Just as diets to lose weight will always be in demand, so too will recipes to excel as a teacher. The latest example is a book that is scheduled for release in April titled "Teach Like a Champion: The 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College." The New York Times Magazine gave the book unusual publicity in its story on Mar. 7 ("Building a Better Teacher" by Elizabeth Green). What the writer essentially said is that Doug Lemov, a former teacher, principal and charter school founder, has developed a surefire way to be successful in front of ...


If teachers are the single most influential factor in student achievement, then it follows that those who consistently fail to demonstrate their effectiveness should be fired. Central Falls R.I and New York City serve as examples of dramatically different approaches, which in both cases shortchange students. The media have given wide coverage to Central Falls High School, where the school board recently cleaned house by firing the entire staff. In one fell swoop, those deemed responsible for the failures of the school are gone. New York City, however, has not been as "successful" in dispatching the alleged villains. Despite ...


Whenever I attend a social function, I'm invariably confronted by other guests who can't understand why schools have gotten so bad. They are angry and frustrated. Truth to tell, if I hadn't taught for 28 years in a public school, I would probably feel that way too because the media are notorious for their coverage of all that is negative in the world of public education. The latest incident along this line took place at Central Falls, R.I. on Feb. 23, when the Board of Trustees of the state's smallest and poorest city voted five to two to fire ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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, ...


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 ...


At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, I have to take issue with the latest alarmist depiction of public education in this country. On Dec. 30, the New York Times published a news story about the Program for International Student Achievement. The article said that the rankings augured ill for America's competitiveness in the new global economy ("Shanghai Schools' Approach Pushes Students to Top of Tests"). Or as Arne Duncan said: the PISA rankings are a "wake-up call." The trouble with this assessment is that it is hardly new. Taxpayers were exposed to similar hyperbole before in, of all ...


Asking if money affects educational quality is a little like asking if gravity affects inanimate objects. I say that because in both cases there are many factors that come into play, making the answer more nuanced than it initially appears. Let's begin by looking at the numbers. In 2007, we spent $11,749 per student annually in grades K-12 in public schools (Statistical Abstract of the United States). To put this into context, between 1970 and 2005, inflation-adjusted per-student spending increased by more than 100 percent (Digest of Educational Statistics). In actuality, spending on public schools per student is probably ...


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.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments