Education Week - May 22, 2013 - (Page 26)

ed S KEY. OTE) 1/2 col. 1/2 col. V 26 EDUCATION WEEK n MAY 22, 2013 LETTERS to the EDITOR Dissenting Voices Shortchanged In New Orleans Article To the Editor: As featured subjects of the article “New Teachers Search for Place in New Orleans” (April 24, 2013), we would like to share our reactions to the story with Education Week readers. The article highlights many points that we were happy to see in print, such as the high percentage of inexperienced teachers in post-Katrina New Orleans and the changed racial makeup of the teaching force. We found the framing of the article to be misleading, however. By quoting numerous spokespeople for the corporate-reform agenda (Teach For America, the Recovery School District, and charter school chains, among others) but only quoting two of the many dissenting voices in the city, this article diminishes the multiracial, intergenerational movement of locals and transplants, including parents, students, and educators, that has been resisting this antidemocratic restructuring of New Orleans public schools since the start. A more balanced report would have included quotes from research organizations such as Research on Reforms or the Urban South Grassroots Research Collective; or parent-advocates like Karran Harper Royal or Ashana Bigard; or interviews with high school students Terrell Major or Meagan McKinnon of United Students of New Orleans about their experiences with tfa teachers; or veteran teacher and United Teachers of New Orleans Vice President Jim Randels about the rich history of community-led efforts to improve schools since long before Hurricane Katrina. Ignoring these voices reinforces the false narrative that black New Orleanians were not, and are not, engaged in the work of improving their schools. We hope to see this community-led movement portrayed respectfully by Education Week in the future. Hannah Sadtler Derek Roguski n WHAT DO YO WHAT DO YOU THINK? I recently came across the following “assessment prompt” imposed on 8th grade English teachers in a high-achieving school system by a common-core “consultant”: “After researching the people and events surrounding the Russian Revolution and reading Animal Farm by George Orwell, write an informational essay that defines allegory and explains how three events and/ or characters in the novel are parallel to events and/or people in Russia during its revolution and the reign of Joseph Stalin. Support your explanation with text-based evidence from Animal Farm and your research. Be sure to include why this is relevant in today’s world in your conclusion.” Raters are to look for “accurate use of content-specific vocabulary,” such as “Communism, Socialism, corruption, Marxism, Bolshevik, propaganda.” This is a ludicrous assignment at any educational level. Did no one in the central office check this consultant’s application of Mr. Coleman’s educational views to the curriculum? Didn’t English teachers complain? Did no 8th grade student complain to a parent? This is hardly the first such example to reach the media. Why haven’t the media asked literary scholars for their views on what incoming high school freshmen should have read? Surely they must want more than 7th grade reading skills. Earlier this year, Renaissance Learning Inc. came out with its latest report on what American students read, based on a survey Send to: conducted in fall 2012 about the preceding academic year. The average level of what kids in grades 9-12 read in school year Letters should be as brief as possible, 2011-12 reached a new low on the readingwithdeveloped by Renaissance, level scale a maximum length of 300 words. dropping further below a 7th grade reading level than had been the case in 2010. How far must we decline before naive governors and state legislators realize they must construct an alternative public school system? Write a letter to the editor! 1/4 col. v Sandra Stotsky Professor Emerita of Education Reform University of Arkansas Fayetteville, Ark. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Write a letter to the editor! New Teachers’ Roundtable New Orleans, La. Editor’s Note: Parent-advocates Karran Harper Royal and Ashana Bigard; high school junior Terrell Major; United Teachers of New Orleans staff members; and former New Orleans public school teacher Damekia Morgan were interviewed for the article. Although they were not quoted, the reporter drew on their views in framing the story. ‘Cold’ Reading, Common Core Limit Students’ Literacy Gains To the Editor: Where is the national conversation on what should be taught in the secondary English class and how? How was one person, David Coleman—known as the chief architect of the common-core standards—able to turn the entire school curriculum upside down, with nothing to support his bizarre ideas on doing “cold,” i.e., noncontextual, readings of historical documents and reducing literary study to less than 50 percent of reading instructional time, all in the name of leveling the playing field? Send to: Letters should be as brief as possible, with a maximum length of 300 words. Technology Provides the Means For Rethinking Use of Testing To the Editor: The rifts described in the front-page article in the May 8 issue are obviously between adults and have little to do with children (“Rifts Deepen Over Direction of Education Policy in U.S.”). This battle royal about testing, among other issues, brings to mind how a friend characterized it: “Traditional testing is an autopsy.” We are arguing about how and why, at the end of the school year, our children are subjected to tests that are supposed to determine the fate of the adults who teach them and affect their own learning experience. That’s the way we’ve always done it, and that’s the hallmark of the accountability movement that was part of the No Child Left Behind Act—itself an attempt by the federal government to find out whether its Title I funds were actually being spent to help underserved students. Wake up, people. Incorporating technology as an integral part of the curriculum does away with the need for year-end, high-stakes testing. It gives students constant feedback, teachers daily opportunities to work on their students’ specific needs, and taxpayers a way not only to track performance but to help all students achieve their potential. Instead of the investment of so much treasure by both sides in this emperor-hasno-clothes argument, America’s children would be much better served if the adults realized there is an outside-the-box 21stcentury solution that’s just waiting to be implemented. the comprehensive high schools have been transformed into academies, an ongoing structure, Alignment Nashville, ensures the participation of employers, easing the task of securing and coordinating work-based learning opportunities. Alignment of academy pathways with economic-development needs also avoids the tracking that the Education Trust is rightly concerned about, assuring that all students are prepared for high-wage, highskill careers. Ilene Kantrov Director, Pathways to College and Careers Learning and Teaching Division Education Development Center Inc. Waltham, Mass. Send to: e Edc is a partner in Ford’s Next Generation Learning initiative and has collaborated with pai, casn, and ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, which supports Linked Learning. Edc is also a member of the National Career Academy Coalition. 1/5 H Vendors’ Quality Is Crucial Factor In Discussion of Privatization To the Editor: Your recent Industry & Innovation Special Report (April 24, 2013) raised a critical issue about the privatization of public education. Improvement needs in states and districts often exceed the organizational capacity, and, increasingly, private organizations—vendors—receive contracts to design and implement policy-mandated programs. This form of privatization is increasingly acknowledged and debated. However, there is limited discussion of the quality of services provided or Letters should the evidence base underlying them, in possible, with spite of expectations of evidence-based decisionmaking and practice. That length of 3 discussion should be part of the public dialogue, as vendors are positioned to have a significant impact on what happens in schools. Quality matters, and attention needs to be paid to whether the services implemented are likely to improve teaching and learning. Delaware, one of the first of the federal Race to the Top winners, mandates that proposals from vendors include discussion of the “evidence of effectiveness” and the “research base for your chosen methodology.” Laudably, this section of the application carries the greatest weight in the scoring of proposals. The extent to which education agencies’ approach to the request-for-proposal process incorporate demands for research use communicates the value of research, commitment to evidence-based practice, and expectations for quality. Services purchased to support our schools ought to be grounded in evidence that implementation will improve teaching and learning. In my research, I have found that not all vendors draw on research or other evidence, nor do they rely on a common body of evidence in designing services. This is a red flag when investing in vendors, as the likelihood of desired outcomes is unknown. As we debate the issue of privatization in public education, these issues of quality should be central to the conversation. Through that dialogue, we can improve the quality of both the process of acquiring services and the services themselves. WHAT DO YOU TH Gisèle Huff Executive Director Jaquelin Hume Foundation San Francisco, Calif. The author is also chairman of the board of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, based in San Mateo, Calif. Alternative-Pathways Story Omitted Career Academy Model To the Editor: The article “States Seek High School Pathways Weaving Academic, Career Options” (April 24, 2013) highlights several promising efforts to address the need for career pathways modeled on the European apprenticeship system. The article doesn’t mention the career academy model, one particularly successful approach to preparing young people for a range of postsecondary and career opportunities tied to economic-development needs. Career academies, started in Philadelphia in 1969 and supported there today by Philadelphia Academies Inc., or pai, are backed by research demonstrating their positive impacts on academic outcomes— including attendance, grade point averages, graduation rates, and college-attendance rates—and labor-market outcomes. A number of initiatives across the country promote this movement to provide industry-themed pathways that bring together rigorous academic learning, technical education, and workbased learning to prepare students for postsecondary education and careers. In addition to pai, these include Linked Learning in California; the National Academy Foundation; the College & Career Academy Support Network, or casn, at the University of California, Berkeley; and the National Career Academy Coalition. Pai also serves as a hub for the Ford Next Generation Learning, or ngl, which goes a step further by engaging all sectors of the community (employers, civic organizations, and postsecondary institutions) in aligning resources to transform secondary schools and the workforce development system. Ford ngl’s mobilization of community resources is particularly effective in addressing a challenge the article identifies: providing students with intensive workbased learning experiences. In Nashville, Tenn., a Ford ngl community where all Write a to the e Send to: ewletter@ Elizabeth Farley-Ripple Assistant Professor School of Education University of Delaware Newark, Del.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 22, 2013

Education Week - May 22, 2013
District Bets Big on Standards
FOCUS ON: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: States Stepping Up Mandates for School Safety Drills
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Schools Facing the Expiration of Windows XP
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Debates Roil Over Control of Schools in Baton Rouge
Study: Teenagers’ Brains Are Wired for Peer Approval
Analysis Calls for Dual-Language Pre-K for Young ELLs
PROFILE: Brian Pick
PROFILE: Dowan Mcnair-Lee
PROFILE: Mikel Robinson
States Tighten Disclosure of Teacher Evaluations
Blogs of the Week
NRC Framework Seen as Valued Resource for Educators
A Spec. Ed. Twist on Common-Core Testing
K-12 Colors Campaigns in Virginia, New Jersey
Policy Brief
CYNTHIA G. BROWN: The ‘How’ of Equitable School Funding
JIM CHILDRESS: Designing Learning Spaces for A New Age of Discovery
JEANNE ZAINO: Teaching the Metric System: A Cautionary Tale for the Common Core
Topschooljobs Recruitment Marketplace
LISA HANSEL: The Common Core Needs a Common Curriculum

Education Week - May 22, 2013