January 2012 Archives

Part 1 of 2 Guest post by John Kuhn. "There's a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza." At the root of the school reform debate as I see it is a fundamental disagreement about causality. No one disagrees that by any number of measures (PISA scores, graduation rates, etc.) the academic outcomes of some American students are horrendously unacceptable. On this point, even Michelle Rhee and Diane Ravitch are in perfect agreement, along with everyone else who thinks even a little bit about education. But then the wheels come off. When you ask the question, "What caused this?" ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As state after state rewrites their education laws in line with the mandates from Race to the Top and the NCLB waiver process, the teaching profession is being redefined. Teachers will now pay the price - be declared successes or failures, depending on the rise or fall of their students' test scores. Under NCLB it was schools that were declared failures. In states being granted waivers to NCLB, it is teachers who will be subjected to this ignominy. Of course we will still be required to label the bottom 5% of our schools as ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Last night in President Obama's State of the Union address, he repeated a familiar refrain about the importance of teachers. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. But it seems that it is those in power who are actually using teachers to escape from the realities of poverty these days. President Obama offered as evidence a citation from a recent Harvard report: We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. He went on to say, ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody It has been a busy week for the internet Goliaths -- education tweeters who have enjoyed turning Michelle Rhee's #sixwordessay contest on its head. Perhaps we can shift our focus to our President, whose education policies leave a great deal to be desired. Tomorrow evening President Obama will take to the air to make his State of the Union address. Advisor David Plouffe explained that an enhanced version of this speech will be broadcast on the www.whitehouse.gov website, and the speech will be followed by a discussion where staff will respond to ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Ten days ago, I shared a guest post authored by Kelly Flynn, Teachers Hold the Key. They Always Have. This morning it received the following comment: While I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Flynn that teachers need to become more aware and involved in the reform strategies that are shaping our profession, I wonder what the best method for involving teachers should be. I belong to a group called the Denver New Millennium Initiative. We are a varied collection of voices of teachers who have 3-30 years of experience in K-12 schools in the Denver ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Last night I had the honor of speaking to an audience of several thousand teachers from the greater Sacramento area, at an event that featured State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, California Teachers Association vice president Eric Heins, Linda Darling Hammond and the woman who has emerged as the champion for teachers, Diane Ravitch. Nine area teacher union locals cooperated to organize the event, and in spite of driving rain, the huge Sacramento Convention Center was packed with more than 3,000 people. This was by far the largest crowd I have ever addressed. Here is ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody In his State of the State address today, Jerry Brown continues to lead education in a direction that is different from that taken by most of the nation's governors. Like few other leaders, he seems to recognize the flaws in our over-reliance on tests, and the need to shift power back to those in closest contact with our students. You can read his entire statement here. Here is what he had to say about education in California: Next, I want to say something about our schools. They consume more tax dollars than any other ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Patrick Ledesma offers an interesting window into the world of "teacher leaders" in his post this week. I share some history with Patrick. He and I met about eight years ago when we were both members of Apple's Digital Edge project. More recently, we were both active in the Teacher Leaders Network. Last year, we exchanged ideas in a lively dialogue related to his perspective as a Teacher Ambassador Fellow with the Department of Education. In Patrick's latest post, after describing some of the projects he has been involved in, he suggests that "teacher ...


Guest post by Jack Hassard. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) wants to insure that every teacher in the U.S. is evaluated on the basis on student progress on high-stakes achievement tests. To achieve this, the DOE will issues waivers on some aspects of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in exchange for a state-wide system to evaluate teachers using tests. In this post I provide details and opinions on this development. Waivers In the News The NCLB waivers have become a newsworthy item. Here are links to a few articles published recently. Waiver ties teacher evaluation to test ...


Guest post by Barbara Torre Veltri, Ed. D. The season of giving might be behind us, but non-profits continue to target donors. Teach For America, Inc., attracts major contributions, but TFA teachers (often referred to as corp members) are raising questions about where the money is being spent. Many TFA teachers take out hefty loans to cover their living expenses as they get trained and begin their placements. These loans must be repaid within thirty days if the teachers leave the program for any reason. Philanthropists, corporate donors and foundations view Teach For America's as worthy of significant financial support (Ravitch,...


Guest post by Kelly Flynn. I'm intrigued by the topic of Anthony Cody's two recent blog entries, "Are Critics of Corporate Education 'Reform' Winning the Online Debate?" and "Lopsided Debate Over Education Reform Reveals a Broken System." We may be winning the online battle, but so far, we're losing the war. After teaching high school for almost 20 years I left the classroom to write a weekly newspaper column about education for The Flint Journal in Flint, Michigan. Because the column was published in a mainstream newspaper, I was able to inform and educate the general public about the reality ...


Guest post by John Thompson. On the 10th anniversary of "the lost decade," produced by No Child Left Behind, we will read plenty of explanations of why the law did little good, and often did great harm to poor children of color. Ironically, the rationale for NCLB was that educators had long used poverty as an "excuse" for "low expectations." I am struck, however, by the low expectations that policy wonks had for themselves, how many excuses they are now making for the failure of NCLB, and how they minimized its unintended negative effects, as they blame others. As long ...


Guest post by Philip Kovacs. Two months ago Anthony Cody graciously allowed me to publish the results of my investigations into Teach for America's "research." You can read those pieces here and here. I would like to offer some closure to my investigation by providing interested parties with a brief discussion of some material left off of TFA's "research page." I need to acknowledge here that I am not the first to point out this contradictory research. Prominent bloggers and researchers have been picking apart TFA for almost a decade. Their collective work undermines and negates TFA's claim that "A ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Guest post by Chuck Olynyk. Readers of this blog may recall Chuck Olynyk's guest posts here starting two years ago, when he gave us all front row seats to witness the dismantling of a "failed" high school in Los Angeles. Today, from his new classroom at Roosevelt High, he shares his thoughts about the latest scandal to hit the schools. This was originally posted at his Remember Fremont blog. A few days ago, I complained about Sandra Day O'Connor and her iCivics, grousing about "lesson plans in a box". Yet what do I finally ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The decision by Dennis Van Roekel to co-author a column with Teach For America director Wendy Kopp continues to generate negative reaction among educators, the latest being the decision by Nancy Carlsson-Paige and her son Matt Damon to reject the union's Friend of Education award. The response by the union has been defensive. Van Roekel's statement said, I believe NEA should talk to those who support public education, even if we don't agree on everything, and work together to serve students. Wendy Kopp and I agree that students will benefit from stronger recruiting and ...


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