May 2009 Archives

Education Week founder and former editor Ron Wolk did us all a big service a month ago when he wrote this op-ed criticizing what he termed “Five Faulty Assumptions” of the pivotal report, “A Nation at Risk.” Wolk pointed out the flaws in each assumption, and his piece should be read and re-read, especially by those empowered to make education policy. Here in my little corner, I want to build on his critique, and offer some alternative assumptions. So let’s see if we can take these five faulty assumptions, and replace them with sound ones. (Faulty) Assumption One: The ...


Last week I posted Part 1 and Part 2 of a four-part interview with author Richard Rothstein. Monday I posted Part 3, and today I post the fourth and final segment, focused on the trouble with performance pay and some fresh ideas for building accountability for our schools. 6. There is much discussion of providing financial incentives for teachers who improve student achievement. Is this a wise strategy? We should be cautious about this strategy because we do not yet (and may never) know how to measure accurately an individual teacher's contribution. Teachers know that in some years they get “good”...


Last week I posted Part 1 and Part 2 of a four-part interview with author Richard Rothstein. Today I am posting Part 3, focusing on tough questions President Obama must face if he is to live up to his goals of improving educational outcomes. 3. You quote President Obama as being critical of the way NCLB has narrowed the curriculum to focus on tested subjects. Are there indications that steps are being taken to reverse this emphasis? During the election campaign, President Obama said that NCLB “has become so reliant on a standardized test model that…subjects like history and ...


Earlier this week I posted Part 1 of a four-part interview with author Richard Rothstein. Today I am posting Part 2, which focuses on the dire warnings we have heard over the past few decades, echoed recently by President Obama, that the United States is in danger of falling behind other nations due to our poor educational system. Question 2: It is often said that our students are falling behind those in other nations. Is this the case? What should we do about it? American students perform less well in mathematics than students in many other industrialized and in East ...


Former New York Times columnist Richard Rothstein has emerged as one of the nation’s sharpest critics of the current test-centered approach to education reform. Six weeks ago I posted a review of his recent book, Grading Education, Getting Accountability Right. I thought it would be great to hear his comments on the debates raging over how to fix NCLB, and proposals such as national standards. Here is part one of a four-part interview: 1. In Chapter 4 you describe how a student who scores as proficient in 8th grade math in Montana could go a few miles across state ...


This week some educational bombshells have exploded, and we need to take some time to examine their implications. But first, a bit of my own history, to provide some context for my perspective. I chose to teach in Oakland because I had experienced the civil rights movement as a child. In 1968, as a fifth grader in Berkeley, I was reassigned to a South Berkeley school that had been predominantly African American in the city’s voluntary desegregation program. My parents were deeply committed to social justice, and I emerged from high school active in the civil rights struggles of ...


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