During the past couple months, newspapers and cable news have had a field day analyzing Obamacare's troubles. Firestorms over HealthCare.gov or President Obama's unfounded assurances seemingly sprung from out of the blue. This followed years during which these boiling issues received little media scrutiny, permitting problems to fester. There are important lessons here for K-12's current brouhaha over the Common Core. Introduced in 2010 and adopted by forty-plus states with little notice by the end of 2011, the Common Core has since rocketed into the popular imagination. Headlines are now filled with tales of angry public meetings and legislative ...


Say something smart once and there are huge rewards for spending a career saying it, in increasingly elaborate forms. Academics who own an idea get hired by prestigious universities, deliver keynotes, and get all kinds of attendant perks. Consultants who own an idea become must-haves for districts, foundations, and contractors. The result is a familiar kabuki of hyperspecialists airing their prebaked views.


Note: This Thanksgiving week, I'm giving RHSU readers a look at my essay in Richard Elmore's Harvard Education Press volume I Used to Think...And Now I Think. Elmore's book features a variety of K-12 thinkers--including Howard Gardner, Larry Cuban, Deb Meier, and Mike Smith--discussing how their thinking on schooling has changed over time. For day one, see here. Along my path through academia, I started to doubt whether I'd ever even be able to find a job. I'd ask myself, "Wow, I know so little and all these successful people know so much; how am I ever going to ...


For the past couple of years, come Thanksgiving week I've shared part of an essay I penned for Richard Elmore's intriguing volume: I Used to Think...And Now I Think. Since we've added a bunch of readers since I last ran the chapter in RHSU, and given that it's highly relevant to how I approach a host of questions--from teacher evaluation policy to professional learning communities--I thought it worth keeping up the tradition.


Neerav Kingsland writes: There is good reason to be skeptical of Relinquishment: most significantly, it has yet to be tried at scale. To change hearts and minds, we will need multiple proof points that Relinquishment works.


Neerav Kingsland writes: That Relinquishment is not yet inevitable is in some ways obvious. After all, only one city in the country, New Orleans, has adopted its core principles. But, surprisingly (I didn't expect this to be the case when I started formulating this piece), I believe Relinquishment could become inevitable over the coming decades. Here's why.


Neerav Kingsland writes: In part because of my heritage - my mother is Indian and my father is African-American - I've spent a lot of time thinking about social movements, both in India and the United States. The causes of societal change are of course complex, but in a recent conversation with my father, I (perhaps naively) asked him: when did you know that legal racial discrimination would come to an end? When did it become inevitable?


Jal Mehta writes: I just wanted to offer a concluding thought about "deeper learning" and the Common Core. Along with doctoral student Sarah Fine, I have been doing a three year study of high schools that are seeking to promote instruction that pushes kids to think, and have come to the conclusion, shared by many others, that most high school classrooms are not very stimulating places. NSSE data says that 70 percent of high school students say they are bored daily, and Gates MET Study data says that only 20 percent of their sampled classrooms feature ambitious instruction.


Jal Mehta writes: One central challenge in American education is building more expertise in teaching. In recent years we have tended to think about this in terms of rating individual teachers, but what if we were to step back and see it more as a systemic issue, in terms of how well the field is organized to promote the development of expertise in teaching? Presumably the development of expertise is a two part equation: the development of knowledge that would guide work in a field, and then helping practitioners gain that knowledge, either during their training or on the job. ...


Jal Mehta wrtes: One problem with the school reform debate today is the way we cut the debate. One common way of pitching the problem is as "hard" versus "soft." In this telling, valor is awarded to those willing to make "hard" decisions: these people support merit pay, firing bad teachers, holding schools accountable, and closing failing schools. On the other side, from this point of view, are those who are "soft": people who are opposed to measuring outcomes, who in theory want to empower teachers but in practice want to support a failing status quo. Alternative certification and charter ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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