December 2008 Archives

Bellringer’s Carol Richtsmeier, a high school newspaper advisor in Texas, is less than pleased with the Department of Education’s expansion of the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). In her eyes, the policy was already being misused to stifle student publications, the expansions could make it worse. My buddies at the Student Press Law Center tell me that the DOE … apparently has gone beyond bat-crack crazy and enacted some additional changes to FERPA that are slated to take effect Jan. 8. These new rules broaden what the DOE considers to be confidential education records to include basic stuff ...


I thought I was having a rough week. But NYC teacher J's of Mildly Melancholy makes mine look like a picnic....


Middle school teacher Cindi Rigsbee tries to help a former student, now in high school, cope with the death of a friend....


Ariel Sacks reflects on the multitude of factors, from lack of resources to chronic student absenteeism, that can "cloud" teachers' effectiveness in low-income urban schools. It's something that needs to be considered, she suggests, when it comes to evaluating teacher performance. Teachers at schools like mine get used the multitude of x factors. In fact, we stop expecting everything to be "just so" and start going out of our way to plan for all of the unexpected things that might happen. Does this make us less effective? Maybe it does, in a way. It is harder to address problems quickly ...


Yesterday, President-elect Barack Obama announced that Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan will serve as the next Secretary of Education. His appointment has been well received by members of congress and union leaders alike. Unsurprisingly, the blogging world has started weighing in as well. More Humbly Did I Teach is pleased with Obama’s pick. I couldn't be happier. I've had my eye on this guy for years, particularly because the Chicago Public Schools has really done some innovative things, particularly his use of The International Baccalaureate as a way to increase student achievement in urban schools. If I were ...


Alexander Russo of This Week in Education thinks the early reaction to Arne Duncan's selection as education secretary has been too uncritical: Most of the folks who are gushing about him don't really know him (or Chicago) that well, or hope to work for him in the near future, or are approving of him because they think that they can beat him in DC. Many of the folks writing stories last night were starting nearly from scratch. Hopefully the day two stories will dig a little deeper into Duncan's retro union contract (short day, short year, etc.), the district's excruciatingly ...


Bill Ferriter agrees heartily with Bill Gates that teacher qualilty should be based on actual effectiveness rather than academic credentials: Our commitment as a profession to master's degrees as a form of identifying--and then differentiating pay for--accomplished teachers has simply outlived its usefulness. While there may have been a time when elevating the academic accomplishments of classroom teachers served to elevate the profession in the eyes of critics and to elevate the qualifications of those who'd chosen to spend their careers in the classrooms, differentiating pay for master's degrees at this point is an inefficient and under-informed practice. At same ...


Incoming presidents usually stay at Blair House in the five days preceding inauguration, according to The Caucus. President-elect Obama and Mrs. Obama asked to arrive a few days early, so that Malia and Sasha could start their new school on time. But Blair House, it appears, is already booked. It remained unclear who on Bushes [sic] guest list outranked the incoming President. "It's not a public schedule," said Sally McDonough, spokeswoman for First Lady Laura Bush, in refusing to disclose who was staying at Blair House. "It's not a question of outranking the Obamas. Blair House will be available to ...


The Brownsville Independent School District, this year's recipient of the $1 million Broad Foundation prize for helping close the achievement gap, might just have the answer to school reform, thinks Barnett Berry. So why do the policy pundits continue to trumpet the need for short-cut alternative pathways to teaching, when the award-winning school district points to its partnership with the University of Texas at Brownsville as the major source of effective teachers? . . . Brownsville teachers are not recruited from high-brow East coast universities, nor do they carry their own chart-busting test scores into their classrooms. Brownsville teachers are from the community. ...


Time’s latest issue features a cover story on Washington, D.C. Chancellor of Education Michelle Rhee, an aggressive—and publicly admired—reformist who has gained a reputation for antagonism towards teachers and unions. A number of teacher-bloggers are weighing in (sometimes harshly), saying the article is overly flattering of Rhee and uniformed about educational realities. Here are some excerpts: More Humbly Did I Teach I agree with the sentiment that bad teachers exist and it's important to get rid of them. But who is the judge of bad teachers? I've not yet heard a satisfying answer. Practical Theory And ...


Hobo Teacher's English class is interrupted when two students come by selling candy to raise money for an after-school club. He's had it: Seriously, why not put my class in a washateria? It would be less distracting. ... Better yet, how about you give me one of those kiosks in the middle of the mall. That way kids can get on with their daily commerce, and I can hustle some education the best I can. It’s not like I haven’t taken a backseat already....


On the political site Talking Points Memo, economist and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich asks why we're bailing out Wall Street investment banks but not public schools: It's absurd. We¹re bailing out every major bank to get financial capital flowing again. But we¹re squeezing the main sources of our nation's human capital. ... Don't get me wrong: I¹m not saying funding is everything when it comes to education. Obviously, accountability is critical. But without adequate funding we can¹t attract talented people into teaching, or keep class sizes small enough to give kids a real ...


Doug Johnson questions the purpose of rankings and awards in the edublogosphere. Of all people, he says, educators should know that extrinsic-reward systems can be counterproductive: As Alfie Kohn’s classic book Punished by Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’S, Praise, and Other Bribes (Houghton Mifflin, 1993) demonstrates, rewards can punish those who do not receive them; rewards can rupture relationships between students and between students and teachers; rewards ignore the reasons for a desired behavior; and rewards can discourage risk-taking. But the single most devastating conclusion he draws from his research is that rewards can ...


As North Carolina's Teacher of the Year, Cindi Rigsbee has logged 8,000 miles on her state-provided Toyota Prius. And she's gotten at least one complaint to the "How am I driving?" 800 number on the back of the car....


Ms. H. of Molding Young Minds welcomes her students back from Thanksgiving break with some serious tough love....


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