February 2010 Archives

Are Quality and Quantity Possible in Teacher Recruitment?

In a speech delivered at Teachers College at Columbia University on Oct. 22, 2009, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called schools of education cash cows that do a mediocre job of preparing their graduates for the demands of the classroom. Although his indictment made headlines, it was not new. For years, the nation's 1,206 university-based education schools have received low grades because of their lax admission and graduation standards. More than half accept virtually all applicants and require minimal evidence of competency for certification. There are notable exceptions, of course, in marquee names such as Harvard, Stanford and UCLA, as ...

Demoralized Teachers = Deprived Students

One of the criticisms frequently leveled at public schools is that they're run for the benefit of teachers rather than for students. The media love to play up this angle because it is guaranteed to elicit heated responses. But there's another side to the story that needs to be heard. When teachers feel demoralized, they're not going to be able to do their best for their students. And when that happens, students are shortchanged. The military has long appreciated the importance of maintaining high morale if missions are to be effectively carried out. That's why so much emphasis is placed ...

The Beatings Will Continue Until Teacher Morale Improves

It's easy to understand taxpayer frustration when the pace of school improvement has admittedly been glacial. Patience has its limits, even among supporters of public education. But blaming teachers alone, in the belief that they are overwhelmingly responsible, is counterproductive. To understand why, it's important to remember that educating the young is a partnership between parents and teachers. While it's impossible to ascribe an exact percentage to each, it's common sense that teachers are not miracle workers. No matter how dedicated and talented, they cannot do the job by themselves. This is particularly the case in schools in the inner ...

The Hits Just Keep on Coming in Makeover of Schools

In my first post, I wrote about the exclusion of teachers from the Race to the Top initiative and the danger this practice poses for education. The latest example was a cover story in The New York Times Magazine of Feb. 14. It focused on the Texas State Board of Education, which is considered the most influential in the country. What the writer Russell Shorto showed is that those with absolutely no expertise in the subject matter under consideration for inclusion in a state's curriculum wield extraordinary power. The case in point was the development of the social studies curriculum, ...

Teachers Are Potted Palms in School Reform

Today is the debut of Walt Gardner's Reality Check. I'd like to mark the occasion with a note for readers who are unfamiliar with my work. For the past 17 years I've written about education for major newspapers and magazines around the globe. (Google me for a small sample.) I did so because I felt that too much reportage and commentary about educational issues were confusing and/or incorrect. Based on the number of op-eds and letters that I've had published, editors apparently agreed with me. But with school reform now a high priority in the Obama administration, I felt ...

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check 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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