If we want to restore education as a stepping stone, not an obstacle, to social equity, we need to remember that schooling is based on caring relationships between generations, as well as emotional connections between students and their subject matter. In schools serving neighborhoods of generational poverty, where there is a lack of social trust, we must nurture the bonds that unite people and ideas. And, whether we are discussing better welfare or educational systems, better online programs and tougher sanctions are no substitute for the people process of teaching, learning, and building stronger families and communities.


This has been a remarkable year for education. What was previously a one-sided conversation about education reform has signs of becoming a dialogue in which teachers are heard. The sleeping giant is waking up, as was seen in Chicago in September, when grassroots organizing paid off as teachers there were able to win their strike. Voters began to wake up as well, as we saw arch-reformer Tony Bennett defeated in the state of Indiana by a National Board certified teacher, Glenda Ritz. Once again, it was a grassroots coalition of parents and teachers that led her to victory. And in ...


The tragic shootings in Newtown have given us all a heavy dose of grief, as we contemplate the horror of twenty young lives snuffed out, and the loss of six brave educators. As we have read of the heroic behavior of the teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook, there has also been reflection on the awesome responsibility we take on when we are teaching children. Parents entrust us with their children not just to teach them their ABCs, but also to nurture them as human beings, and in rare cases such as Friday in Newtown, to protect their very lives. ...


Our two major unions are one of the best vehicles teachers have for communicating with the public. Teachers have gotten on board with efforts to raise standards in the past, but we have to have our eyes wide open this time. There is going to be a major publicity campaign associated with the results we will get from the Common Core assessments. This will be yet another iteration of the wails we heard with the release of the Nation at Risk report in 1983. We have got to be prepared to mount a robust defense of the very institution of ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Near the end of David Denby's New Yorker profile of Diane Ravitch (Public Defender), Denby quotes Ravitch saying, "If the testing vampire is slain, the whole facade of faux reform collapses. No test scores, no merit pay, no closing of schools by test scores." Shouldn't people who cannot agree with Ravitch on anything else join her in repudiating high-stakes testing, and then see if her other positions prove correct? Like Ravitch, I oppose merit pay, but I would not dig in my heels on it. If a younger generation of educators want performance pay, I'd ...


The atrocious details are coming through the fog of saturated news coverage. The teacher who ushered her students into closets before she was killed. The teacher who blocked a door with her body and was shot in the arm and leg through the closed door. The teacher who told her students that she loved them so that would be the last thing they were thinking about. The principal who ran towards the gun fire instead of to safety. On this day we are reminded that classroom teachers, staff and administrators are on the front lines with our children every day. ...


Guest post by Ann Schulte. The edTPA is spreading across the country like wild fire, and I'm feeling burned out. My experience with standardized performance assessment over the past 10 years has given me multiple opportunities both to learn from it as well as critique it, and to that end, I've engaged in a variety of discussions about it initially with other California educators, and more recently with teacher educators across the U.S. Amid the many reforms related to teacher assessment, the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) is gaining rapid and widespread attention. In this post, I'll use edTPA, TPA, ...


I am afraid I am a bit bothered by the dance we are being led on this week by Teach For America. First, in an interview on the Huffington Post, TFA founder and CEO Wendy Kopp states, unequivocally, the following: "On average, our corps members stay in the classroom for eight years." I asked in my blog post of two days ago for some substantiation of this claim, which runs counter to both my experience in Oakland, and the data I have seen, which generally reflects that fewer than ten or fifteen percent of TFA corps members stay past their ...


The Huffington Post this morning features an interview with Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp, focused on how much TFA has to offer the poor of the world. Five years ago, Kopp founded Teach For All, in order to export the TFA model to other countries around the world. In this interview, Wendy Kopp states: "On average, our corps members stay in the classroom for eight years." Honestly, I find this claim incredible. I have firsthand experience with Teach For America. I worked in high poverty schools in Oakland, California, for 24 years. In my last four years (2007 to ...


The bottom line is that our schools are being forced to compete for ever more scarce resources, and with heavy pressure to do the wrong thing, which is focus on test preparation. Project-based learning with authentic products is a recipe for relevancy, and this school shows how well it works with students who have struggled in a more traditional setting. If ACE Leadership High School can show us better ways to assess and demonstrate student learning, they ought to be available to other schools as well.


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