Monday, November 30, 2009

Brutal Heavy Lifting (DO the RIGHT Thing)


En route to the ‘Top’

The carrot is tantalizing: a share of $4.3 bil lion set aside in federal stimulus money to help a handful of states revamp failing schools.

But some in Michigan’s educational estab lishment are balking at the stick: more charter schools, expanded alternative teacher certifi cation, and teacher reviews tied to student performance.

If Michigan is going to win, or even compete for, the federal Race to the Top dollars that are being dangled in front of states, it will need to embrace reforms that have confounded the state in the past.

It’s well worth doing, no matter whose hide gets a little tanned in the process.

In a way, Race to the Top is a shrewd fol low- up to the No Child Left Behind reforms rolled out by former President George W.

Bush. He believed his landmark education act would incentivize states to embrace reforms through the enforcement of tough standards.

He learned pretty quickly that the education establishment could be bullheaded in its recal citrance.

Enter President Barack Obama and his administration, which puts the proposition more bluntly: Enact reforms, or be left out of key federal funding.

Race to the Top requires states who even apply for funds to align their schools with fed eral guidelines. It’s an attempt to change pol icy in a lot of states in a short time.

In Michigan, as in most states, the primary opposition is expected to come from teachers’ unions, which have opposed most such re forms in the past.

But Michigan Education Association presi dent Iris Salters says her organization hasn’t decided whether, or how, it might oppose changes to help the state qualify for the federal money. Her union, Michigan’s biggest for teachers, is working with the governor and the Department of Education to figure out what the state needs to change to compete.

Some of Salters’ concerns are reasonable and ought to help shape the state’s efforts. But if MEA leaders are primarily interested in preserving the status quo, state policymakers will have to move forward without them.

Salters, for example, points out that open ing up broader alternative certification might make it even harder for the 9,000 teachers the state graduates each year to land jobs here.

That may be so for teachers in some fields, but many districts have trouble recruiting good math and science teachers, and alternative certification might help there. Salters cautions that those who’ve mastered specialized con tent areas can’t be presumed to have mastered teaching them, as well. But no one proposes putting wholly untrained instructors in class rooms; reformers simply want to rethink the requirement that every teacher have an educa tion degree.

Salters also says the Race to the Top re quirement to tie teacher performance to stu dent performance is limited to a single test (in Michigan, probably the MEAP), and she ques tions whether that would serve educational purposes. But nothing in Race to the Top pre vents the state from going further. Michigan could create more sophisticated ways to mea sure student achievement. The MEA would do better to help shape those measures than it would to oppose the idea.

The MEA has historically opposed the ex pansion of charter schools. One of its objec tions has been lax oversight. Race to the Top could be seen as an opportunity to tighten that oversight, a long overdue reform, so the expan sion does not come with a downside.

If the MEA is savvy, it could use Race to the Top as a way to help put its own mark on re form.

If it doesn’t, state officials should stiffen their spines to oppose union obstruction. The federal money, and the reforms that are tied to it, are too important to Michigan’s future.

SOMETHING to THINK ABOUT (Submitted by: Mrs. Lynne Reich)

Contact Information:
(775) 852-3483 ext. 425

Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Why our Nation Needs to Educate our Gifted and Talented Youth:
·         The United States can expect to lose well over $300 billion in potential earnings a year due to high school dropouts. If this annual pattern is allowed to continue, more than 12 million students will drop out of school during the next decade at a cost to the nation of more than $3 trillion. (Alliance for Excellent Education; 2009)
·         If the 1.2 million high school dropouts from the Class of 2008 had earned their diplomas instead of dropping out, the U.S. economy would have seen an additional $319 billion in wages over these students' lifetimes.  ( Alliance for Excellent Education; 2009)
·         As recently as 1995 America was tied for first in college graduation rates; by 2006 this ranking had dropped to 14th. (McKinsey & Company, The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap inAmerica ’s Schools; April 2009)
·         The United States has among the smallest proportion of 15-year-olds performing at the highest levels of proficiency in math. Korea, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, and the Czech Republic have at least five times the proportion of top performers as the United States. (McKinsey & Company, The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools; April 2009)
·         Four-fifths (81%) of teachers believe that “our advanced students need special attention – they are the future leaders of this country, and their talents will enable us to compete in a global economy.” (High Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB; 2008)
·         About one-third of all jobs in the United States require science or technology competency, but currently only 17 percent of Americans graduate with science or technology majors … in China, 52 percent of college degrees awarded are in science and technology. (William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University, Congressional testimony July 2005)
·         Only 11 percent of bachelor’s degrees in the United States are in the sciences or engineering, compared with 23 percent in the rest of the world and 50 percent in China. (National Summit on Competitiveness December 2005)
·         China graduates about 500,000 engineers per year, while India produces 200,000 and the United States turns out a mere 70,000. ( National Academy of Sciences: “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” October 2005)
·         45% of new U.S. patents are granted to foreigners. (Education Week “A Quiet Crisis is Clouding the Future of R&D” May 25, 2005)
·         Only three of the top 10 recipients of U.S. patents in 2003 were American companies. ( NationalAcademy of Sciences: “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” October 2005)
·         In the fourth grade, U.S. students score above the international average in math and near first in science. At eighth grade, they score below average in math, and only slightly above average in science. By 12th grade, U.S. students are near the bottom of a 49-country survey in both math and science, outscoring only Cyprus and South Africa (William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University, Congressional testimony July 2005)
·         Less than 15 percent of U.S. students have the prerequisites to pursue scientific or technical degrees in college. (William R. Brody, president of Johns Hopkins University, Congressional testimony July 2005)
·         The number of students in the United States planning to pursue engineering degrees declined by one-third between 1992 and 2002. (The Business Roundtable July 2005)
·         88% of high school dropouts had passing grades, but dropped out due to boredom. (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: “The Silent Epidemic” March 2006)
·         Up to 20 percent of high school dropouts test in the gifted range. (Handbook for Gifted Education, 2003)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Learning, Doing, Being: A New Science of Education

Learning, Doing, Being: A New Science of Education [Speaking of Faith® from American Public Media]

November 19, 2009
What Adele Diamond is learning about the brain challenges basic assumptions in modern education. Her work is scientifically illustrating the educational power of things like play, sports, music, memorization and reflection. What nourishes the human spirit, the whole person, it turns out, also hones our minds.
I listened to Adele Diamond's interview and you can too. There is a podcast on the link posted above. Adele is a Nuero scientist whose studies confirm the absolute necessity of maintaining a Wholistic learning/living environment to engage and maintain a child's cognitive development.
As we know, the nourished Mind and Spirit are inseperable and along with a nourished body will allow for all children to grow into responsible creative individuals who are capable of solving the challenges facing them and life on this planet.
I would challenge you to listen to the podcast and comment on how we can get together to create and expand the kinds of learning communities that would foster these opportunities for all children.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Meeting: Warren Consolidated Schools Macomb, Math, Science and Technology Center (City of Romulus) 11-23-2009 10:30AM

"Fly Me to the Moon!"

Posted: Wednesday, 18 November 2009 3:38PM

Metro Airport Explores Wind Power

Detroit Metropolitan Airport will further reduce its consumption of fossil fuels by producing its own wind energy at two locations on opposite ends of the facility.

The Wayne County Airport Authority Board approved a contract with Michigan-based Southern Exposure Renewable Energy Co. to install five wind turbines at the airport entrance on Rogell Drive and at the South Cell Phone Lot on Eureka Road.

Unlike the traditional, towering, three-blade, windmill-type turbines, the Windspire units, manufactured by MasTech Manufacturing of Manisee, are cylindrical, vertical-axis wind turbines that operate quietly while generating electricity for immediate use regardless of wind direction. At only 30-feet in height, they easily fit within DTW’s airspace height limitations.

“We have calculated that the two units at the South Cell Phone Lot will, on average, generate 60 to 70 percent of the power needed for the lot’s overhead lights and to illuminate the sign,” said WCAA Director of Facilities and Infrastructure Ali Dib. “On windy days and during daylight hours, we will be feeding electricity back to DTE Energy’s grid.”

The wind energy project is one of many environmentally friendly initiatives at the airport. DTW has been the world leader in recycling aircraft de-icing fluid for eight of the past nine years. The new North Terminal is programmed to harvest daylight and to automatically reduce lighting and cooling in terminal areas not in use. The North Terminal also supplies pre-conditioned air, 400hz power and underground jet fuel to each gate which reduces the need for aircraft engines to be idling and excess vehicles on the ramp. This is expected to reduce emissions of various air pollutants by more than 1,300 tons over the expected life-span of the building.

The airport has installed a solar panel and LED lighting prototype at the North Cell Phone Lot and established more efficient electrical fixtures in the parking structures saving $79,000 in energy costs annually.

