Image: Lone Fishing Pole in the Afternoon Sunlight | CC Judy Baxter
We're all fishing for the truth, but there are many competing points of view about how education ought to work. We created Ed100 to equip you with a well-rounded basic understanding of the facts and the big ideas. Along the way, the lessons have included links to help you learn more.
Now, don't be sad. Yes, this is the last of the lessons (you did read them all, right?), but we promise to write more in our blog. Also, at the risk of being obvious, if you are hungry for more, the internet is loaded. This lesson suggests some sites, resources and blogs worth knowing about.
Essential Education-focused Periodicals and Blogs
EdSource.org is the daily news source of record for education in California. It's free.
The following sources are focused on education issues and are generally even-handed in their treatment of information. These sources are rigorous in their fact-checking, acknowledge errors and avoid both hype and name-calling.
- EdSource (free) EdSource is the daily news source of record for education in California, closely read by district leaders and those who make state policy. If you want to be in the know, subscribe online. Ed100 has prepared you to be an informed reader.
- EdWeek (Subscription) At the national level, the newspaper of record for the education sector is EdWeek. Most of the web site is protected behind a pay wall ($60 per year as of 2014), which is the only reason Ed100 rarely links to it. The content is high quality.
- Conditions of Education in California (free) This weekly blog by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) emphasizes academic research relevant to education in California. PACE advises California policy leaders about research findings relevant for education policy decisions.
- The Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) The LAO provides non-partisan policy analysis to advise the California legislature, particularly with regard to fiscal issues. Its reports are not promoted to the public, but are generally regarded as definitive.
- Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) For opinion poll data related to education issues in California, check PPIC. This organization’s poll questions tend to be neutrally worded, and they are published for public use. (Advocacy organizations, by contrast, tend to hire their own private pollsters for opinion research.)
- The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) provides helpful resources (including webinars) for education professionals to advance high-quality, equitable education systems in the United States and internationally.
- GreatSchools This site helps parents make informed choices about where to send their kids to school. It also includes many plain-language explanations of education issues, mostly with a national emphasis.
Government(ish) sources of public data
- The Ed-Data Partnership This site provides access to a wealth of official data about California schools, districts and counties. It is the best place to look if you are trying to compare your district to other districts. Uniquely, it provides a certain level of detail about how districts use money, including comparisons of teacher pay. The site also makes multiple-year comparisons possible.
- DataQuest Look here for data about test scores, dropout statistics and more.
- The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Dig here for access to national and international public data.
- Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) The Minnesota Population Center provides free access to census data. If you are the sort who loves statistics, this is the best-kept secret in public data.
- ChildrenNow This organization emphasizes policy advocacy for children’s issues including education. Its annual report card is widely read. ChildrenNow also helps small organizations participate in statewide policy advocacy by organizing them to participate in joint communications on an opt-in basis.
- Education Trust-West This California-focused organization focuses on equity in educational opportunity, using data as its core tool for persuasion. The organization publishes "report cards" for districts as well as a major research report, policy paper or other insight every few months.
The following periodicals and blogs are widely read and influential. Each brings its own editorial perspective.
- Flypaper by the Thomas Fordham Foundation (free online) This is an education policy blog with a playful style. It is generally regarded as conservative-leaning.
- Education Next (free online) This quarterly periodical emphasizes national and international education policy and research. It tends to feature conservative commentators with a positive view of charter schools and a skeptical view of teacher unions.
- Edutopia (free online) This monthly magazine and blog hub emphasizes teachers and teaching, and is loaded with creative ideas. It can be fairly jargon-heavy, especially in its robust comment stream, where teachers interact about the ideas.
- SchoolFinance101 (free online) Rutgers professor Bruce Baker is passionate about the potential for research to help support good education policy choices. He is perhaps even more passionate (sometimes to the point of rudeness) about revealing flaws in research methodology and the abuse of statistics.
But Wait, there's more!
For most of the organizations listed above, publishing is a key part of the work that they do. There are many, many other organizations who have something to say and their own way of getting the message out. Some of them are listed below. There are zillions of "education" blogs and education scholars.
Here's the thing, though: you don't have time to follow them all. Nobody does. That's part of the reason why EdSource and EdWeek are so important: if something really notable happens, they'll probably cover it. Once you complete Ed100, your best next move is to subscribe to EdSource (which is free, fair, and focused on California).
Below is a sampling of some organizations and sites that you should know about, even if you don't follow them. The list is in no way exhaustive.
- The teachers unions (CTA and CFT) These are described in lesson 7.5.
- The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) ACSA serves and represents school and district leaders. It has about 15,000 members and carries weight in Sacramento. Its conferences are well-attended.
- The California School Boards Association (CSBA) CSBA provides training and support to members of school boards. It also advocates for state policies.
- The California State Parent-Teachers Association (CAPTA) CAPTA provides resources for its nearly 900,000 members, including training for parents, and especially for PTA leaders. It is also a key partner of Ed100.org.
- Public Advocates This civil rights organization seeks policy change through law and litigation. It has had a long focus on equity in education in California.
So now it's done. /
You've reached the end! /
Wasn't that fun? /
Well, tell your friends!
If you think an essential organization, publication or blog has been callously overlooked here, please add a comment below. People DO read comments.