Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Over the past several months, I have featured a number of posts that were critical of Teach For America (TFA). We had education professor Phil Kovacs, who wrote several articles reviewing the research cited by TFA on their web site, and heard concerns from current TFA corps member Jameson Brewer. Last month, fellow Education Week blogger Rick Hess carried an interview with Heather Harding, TFA's vice president in charge of research, responding to some of these posts. I wrote to Ms. Harding and asked if she would answer some followup questions. Here is the ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody On Tuesday, I posted a blog titled "Spinning the Numbers on Turnarounds: School Improvement Grant Controversy Brews." In it I questioned the very limited information Secretary Duncan had released the previous week, when he claimed positive results for the program. I even went so far as to question what the numbers could mean. I had written to the Department of Education asking for clarification on Monday, but had not received any reply. Thursday, an entry was posted at the Department of Education's Homeroom blog, which contained further information that clarified the issue. I immediately ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody This week I have been looking at the issue of Turnarounds and the Department of Education's School Improvement Grants, drawing from a conference I attended sponsored by the Education Writers Association. One of the speakers there was a former teacher named Ellen Holmes, who now leads the National Education Association's Priority Schools Campaign. I asked her to explain more about their work in this area. Anthony: What is the NEA's Priority Schools project? Ellen Holmes: The Priority Schools Campaign is the NEA's commitment to struggling schools. The Campaign was born at the 2009 NEA ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody At the Education Writers Association conference on School Improvement last Saturday, I was a bit of a contrarian. Many speakers suggested we need to "break the culture" at failing schools. A number suggested that the reason federal policies were not working was because too many schools were choosing the least disruptive option from the four allowed, and therefore were not firing enough of their lackluster staff. I asked one speaker if perhaps we might rethink the need to fire so many teachers given the recent research on the negative effects turnover has on student ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody It has been said that "numbers tell the tale." But at the Education Writers Association forum on School Improvement Grants in Chicago Saturday, I saw the same numbers being used to tell some very different stories -- raising serious questions about efforts to improve schools by closing them or giving them "turnaround" treatments. Chicago has long been the epicenter for school "turnarounds." Going way back to 1997, this city has had strong mayoral control of its schools, and has experimented with school closures, reconstitutions, and the latest version, turnarounds. Former Chicago education CEO Arne ...


Texas has become a hotspot of rebellion against standardized testing. Earlier this year, state education commissioner Robert Scott compared test publishers to the military industrial complex. More than 100 school districts have passed a resolution saying standardized testing is "strangling" their schools. And on Saturday, several thousand Texans gathered at the state capitol in Austin for the Save Texas Schools rally. One of the speakers was a man we first heard at a similar protest more than a year ago, Superintendent John Kuhn. Here is what Superintendent Kuhn had to say. When a government fails to safeguard the development of ...


Last summer many of us marched to protest the US Department of Education's policies at the Save Our Schools march in Washington, DC. While there, I met two activists, Pennsylvania parent Tim Slekar and Florida teacher Ceresta Smith. They are now working to organize an "occupation" of the Department of Education, beginning next Friday, March 30. Here is what they have to say. What are your concerns about the policies coming from the Department of Education? Ceresta Smith: My greatest concern is the implementation of DoEd policies have many accepting fiction as true fact. High stakes test scores do not ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The big headline from the recent Gates/Scholastic survey of teachers is that only 28% of teachers see standardized tests as an essential or important gauge of student assessment, and only 26% say they are accurate as a reflection of student knowledge. Another question reveals part of the reason this may be so - only 45% of teachers think their students take these tests seriously, or perform to the best of their ability. We have been stuck in an accountability rut for the past decade, with most reform initiatives revolving around test scores of ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The Metlife survey of American teachers has been much discussed in recent weeks. The biggest red flag I see waving here is the 70% increase, over the past two years, in the number of teachers who are likely to leave the profession in the next five years (from 17% to 29%). Assuming this data is accurate, this amounts to more than a million teachers who are preparing to march out of our classrooms. And this is in addition to the roughly one million baby boomers approaching retirement age! I wonder if the teaching profession ...


Guest post by Jack Hassard. The Charter school movement has been in the news recently in Georgia. The Georgia Legislature is trying to get around the present Charter School law which says that applications for establishing a charter school must be approved by the local school district. According to the Georgia Department of Education, there are 133 charter schools operating in Georgia. Charter schools are public schools of choice that operate under the terms of a charter, or contract, with an authorizer, such as the state and local boards of education, or the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. Charter schools receive ...


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