In 1999, Detroit Metropolitan Airport received international acclamation for the creation of Crosswinds Marsh, a 1,000-acre wetland preserve constructed in Sumpter Township to replace airfield wetlands disturbed by runway and terminal construction. Described as “Michigan’s showcase wetland,” the preserve continues to provide spectacular habitat for a variety of wildlife and offers public access and educational opportunities for children.

“Many other such initiatives are under way or planned for the future,” said WCAA CEO Lester Robinson. “We continue to look for opportunities to be a friend to the environment while maintaining one of the most operationally-capable airports in the world.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009


HEAVY LIFTING of the MINDSET (Daniel Pink)

NATIONAL Heavy Lifting MEET the PRESS (Arne Duncan) Sunday, November 15, 2009

ON EDUCATION begins at 19:30 of Video (PATIENCE PLEASE)


Gov. Jennifer Granholm shakes hands as people gather at the state Capitol on Tuesday to rally for increased school funding. (ROD SANFORD/Associated Press)
Posted: Nov. 15, 2009


Education cuts put recovery at risk

Disinvestment in schools will discourage employers


This past week, superintendents, teachers and parents journeyed to Lansing to demand that the Legislature raise money for the School Aid Fund to prevent the deep cuts that will begin impacting our schools within weeks. I strongly support their efforts to prevent these cuts from happening. You don't need to have kids or grandkids in public schools to know that funding for education is vital to Michigan's economy.

Michigan is undergoing an unprecedented, historic economic transformation. The global manufacturing economy has shifted, and Michigan must accept the change and adapt. There's no time for denial, blame or finger-pointing; we must face this new reality head-on. What is the fundamental strategy for success in overcoming this challenge? Education, education, education.

An educated work force is the single most important asset we can have if we want to attract new investment and new good-paying jobs to our state in this knowledge-driven economy. Without action by the Legislature now, schools will have to disinvest -- laying off teachers and increasing class sizes. It has been estimated that these cuts could eliminate three thousand to five thousand jobs in our schools. The Legislature would justifiably do back-flips to bring a major employer with that number of jobs to our state. But so far, with an equal number of jobs at stake in our schools, the Legislature appears to be sitting on its hands.

The cause of this financial crisis in our schools could not be more clear. When our largest employers go bankrupt and citizens lose their jobs, state budget revenues plummet. It's particularly true for the school budget, which is funded in large part by the sales tax. When people don't shop during a recession, money for schools disappears. That's why our School Aid Fund is in deep trouble. Both of the state's nonpartisan fiscal agencies have issued warnings: There is not enough money to fund schools at current levels. The law mandates that when the money is not in the bank, school funding must be cut. But the story doesn't have to end there.

I have asked the Legislature to do two things. First, pass an immediate solution now. Second, work with me on long-term solutions to stabilize funding and reform our education system. In the short term, the Legislature can pass three targeted revenues to soften the blow to schools: freeze the personal exemption on the income tax at this year's level ($55 million), reduce special interest loopholes as much as we have reduced state government departments ($150 million) and tax loose tobacco and flavored cigarillos as we tax cigarettes ($35 million). These three, narrow measures would be a small price to pay to prevent devastating mid-year cuts to our schools.

Schools understand that they will have to accept some cuts this year. They will have to share services and consolidate. Teachers and administrators all must have skin in the game to channel every available cent to the classroom. But the additional deep cuts the Legislature is forcing on these schools cannot stand.

In addition to closing the gap in our School Aid Fund, the Legislature must act now to restore the Michigan Promise scholarship. In order to move our economy forward, we set an audacious goal of doubling the number of college graduates. The Michigan Promise scholarship, promised to almost 100,000 college students this year alone, has been a key part of that strategy. The Legislature eliminated it in the budget, making it much harder for Michigan students and Michigan families to afford higher education. I am asking the Legislature to raise the funds to keep that Promise. It is not too late.

Whether it's in our K-12 schools or in our colleges and universities, we must commit Michigan to educational greatness, not mediocrity. Every economist agrees that if we want a vibrant, diverse economy, we must have a skilled, educated workforce.

That's why I am joining with students, parents, educators and citizens across our great state to fight for a stable stream of revenue to ensure that goal is met. There's no more important issue in our state today if we want to promote economic recovery and more good-paying jobs in Michigan.

Jennifer M. Granholm is governor of Michigan.

LOCAL Heavy Lifting FLASHPOINT Sunday, Novmeber 15, 2009


HEAVY LIFTING: New Information on "Success Factors!"

