3. Speaking of Springfield, here are some details on a Straight A grant-winning program in the district which is designed to give STEM academy students access to college courses from Ohio State remotely. (Springfield News-Sun)
  4. This story was supposed to be about immigration issues and their importance to Latinos in central Ohio. Instead, it turned into an education story, as it seems that Latinos in the area feel that education is their highest priority. I can’t help but sense a disconnect between the comments of Columbus City Schools’ first Latina school board member and the local
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Note: This post is part of our series, "Netflix Academy: The best educational videos available for streaming." Be sure to check out our previous Netflix Academy posts on Ancient Asian Culturesearly American civilizationsAncient GreeceAncient RomeNative American culturesChristopher Columbus and the Age of DiscoveryColonial America and the Revolutionary Warthe American founders; the Lewis and Clark expeditionmovie adaptations of classic children’s booksAmerican folk heroesdinosaursaquatic lifeinsectsfrogs and other amphibiansreptilesbirdsmammalshuman evolutionearthquakes and volcanoesouter spaceand the systems of the human body

Today is the 151st anniversary of Pickett’s Charge, the last Confederate offensive of the Civil War—one that ended in a massive, bloody defeat, now seen as the turning point in that epic conflagration. So it’s as good a time as any to feature educational videos on the Civil War. As has been the case with other historical topics, it’s not easy to find excellent, age-appropriate materials, but we’ve located a few. Of course, because of the nature of the topic, these are surely ones you...

  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis is one of the pundits weighing in on the pros, cons, and caveats to automatic school closure laws. Nice. (EdWeek)
     
  2. Outgoing Reynoldsburg Schools Superintendent Steve Dackin will move up a rung to the community college world, taking on the post of Superintendent of School and Community Partnerships at Columbus State beginning in August. Congratulations! (ThisWeek News/Reynoldsburg News)
     
  3. Elyria Schools’ state of the district report goes old skool this year – scrapping the poorly-attended live show in favor of a printed newsletter delivered by snail mail. Hopefully more folks will check it out – the district’s financial status looks good, there is some fine praise for Common Core, and there’s even “OTES with an Elyria twist”. (Lorain County Chronicle-Telegram)
     
  4. A charter school in Dayton is fighting its sponsor’s attempt to dissolve the sponsorship contract between them. There are a number of items at issue, but the crux seems to be an uncompleted corrective action plan that calls for a high-level staff change the school doesn’t want to make. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  5. A plan is afoot to make West Chester – Cincinnati suburb and home of House Speaker John Boehner –
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In which Mike offers/threatens to kiss Joel Klein

Mike and Brickman talk poor-quality math instruction and the ramifications of this week’s Supreme Court decision on union dues. Mike pitches a new bumper sticker: “Keep NCES boring.” And Amber is psyched about New York’s tenure reforms.

Amber's Research Minute

Performance Screens for School Improvement: The Case of Teacher Tenure Reform in New York City,” by Susanna Loeb, Luke C. Miller, and James Wyckoff, Working Paper 115 (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, June 2014).

The early-childhood folks didn’t much like it when I faulted NCES for relying on the Rutgers-based National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) as the source for federal data on “the state of preschool”—and for subsidizing the advocacy work of that organization, which just so happens to be aligned with President Obama’s preschool initiative.

NIEER’s Steve Barnett insisted that the sole-source federal contract pays only for data gathering, not advocacy. And the Department of Education noted that when it had announced its intention of awarding such a contract to NIEER, nobody objected at the time. So why, it implied, was I grumping after the fact?

Talk about splitting hairs. At the receiving end—I speak as the long-time head of a fundraising-dependent nonprofit organization not so very different from NIEER—all money is green, even federal contract dollars that must be accounted for. At minimum, they offset costs that would otherwise be borne elsewhere in one’s budget, thereby freeing up funds for other activities, in this case including advocacy, which is what NIEER is best known for. (OK, data-based advocacy, but limited to the data they want you to see because those are the data that buttress their views...

  1. It took a little while, but the Enquirer finally noticed the Southwest Ohio winners of Straight A grants from the state. Quite a mixed bag among the winners: Common Core, reading proficiency, arts assessments, and technology access are all in there. Also of note: the journalist includes the number of students projected to be affected by each project, and there’s a district/online charter school collaboration in there that probably raised some eyebrows. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. Speaking of technology, Mansfield City Schools recently underwent a tech assessment which revealed a number of deficiencies (old equipment, lack of backup, lack of disaster recovery plan, etc.), many of which the Supe says are being addressed over the summer. But buried in this story appears to be the news that both the firm paid to do the assessment and the contractor being paid to fix some of the problems seem to be owned/run by the same person. Not sure if I’m reading it right or not, but if so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one soon. (Mansfield News-Sun)
     
  3. In somewhat happier (and clearer) technology news, a team from Newark Digital Academy was in Portland, Oregon last week, presenting
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Bravo to Fordham’s original gadfly!

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools yesterday inducted Fordham president Chester E. Finn, Jr. into its Charter School Hall of Fame—established to honor pioneers in the development, growth, and innovation of charter schools.

At its annual conference in Las Vegas, Checker was lauded for his long track record of support and hailed as one of the “intellectual godfathers” of the charter school movement. He was inducted along with Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz and the Doris and Donald Fisher Fund.

“Hall of Fame members include school teachers and leaders, thinkers, policy experts, and funders that have paved the way for the success and growth of public charter schools. They have strengthened public charter schools nationwide and inspired us to do more for our nation’s students,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance.

Checker is among twenty-six individuals and organizations named to the Hall of Fame since 2007. He joins U.S. senator Lamar Alexander, the KIPP Charter Schools, Joel Klein, and Chicago mayor Richard Daley, among others.

Check out this short video on Checker’s contribution to the charter school movement....

  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis was a guest on The Ron Ponder Show in Canton yesterday, talking about third grade reading, as were OEA’s new president and a member of the state board of education talking separately about Common Core. The audio for Chad’s segment is here. If you’re interested, you can find the others at this link. Just click on the “audio vault” tab and look for the June 30 segments. (WHBC radio, Canton)
     
  2. OEA’s new president Becky Higgins also called in to public radio in Cleveland yesterday, noting that she was on her way to Denver for the NEA annual convention, where she expected Common Core to dominate the agenda. Her take on CCSS in Ohio? She firmly supports the standards and is “cautiously optimistic” that districts statewide will allow a one year safe harbor provision before teachers are evaluated based on PARCC exam scores. (IdeaStream radio, Cleveland)
     
  3. Editors in Youngstown opine most strongly on the difficult job ahead for the new academic distress commission chair overseeing Youngstown City Schools’ attempt to climb out of the achievement basement. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  4. Speaking of oversight by the state, Monroe schools are almost out from
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