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 ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The recently released film, "Won't Back Down" has presented education activists with something teachers long for: a teachable moment. The movie's director, Daniel Barnz, has his homework assignment - begin to understand the mess you have landed in. A little less than two years ago Davis Guggenheim, director of "Waiting For Superman," asked teachers to send him feedback on his movie. He got an earful, as I described here. This week, Daniel Barnz, the director of "Won't Back Down," also headed to the Huffington Post to try to explain himself. His essay suggests that ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody It is hard sometimes for advocates of public education to see our own movement, when we are active participants in it. But the critical and public reaction to the movie "Won't Back Down" is providing us with some evidence of how far we have come in the past two years. It was two years ago that documentarian Davis Guggenheim released "Waiting For Superman," heavily loaded with the message that unions protect bad teachers, tenure provides jobs for life, and charter schools are the only hope for our children. The movie was a commercial failure ...


Guest post by Rog Lucido. NCLB ushered in the national era of high-stakes testing in all of our schools. Soon the consequences of this testing became apparent. The Alliance for Childhood revealed that parents, teachers, school nurses, psychologists, and child psychiatrists reported that the stress of high-stakes testing was literally making children sick. Kathy Vannini, the elementary school nurse in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, said she dreads the springtime weeks when children must take the MCAS -- the lengthy tests now required of Massachusetts students starting in third grade. "My office is filled with children with headaches and stomachaches every day," she ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Chicago's students and teachers returned to their classrooms last Wednesday, having taught us all some valuable lessons. I spent some time this summer with a couple of teacher activists from the big city, Xian Barrett and Adam Heenan, and they were clear about what was giving them strength. This strike action was not a whim. It was carefully built from the ground up. Today we will take a look at what we can learn from their experience. In many cities across the country, our unions have practically taken the strike off the table. It ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody This has been the year of the revealing video. This week we saw that Governor Romney and many of his millionaire donors view almost half the country as parasitic dependents. That famous 47% includes many of our students. Last summer's video of Stand For Children leader Jonah Edelman at a conservative gathering in Aspen revealed how his group had maneuvered to pass a law that they thought would make a strike in Chicago impossible. Our schools are being starved of funding, at a time when taxes have never been lower, and the concentration of ...


Guest post by Andre Dunbar. My name is Andre Dunbar. I am a senior at William L. Sayre High School in Philadelphia, and I am a student organizer with the Philadelphia Student Union. The Philadelphia Student Union is fighting back against school closures and the transformation plans we are seeing in Philadelphia and nationally. As students we don't want to see what other cities are seeing now--closures that that are hurting their communities. These closures destroy our education. Governor Corbett's cuts to education leave my district with less money, which leads the district to say that they cannot afford to ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Though our dialogue with the Gates Foundation has ended, some interesting questions continue to stir things up. In the comments that follow the Gates Foundation's last post in the series, a reader named JT posed this question: You might be right, but if you were giving away your money, how would you fix poverty? I would invest in education. What are the alternatives? We have deep divides in our society about the role of individual responsibilities and government which have been going on basically forever. To think a family foundation should focus its resources ...


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