#CCSStime

Last week, the Learning First Alliance hosted an important Twitter Town Hall. Those of us in the Twitterverse recognize there is a great deal of negativity floating around on the Common Core State Standards. This is particularly true of the testing and high-stakes consequences attached to the coming school year.

Back in the spring, LFA issued a rare public statement urging states to take the proper time in implementing CCSS, making sure that we get it right. In its statement, LFA noted that there is only one chance to get implementation right. There are no do overs in this.

Following the LFA recommendations, several states took note. Places like New York and Washington, DC called for a pause in high-stakes consequences for at least another year so they could focus on proper implementation. Just recently, New Jersey followed suit, asking for more time before CCSS student assessment scores counted in teacher evaluation.

Even the Gates Foundation recently called for implementation and the consequences to be separated, offering a statement quite similar to the original LFA call.

To help focus the education community’s attention further, LFA set out to focus on the success stories regarding Implementation. With so many focused on the challenges and road bumps, it was important to begin talking about those states and districts that were getting it right. The LFA Get It Right podcast series now serves as that venue, spotlighting the best and promising practice in implementation.

LFA took this discussion to a new level last week with this Twitter chat, using the opportunity to talk about what states like NJ, NY, and DC should do with the extra time they have now called for. Hundreds discussed better ways to involve parents and educators. They talked about how to unpack the standards to make them easier to apply to the classroom. They spoke of the importance of real materials aligned to the standards, rather than those bearing a phony seal of approval.

It was the beginning of a very important discussion, all of which can be found at #CCSStime. Why was it so important? Mainly because it was a productive talk on how to get it right, not on urban legends or dreaming ways to short circuit standards that are not going away.

And it is one the public cares about. By early counts, it seems the #CCSStime hour-long discussion, a trending topic on Twitter that evening, included in nearly 2,000 tweets, resulting in more than 15 million impressions. That’s a lot of people giving up a summer evening to ensure we get CCSS implementation right. And a lot of concerned educators committed to improving teaching and learning for their students.

(Full disclosure, Eduflack has worked with LFA and many of its member organizations over the years.)

“Why is a 40 Year Old Lady Reading Dadprovement?”

Over at my Dadprovement blog, I have a post of a recent review for my new book. Just wanted to share:

I am moved every time I hear from folks who tell me how much they enjoyed Dadprovement, how much they learned from it, or how surprising the story was.

I was particularly taken by a blog post Amber Chandler posted on her blog today.

In her post entitled, So why is a 40 year old lady reading Dadprovement?, Amber not only highlighted our family story of infertility, adoption, job loss, and gastric bypass surgery, but she keyed in on part of the tale I particularly enjoy:

ADMIT IT. YOU’RE PROBABLY JUST LIKE ME. EVER READ THOSE FACEBOOK POSTS AND THINK, “CRAP. I THINK I PICKED THE WRONG CAREER (LOCATION, VACATION, SPOUSE, FRIENDS, ETC)”? I THINK POP CULTURE HAS PRETTY MUCH ADMITTED, EVEN TO ITSELF, THAT FB STATUSES AREN’T REAL IN AN AUTHENTIC WAY; HOWEVER, THE FACTS REMAIN, YOU CAN’T POST THE PICTURE OF YOUR BRAND NEW BMW IF YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE ONE. SOME THINGS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. PICTURES FROM THE CARIBBEAN–WITH YOU IN THEM–DO GIVE A PRETTY LOUD SHOUT OUT.

PATRICK RICCARDS, WELL-KNOWN FOR HIS AWARD-WINNING BLOG EDUFLACK, HAS WRITEEN DADPROVEMENT, A BOOK THAT AT FIRST GLANCE MIGHT NOT “APPLY” TO ME. I HAVE TWO CHILDREN OF MY OWN, AND MOTHERHOOD IS PLENTY FOR ME TO CONTEMPLATE. THOUGH FOCUSED IN LARGE WAYS ON HIS JOURNEY TO ADOPT HIS CHILDREN, IT GETS TO THE CORE OF THE VERY 1ST WORLD PROBLEM OF “WHAT AM I GOING TO BE WHEN I GROW UP” AND “WHAT WILL EVERYONE THINK OF ME?” IF YOU LIVE IN AMERICA, AND ARE TAKING TIME TO READ A BLOG, I’M PRETTY CONVINCED YOU’D KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANS.

