Have you ever heard this one? A number of times in my career, I heard teachers, usually new ones, it must be said, announce in frustration that they were sick and tired of dealing with the kids who were disrupting class, and that from that point forward, they were going to forget about the "ones who aren't ready to learn," and put their energy into those who are. I even had a teacher tell me she set up her seating chart and put the "bad" kids in the back. There are a number of reasons this is a bad practice. ...


Yesterday I received a message from a reader. She wrote: I am convinced that educators in this country have lost their senses. At least, they seem to have lost their consciences. I sent your blog - What Hurricane Sandy is Teaching Us About Students Under Stress - to my fellow teachers this week. No one responded to the post via e-mail. I can understand that, since our school e-mails are monitored. But no one would talk to me about the "storms" our kids are living through when I mentioned your article at school. Now, you may think, this is not ...


This morning the CNN Schools of Thought blog carried the following: Dear Mr. Lucas, I have recently read of the $4 billion that you will receive for selling your movie empire to Disney, and your plans to give most of this money to support education. This is wonderful news. I deeply appreciate this generosity. I am writing a letter to encourage you to think outside the box as you decide how to spend these funds. It is critical to consider where educators find ourselves in 2012. The George Lucas Education Foundation already has made a substantial impact on our schools. ...


This week as the East Coast cleans up after Hurricane Sandy, we are hearing from teachers how they are responding to the trauma and stress their students are bringing to class. From Brooklyn Heights Montessori teacher Launa Schweizer, we learn how her students are coping. As the day wore on, I discovered that the children who had spent the week without power, who were displaced by rising water, or who had seen significant property damage, had little ability to do schoolwork. They craved the comfort only their friends could provide, but actual focused learning was impossible. They arrived without their ...


Last week I got some disturbing news from a science educator in Kansas. John Richard Schrock is a biologist who works at Emporia State University in Kansas, preparing science teachers. In September he wrote about a visit from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and shared this graph, with the following caption: The number of new licenses awarded by Kansas State Department of Education KSDE to biology, chemistry, physics and earth science teachers over the last decade, all show a dramatic drop immediately after No Child Left Behind was imposed, and remain low under Duncan. The biology graph is representative. The ...


Guest post by John Thompson. As more and more schools implement various forms of Value-Added method (VAM) evaluation systems, we are learning some disturbing things about how reliable these methods are. Education Week's Stephan Sawchuk, in "'Value-Added' Measures at Secondary Level Questioned," explains that value-added statistical modeling was once limited to analyzing large sets of data. These statistical models projected students' test score growth, based on their past performance, and thus estimated a growth target. But, now 30 states require teacher evaluations to use student performance, and that has expanded use of algorithms for high-stakes purposes. Value-added estimates are now ...


Yesterday's post challenging the ability of some education reform "liberals" to shed core values such as support for unions, desegregation and the institution of public education apparently hit some sensitive nerves. In particular, Chris Arnold, whom we recently saw praising the "parent trigger" movie "Won't Back Down," took me on via Twitter. You may recall that Mr. Arnold caught some flak for initially failing to disclose his affiliation with The New Teacher Project, a Gates-funded non-profit that has pushed hard for "reforms" in teacher evaluation. In an exchange that took place over the past 24 hours, he asked me: How ...


Will they continue to support special exemptions that allow Teach For America novices to be considered "highly qualified teachers"? Will they support the expansion of charter schools and the use of the deceptive "parent trigger" even as they increase segregation and leave the toughest to teach students behind? Will they support the expansion of sham virtual schools like K12 Inc even as they divert public funds to clearly inferior alternatives?


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 ...


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