May 2012 Archives

Guest post by Jack Hassard, originally posted here. In May, 2012, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) issued a report entitled: What Teacher Education Programs Teach About K - 12 Assessment. Anthony Cody mentioned this study in a recent post entitled Payola Policy: NCTQ Prepares its Hit on Schools of Education. The title intrigued me, so I went over to the NCTQ website, and read and studied the report which is about what education courses teach about assessment. This post is my review of the NCTQ study, and I hope after you finish reading the post you will realize ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Our political system has deteriorated to such a degree that policymaking in the education arena has come to resemble the selection of "hits" chosen for airplay by 1950s DJs. Back in the day, the main mode of advertising to promote the sale of records was to have the songs played on the radio. The "Payola" scandal occurred in the 1950s when it was discovered that many of the DJs were routinely making decisions about what to play not based on the quality of the music, but on bribes they were receiving from record companies. ...


Guest post by Gerald Coles. The U.S. needs an educational system that will "ensure our kids are ready to compete and ready to win" in the global economy, said Delaware governor Jack Markell when the National Governors Association and State Education Chiefs formally launched the Common Core State Standards, the new guiding light of American education. Markell's call repeats the chief goal in the Standards' mission statement, as well as the imperatives corporate leaders have demanded of the nations schools. "The more states that adopt these . . . standards," insists Bill Gates, "the closer we will be to . . . becoming more competitive ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Diane Ravitch was recently informed of the contents of the New York City Department of Education e-mails that the United Federation of Teachers gained information through a Freedom of Information request. The first thing that Ravitch recognized in the communications was "the chummy exchanges between the public officials in charge of the New York City public school system and the top dogs of the charter leadership." Ravitch then explained that the communications document "the collusion between those who are sworn to protect the public schools and those who are incentivized to privatize them." Ravitch then ...


Guest poem by Bill Schechter. So who dares criticize Private Equity? Who has the temerity to malign Private Enterprise, - or suggest that Bain actually was a bane? But when it came to trashing Public Education & Unions the businessmen were first in line, with their Roundtables, their Councils, their Chambers, their PACS, followed by their Hedge Fund and Equity colleagues, with their phony grassroots groups, their bought education commissioners, their for-profit charters, their testing companies feeding at the public trough, their dollars counting double our votes, and the bashing of teachers -- fifteen long years now -- why not? Let ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody In a comment on my recent post posing Critical Questions about the Common Core, one reader wrote: "I don't see any harm in requiring all students to be able to recite their multiplication tables from memory up to 12 X 12 by the end of third grade or they don't go to fourth grade." In some ways this represents the epitome of standardization. Determine a standard that all students must meet, and make it into a "high bar" that they all must clear before they move on. This reader has suggested the times tables ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody A newspaper report from Mobile, Alabama, describes the system clearly. Color-coded sticky notes on a wall in the "data room" at Mobile's Gilliard Elementary School bear the names of every pupil who is struggling in reading or math, has been absent too often, or has gotten into trouble for misbehaving. A yellow note, for example, shows a kindergartner who failed a reading test. A lime-green note shows a second-grader who made a D on his report card. A light-blue note shows a fifth-grader who fared poorly on the state's standardized math test. In all, ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Educators in the United States are once again headed for a very big trap. We are being seduced by the idea that a common set of standards and assessments to match will deliver equitable outcomes from our schools. This is the siren call that draws us into endless top-down reforms that never work, but never stop promising that the next time, we will get it right, and ALL students will achieve at high levels. But this time, maybe we can learn from the last big national experiment along these lines, No Child Left Behind. ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Early in my career, I floated a naive idea with my union business representative. What if education embraced a school reform code of ethics? The attacks on teachers by "reformers" who had declared war on the educational "status quo," were ramping up their attacks on teachers. I could already see that the blame game could spin out of control. And sure enough, the contemporary accountability movement eventually declared a war on teachers, who supposedly were complicit in schools' failure to overcome the legacy of generational poverty. Back then, however, I was still too trusting of ...


A week ago I featured a guest post by Jack Hassard, Common Core Values: Do they include Authoritarianism? Today, in the spirit of promoting dialogue, I am sharing a response from a different point of view. Guest post by David Musselwhite. The Common Core State Standards and the values they espouse are not a threat to the tenets of progressive education. Far from reflecting authoritarianism, the true values of the Common Core movement are equity, competition, and collaboration. Before the Common Core: Realities about Student Achievement What do we really mean when we speak of the progressive education? According to ...


