First Bell

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS
The Senate Education Committee Wednesday unanimously approved a bill reauthorizing the Institute for Education Sciences. Edweek calls the bill “largely noncontroversial,” but Checker Finn has pointed out that it fails to safeguard the autonomy of critical education data.

AND IN THESE DETAILS
An Annenberg Institute report calls for states to “revisit and tune-up state charter laws and authorizer practices” to “eliminate student inequities” and “achieve complete transparency and accountability.” The AFT issued a statement trumpeting the report. ‘Nuff said.

TWEET LOVE, OR NOT
“Hey Karen Lewis, I can still read your tweets,” writes Natasha Korecki of the Chicago-Sun Times after being blocked by the CTU union president and possibly mayoral candidate. For Lewis’ part, she says she didn’t know that she’d blocked the reporter.

RETHINKING SCHOOL EVALUATIONS
Jeb Bush has inaugurated the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s school report card design competition, offering monetary prizes for the designs that best “reimagine the transparency, presentation and usability of school information.”  ExcelinEd’s emphasis on clarity underscores the widespread concern that existing evaluations poorly convey important information to parents and community members.      

NO EXIT EXAM
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COLLEGE OPT OUT
Only 44 percent of Americans think getting a college education is “very important” compared to 75 percent four years ago, according to the annual PDK-Gallup poll, which also shows “a majority of public school parents want teacher training programs to be more selective.”

SUE BABY SUE
A lawsuit aimed at closing the charter school funding gap on behalf of upstate New York schools “could be a boon for nearly 70 charter schools” in New York City, Chalkbeat reports.  

POSITIVE, BUT SLOW MOVEMENT
The poverty rate for children under 18 declined last year for the first time since 2000, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau cited in the New York Times. But one in five children are still poor.

BLOW MINDS, TEACH STEM
“This story is simple: The future depends on great STEM teachers. We’re recruiting 100,000 more.” Check out Blowminds.org for career advice on how to change the world....

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STRETCHING COGNITIVE LIMITS ON ACHIEVEMENT
Each year of attendance at an oversubscribed charter school increased the math test scores of students in the sample by roughly 50 percent over the typical students, EducationNext reports, but had no impact on their fluid cognitive skills.

TICK, TICK, TICK…..
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has received only 141 out of more than 500 contracts required for review to launch Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious universal preschool program. School starts September 4. That’s September 4, 2014.  

ICYMI: JINDAL SUES
And the story is getting some coverage: Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Politico, and more. Petrilli’s take: “"Bobby Jindal is not going to win these lawsuits, but he is going to win politically just by staging the fight.”

HOW DO YOU GET TO CARNEGIE HALL?  TAXICAB, MAYBE...
Sorry, Malcolm Gladwell. It turns out that 10,000 hours of practice will not make you an expert. A new meta-analysis finds practice explains just 12 percent of skill mastery and subsequent success, Smithsonian reports.

STRETCH THAT SCHOOL DOLLAR
The Daily Beast highlights twenty-five schools that are “doing the most with the least;” and note the charter...

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BOBBY SUE
Bobby Jindal plans to file a lawsuit today, accusing the federal government of  illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt Common Core. It has been observed that the Louisiana governor may covet national office.  

EIGHT TOUGHEST CHALLENGES FACING ED REFORM
In Education Week, Fordham’s Finn notes where education reform has made significant advances, (a la school choice), but outlines work still to do—including one of the seven deadly sins.

THIS OP-ED SCORES IN THE 99TH PERCENTILE
“We have convulsions when we read the nonsense being passed off as testing insights,” says a real, live psychometrician in the New York Daily News.

FORDHAM IN THE NEWS
Amber Northern is no fan of teachers unions, and on Fox News she wonders why the New York UFT is a fan of Al Sharpton.

READING, WRITING, AND ROLLER COASTERS
Kids in Washington, D.C., and Maryland are back to school this week, but it’s still summer vacation in Virginia, thanks to the state’s powerful amusement-park lobby.

FRESHMAN ORIENTATION AT PCU
No idea what “Transnational Transgender Social Formations” means? Bari Weiss in the Wall Street Journal advises new students at Politically Correct University to stick...

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AND YOUR ENDOWMENT STILL GROWS TAX-FREE?
There are lots more poor students graduating from high school and going to college than ever before. Just not elite colleges. The New York Times reports top colleges educate roughly the same percentage of low-income kids as they did a generation ago. Separately, Vox notes Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are rich enough to let kids attend for free.

ELL TO PAY
Most of the 55,000 unaccompanied children who crossed the border illegally in the past will be enrolling in school in the U.S. “Most will require a number of supports that can be costly,” Education Week reports, “including English-language instruction, as well as counseling and mental-health services.”

DOWN AND OUT IN CALIFORNIA
Thousands of California students never make it to the ninth grade. “With most dropout prevention and recovery efforts centered on the upper grades,” notes the Hechinger Report. “These students slip through the cracks early on and are faced with bleak futures unless they find their own way back.”

CALMING CORE CRITICS
Florida's Republican governor Rick Scott said on Monday that Florida's department of education will ‘investigate’ all standardized testing and look for ways to deregulate selection of instructional materials. The moves are intended to calm critics of Common Core, Reuters reports.

YES, PLEASE, I’D LOVE TO DO A KEG STAND
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THE SOFT PUNDITRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS
As New York City races ahead with its mammoth PreK expansion, some analysts say “anything short of a disaster” could benefit mayor de Blasio, the Associated Press reports

PRESSING THE RHEESTART BUTTON
Michelle Rhee’s departure from StudentsFirst “could represent a significant shift in the environment” for DFER. 50CAN, Stand for Children and others. “These groups, which have grown in prominence in a number of states...are dealing with pushback from traditional education interest groups,” Edweek reports.

