Carnival of Education, Transition Team Edition

by Robert Pondiscio
November 12th, 2008

The Core Knowledge Blog is pleased to host the 197th edition of the Carnival of Education, the weekly roundup of the best of the education blogs. 

Reporters, pundits, and more than a few education blogs, have spent the last week reporting rumors and reading tea leaves to divine who President-elect Obama will tap for various posts.  Should the choice come down to edubloggers (heavens forfend!) this week’s Carnival offers picks for cabinet posts and other key positions in the incoming Administration based on the past week’s blog postings.

A Secretary of State needs to be well-traveled and a diplomat.  There’s no one more qualified than Teacher in a Strange Land Nancy Flanagan, who presents thoughts on education and patriotism in the U.S. and abroad in We’re Number One? 

For Secretary of Defense, Katelyn Thomas is Standing up to bullies in Baltimore at Baltimore Education Examiner.  Also on the short list, Pat of Successful Teaching who sounds a rousing call to arms with How Far Are You Willing to Go? and tweenteacher with Obama and World of Warcraft at

Hube of the The Colossus of Rhodey demonstrates the prosecutorial mindset necessary for the job of Attorney General with Pro-Obama teacher brings kiddie McCain supporter to tears.  Potential deputy AGs: Hall Monitor with Miss. students not allowed to say Obama’s name posted at, and Aahz who is ready to pursue an indictment against Gilroy Teacher: “Lutheranism Is A Fake Religion” at Aahz Reviews Gilroy.

For Treasury Secretary, Corey Bunje Bower compares per-pupil expenditures to GDP per capita and asks Is Education Spending Really Skyrocketing? at Thoughts on Education Policy.

The White House press secretary needs thick skin and the ability to deflect criticism.  Joel of So You Want To Teach? shows excellent flack-catching chops with But It’s Not Your Fault!  And the tools for a fine Presidential speechwriter are in evidence in J.M. Holland with History, Future, America and other big words for kids posted at Lead from the Start.

Secretary of Education?  Jose Vilson is ready for his confirmation hearing.  See Teaching: By Any Means Necessary posted at The Jose Vilson: The Blog.  Rumor has it that Jose will bring on as undersecretaries Brad Hoge, whose Welcome to the Meritocracy can be read at HUNBlog; Anthony Cody who offers Obama Calls for a New Era of Mutual Responsibility at Living in Dialogue; and Mathew Needleman of Creating Lifelong Learners.

“Desert Jim” Pudlewski hails from New Mexico.  That alone puts him on the short list for Secretary of the Interior, but he demonstrates his commitment to democracy with The Joy of Voting at Teaching Excellence Network.

For Commerce Secretary, Khan at Higher Education Blog shows the right stuff with his post Benefits of Choosing a Career and Technical School.  Jessica Shyu also makes the short list with Public or Private? posted at New Terrain.

For Secretary of Labor, can there be any doubt?  I Do My Bit says NYC Educator.

President-elect Obama has promised to to make national service a national virtue, expanding AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and launching a new Classroom Corps.  Sounds like a cabinet-level appointment is in the offing for Joanne Jacobs whose America Serves ? But Who and How? is at Joanne Jacobs.

Amy Smith of Kids Love Learning should be vetted for Secretary of Health and Human Services with Improving Fine Motor Skills: Part 1.

Bellringers‘ Carol Richtsmeier earns the nod for Secretary of Transportation with Blogging, Planes & Teachers in the Skies

Energy Secretary?  Mister Teacher has energy to burn.  Read Getting to Know Me at Learn Me Good.

Woodlass has been teaching for over 20 years.  She’s obviously qualified to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  But the vetters had better not read how disconcerted she seems by A whiff of educorp over at Obama’s posted at Under Assault: Teaching in NYC.

Teacher Christina Germano and her students save a moth from a sandox, making a winning case for herself as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Read An Unexpected Teaching Moment posted at Early Childhood Teacher.

There’s a litmus test for Secretary of Homeland Security.  It’s got to be a homeschooler or someone else who is ready to put parents first.  Leading the crowded field of candidates is Erin King who posted Keeping the Faith, Even in the Midst of Academic Struggles at School Psychologist Blog Files.  Also on the short list: One Family, with List of Elementary School Textbooks – Teachers and Home School Editions posted at One Family’s Blog; Miss Amanda, Homeschool Memoirs: Let?s Play A Game! at The Daily Planet; Becky, General Knowledge at The Life Without School Community Blog; and ChristineMM who offers up Alphabet Kids From ADD to Zellweger Syndrome at The Thinking Mother.

Trisha Wagner writes in Needs reminding at Empowering Mom about the stress of juggling being a mom with the demands of starting a business.  Director of National Drug Control Policy?  Perfect. 

Director of the Office of Management and Budget. That requires a clear-eyed number-cruncher, unafraid to speak truth to power.  That would be Matthew Ladner with Safe Harbor Won’t Stop the Race to the Bottom posted at Jay P. Greene’s Blog.  Also under consideration: William Schimmel who looks at ABCTE Certification data at More Progress posted at No Cynics Allowed.

There will be a few new faces from overseas serving as ambassadors.  Perhaps the U.K.’s oldandrew who demonstrates a deft touch for diplomatic niceties with Twenty Lies posted at Scenes From The Battleground. Other visitors from abroad:  Australia’s pennyryder presents Finishing The Way We Were posted at Teaching Challenges; Canada’s Tracy Rosen presents The Curious Case of Ped Days in Quebec at Leading From The Heart;  Meanwhile, would-be ambassadors dreaming of an overseas posting would do well to read  Foreign Credentials Evaluations: What Diplomas Make the Grade? at The Degree People.

Future Director of National Intelligence Heather Johnson demonstrates her intelligence gathering acumen with 100 Amazing Web Tools for Hobbyist Scholars posted at LearningXL.  The transtion team may also wish to consider Bogusia Gierus, who offers Draw a Person Test (DAP) – a great way to tell a kid’s intelligence | Nucleus Learning posted at Nucleus Learning.

Should President-elect Obama need to nominate a new director of the National Science Foundation, he would do well to name Steve Spangler.  At the very least Spangler’s Mentos Boy in a Box – New Twist on Mentos Geyser Tube would liven up the confirmation hearing.  Dave Saba can serve as NSF Deputy after writing An Expensive Band-Aid: STEM part 2 at DoE- Dave on Ed.

Other agency heads?  Staff up the National Endowment of the Arts with DB Williams whose Creativity & Collaboration I: A Wonderful Memory! is posted at An Outsider’s Perspective.  Larry Ferlazzo demonstrates his fitness to lead the National Endowment for the Humanities with The Best Social Studies Websites at Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day, but he will face a challenge from Scott Walker whose From Goosebumps to The Great Gatsby is posted at The English Teacher.

Next week’s Carnival is hosted by I Want to Teach Forever.  Enjoy.

Gates Foundation Standards? Why Not?

by Robert Pondiscio
November 12th, 2008

The Gates Foundation “will advocate for the politically thorny goal of national standards — and will aim to write its own standards and its own national test,” reports Elizabeth Green at Gotham Schools

The edusphere is reacting with arched eyebrows. “Gates-made national standards creep me out a little bit,” says Alexander Russo at This Week in Education, “I’d rather the states or the USDE develop the tests than the Gates Foundation do it.”  At Eduwonkette, Aaron Pallas, aka “skoolboy,” laughed out loud at Green’s piece.

Does anybody else think this is a really, really bad idea? I’m delighted that the Gates Foundation has realized that throwing money at small schools didn’t work, but I’m not prepared to turn over the public’s interest in what is to be taught and learned to a private philanthropy, no matter how civic-minded it may be.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but industry lobbyists regularly play a role in policy and legislation where they have enormous self-interest with nary a peep.  If it’s ok for the insurance industry to write health care legislation or the oil industry to craft energy policy, how could weighing in on national standards and assessments possibly be out of bounds for Gates, which has no dog in the fight outside of its reputational capital?  

Bring it.

Happy Teachers, Good Scores

by Robert Pondiscio
November 12th, 2008

Do happy teachers deliver higher student achievement?  Or is it the other way around?

In Austin, Texas, an internal study shows teachers’ opinions of their school’s environment and student behavior were “the two most important factors in predicting state standardized test scores,” reports the Austin American-Statesman.

Other factors such as the percentage of students from low-income families, teachers’ years of experience and parents’ opinions of a school showed some correlation with Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills performance. But teachers’ ratings of school environment and of student behavior seemed to be the strongest indicators of high scores.

“Knowing that those two variables are closely related to student performance, we know that those are two areas where we need to push,” Claudia Tousek, the district’s interim chief academic officer told the paper, which notes that researchers cannot say whether high TAKS scores are caused by good campus environments and well-behaved students.

Perhaps not, but every high-functioning school I’ve ever set foot in has a warm, calm, purposeful environment.  Perhaps it is possible to deliver good scores in schools marked by chaos and student discipline problems. 

Know any?