Guest post by Chemtchr. Last Friday afternoon, Achieve's "Next Generation Science Standards", as they're calling their Common Core, finally became available. Their "public comment" interval ends June first. I'm going to argue this Common Core was specifically designed to narrow the scope of education to skills that can be (relatively) easily tested. I described my personal experience with the science core in a comment on Anthony Cody's blog last month. He asked me to expand it into a column, but I couldn't do that until readers could examine the actual Common Core science product. I was serving a term as ...


Guest post by Tim Slekar. About a year ago I published a blog that detailed how Pennsylvania governor, Tom Corbett, was using the shock doctrine to dupe the citizens of Pennsylvania into believing that a $1 Billion dollar cut to public education was necessary to help with the state's budget deficit. I quickly pointed out that these cuts would actually weaken public schools and help push Corbett's real education agenda (dismantling public schools) and that in the end, no money would be saved anyway. However, these cuts would hinder real learning and create the appearance of failing schools. So what ...


One of the oldest problems with the left or progressive movement is our tendency to drag ourselves down through internal struggle over who has the most correct political line. We are seeing some of this dynamic emerge in the movement against high stakes testing. Perhaps it is a coming of age - a sign of our success - that we have a strong enough movement that people are taking these issues seriously. But I am afraid we are going to squander our precious momentum by turning our anger on one another, when there are very clear assaults taking place on ...


Last week I shared this interview with Yong Zhao focused on the Common Core standards. Today I am sharing a conversation between Dr. Zhao and Yvonne Siu-Runyan. Contributed by Yvonne Siu-Runyan. I am honored to have the opportunity to interview Dr. Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon. He is a fellow for the International Academy for Education. Zhao was born in China's Sichuan Province and is author of Catching Up or Leading the Way (ASCD, 2009), a book I highly recommend others to read. He has a new ...


This week there has been an upsurge of debate over the Common Core (national) Standards. I hope we can tolerate and appreciate different points of view as we work to understand more deeply what these standards are all about, and the ways they may shift teaching, learning and testing in the USA. Guest post by Jack Hassard. Originally posted here. We think that Common Standards and Assessments are the antithesis of the progressive values upon which this nation was founded. The idea of having a single set of standards and associated assessments appears to remove individuality, creativity and innovation from ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody In recent weeks controversy over the Common Core standards has heated up. As we get closer to the decision point at the state level across the country, it has become clearer what a massive overhaul the Common Core represents. New curriculum, new professional development and most controversial of all, new assessments, with no relief in sight from the heavy-handed accountability systems that are the legacy of NCLB, I have been outspoken in my own views about the Common Core, since I first heard about them three years ago. I think any system that is ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody University of Oregon professor Yong Zhao's 2009 book Catching Up or Leading the Way sent a jolt through our educational system. He questioned the use of tests and "accountability" from the unique perspective of someone educated in China, now living - and raising children - in the USA. His next book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, is due out soon, so I asked him to share some thoughts about some current issues. Question: Where do you see the push for Common Core standards coming from? Yong Zhao: The push comes from ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Scoop Nisker used to say, "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own." Two educators, Shaun Johnson and Tim Slekar, have taken up this challenge, and have entered the fierce world of commercial radio, with a provocative show called "At the Chalkface." This weekly broadcast goes out online here, and features guests who offer an alternative to the dominant education reform narrative. Recent guests have included Diane Ravitch and Bill Ayers. I asked the hosts, Pennsylvania education professor Tim Slekar and Maryland education professor Shaun Johnson, and the ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As the Common Core standards now are being promised to fix everything in the world of education, I remain a skeptic. Scholar and author Alfie Kohn wrote this essay on the subject back in 2010. This week I asked him to share his current thoughts. Question 1. Where do you think the drive for Common Core standards is coming from? Alfie Kohn: I don't think we have to speculate; the answer is pretty clear: While some educational theorists have long favored national standards -- and got nowhere with the idea in the '90s -- ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Teachers in what was once one of the lowest performing elementary schools in Oakland have transformed their school through a combination of teacher research and innovative instructional strategies. Teacher action research has a long history in the Oakland schools. The Mills Teacher Scholars program, under the guidance of Mills College professor Anna Richert, has been supporting teacher researchers here for more than a decade. We visited the scholars at New Highland Academy last spring and saw how they were investigating strategies for teaching their students to think critically about what they are reading. I ...


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