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Yes, everybody understands that “school leaders matter,” a truism now morphing into a cliché that trips easily from the tongue but typically fails to cause movement anywhere in the worlds of education policy and practice.

As a result, far too many U.S. schools lack the leaders that they need. Far too many principals lack the wherewithal—authority, resources, capacity, etc.—to lead effectively. And far too many school systems, especially urban districts with the most urgent need for dynamic competence in this crucial role, haven’t yet figured out the best way to find the strongest candidates in the land and induce them to move into the principal’s office.

This is scarcely a new problem. Indeed, it’s been so much discussed and fussed about that people may be wearying of it—or possibly have come to believe that surely it’s been solved by now.

Yet urgent leadership-related changes haven’t yet been made in American public education, or have been gingerly tried in just a handful of places. Most states still expect principals to possess a traditional administrative certificate, at least for those running district schools, and most of those certificates are still awarded primarily through completion of traditional “ed leadership” programs...

USA! USA! USA!

Brickman and Victoria talk principal hiring, Common Core moratoriums, and charter accountability. Dara tells us about barriers to improving schools.

Amber's Research Minute

Policy Barriers to School Improvement: What's Real and What's Imagined? by Lawrence J. Miller and Jane S.Lee, (Seattle, WA: Center for Reinventing Public Education, June 2014).

  1. A tale of two tests. Or three tests. Or four. Reporters in Zanesville checked in with local districts to get their take on whether the alternative assessments available to determine if third grade students can read well enough to move on to fourth grade are comparable or simply a lowering of the bar. Nice piece. (Zanesville Time Recorder)
     
  2. Even if the bar was lowered, nearly 12 percent of third graders in Ohio still have not scored high enough on any assessment to be promoted. In Columbus City Schools, they are focusing on numbers – specific individual children who have not yet passed – and teachers and administrators are hitting the streets this summer to meet families in their homes and make sure they know of the considerable resources available to them through the district. Despite the sports metaphor (“blitz” is, I think, related to American football and can often result in some violent tackling), this seems like a fantastic innovation for the district and is to be applauded mightily. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. As noted earlier this week, Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s immense facilities plan is at an important crossroads. The PD’s editorial board weighs in today
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  1. So, yesterday we took a look at open enrollment in one part of Ohio from the perspective of the districts and seemed to conclude that it was “just business” – net “winner” districts are happy, net “losers” are not and it’s all about dollars. Well, today we catch up with another open enrollment story – one that focuses squarely on why students and parents participate in open enrollment and where the call of “it’s just business” did not fly. To refresh your memory: a “net winner” district in Northeast Ohio started feeling guilty about taking so much money from its neighbors and decided to trim the number of open enrollment seats it would fill in 2014-15 (I’m sure the green eye shades were out to work over those numbers), but as that number was well below the number of kids currently in the district from elsewhere, it seemed inevitable that they would have to kick some kids out. Despite assurances to the contrary, the district did just that, non-renewing nearly three dozen students who had been open enrolled and attending in the district for years. An extremely predictable stink arose and last week the school board was forced to
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You’ve already read in the Ohio Education Gadfly what we think about the third-grade reading scores across Ohio. Around the state, journalists are trying to parse what’s worked and what hasn’t and what districts will do with the approximately 12 percent of third graders who are still at risk of being held back. Here’s a sampling of what the papers are saying:

  1. Round 2 of Ohio’s Straight A Innovation Fund grants were awarded on Friday. You can check out a description of the final determination process here. (Gongwer Ohio) There were 37 projects awarded funding statewide and we'll be covering a number of them through the week I'm sure. First out of the gate is a list of Franklin County-specific winners, courtesy of the Big D. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. I think the headline pretty much says it all, but the story is entertaining nonetheless: “Anti-Charter Groups Crash Community School Info Session, Rail Against ECOT.” Yikes. It’s all-out war this summer in Ohio, methinks. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. In the above story, charter school opponents give lip-service to school quality being of issue to them, but it really is just about money – money following children from district schools to charters. Here is a more detailed version of that same issue around the topic of open enrollment in the Hancock County area. Bottom line: net financial “winner” districts are fine with the system; net financial “loser” districts are not. And it has very little to do with why the students are moving. In fact, most district officials don’t even seem to
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VOUCHER EXPANSION
Governor Rick Scott signed a bill expanding Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program. (Pensacola News Journal)
 
