Local school board races used to be small town affairs. But recently, as money has flowed into education reform across the country, we have seen local races take on national significance. And StudentsFirst clearly cares about the outcome of this local election, right in Michelle Rhee's back yard. The only real antidote to well-funded astroturf operations like StudentsFirst is real grassroots activism. And fortunately, in West Sacramento, voters will have a real educator to vote for. A National Board certified teacher, Sarah Kirby-Gonzales, has stepped forward to run. I worked with Ms. Kirby-Gonzales on a writing project several years ago, ...


The Detroit Free Press's Chastity Pratt Dawson reports that the decline in Detroit's overall school population has increased the percentages of its special education students, making it harder to meet high-stakes accountability goals. The percentage of students on IEPs has increased from 14% to over 18% since 2005. In Michigan, 12% of all students and 10% of charter school students are on IEPs.


Let us hope this new year will allow us to exorcize the ghosts of worthless reforms like VAM-based teacher evaluations. Let us hope we have an honest debate over the need for schools that serve all our students well, rather than lifeboats for the lucky or virtuous. Let us hope for journalists willing to dig and risk censure by the powerful. And let us act to support our fellow teachers taking a stand in Washington, and let us get ourselves organized to push back, from the grassroots, against all the top-down, billionaire-backed reform that threatens our schools.


I would like to see reporting from the ground about how state or federal policies are changing the student experience for the better or for the worse. I would also like to see students write "how to do" pieces about studying for college entrance exams, writing admissions essays, etc. I want the site to be fully inclusive of the entire student experience. I would love to see students writing reviews about books/documentaries, etc. There are a lot of materials aimed at students but most of the reviews seem to be coming from adults, not students who are the users. ...


many undocumented youth only first learn of their status in high school, when they have to fill out applications for internships, summer jobs, or college admission. Unable to provide a Social Security number for the applications, their parents are forced to explain the situation to them, often for the first time. By the time they learn they are undocumented, many have been socialized in the United States where, having had legal access to schools, they develop a strong sense of belonging. This finding parallels a study of undocumented youth in Los Angeles, where the realization of their undocumented status affected ...


This vision of schooling is what the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike to create. It is indeed possible to achieve this seemingly utopian model of education. The CTU has discovered numerous ways to create the schools all children deserve. We can increase funding. We can fight to ensure the funding we currently have is directed towards the neediest children, NOT wasted on testing, data systems, complicated, flawed, and unnecessary new evaluation systems, and the agendas of the politically connected. We can fight poverty. We can call attention to the very real effects of poverty on our students' lives. But ...


is it possible to fight for a system that leaves no children behind, which promotes equity and equal opportunity to ALL? Can we commit to spending the MOST resources on the neediest children to address safety and learning issues? Can we commit to addressing the underlying poverty which creates so many of the behavior, learning, and safety issues in schools? Can we commit to ensuring that no matter where you live, you will have a well-kept, EQUITABLY resourced (more resources for needier schools), properly staffed school, complete with access to libraries, up-to-date technology, social workers, counselors, and foreign language, arts, ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Most teachers who I know would heartily endorse Rick Hess's top two blog hits of 2012. Common Core is likely to join the DeLorean automobile on the ash heap of history. And rather than viewing technology as a "miraculous balm," it should be seen more like Hamburger Helper." Education loves those sorts of quick fixes but, as the year's third top post observes, successes that produce great schools (like those in Finland) grow out of cultural values, including those that "lead to big differences in youth behavior" or that are enhanced by two-parent families. Teachers ...


We have a very real debate on our hands. There are big differences in the solutions being proposed. We do not need to be uncivil or rude, but we need to be crystal clear about what is happening to our public schools, before they are completely destroyed by the policies now being pursued. And we need to be equally clear about the positive alternatives to these policies, so we can push for them in every community in the nation. Let us make 2013 the year these issues are fully discussed and debated, and let us make this the year we ...


In Oakland, turnover has been a crippling factor for many years. For reasons I described here several years ago, the District has used teachers recruited by organizations like Teach For America to fill vacant classrooms. For my last four years in Oakland (2007-2011) I led a project called TeamScience which had the goal of supporting and retaining new science teachers for the District. Here are some of the lessons we learned, both about how to approach mentoring and support, and how to address retention in more systemic ways.


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