Thank you, Amber, for the kind words. And for your commitment as a teacher and edu-twitterer.

“Not All Public Schools Are Created Equal”

Earlier this week, I got into an interesting Twitter debate with another edu voice. On the morning in question, I had posted a quote from Sen. Rand Paul, taken from a Politico story on his speech before the National Urban League.

The quote was a simple one. Senator Paul said to Politico, “I grew up and went to public schools. My kids have gone to public schools. But frankly, not all public schools are created equal.

I was taken by the statement for a few reasons. One, it is a belief that I share. Two, it was an interesting statement delivered by a Libertarian at the National Urban League. Not the typical speaker for Urban League, and definitely not the usual audience for Rand.

And then the back and forth began. I was accused of being irresponsible for giving credit to someone who wanted to “destroy public education.” How dare I say all public schools aren’t equal? This is just a veiled effort to promote charter schools. Paul’s budgets are irresponsible. Why am I elevating his man in his search for the presidency? How can I contribute to the rapid decline of this great nation?

A little hyperbole, yes, but interesting responses none the less. While I’d like to think a tweet from me would determine whether someone could win the highest office in the land, we all know nothing could be further from the truth. But let’s go to the edu-portion of this debate.

Can we honestly say all public schools are equal? When parents are charged with “stealing” public education by sending a child to a non-assigned district, is there really any question? When we look at data from the Schott Foundation, citing the vast inequities in access to college prep high schools, should we still be debating they “all is well?” When we still have dropout factories and pathways to the Ivies, must we ask the question? When upwards of half of black and brown students struggle to read at grade level, yet well-to-do white students are doing fine, is there any doubt?

Rand Paul raised a point that we all need to examine. We should all be supporters of public schools. I, for one, am a product of public schools. My mother is a retired public high school teacher. I insist my kids attend public schools. And I know, each time we have moved, that the quality of the local schools was our primary factor in decision making.

One can question whether we should scrutinize a politician’s rhetoric to see if it matches his actions and whether his votes match his public commitment to an issue. We should analyze records and seek out a bigger understanding. We should cast our votes based on the totality of a candidate and his record. And yes, this is sounding like a Schoolhouse Rock song.

But we should also look for every opportunity to raise the profile of education issues. We should hope that Rand Paul’s statement forces more Republicans to see the value and opportunity in truly public education. We should hope that groups like NUL recognize that public school support should not be a partisan issue. And we must all realize that, even if we have unimaginable love for public education, there are leaders and laggards and we all can do more to ensure that all kids have a great public education, regardless of race, family income, or zip code.

If not, we will be fiddlin’ as edu-Rome burns. For too long, too many kids have been at risk or left behind because we argue over whether all is well. Ask a fifth grader who can’t read, a recent graduate who needs to take all remedial classes, or a teacher who hasn’t had books for three years if all public schools are equal. Go ahead. I dare you …

Make Roar Happen

First things first. Eduflack is a huge Katy Perry fan. I have purchased all of her albums. I have been known to use her songs as my ringtones. I have seen (with my wife) Katy perform a live show, and it was one of the best concerts I’ve seen in years. Yes, I am Eduflack and I am a Katycat.

As the son of a retired schoolteacher, I also know it is that time of year when my mother used to start dipping into her own pocket (I know it is an ongoing activity for teachers) to pay for materials for her classroom. I can’t even think the likely tens of thousands of dollars she spent over her career to have the best 10th grade English classroom she could.

So I was thrilled to see that Katy Perry has teamed up with Donors Choose and Staples to help direct $1 million to help support teachers. Dollars that can be used to make up for recent cute and fill the funding gaps that have persisted for far too long.

20140720-143314-52394348.jpg Then it hit me. The teachers unions are advocating a boycott of Staples stores across the country, showing solidarity with the postal workers union. The issue is that Staples is working with Congress to turn its stores into quasi-post offices, but non-union branches.

So it begs an important question. Can one support Katy and Donors a Choose in this important effort, even with Staples involved? Can we #MakeRoarHappen for teachers, and help send a million bucks to educators in need, without it betraying the union? I certainly hope so.

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Social Media MVP

Last month, I was honored by PR News for the social media work I do on the Eduflack platform (primarily Twitter) and the SM counsel I have provided a wide range of education organizations and individuals over the years.

This is the badge that PR News has asked its MVPs to use, so I am proud to post it here on the Eduflack blog.

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