School Districts to Be Big Players in Race to the Top Contest

By Lesli Maxwell on November 12, 2009 12:45 PM | No Comments | No TrackBacks

It's clear now in the final rules for the Race to the Top grants that states will have to guarantee some big time buy-in from local school districts if they want to snag a slice of the $4 billion prize.

A state's "success factors," which include securing commitments from local districts, is worth 125 points of out of a total of 500. That's second only to teacher and principal effectiveness, worth 138 points. And of those 125 points, 65 are connected to how well a state can guarantee that local districts will carry out whatever reform agenda it proposes.

As Michele McNeil writes in her story today, the support of local school districts is so key that if there's a tie between states, and not enough money to award both of them, then the strength of the districts' commitment is the tiebreaker.

So, just how will a state's school district commitments be judged? According to the rules, states will have to show that districts, through binding agreements, have committed to "implement all or significant portions of the work outlined in the State's plan." On those agreements, Race to the Top judges will be looking for signatures of superintendents, school board presidents, and local teachers' union leaders, as well as "tables that summarize which portions of the State plans [local districts] are committing to implement and how extensive the [local district's] leadership support is."

I scoured the rules to find more on this, and, on page 223, found language explaining that once a state wins an RttT grant, its local districts will have three months to detail how they will implement the state's chosen reforms by completing "specific goals, activities, timelines, budgets, key personnel, and annual targets for key performance measures."

And if you look on page 768 (yes, I said page 768) of the full lineup of rules, you will find a "model" Memorandum of Understanding that the department would consider to be a strong agreement between states and their local school districts.

Judges will also be looking at not just how many districts have bought in, but how broad an impact they will have on student outcomes, which is probably good news for a state like California where it would be next to impossible to corral agreement from more than 1,000 school districts.

If California can get a few of its massive districts such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Long Beach, Sacramento, and Fresno to commit, the potential statewide impact would be broad indeed. Those six districts alone educate roughly 1 million of the state's 6 million public school children.

But would that be looked on as favorably, say, as a state like Colorado, where more than half of the 178 school districts have already signed letters of intent to indicate that they are on board?

HEAVY LIFTING: Underpinnings and Tent-poles


Two years ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute came together to grade the states on school performance. In that first Leaders and Laggards report, we found much to applaud but even more that requires urgent improvement. 

In this follow-up report, we turn our attention to the future, looking not at how states are performing today, but at what they are doing to prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead. Thus, some states with positive academic results receive poor grades on our measures of innovation, while others with lackluster scholarly achievement nevertheless earn high marks for policies that are creating an entrepreneurial culture in their schools. We chose this focus because, regardless of current academic accomplishment in each state, we believe innovative educational practices are vital to laying the groundwork for continuous and transformational change.

And change is essential. Put bluntly, we believe our education system needs to be reinvented. After decades of political inaction and ineffective reforms, our schools consistently produce students unready for the rigors of the modern workplace. The lack of preparedness is staggering. Roughly one in three eighth graders is proficient in reading. Most high schools graduate little more than two-thirds of their students on time. And even the students who do receive a high school diploma lack adequate skills: More than 33% of first-year college students require remediation in either math or English.

We think of educational innovation not as a fad but as the prerequisite for deep, systematic change, the kind of change that is necessary--and long overdue.

But we also believe that reinvention will never be accomplished with silver bullets. Our school system needs far-reaching innovation. It is archaic and broken, a relic of a time when high school graduates could expect to live prosperous lives, when steel and auto factories formed the backbone of the American economy, and when laptop computers and the Internet were the preserve of science fiction writers. And while the challenges are many--inflexible regulations, excessive bureaucracy, a dearth of fresh thinking--the bottom line is that most education institutions simply lack the tools, incentives, and opportunities to reinvent themselves in profoundly more effective ways.

By "innovation" we do not mean blindly celebrating every nifty-sounding reform. If anything, we have had too much of such educational innovation over the years, as evidenced by the sequential embrace of fads and the hurried cycling from one new "best practice" to another that so often characterizes K-12 schooling. States and school systems, in other words, have too long confused the novel with the useful. Rather, we believe innovation to be the process of leveraging new tools, talent, and management strategies to craft solutions that were not possible or necessary in an earlier era.

Our aim is to encourage states to embrace policies that make it easier to design smart solutions that serve 21st century students and address 21st century challenges. The impulse to either dictate one-size-fits-all solutions from the top or simply to do something--anything--differently will not address our pressing needs. Instead, this report seeks to foster a flexible, performance-oriented culture that will help our schools meet educational challenges.

