01/17/2013 08:56 am ET Updated Mar 19, 2013

Teachers With Poor Ratings Clustered In NYC, Charter School Quality: Ed Today

Cluster Suck? The New York Daily News takes another look at the StudentsFirstNY teacher distribution report and finds something stunning: 20 percent of teachers are "bad" teachers in each of 14 Brooklyn schools. To give you some perspective: only 3 percent of all city school teachers got these negative ratings. And two of those schools received "A" ratings from the Department of Education. (I should note here that these ratings are volatile, etc., but you already knew that.)

Mo Growth Mo Problems? In a story we posted this morning, we take a close look at charter school quality. While it's tough to make any definitive statements about relative charter school quality nationally, a case study of Michigan provides an illustrative example. "Are they living up to their promise?" asked Harrison Blackmond, who works as the Michigan director for Democrats for Education Reform, a national pro-charter group. "No. I'm not so sure."

What was really interesting about reporting this is that the narrative on charter quality is slightly different. In most cliched education reform stories, it's the teachers union that functions as the counterpoint to big reform ideas. But in this case, it's the very proponents of those ideas that are saying it's time to take a hard look at how good these schools are before we blindly let them grow.

Why Did My School Close? It's that time of year again. The city of Chicago -- among others -- is figuring out which schools to close. While awaiting that decision, WBEZ has prepared this neat map that shows what has happened following the school closures of yesteryear. Definitely worth checking out.

Will The Learning Revolution Be Digitized? As you might have heard, California has said it would offer online courses -- "Massively Open Online Courses," or MOOCs, to be precise -- to California State University students who need remedial help. Over at the Atlantic, Ian Bogost contends that this isn't the way to catch students up, and will divert public education money to the company Udacity. "The answer to underfunded, lower effectiveness primary and secondary education requires subsidizing a private, VC-funded bet made on a roulette wheel fashioned from the already precarious prospects of a disadvantaged population," he writes.

Is Preschool Necessary For Advantaged Kids? In an interesting Slate piece, Melinda Wenner Moyer argues that maybe it's not. "Yearlong pre-preschool stress-fests" might be unnecessary, she writes, because "research suggests that preschool only benefits children from these disadvantaged families (in particular, families that are below the poverty line, whose mothers are uneducated, or who are racial minorities). This could be because preschool acts as a kind of 'equalizer,' ensuring that for at least a few hours a day, these kids get the same high-quality interaction with adults as more advantaged children do, which helps to even the developmental playing field." Interesting. We give her kudos for citing the Hart and Risley research. Classic.

Meanwhile In New York... In the nation's largest school district, a bus strike is grinding into its second day. Attendance fell yesterday as a result of the strike. Also, today is January 17, the deadline the city has for developing a teacher evaluation scheme -- or face the loss of $300 million in Race to the Top state budget money.