Education Best of the Blogs

Blogs of the Week

April 03, 2012 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

| NEWS | TEACHER BEAT

Duncan Decries Publication of Ratings

Publishing teachers’ ratings in the newspaper in the way The New York Times and other outlets have done recently is not a good use of performance data, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview.

“There’s not much of an upside there, and there’s a tremendous downside for teachers,” he said last month. “We’re at a time where morale is at a record low. ... We need to be strengthening teachers, and elevating them, and supporting them.”

So how does this square with Duncan’s famous endorsement, in 2010, of The Los Angeles Times’ controversial project to publish a database of teacher “value added” ratings?

Duncan called publication of that data “far from ideal,” noting that teachers could only get it once it was published.

The city teachers’ union still hasn’t come around to using the data in a districtwide evaluation system, but it is being piloted voluntarily in some schools.

Duncan’s comments opposing the mass publication of this information echo those of others in the field—including philanthropist Bill Gates and Teach For America’s Wendy Kopp. While both are generally bullish on the use of such data as a component of teacher evaluations, they argue that its mass publication amounts to a shaming of teachers.

Duncan said he supports the judicious disclosure of such data to principals and parents.

He underscored that any such sharing should also be a comprehensive look at teacher performance, not just test-score-related measures.

States’ open-records laws regarding personnel evaluations are murky. An Education Week analysis of these laws conducted by Amy Wickner, a library intern, found 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, in which access to teacher evaluations is theoretically permissible.

—Stephen Sawchuk

| NEWS | CURRICULUM MATTERS

N.J. District Scrambles To Clarify Hugging Ban

In the world of spin control, here’s an unenviable job: trying to explain that a ban on hugging in a New Jersey middle school isn’t really that big a deal.

You might have heard the brouhaha last month when the principal of Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School, Tyler Blackmore, announced over the public-address system that the school of 900 11- to 14-year-olds was “a no-hugging school.” The new rule came in the wake of some “incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions,” according to Associated Press reports.

As the no-hugging news made its way home to parents, many of whom responded with outrage, the school and the district scrambled to clarify the message.

Blackmore sent a recorded telephone message to the school’s families, saying no one would be suspended for hugging, according to cbs’ New York affiliate.

Superintendent David Healy said the district must “teach children about appropriate interactions.” He defended Blackmore’s decision and confirmed that no child would be suspended for hugging.

No word so far on how Matawan-Aberdeen is enforcing its “no-hugging school” distinction, since no student will be disciplined for hugging.

—Catherine Gewertz

| NEWS | BEYOND SCHOOL

Initiative Rallies Out-of-School Leaders

Out-of-school programs can reduce negative behaviors and improve students’ attendance and achievement, says a new report released March 27 that draws findings from some 60 after-school studies.

The report was officially released last month in conjunction with the launch of the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project, an initiative and website that promote expanded and extended learning efforts nationwide. The initiative is supported by the Noyce Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and other organizations.

The website will offer news on research in the field, promising practices, and avenues for collaboration between programs and community partners.

So far, 450 organizations and advocates have signed on to support the project, and statewide after-school networks have plans to host summits that further the discussions on best practices for out-of-school programs to have the most significant impacts on participants.

—Nora Fleming

A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2012 edition of Education Week as Blogs of the Week

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Senators Put YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat on the Defensive on Kids' Online Safety
Senators questioned executives from YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat about what they’re doing to ensure young users’ safety on their platforms.
5 min read
The Youtube, left, and Snapchat apps on a mobile device in New York, on Aug. 9, 2017. The leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what the companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety. The hearing Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, comes as the panel bears down on hugely popular social media platforms and their impact on children.
The Youtube, left, and Snapchat apps on a mobile device in New York, on Aug. 9, 2017. The leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what the companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety. The hearing Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, comes as the panel bears down on hugely popular social media platforms and their impact on children.
Richard Drew/AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 27, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Vulnerable Students Left Behind as Schooling Disruptions Continue
The effects of unpredictable stretches at home can mirror those of chronic absenteeism and lead to long-term harm to learning.
4 min read
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Students board a school bus on New York's Upper West Side on Sept. 13, 2021. Even as most students return to learning in the classroom this school year, disruptions to in-person learning, from missing one day because of a late school bus to an entire two weeks at home due to quarantine, remain inevitable as families and educators navigate the ongoing pandemic.
Richard Drew/AP
Education 'Widespread' Racial Harassment Found at Utah School District
The federal probe found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word and other racial epithets, and harsher discipline for students of color.
1 min read
A CNG, compressed natural gas, school bus is shown at the Utah State Capitol, Monday, March 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. After a winter with back-to back episodes of severe pollution in northern Utah, lawmakers and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will discuss clean air legislation and call for government and businesses to convert to clean fuel vehicles.
Federal civil rights investigators found widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students in the Davis school district north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo