August 2011 Archives

Duncan Worries About Losing "Great Young Talent": What About Us Old Timers?

Gates Foundation, TFA, Teach For America

Arne Duncan's Twitter Town Hall: Orwell Would Be Proud

George Orwell might well be proud to see how Arne Duncan has risen to the challenge of using language to disguise government actions. Watching the Twitter Town Hall yesterday was an exercise in frustration. Unfortunately, the Department of Education has released only tweets that digest his responses down into little nuggets, so to hear what he really said requires careful listening. I took some time to take down some of what was said in the first five minutes, when interviewer John Merrow focused on No Child Left Behind and the process Duncan is setting up to grant waivers. Merrow: Why ...

John Thompson on Brill's Re-write of Teacher Union History

teacher unions, teacher evaluation, peer assistance and review

Bill Gates Inspires a Class Size Experiment in Kansas City

A story broken by Parents Across America, and thus far not even covered by local newspapers, reveals that school administrators in Kansas City, Missouri, are introducing an unprecedented experiment. According to this story, contributed by a Kansas City teacher who has remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation, here is what is under way as the school year begins: Last week at a school board meeting, Kansas City, MO School District superintendent John Covington told the school board that there is no research that supports reduced class size linked to increased student achievement. During the meeting, Covington cited the views ...

Sharp Themes Emerge from #AskArne Questions

A few days ago I posted an invitation for people to share questions they have for Arne Duncan, in preparation for his Twitter Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, August 24th. The questions that are emerging are a fascinating glimpse into the debate over our schools. I reviewed questions, and found some themes emerging. Perhaps it might help us be smart participants if we saw some of the big questions that keep coming up. Here are some key ones. Please keep posting and re-tweeting questions on Twitter, and share your favorites in the comments below. And let's pay close attention to ...

#AskArne Twitter Town Hall Next Wednesday: Share your Questions Here

The Department of Education announced Tuesday that Secretary Arne Duncan will participate in an #AskArne Twitter Town Hall on next Wednesday, August 24, at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will moderate the town hall that will also be broadcast live on the Department of Education's ustream channel. Twitter users can submit questions to the Secretary using the hashtag #AskArne. Many of us will be teaching at that time, but questions can be submitted at any time prior to the event. A couple of weeks ago, on the eve of the Save Our Schools March, I ...

President Obama on Shaky Ground with Teachers: Can He Firm Up Support?

President Obama has some very large problems heading into 2012, and one that might surprise those inside the DC beltway is an area that should be a bulwark of support for any Democratic candidate: education. Democratic candidates tend to support public services, and the unions that represent teachers and classified workers are supportive in return. Going into the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama played to this strength when he spoke to members of the NEA, promising to "fix the broken promises of NCLB." The NEA renewed its endorsement of President Obama last month, but that does not mean he is home ...

GOP Candidates Take on the Department of Education

The recent debate among candidates for the Republican nomination for President has raised anew the proper role of the Federal government in our schools. Several candidates, including Herman Cain and Texas governor Rick Perry, have decried the expansion of federal influence. Michelle Bachman has likewise been critical of NCLB, and has even called for the abolition of the Department of Education. Blogger Bob Sikes is actively following the ins and outs of the Republican primary, and he sees a split developing within conservative ranks. George W. Bush, and his brother Jeb, have been major players in the education "reform" movement, ...

John Thompson: What Happens when Magical Thinking is a Condition of Employment?

Guest post by John Thompson. Sometimes it seems like every five foot tall male 8th grader is convinced that he will make it in the NBA. Teachers have to gently explain the need to study in case, by some fluke, a teenager does not become a first round draft choice. The Washington Post's education columnist Jay Mathews recently made a comparable mistake, and I want to be equally nurturing in reply. I kid Mr. Mathews, because he has great integrity, but sometimes I fear that he assumes that everyone is as upright as he is. (And besides, Mathews has been ...

Say No to Duncan Dollars: Rookie Reform has Run its Course

Over the past decade I have served as a mentor teacher to more than a dozen beginning teachers in the challenging schools of Oakland. Most of them have been interns, fresh out of college, with just a few weeks of summer training, and a "bag of tricks" that they were given by their only slightly more experienced trainers. They are trained to focus on the data. Start testing early, and make sure the students understand how important those scores are. Set BIG goals, such as that 80% of your students will score well. Track progress using big graphs on the ...

More Save Our Schools Videos!

One of my hopes is that our spirits can be sustained in the tough months ahead by revisiting some of the inspirational words we heard this weekend. In that spirit, I am doing my best to collect videos from the Save Our Schools rally and post them here. Jon Stewart's message of support -- the dog ate his car (actually I hear he was in Afghanistan with the troops): Jose Vilson's poem: Not On the Test! Taylor Mali: What Teachers Make Texas Superintendent John Kuhn: WOW! West Coast teachers interviewed: Marching to the White House An interview done by John ...


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