Today, various organizations are addressing stubborn challenges by pursuing familiar notions of good teaching and effective schooling in impressively coherent, disciplined, and strategic ways. Some are public school districts, such as Long Beach Unified School District in California and Aldine Independent School District in Texas. An array of charter school entrepreneurs are also working within the public school system and seeing encouraging results, such as the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Academies, YES Prep, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and Achievement First. Other independent ventures have also devised promising approaches to important challenges, including Citizen Schools, EdisonLearning, The New Teacher Project, K12 Inc., Blackboard Inc., Wireless Generation, Teach for America, and New Leaders for New Schools.

Even these marquee reformers, however, struggle to sidestep entrenched practices, raise funds, find talent, and secure support. Moreover, these highly successful ventures often pale when viewed beside the larger K-12 enterprise. The 80-odd KIPP schools, approximately 130 school leaders trained annually by New Leaders for New Schools, and 2,200 teachers trained each year by The New Teacher Project are dwarfed by the nation's 14,000 school districts, 100,000 schools, and 3.2 million teachers. The challenge is to boost the chance that creative problem solvers will ultimately make a real, lasting difference for our nation and our children.

Fortunately, our report comes at a time when national attention to educational innovation is on the upswing. The new federal Race to the Top Fund has brought additional attention to the need to rethink our system, for instance, while numerous other efforts are under way at the state and local levels. It is far too early to endorse any particular plan or to say which ones will be effective. But now is the time for state leaders to show the political will to pursue reform.

Along the way, high standards, accountability, and sensible progress measures are essential. But care must be taken not to allow familiar modes of measurement to smother reform. Too often, reformers tend to embrace only those advances that we can conveniently measure with today's crude tools, such as grades three-to-eight reading and math scores. The principal virtue of the No Child Left Behind Act, for example--a much-needed focus on outcomes and transparency--has been coupled with a bureaucratic impulse and an inflexible, cookie-cutter approach to gauging teacher and school quality. We must not retreat from the promise of high standards and accountability. But we should also embrace what might be called smart quality control. That means measuring the value of various providers and solutions in terms of what they are intended to do--whether that is recruiting teachers or tutoring foreign languages--rather than merely on whether they affect the rate at which students improve their performance on middle school reading and math tests.

Improved accountability and flexibility, while vital, will not be enough to achieve the changes we seek: Capacity building is also crucial. We define this overused term to mean the need for a variety of new providers that deliver additional support to educators in answering classroom and schoolwide challenges. More broadly, however, this effort must be complemented by giving new providers the freedom and encouragement they need to promote high-quality research and development, and to develop innovative "green shoot" reform ventures that pioneer more effective tools and strategies.

Ultimately, though, the key to improving results will be to help schools not only to avoid mistakes, but to position themselves better to adopt imaginative solutions. In brief, for reform to take hold our states and schools must practice purposeful innovation.

To examine the degree to which states have developed such a culture, we focused on eight areas:
  • School Management (including the strength of charter school laws and the percentage of teachers who like the way their schools are run)
  • Finance (including the accessibility of state financial data)
  • Staffing: Hiring & Evaluation (including alternative certification for teachers)
  • Staffing: Removing Ineffective Teachers (including the percentage of principals who report barriers to the removal of poor-performing teachers)
  • Data (including such measures as state-collected college student remediation data)
  • Technology (including students per Internet-connected computer)
  • Pipeline to Postsecondary (including the percentage of schools reporting dual-enrollment programs)
  • State Reform Environment (an ungraded category that includes data on the presence of reform groups and participation in international assessments)
Our data come from a wide variety of sources, from federal education databases to our own 50-state surveys. We should note that the data limitations we encountered were a significant hindrance to our efforts, even more so than when we prepared our first Leaders and Laggards report.

We received invaluable assistance from an outside panel of academic experts. We shared our methodology with Jack Buckley, professor of applied statistics at New York University; Dan Goldhaber, research professor at the University of Washington; Paul Herdman, president of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware; Monica Higgins, professor of education at Harvard University; and Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. The panel reviewed our approach and results, and provided helpful feedback. However, our research team takes full responsibility for the methodology and resulting grades.

In many respects the recent troubles of the auto and newspaper industries provide a cautionary tale for today's education policymakers. Analysts predicted structural challenges in both industries for decades. Outside consultants urged major change. Yet altering entrenched practices at businesses from General Motors to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News proved enormously difficult. And the results of inaction for both organizations were disastrous. The same must not happen to our nation's education system. The stakes are just too high.