TEACHER QUALITY
Some teachers are looking for ways to improve the quality of those within their profession, because “if a union makes collective demands, it also has to promote collective quality.” (Washington Post)
 
PUTTING ADULTS’ INTERESTS OVER KIDS’
The New America Foundation’s Anne Hyslop argues that dropping the Common Core in Louisiana without a policy alternative is reckless and could “quickly wreck years of careful planning and hard work to improve student outcomes across the Pelican State. And that would be a very high price to pay just to make a political statement.” (Real Clear Education)
 
PHILLY SCHOOLS
The Philadelphia City Council will borrow $30 million to help plug the public school district’s funding gap, while it seeks more funding from state lawmakers. (Associated Press)
 
VALUE-ADDED PAUSE
D.C. has paused its use of the value-added algorithm in teacher evaluations for the 2014–15 year, in order to smooth the district’s transition to Common Core–aligned tests. (Teacher Beat)
 
SPECIAL ED IN CHARTER SCHOOLS
A new CRPE study finds that “counseling out”...

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 dinosaursaquatic lifeinsectsfrogs and other amphibiansreptilesbirdsmammalshuman evolutionearthquakes and volcanoes; outer spaceAncient Asian Culturesearly American civilizationsAncient GreeceAncient RomeNative American culturesChristopher Columbus and the Age of DiscoveryColonial America and the Revolutionary War; the American founders; the Lewis and Clark expeditionmovie adaptations of classic children’s books, and American folk heroes.

Throughout this series, I’ve complained about the relative paucity of streaming videos on human history; now it’s clear that there aren’t nearly enough videos on human biology, either. But we found a few, and they are fantastic, particularly the episodes from The Magic School Bus (which is making a comeback!). Enjoy—and, as always, let us know if you find some others, too.

Special thanks to research interns Ashley Council and Liz McInerney for helping to compile these lists.

Best videos on the systems of the human body

 

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  1. Fordham's Chad Aldis appeared on a much more sedate radio segment earlier this week, returning to WHK to talk more about the Common Core. The audio finally is available. Check it out. (WHK-AM, Cleveland)
     
  2. It must be a Friday during summer break because the education news in thin on the ground today. NCTQ’s new report analyzing teacher prep programs in Ohio spoke well of the University of Dayton and Miami University, and the DDN wants you to know. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. Remember that governor’s race we mentioned yesterday? Education came up again; this time dueling statements on the Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Says incumbent Kasich: “The whole point is not that some fail and some pass… It's that everybody gets the skills." Says challenger FitzGerald: “This week's test results reinforce that in order to ensure our children are reading at grade level by the third grade we must make a real investment in early childhood education and universal pre-K.” It’s going to be a long summer in Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. Graduation season is over in most schools and districts in Ohio and we’ve talked about a couple of the more unusual news stories
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  1. I missed this piece in yesterday’s barrage of clips on third grade reading scores around the state: Fordham’s Chad Aldis gets the last word on the subject of what the passage rate numbers mean in Gongwer’s report. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  2. Perhaps, though, I was really distracted yesterday morning by this wild ride of a radio townhall on the Common Core, in which Chad took a central role as literally the only person to have any idea of what the Common Core actually was. At one point there were a dozen open mics, Chad was asked for the sixth time (dared, really) to explain what exactly Common Core was, and got nothing but bashing for doing it. Some comments worth listening out for: “If Common Core will make kids ‘career-ready’, why doesn’t it require students to learn how to read a tape measure?”; “I know algebra, but my kids won’t need that stuff. Why put it in there if they don’t need it?”; “They’re reinventing the alphabet.”; and the inevitable reference to Communist Russia. This is long but a completely eye-opening view of what happens when Common Core haters on both left and right – with zero real information
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