Monday, March 30, 2015

✧ STEM + Humanities

Forbes explains why innovation doesn’t stem from a narrow science background, but rather a broader education that includes the humanities and fosters critical thinking and creativity.

✧ College Bound?

The newest edition of California State University’s Early Assessment Program (a system that can tell 11th-graders if they’re prepared for college-level work) is aligned with Common Core standards.

 Come to School

Alaskan school districts are not only struggling for new teacher hires, but also for students to fill the classrooms. Many schools with low attendance numbers have turned to recruiting both students and teachers alike.

 Serving Students

Nick Morrison makes a case for why student panels should be used in the teacher recruitment and hiring process in order to give students a say in their education, and immediately decipher if candidates can relate to the students they’ll be teaching.

✧ What Would Finland Do?

The key to Finland’s education success might be simpler than we thought: reorganize the classroom to promote student-led, collaborative, and creative learning. Students themselves may have the best ideas about how they learn best.


Friday, March 27, 2015

 The Princess Bride

NEA President compares the use of the term “ed reform” to the word “inconceivable” in The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

 More Teachers, Smaller Classes

South Carolina teacher Yvonne Mason explains how the key to ensuring student success is to hire more teachers and decrease class sizes so students have quality time with quality teachers.

 Parental Guidance

In India, where student standards are less than ideal, parents climb school walls to provide their children with test answers.

✧ Vote-a-Rama

The Senate’s annual “vote-a-rama” offered a number of education amendments on Common Core, charter schools, and student loans.

✧ Common Core Myths

ABC News debunks common Common Core myths, including many statements made by congressmen to “repeal” Common Core, even when there’s no federal law or federal program to repeal.


Thursday, March 26, 2015


✧ Opt-out Motives

As a small minority of students opt out of standardized tests this month, with the support of their parents and teachers, Real Clear Education asks what the opt-out movement hopes to accomplish—ending all tests?

 Inspirational Longevity

Recent studies reveal that the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for at least the first decade of his or her career, rather than plateauing after the first three years.

 ESL Advances

In Connecticut, a state panel has recommended a series of changes that would improve bilingual education—include extending the number of years that students are eligible to stay in bilingual education from three to five.

 Grading Teachers

Eduardo Porter asks how to create a successful teacher evaluation system that’s not just about beating the performance metric.

✧ Jeb Ed

Whether you agree with his politics or not, Jeb Bush’s commitment to improving education has yielded results in Florida.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

 Good Attendance in Louisiana

The first week of Louisiana’s Common Core attendance data shows that only 1% of students opted out. Similarly, only two schools boycotted the tests.

 Teacher Market in LA

In the aftermath of Los Angeles teacher layoffs, the landscape has shifted to become an “employees’ market” for teachers.

 Paper Work

A North Carolina’s school new design required all 100 licensed teachers to reapply for their positions.

 Don’t Mess with Texas

A case for why lowering graduation requirements in Texas is a terrible idea, punishing driven students and leaving the whole graduating class at a disadvantage.

 Teacher Crowdsourcing

An innovative new donation site allows teachers to crowdsource out-of-pocket expenses. With nearly $75 million dollars in donations, has become a saving grace for many educators nationwide.

Monday, March 23, 2015

✧ NCLB ReWrite Not Enough

An elementary school in Cleveland makes a case for not being judged by tests like NCLB, in favor of systems that monitor students on a more individual basis–like experimenting with small classes, a tough discipline code, and life coaches around the clock.

✧ Dept of Ed. Investigates

After complaints of discrimination to the Department of Education rose from 6,364 five years ago to a record 9,989 this past year, the department wants to hire 200 more investigators, expanding its civil rights division by 30 percent.

 Growing Diversity

Taking cues from Minnesota, investing in ‘Grow Your Own’ teachers of color programs could be a great first step in addressing student diversity.

 Student Privacy Bill

Introduced today, the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act would place limits on how education technology companies (like Pearson) can use information about K-12 students.

 Charter Schools Didn’t Make the Grade

In this complete state-by-state analysis, Charter School Laws Across the States: Rankings and Scorecard, it seems that little progress has been made over the past year.

Friday, March 20, 2015


✧ Sub Teacher Shortage

Across the country, districts are struggling with substitute teacher shortages. In northern Indiana, some school districts have tried to combat the scarcity by raising pay.

 Competency-Based Learning

When it comes to integrating tech into our schools, Wired says competency-based learning is key, and not just in higher education.

 LA Teacher Battles

After 18 months of contract negotiations, the tension between Los Angeles teachers and school district administrators has skyrocketed. Potential strikes are looming, as college graduates considering whether to pursue a teaching career have tipped the balance.


The combination of education and entertainment (known as Edutainment) is becoming increasingly popular. Edutainment seeks to make learning painless and fun.

 Diversity vs. Teacher Quality

New data shows that minority prospective teacher students in New York score far lower than white students, raising concerns about undermining diversity in the profession.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

 Common Core in Louisiana

Governor Bobby Jindal’s latest plan to rid Louisiana of Common Core looks a lot like Oklahoma’s model.