The findings and recommendations detailed in the following section cover everything from the need for more thoughtful use of technology to the overarching importance of giving educators flexibility in meeting shared student-achievement goals. In particular, we believe that reform requires a nondoctrinaire emphasis on overhauling the status quo and replacing it, not with some imagined one best system, but with a new performance-oriented culture that may take many forms. In the end, we think of educational innovation not as a fad but as the prerequisite for deep, systematic change, the kind of change that is necessary--and long overdue.

As we observed two years ago in our first Leaders and Laggards report, even as businesses have revolutionized their practices, "student achievement has remained stagnant and our K-12 schools have stayed remarkably unchanged--preserving, as if in amber, the routines, culture, and operations of a 1930s manufacturing plant." Now, as we look forward, our aim is nothing less than to crush the amber. That is the challenge before us.

HEAVY LIFTING "Leaders and Laggards!" (Educational Innovation-Oxymoron)

Published Online: November 9, 2009
Published in Print: November 18, 2009, as States are Lagging on Innovation Front, New Score Card Says
Updated: November 13, 2009

States Lag in Educational Innovation, Report Says

‘Faint Pulse’ Found in Push Toward K-12 Improvement

A new report card on state-level innovation in education by a trio of ideologically varied groups reports what they see as deeply disturbing results, with most states earning C’s, D’s, or even F’s in such key areas as technology, high school quality, and removal of ineffective teachers.

The report, “Leaders and Laggards,” uses state data and existing and original research to assign letter grades to states, based on seven indicators of innovation: school management, finance, hiring and evaluation of teachers, removal of ineffective teachers, data, “pipeline to postsecondary” (or high school quality), and technology.

Though the report released last week does not give states overall grades, the worst marks are in the category of removing ineffective teachers. But most states got C’s and D’s in the other categories.

“We found only a faint pulse of innovation,” said Thomas J. Donohue, the president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsored the report and hosted a Nov. 9 event here surrounding the report’s release. “We must turn that into a strong heartbeat.”

Varied Interests

The report card is notable for its sponsorship by not only the Chamber of Commerce, which represents business interests, and the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank, but also the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress. All three groups are based in Washington.

Among the sources for the report were data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan concludes remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workforce's annual education and workforce report on Nov. 9 in Washington.
—Andrew Councill for Education Week

All the sponsors agreed that the results were “deeply disturbing,” in the words of John Podesta, the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, who served as White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton.

But there were bright spots.

Massachusetts, Colorado, and Rhode Island got gold stars for their policies to promote extended learning time in schools, while Arizona, Ohio, and Florida got that designation for their aggressive charter school accountability approaches. Hawaii was singled out as the only state with a school-based funding policy. All are signals of innovation, according to the report.

Still, the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers labeled the report as full of “old-hat, top-down measures that have failed to transform our schools,” according to a statement.

“The report’s recommendations are little more than a defense of the factory model of education, which has of late turned schools from havens for learning into test-taking factories,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in the statement.

Multiple Factors

The report card incorporates many factors into a state’s overall letter grade for each of the seven indicators.
To weigh innovation in teacher hiring and evaluation, for example, the researchers measured a state’s percentage of alternatively certified teachers (the higher the better), whether the state uses national programs (such as Teach For America) to recruit educators, and other factors.

What researchers were not doing was measuring “nifty, faddish experiments,” said Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Instead, the analysis was meant to examine whether a state has created a “flexible, performance-oriented culture,” he said.

The report’s focus on innovation fits with the education agenda of the Obama administration, which last week released final rules for the Race to the Top Fund competition. The fund will award $4 billion in grants to states.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who gave opening remarks at the Nov. 9 event, said the quality of the country’s education system is as important an indicator of economic health as the “stock market, the unemployment rate, or the size of the GDP.”

The Chamber of Commerce, which is a powerful lobbying force at the federal, state, and local levels, has been at sharp odds with the Obama administration over health care and climate change.

But not on education.

“The administration is setting the right tone and putting its money where its mouth is,” Mr. Donohue said, specifically praising the Race to the Top initiative.

Secretary Duncan acknowledged the tension between the administration and the chamber, but said: “Education is the most bipartisan issue.”

The guiding principles behind Race to the Top—the so-called “four assurances” attached to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes money for the grants program among some $100 billion in education aid—appear to be here to stay. In exchange for receiving federal stimulus money, states have to agree to improve teacher effectiveness, data systems, academic standards, and their lowest-performing schools, according to the law.

