Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody This morning's USA Today featured two seemingly contradictory stories. On page one, the headline is "School is too easy, students report." On page seven, an op-ed is entitled "Why our kids hate math." The first article, authored by their excellent reporter Greg Toppo, shares a report that included results of surveys where students were asked how hard or easy they found their classwork. Among the findings: 37% of fourth-graders say their math work is "often" or "always" too easy; 57% of eighth-graders say their history work is "often" or "always" too easy; 39% of ...


Guest post by Chemtchr. Part One of Two. Part Two is here. Philanthropy wonk Lucy Bernholz defines the buzzword leverage as "the idea that you can use a little money to access a lot of money." It's hard to think of the Gates Foundation's $26 billion leverage effort as "a little money", especially since it's been spread over the globe to gain access to vastly more resources than it contributes, including U.S. tax dollars, the foreign exchange of emerging African nations, and United Nations funds for international development and world health. Gates' leveraged philanthropy model is a public-private partnership ...


Guest post by John Thompson. My attempt to describe Common Core as an example of the old-fashioned "status quo," which contemporary "reformers" have sought to destroy, seems to have hit a nerve. In the past, educators of different stripes would battle, negotiate, and compromise. Corporate powers were well represented, but there was no effort to assert complete dominance over the field. I argued that the search for "transformative" change and "disruptive innovation" was a historical dead end. I speculated that Common Core and other standards-based reforms would have had a better potential for helping kids had we not just endured ...


Guest post by Jack Hassard. Originally posted here. Standards development, such as in science, is a big enterprise, and one that will result in huge profits for corporations, and will cost school districts billions to carry out over the next few years. For the past two years, Achieve and the Carnegie Corporation have teamed up to write a framework, and a set of science standards for K-12 schools. The science standards were recently flashed on the screens of our computers for about three weeks so that we could give Achieve feedback that they no doubt will embrace in their next ...


Guest post by Gerald Coles. In 1970, Sidney Willhelm's book "Who Needs the Negro?" (the latter word had currency at the time) argued that with the rise of automation within a capitalist economic system, African-American workers were transformed from being exploited to becoming "useless" from the viewpoint of those who controlled the economy and the automated productive processes emerging within it. Because of the racism of U.S. business interests, the workforce that automation would require could and would be largely white. Yes, business would continue to hire a number of blacks, but as much as the cloaked face of ...


A report from the El Paso Times revealed last week that school administrators in that city may have engaged in some questionable practices to make their all-important data appear better than it ought to have been. The key element in the District's data portfolio is the 10th grade standardized test. Administrators apparently went to great lengths to prevent students likely to score poorly from taking this test. These steps included: Placing students entering the country into the 9th grade, regardless of where their transcripts indicated they should be. Allowing schools to reclassify students to a higher grade, without requiring they ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Defenders of our current obsession over test scores claim that new, better tests will rescue us from the educational stagnation caused by a test prep curriculum. And one of those new types of tests is an adaptive test, which adjusts the difficulty of questions as students work, so that students are always challenged. This gives a better measure of student ability than a traditional test, and can be given in the fall and spring to measure student growth over the year. This approach is increasingly being used to determine the "value" individual teachers add ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Last week, attending a great conference in Oklahoma City, Vision 2020, focused largely on Common Core, I kept worrying how I could articulate my support for the effort without angering my friends who are skeptical of it, or needlessly antagonizing Common Core supporters who hold the weird belief that it will be "a game-changer." Finally, I decided to just put my thesis on the table. I support Common Core because it embodies the essence of the educational "status quo." I support Common Core because it is like the educational establishment and American democracy in being ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As the summer approaches, it is time for teachers to once again let President Obama know where we stand on his education policies. Two and a half years ago we wrote letters. Last summer we marched in front of the White House. This August the Save Our Schools convention will gather activists once again, to build a platform of principles for improving education. I am once again collecting teachers' letters to President Obama, and will have them delivered by July 5 to the White House, and to Secretary Duncan. Here is my open letter. ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody One of the fundamental precepts of the school "reform" movement is that the students of today are not ready for college or the workplace. This then is one of the reasons the US has lost its competitive edge, and even is to blame for unemployment rates, because our "job creators" have millions of jobs that are unfilled, and our graduates are simply unprepared for these positions. People like David Brooks call this a "structural issue." Maybe not. This week there are two separate reports, one from the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and the ...


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