New Orleans educational experiment is 10 years old. Social media as college admissions tool. And two contradictory polls on the Common Core.

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As eight more charter schools open here – joining First Place Scholars, Washington state’s first charter school — it’s interesting to reflect on New Orleans, which became a nearly all-charter system after Hurricane Katrina.  For the past decade, almost every child in New Orleans has attended a publicly funded, privately run charter or a private school.

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the Katrina disaster, and lots of people are weighing in on what’s happened in New Orleans’ big experiment in public schooling.

Here’s NPR’s take, which notes the improvements (higher test scores and graduation rates, and lower suspension rates) and the criticisms (including second-to-last graduation rate in the state.)  Salon also notes the academic gains, but also resentment among city residents who think the changes were imposed on them.

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Among other issues:  Nearly all educators in the pre-Katrina school system lost their jobs.


Some colleges are starting to look at applicants’ social media sites, counting the number of friends and photos, as part of their decisions about who to admit.  PBS Newhour reports that they’re reportedly using data in ways they think will increase the chances they’ll pick students who will 1. enroll and 2. succeed at their schools.


Two polls came out in the last week, both of which asked people their views on (among other issues) the Common Core, the new set of learning standards in reading and math that many states, including Washington, have started to use.

The results were contradictory.

In the poll by Education Next magazine, 49 percent of respondents supported the Common Core.   In the other, by Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup, 54 percent of the respondents opposed the Common Core.  And the bigger message may be that  support for the Core is declining.  Last year, the Education Next poll found 65 percent approval for the Core.

Why the big differences in this year’s polls?  Various observers noted that, as with most polls, it’s all in how you ask the questions.  But a story in The Atlantic also pointed out what may be at least as big a reason:

“Education polls often ask unprepared people to make ‘finely nuanced distinctions’ without the requisite background, said Andrew Rotherham, the co-founder and a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit in Washington, in an interview last year. ‘You get a result, but you also get a lot of noise.’ ”


  •  Seattle teachers set a deadline: If their union doesn’t reach a contract agreement with the district by Sept. 3, they’ll take a strike vote.  Between now and then, expect to see more teacher rallies.


  • New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert’s story on teen brains. Adolescents, she writes “suffer from the cerebral equivalent of defective spark plugs.”
  • New Hampshire decided its juniors will take the SAT rather than the Common Core tests known as Smarter Balanced, which are given in this state.  Six other states use the SAT, too, according to the Concord Monitor.
  • Eastside lawmaker Ross Hunter, the House’s Democrats’ chief budget writer, has written an analysis of where the state stands vis-à-vis the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.  Wonky, but interesting.

See something interesting that we missed?  Share it with Linda Shaw at or on Twitter at @LShawST