December 2011 Archives

Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody This year, the gloves came off, as teachers faced unprecedented attacks on our right to collective bargaining, as well as continued attempts to tie our pay and job security to test scores. Some of these attacks were blatant, as in Wisconsin, but most were veiled behind a cloak of rhetoric about education reform. Today I want to review some of the posts that attempted to bell the corporate education reform cat. I started the year taking on Eric Hanushek, the Hoover Institute economist whose theories inform Michele Rhee and Bill Gates. I wrote this, ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody A couple of weeks ago I posted a look back at 2011, with a list of all 170 of my posts to this blog. I am afraid I have spent a great deal of energy taking issue with what I see as very bad ideas being promoted in the name of reform. But I also have spent some time trying to support GOOD reform ideas, and I want to share some highlights from this year. First, there is this report, TeamScience Tames Teacher Turnover, focused on the mentoring program I initiated four years ago. ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Alexander Russo has done an excellent job stirring the pot with his column yesterday asserting that "reform critics" like myself are "winning" the online debate. As I tried to point out yesterday, the online debate is rather meaningless if the real decisions about our schools continue to be made based on misinformation, bribery and political gamesmanship. I believe the online debate has been deliberately ignored by the corporate reform sector, as they see it as a battle they can well afford to lose, given the access to real power their funds buy them. We ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Alexander Russo posted a rather provocative item today, asserting that in the online world, critics of "education reform" like myself, Ken Bernstein, Nancy Flanagan, Leonie Haimson, Caroline Grannan and John Thompson, have become dominant. (See Nancy's response here, and Ken Bernstein's here.) First of all, we ought to qualify his assertion. The people he names are among the most visible critics of education reform, but there are many more than the short list he offers. But the real question is one I have been puzzling over for a while. Why is there so little ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody I just don't get it. A few short weeks ago, the National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel released a "Three Point Plan for True Education Reform." The first point of this plan is "raising the bar for entry" into the teaching profession. THE FIRST STEP in transforming our profession is to strengthen and maintain strong and uniform standards for preparation and admission. More than 1.6 million new teachers are expected to enter the profession within the next decade, and we must ensure that they are effective practitioners before they are assigned as ...


Guest post by Tara Kini, Public Advocates Inc. Today marks the first anniversary of one of the most far-reaching legislative actions in education in recent memory. It was highly controversial and addressed a subject at the forefront of the ongoing debate about educational equity. But if you are like most Americans, you probably have no idea that it ever happened. And that is exactly what the measure's proponents wanted. Congress stealthily slipped into a temporary budget bill last year language that allows states to label teachers as "highly qualified" before they have finished or even begun training through alternative certification ...


In Huntsville, Alabama, the school board has decided to spend $1.7 million to bring Teach For America interns to district classrooms. This has prompted an assistant professor at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, to raise some critical questions. This is the third post in this series. Guest post by Philip Kovacs. On the web page where Teach For America shares research, they boldly state: "A large and growing body of independent research shows that Teach For America corps members make as much of an impact on student achievement as veteran teachers." I will show this is an absurd claim ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody In my summary of the year 2010 I wrote: This was the year of the billionaire in education. And teachers, parents and students are wondering what we need to do to make 2011 turn out a bit differently. We figured it out alright. 2011 was the year of the great awakening. The year began with Wisconsin educators rallying to protect their rights, under attack from Governor Scott Walker. Jesse Turner had called it out even before 2010 was over - and along with a bunch of us from around the country, helped create the ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Dear Jon Stewart, Your show Wednesday night with White House domestic affairs chief Melody Barnes was remarkable, in that you showed a far greater depth of understanding of education issues than did your guest. When you asked Ms. Barnes what work she felt proudest of, she said "...the work we have done around education has been a game-changer." What a word. Where have I heard that before? Oh yes. That was George W. Bush' Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings' favorite way of describing NCLB -- see here, here, and here. Unfortunately the White House ...


As No Child Left Behind becomes an ever bigger disaster, Secretary Duncan faces a major dilemma. How can he continue to enforce this law he has declared a train wreck? Last spring, in an attempt to goad Congress into accepting his formula for revising No Child Left Behind, Education Secretary Arne Duncan made some dire predictions. In his testimony, he said: ...we did an analysis which shows that -- next year -- the number of schools not meeting their goals under NCLB could double to over 80 percent -- even if we assume that all schools will gain as much ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Numbering more than four million, teachers represent better than one percent of the population of the United States. Given the fact that only about half the people in our nation actually vote, teachers are potentially even more than one percent of the electorate. And national elections are sometimes decided by margins smaller than this. Beyond our votes, teachers are connectors, influential among friends, family and community members. We have been bulwarks of the nation's middle class, but as with the rest of the 99 percent, things have been tough the past three decades. As ...


Several weeks ago I posted a firsthand report from University of Alabama, Huntsville assistant professor Philip Kovacs, regarding his efforts to get the Hunstville school board to re-examine its decision to spend $1.7 million on bringing Teach For America interns to the public schools there. Huntsville, he pointed out, has laid off 300 teachers over the past two years. Today, Dr. Kovacs takes us on an exploration of the research that TFA offers to justify its aggressive expansion. Guest post by Philip Kovacs. Recently I have been exchanging emails with a TFA employee in my city. On my last ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Three days ago, Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post published the hardest-hitting critique of testing of the year. Before discussing that, I want to take a moment to recognize her work. Ms. Strauss is the ONLY blogger in the mainstream media to consistently address education issues from a perspective that is critical of the test-crazy status quo. Every day she brings us insightful perspectives, research and reports from the field. Her column includes her own excellent work as well as that of others (including occasionally myself.) Monday's post, When an adult ...


This week my guest blogger, John Thompson, is exploring the stance taken by The Center for American Progress on the issue of teacher evaluation. Guest post by John Thompson. The Center For American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank, has largely bought the educational agenda of "the billionaires' boys club." It seeks a balance, with just enough union-baiting to appease corporate powers. The CAP does its share of teacher-bashing, apparently in order to parrot the word "accountability" over and over, but it does not want to spark a stampede of teaching talent from inner city schools. Two new reports, "Designing ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Part One of Two. The Center For American Progress (CAP) is a progressive think tank founded by former Clinton staffer John Podesta. The CAP believes, "progressives are idealistic enough to believe change is possible and practical enough to make it happen." It thus collaborates with funders ranging from the liberal George Soros to Walmart to push the Obama Administration's agenda. The Center For American Progress has published another report justifying the firing of teachers today, based on statistical models that may some day become valid. "Designing High Quality Evaluation Systems for High School Teachers," by ...


When something keeps on appearing as a byproduct of an activity, eventually you might begin to wonder if perhaps the byproduct is actually the objective. The one result that education reform efforts seem to have in common is turmoil in our schools, especially those where there is high poverty. Let's take a look at the strategies being employed, and what they are yielding: Charter schools: From Chicago comes fresh news that once again, poverty usually trumps a longer school day and the capacity to hire and fire teachers at will. Charters with the highest numbers of students from low-income families ...


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