 Making Connections

In an opinion piece on The Hechinger Report, Etta Hollins says that to better understand students, teachers must study the communities they come from, and that making connections between students’ life experiences and classroom curriculum is the key to a love of learning.

 Investing in the Arts

Urban school districts across the country are making large investments towards restructuring the school day and providing students with more opportunities for arts education.

 Cuomo’s Bad Grades

A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows only a 50% approval rating for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with his lowest grade coming on education policy.

✧ Edtech Resource

A new resource from The Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) helps policy makers better understand and implement edtech reform efforts. The new program, called EdPolicy Leaders Online, has already launched three short free courses.


Learning to Listen to Teachers: Accountability and Responsibility in Public Education

By Lynn Otaguro


Have you ever been in a room full of people when an idea starts to grow like an avalanche, moving in one direction, with everyone being pulled along? But you’re the one who has to take responsibility for the decisions made in the room, so you ask a question. People rethink their positions and suddenly the answer is very different, because the information considered is more complete.

This is the value of giving people a voice and listening to diverse points of view. I have been in that room and I have been that person, but in a former life, not as a teacher.

This fall, teachers came together in the VIVA Idea Exchange to talk about accountability in public education. Over 900 teachers responded with ideas, sharing comments with one another. Seventeen teachers then worked collaboratively to create a report reflecting those ideas and made recommendations for transforming the present systems of accountability and responsibility in public education. I was fortunate to be one of the seventeen teachers in the Writing Collaborative.

The report we wrote, “Changing the Story: Transformation Toward Fair Accountability and Responsibility in Public Education”, takes a broader view of accountability in education. It asks that we treat our children as individuals and teach them so that they can be successful in all aspects of their lives. It asks that schools be funded equitably so all children have the best chance at success. It asks that schools be structured more collaboratively so that they are more supportive of parents, students, and teachers. It asks that teachers be allowed to use specific knowledge of their own classrooms, students, and themselves, to choose the steps that will best help them improve and serve their students.

Sometimes, as a teacher, it feels as if we are in those rooms where decisions are being made about education, but unlike my own former experience, we have no voice and are unable to provide input. The national conversation about accountability and responsibility in education tends to be very narrow: teacher evaluations, high-stakes testing, and who is responsible (or to blame) for public education. I first approached the issue in that way, but then, for me, the teachers in the Idea Exchange and the Writing Collaborative served as the person in the room raising a question, and I began to think more deeply about the issues.

When we talk about our responsibility in education, shouldn’t we be thinking about how our current policies and decisions affect the next generation? Are we giving our children what they need to lead a full, well-rounded life? Are our schools structured in a way that gives our children what they need or that allows teachers to provide these things?

These questions need to be raised, but they will only be raised and considered when we give our teachers a voice. Our educational decisions will only be complete when we listen to those who must implement our policies. The report written by the Writing Collaborative is a step toward giving teachers the kind of voice that can make a difference.

You can read the “Changing the Story” report online. Please read it. Talk about it. Agree or disagree with it, but let it be the beginning of a conversation that includes teachers in the decisions that affect our schools and classrooms. Teachers care deeply about their students. Let teachers help find solutions to the issues surrounding public education.

 Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.27.51 AMLynn Otaguro is a first grade teacher in Honolulu, Hawaii. Previously she was an attorney who represented the State of Hawaii Department of Education. She participated in the NEA 360 Idea Exchange; Changing the Story

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

 Obama: Fund Education

President Obama blasted a new Republican budget plan on Tuesday for not investing enough in education.

 LA Testing Attendance

Despite the Louisiana legislature’s tenuous relationship with Common Core, 99% to 100% of students showed up for testing on Monday.

 School of Rock

A former chair of the New Hampshire state school board says competency-based education is working. Having students start a rock band for music credit, for example, leads to a lifetime love of learning.

 Small Ed Fund

The House Republican fiscal year 2016 budget that President Obama criticized features little-to-no details on education, and almost no information on the allocation of funds.

 No Confidence in Murphy

In a recent union vote, nearly 200 delegates of the Delaware State Education Association—the state’s largest education union—voted “no confidence” in Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

✧ The First Lady on Education

First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Japan and Cambodia this weekend to discuss Let Girls Learn, an international initiative to help millions of young women attend and stay in school.

 South Carolina Doesn’t Stray Too Far From CCSS

Surprise: South Carolina’s new standards to replace Common Core aren’t really all that different, and won’t have any effect on the classroom until next year.

 CCSS Results

States are gearing up to reveal CCSS test results to the public for the first time.

✧ Colorado Students on Ed Policy

A group of Colorado students impressed local legislatures with their knowledge on education policy, mental health, water, and safety, prompting legislatures to ask, “Would you like to take our seats?”

 Presidential Roundtable with Students

A new video series from VICE features a roundtable with President Obama and five students discussing the challenges of student debt and the pursuit of higher education.