Mr. Duncan used his remarks to emphasize that the administration wants to “embed” the four assurances into broader federal law, specifically the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which the No Child Left Behind Act is the current version.

He also highlighted his four other priorities for ESEA reauthorization, which is expected to get going next year: setting a high bar for states and districts, but allowing them to innovate; building in more competition for federal dollars; reviewing federal education spending line by line and focusing federal education aid on the programs that are most effective; and moving accountability from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to something more flexible.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

WHAT a Difference a year makes!

Detroit auto show is a hot ticket for politicians



About a year after Wash ington began its rescue of two Detroit automakers, so many federal officials want to attend the Detroit auto show that or ganizers have, for the first time, created a new credential specifically for those in gov ernment.

Requests for show passes are pouring in from members of Congress, the Department of Transportation and other agencies, Doug Fox, chairman of the 2010 North American In ternational Auto Show, said Friday. Taxpayers have pro vided more than $80 billion in aid to the auto industry.

When the show opens to the
 news media, ana lysts and politi cians Jan. 11, about twice as many federal of ficials are ex pected to be in attendance wearing the new gray and silver passes. The De troit auto show opens to the public Jan. 16.

With all of the interest from Washington, will President Barack Obama stop in to see how General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are using taxpayer money?

At this point, it’s unclear.

“It’s certainly a possibility,” Fox said.

NAIAS 2009 MMSTC Eco-Experience

Friday, November 13, 2009


Oakland Press

State schools chief says laws needed to get grants

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Associated Press Writer
LANSING (AP) — Michigan’s top schools official says the state Legislature will have to pass new laws for the state to have a shot at federal stimulus money set aside for innovative education programs.

States are competing for a slice of more than $4B the Obama administration will earmark for schools that make aggressive changes. Fewer than half the states are likely to win a portion of the cash when it’s doled out beginning in April.

Applications are due in January.

Michigan schools superintendent Mike Flanagan says Thursday the changes would have to include tying student data and achievement to teacher performance.

States are being urged to pursue tougher academic and student performance standards, better teacher recruitment methods and plans to turn around failing schools.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Posted: Sunday, 08 November 2009 3:52PM

Grant To Boost Michigan Science, Math Teachers

Addressing the shortage of math and science teachers who will equip Michigan's vulnerable students with the skills they need to compete in the work force, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation with a $16.7 million grant to establish a new statewide teaching fellowship program.

The new W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship will provide 240 future teachers with an exemplary intensive master's program in education and place those Fellows in hard-to-staff middle and high schools.

Over the five-year timeline, almost 20,000 public school students in Mich. will receive high quality instruction in the critical subject areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm joined the Kellogg Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation at the announcement made last week at the Detroit Science Center.

"This grant is an investment in Michigan's future, in the future of our workforce, and in the future of our children," Granholm said. "We must develop a workforce that is prepared for the high-tech careers of tomorrow. The new math and science teachers who emerge from this fellowship will inspire our kids to be excited about careers in science, math and technology."

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship will recruit a diverse mix of high-achieving candidates who show promise as future teachers. Fellows can be college seniors, recent graduates or career changers. The current market downturn in Michigan has forced many experienced engineers and professionals out of the workforce, making available a talented pool of workers who can share their knowledge and depth of experience with students.

"The Kellogg Foundation has worked across the country to improve educational opportunities for vulnerable children from the early years through high school," said Sterling Speirn, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. "But it's especially important to invest in a promising initiative in our home state that will match well-qualified teachers with students most in need."

The Fellows, who will be announced in Spring 2011 and receive a $30,000 stipend to complete the master's program, commit to teach for at least three years in a high-need school after they complete their teacher education program. The Fellows also are placed in their schools in cohorts and receive intensive support and mentoring to encourage them to continue teaching as a long-term career instead of making it a brief assignment.

As integral partners in the Fellowship, several Michigan universities also will undergo important changes. The adjustments will be necessary to provide the Fellows with the best combination of content knowledge and classroom expertise to most effectively address the challenges of their specific student populations.

"Research has shown again and again that the most important element in a student's success is the teacher," said

Arthur Levine, the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and a respected expert on teacher education. "America's schools of education are facing the extraordinary challenge of having to prepare a new breed of teacher, ready to teach the most diverse population of students in our history to the highest levels of skills and knowledge ever required -- all in an outcomes-based system of education. This Fellowship emphasizes intensive practical preparation, rigorous grounding in the subject matter, and extensive supervised teaching experience in the same kind of high-need urban and rural schools where Fellows will later teach."

