October 2012 Archives

A remarkable coalition of individuals and organizations, many of them with deep roots in the African American and Latino communities, is calling upon the Department of Education to abandon plans to implement new policies associated with NCLB waivers in the state of New Jersey. In the past, some leaders in the African American and Latino communities have supported NCLB, believing it would result in improved outcomes for students. The Department of Education has relied on this support to press its case that closing schools on the basis of test scores is in the interest of students. This letter reveals a ...


Guest post by Kris Nielsen. This post was originally published here on his blog, Middle Grades Mastery. A modified version was sent to President Obama. I love teaching. Or, I did love teaching. I loved teaching when my job was to teach. Now, I don't love teaching, because my job is no longer teaching. Was that introduction awkward enough? That's kind of how my job feels: awkward, frustrating, backwards, stifling, and redundant. Breaking away from the comparison to the introduction, I'd like to add demeaning, thankless, exhausting, fruitless, unappreciated, lonely, undemocratic, unfulfilling, and major energy drain. But, please, let me ...


According to many would-be reformers of our education system, the free market will bring innovation to education, and when consumers are empowered with choice, the best products will rise to the top. We are getting a chance to see how this works in the real world in some parts of the country. The State of Louisiana is engaged in an active experiment that allows us to see the effects of this philosophy, when schools themselves are turned into "products" on the open market. Governor Bobby Jindal has embraced the preferred policies of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Here are ...


What kind of fortitude would it take to breach the walls of Ole Miss, a bastion of white supremacy in the heart of the South? Who would dare confront the threats of lynching, threats to family members, and the visceral hatred of thousands of people? James Meredith was the man who did this back in 1962, and in his memoir, A Mission from God, he tells us the story. The book is a gripping read. We learn about the character of this man, and the upbringing that prepared him for what he took on as a mission from God. We ...


New York teacher Ariel Sacks this week pointed out some of the challenges faced by teachers who wish to exercise leadership beyond their classrooms. In this essay, Beyond Tokenism: Toward the Next Stage of Teacher Leadership, Sacks points out some of the pitfalls she has experienced. These include finding one's voice used to advance someone else's agenda, making one into a "mouthpiece," rather than a true leader. Another is be used as a token teacher, so nobody can say we were not consulted - yet our advice is somehow ignored. And the last is to be "allowed" to take on ...


Guest post by John Thompson. The Measures of Effective Teaching Project (MET) is the Gates Foundation's flagship effort to fill what they believe is a huge void in the teaching profession. According to them, up until this project, there was no way to know how effective any given teacher is. Their goal has been to develop scientifically accurate means to accomplish this. I would have no problem with the Gates Foundation's Measuring Effective Teaching process if it was conducted as pure research. The MET's Tom Kane, in "Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching," illustrates the good that could have come ...


Dialogue with me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Today I am working to assemble the close to 400 letters the Campaign for Our Public Schools, spearheaded by Diane Ravitch, has collected in the past twelve days. They will be sent to the White House, the Department of Education, and made available for download. Today I am sharing one more, written by a math teacher from Southern California, Lori Walton. Dear President Obama, I have received an average of three emails per day from your campaign, sometimes signed personally by you or your wife Michelle, over the past several months. You have ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As I have shared for the past week, I have volunteered to help Diane Ravitch collect and organize letters for the Campaign for our Public Schools, which will culminate on Wednesday, October 17. All the letters collected by then will be sent to the White House and to the Department of Education. Instructions on how to send a letter are at the bottom of this post. Today, I received this letter from a Vermont principal. Please read, and then take a few minutes to write a letter of your own. Dear President Obama, I ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody I have volunteered to help Diane Ravitch collect and organize letters for the Campaign for our Public Schools, which will culminate on Thursday, October 17. All the letters collected by then will be sent to the White House and to the Department of Education. Instructions on how to send a letter are at the bottom of this post. The letters are pouring in. Each one reveals another facet of the lives of our schools in 2012. Today I am sharing a letter sent in by Shelley Barker, of Snohomish, Washington. Please read, and then ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Yesterday I had the strange experience of waking up to a blog post by someone I had never before encountered claiming he had "kicked Anthony Cody's ass six ways to Sunday" - in the headline no less! And stranger still, the post made no explicit reference to my work, and provided no link to anything I had written. I left a fairly mild comment indicating that I was interested in dialogue, but this headline left me a bit stunned. A few hours later I got an apology from the author, Tom Segal, who explained ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Diane Ravitch has issued a call for all of us - teachers, parents, students, administrators, and citizens who care about education, to write letters to our elected representatives, starting with the White House. The deadline to have your letter included is October 17. Write from your heart about your hopes and concerns about education in America. Write about what you see happening in your school. Let President Obama know what you think, before this historic election on November 6. You can submit your letter to this guestbook, or the comment section below, and all ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody A seventeen year-old high school student from New York named Nikhil Goyal has been speaking out on education reform. In addition to several high profile television appearances, he has authored a book, One Size Does Not Fit All, A Student's Assessment of School. I asked him to explain his critique this week. Question: What led you to write this book? Nikhil: In the summer of 2010, I took a three-week trip to India to visit family in Delhi and Calcutta. After I came back to the United States, I started to review the notes ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Both President Obama and his debate challenger Mitt Romney took time Wednesday night to praise the controversial Race to the Top program, but down where the rubber meets the road, the program is hitting some obstacles. The Department of Education now requires school districts to get formal buy-in from teachers when they apply for Race to the Top funds. This is proving to be a problem as some teachers have become skeptical about the changes the program requires. The same day of the debate, teachers in the Central Unified School District in Fresno, California, ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Advocates of education "reform" are reeling a bit from the backlash that has greeted the release of "Won't Back Down." All of a sudden mainstream critics were seen pointing out connections between the movie's financial backers and the political agenda it advanced. Amidst this shift we are hearing calls that critics of "reform" cool our tone. Daniel Willingham writes here: I think it's fair to say that, in education policy, some of us have gone too far. People who disagree with us are depicted as not merely wrong, but evil. This characterization is most ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Douglas Harris' Value-Added Measures in Education is a masterpiece. Even in the places where I believe Harris is mistaken, he identifies the core issues involved in using value-added for evaluations. My big complaint is Harris' agnosticism about who carries the burden of proof. I always assumed, and I still believe, that it should be obvious that value-added advocates carry the burden of proving that their reforms are likely to produce more good than harm. And that raises a question. Would reformers have tried to apply value-added to evaluations if they had had to show a ...


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