EDUWARS BY PROXY
Teachers unions attack “proxy enemies” like Campbell Brown, Michelle Rhee, and Arne Duncan, because Obama remains highly popular with the union rank-and-file, notes New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait.  “Asking teachers to choose between Obama and the union line runs the risk that many teachers will decide the union is wrong,” he writes.

DADS SHOULD SEE THESE CHARTS TOO
Only half of education jobs are teacher jobs, reminds The Daily Signal in four charts for moms. Dads should take a look too.

LET’S BE SAFE OUT THERE
It’s the first day of school for students in Washington, DC and elsewhere.  The New York Times reports on opening day in Ferguson....

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WHAT WOULD HUEY P. LONG DO?
Jindal’s about-face on Common Core has created chaos in Louisiana, the New York Times reports, and turned some allies against him. Says one, “No permanent friends. No permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.” Somewhere, the Kingfish smiles.

PICK ME! PICK ME!
Which U.S. city is the choice and charter capital? New Orleans? New York? Try Miami. This year, half of Miami-Dade students, 56,000 total, are in schools their families picked themselves, says the Miami Herald.

I’LL BET KRUGMAN HAS TENURE
“There’s no sense in putting something as crucial as children’s education in the hands of a professional class with less accountability than others and with job protections that most Americans can only fantasize about,” opines the Times' Frank Bruni.  

I’LL HAVE WHAT SHE’S HAVING
Fordham’s Robert Pondiscio in the New York Daily News on the eye-popping test results posted by Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy.  If she’s got the secret sauce to student achievement, it’s time for it to be bottled and sold.

FORDHAM IN THE NEWS
CSN News trumpets our new report The Hidden Half: School Employees Who Don't Teach.  And Gannett Newspapers reminds readers of our review of Common Core, which gave the standards a B+ in English and an A- in math.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS AREN’T
This pro-unschooling article in Outside magazine (naturally) says classroom education “enjoys scant historical precedent.” Bust those kids out of school! Turn ‘em loose in nature!  Know what else has scant historical precedent? Movable type. Penicillin. The internal...

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THE EVA EMPIRE
Seven of the fifteen top-scoring schools on New York’s math proficiency tests this year were Success Academy charter schools. Richard Whitmire says the stellar results make founder Eva Moskowitz more toxic as she seeks to expand.

DRILL, BABY, DRILL!
More evidence that memorizing basic math facts is good for kids. Healthy children switch from counting to math fact retrieval at 8-9 years old, says this new study.  

SHEEN FADES ON NCLB WAIVERS
Waivers "gave states room to breathe," says Andy Smarick, "but what's left feels extremely messy," he said. Meanwhile, remember not to mention the “w-word” around Petrilli.

WHY THE ATLANTA TESTING SCANDAL MATTERS
The trial raises two big questions, NPR notes: How common is cheating? And what else might be happening in schools as a result of tests?

TRADING HER BROOM FOR A RAKE?
Some teachers say they’ll boycott Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. now that Michelle Rhee has joined the board.

MAKING THE CUT
The New York State Education Department dropped the number of raw points needed to hit proficiency levels in half of this year’s Common Core tests, officials acknowledged to the New York Post.

DON'T READ THAT, READ THIS
Schools are not businesses, opines Berkeley professor David L. Kirp in The New York Times. That’s not an op-ed, responds Neerav...

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A first look at today's most important education news

The Brookings Institution releases two new papers on public-pension reform—one on political lessons learned in the reform efforts of Utah, Rhode Island, Illinois, and New Jersey and one on their recommendations for a model pension structure. (Brookings)

Mayor Bill de Blasio contends that with his proposed higher income tax, New York City will be able to add up to 29,000 new pre-K seats. (New York Times)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the first time ever, has issued guidelines regulating how food is marketed in schools, with the intention of cracking down on widespread junk-food advertising and teaching kids to make healthier eating choices. (NPR and Washington Post)

A new report out of the Center for Community College Student Engagement finds that black and Latino males attending community college have some of the highest educational ambitions of any other subgroups—but are also the least likely to realize those aspirations. (Hechinger Ed)

The latest in a string of concerns over student-data privacy, a recent study finds that cloud computing services used by some schools and districts to transfer student data are vulnerable to data mining for commercial purposes. In response to these and other concerns, the Department of Education is issuing new guidance on student data. (Digital/Ed and Politics K–12)

The Charters & Choice blog rounds up charter-school policy changes taking place in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia....

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A first look at today's most important education news.
  • In a letter issued to members of the House Budget Committee, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon claimed the education budget for the current fiscal year overestimates the revenue actually available. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, critics claim the $2.15 Billion education budget will not be enough. (Missouri Net and Mississippi Public Broadcasting)
  • Obama’s forthcoming budget will include funding for early childhood education programs (The New York Times)
  • Although Support for Common Core is at a‘critical juncture’, the Georgia Senate committee unanimously voted for legislation that will force the state to retreat from the Common Core. (Politico Proand Online Athens)
  • There is no easy fix for the California's teacher pension fund which faces a $71-billion shortfall. (The Los Angeles Times)
  • Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to veto a school prayer billwhich codifies students’ right to pray in school; wear religious clothing or accessories; and express religious viewpoints at school forums. (Politico Pro)
  • Major companies contribute $750 million worth of products and free high-speed Internet services to schools as part of Obamasschool Internet initiative. (Politico Pro)
  • There are fears that schools are promoting vocational education in lieu of more academic subjects.  (Politico Pro)
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