"Having enough great teachers, especially in the math and sciences, shouldn't depend on where a child lives," said Mike Flanagan, Michigan's state superintendent of public instruction. "This program will help heal that disparity."

The first statewide Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship, inspired by Levine's research, is already under way in Indiana. The four participating universities are Ball State University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University and the University of Indianapolis. The first group of Fellows began their studies this past summer, and the project is being independently evaluated by the Urban Institute. Like Indiana's Fellowship, the Michigan Fellowship will serve as a model for improving teacher education across the country.

Universities that participate must match a $500,000 grant and redesign their teacher education programs in science and math within a 21-month time frame by creating a collaborative relationship between the schools of arts and sciences and education. Instead of simply adding a pilot project, these model math and science teacher education programs completely replace the existing programs and are sustained for years to come.

Field experience for the Fellows also starts early in the process, as they begin work in high-need schools and gradually take on more teaching responsibilities, similar to the training a medical student would receive in a teaching hospital. Mentoring support for the Fellows continues throughout their first three years in the classroom.

The success of the program will be judged by the learning of the students in the Fellows' classrooms, the retention of the teachers and the changes at the university.

Targeting the initiative to middle school students as well as to high school students is a key strategy for improving student performance in these subjects. The recently released National Assessment of Educational Progress mathematics results show that 8th graders have made slight gains since 2007, from an average of 281 to 283. But still, just 34 percent of students are scoring at or above the proficient level. In addition, students eligible for the federal student lunch program gained just one point over 2007 and the average score for English learners dropped this year by three points.

Based in Battle Creek, the Kellogg Foundation focuses its grants on programs that improve the lives of vulnerable children. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship matches the Foundation's goals of building innovative partnerships that create stronger conditions for learning and increasing students' ability to become productive members of society.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has a history of administering successful fellowship programs and preparing new generations of leaders. It is respected within and beyond the higher education community. Since the 1980s, the Foundation also has forged partnerships between schools and universities in order to improve professional development for teachers.

Interested applicants should contact

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

State of Michigan "Race to the Top" Heavy Lifting (Compliance Issues)


School sabotage

Michigan Education Association works to keep reforms, federal money at bay while school districts struggle

ith Michigan schools facing an enormous funding gap, the Mi chigan Education Association is attempting to sabotage an effort that could bring in more than $600 million in federal education

State policymakers are working to put together one of the essential pieces of legislation required to win federal “Race to the Top” grant money. President Barack Obama is using the money to give states an incentive to enact long overdue education reforms.

Next month state school Superintendent Mike Flana gan must turn in the applica tion for the competition, now being watched by U.S. foun dations for signals about which states are serious about education reform and merit even more funding.

But the prospects for Michigan aren’t good. The MEA, the state’s largest teacher union, is pressuring cowardly lawmakers to block the Race to the Top legisla tion,
 which includes provisions making it easier for nonteachers to secure classroom positions, if they have critical skills.

This seemingly innocuous change has stirred up intense political fighting, pitting teacher unions against Gov. Jennifer Granholm and others, such as the United Way of South eastern Michigan,
 who want the Race to the Top funds for Michigan.

Teach for America — the heralded non profit
 that prepares and places highly talented educators in struggling schools — says it must have an alternative certification pathway for its members to become full-time teachers in Mi chigan.

MEA leaders say they oppose alternative teacher certification because they believe teacher training is essential to properly instruct students. “This is not an union issue,” MEA spokesman Doug Pratt says. “This is a funda mental belief … that teachers who go through a traditional teacher prep process are going to be better for stu dents in the long run.”

But urban districts are having trouble finding highly qualified math and science teachers, in no small part because of the failure of traditional teacher training programs in the state.

That was one of the driv ing forces behind a Friday announcement by the W.K.

Kellogg Foundation that it is investing $16.7 million to establish a new statewide fellowship program to provide 240 teachers for hard-to staff schools.

If the MEA is allowed to sabotage Michi gan’s Race to the Top effort, it will mean the loss of about $600 million in federal money at a time when every classroom is facing an un precedented budget cut. Ultimately, that will mean fewer jobs for teachers, hurting the union’s own members.

It is absolutely essential that Michigan gets this money, and the education reforms that come with it

VIRTUAL HEAVY LIFTING! (Second Life on the U.S. National Educational Technology Plan ISTE))