Over the past decade I have served as a mentor teacher to more than a dozen beginning teachers in the challenging schools of Oakland. Most of them have been interns, fresh out of college, with just a few weeks of summer training, and a "bag of tricks" that they were given by their only slightly more experienced trainers. They are trained to focus on the data. Start testing early, and make sure the students understand how important those scores are. Set BIG goals, such as that 80% of your students will score well. Track progress using big graphs on the ...


One of my hopes is that our spirits can be sustained in the tough months ahead by revisiting some of the inspirational words we heard this weekend. In that spirit, I am doing my best to collect videos from the Save Our Schools rally and post them here. Jon Stewart's message of support -- the dog ate his car (actually I hear he was in Afghanistan with the troops): Jose Vilson's poem: Not On the Test! Taylor Mali: What Teachers Make Texas Superintendent John Kuhn: WOW! West Coast teachers interviewed: Marching to the White House An interview done by John ...


Wow. What a day. Friday the temperature had hit about 104, but Saturday was breezy and cooler, topping out in the mid-90s. We had a couple of tents behind the stage for all the speakers and performers, and folks started to arrive. We had a little time to fill between the first band and the rally kickoff, so I arranged for some teachers to read some of the messages we had gathered from Teachers' Letters to Obama, and our more recent petition to the President. We also shared the wonderful videos made for Save Our Schools by Tom and Amy ...


For me, the journey to today's Save Our Schools March started when I wrote an open letter to President Obama raising serious questions about where we are headed with education reform in America. Those questions have still not been answered. Yesterday I had a chance to ask Arne Duncan a question, after his "Working Toward 'Wow'" speech. What I asked him was this: I worked in high poverty schools in Oakland for 24 years. The turnover rate for our interns is 75% after three years. Your proposal for the reauthorization of ESEA continues to label the bottom 10% of our ...


Alfie Kohn has been at the forefront of the resistance to test-based reforms for more than a decade. As we approach the Save Our Schools March this Saturday, I asked him to share some thoughts about the challenges we face. When many of us point out the narrowing of the curriculum that has been the result of high stakes testing, we are told that the next generation of tests, which the Department of Education has invested $350 million to develop, will be far better at measuring complex thinking. What do you think of this? First, history alone should make us ...


Guest post by John Thompson On the eve of our Save Our Schools March, we should look anew on the "reform" wars. The S.O.S. March will highlight educators' ideas for improving our schools. To save and improve our schools, teachers and school administrators must show that we have the better ideas for helping our kids. But we should also remember that we will be rallying at a time when data-driven "reform" is on the ropes. The devastating indictment of bubble-in accountability by the National Academies of Science did not get the attention it deserved. But the cheating scandals ...


Marion Brady offers us some words to chew over this morning: Kids can't be taught to think better using tests that can't measure how well they think. The logic should be obvious. What gets tested gets taught. Complex thinking skills -- skills essential to survival--can't be tested, so they don't get taught. That failure doesn't simply rise to the level of a problem. It's unethical. This is the reason so many of us are so fed up that we will take our own money and time to go to Washington, DC, next week to protest. Test-based accountability has taken our ...


Today I am sharing a guest post by Moira Saucedo, who is the mother of a special needs student in the Arlington County Public Schools, in Arlington, Virginia. by Moira Saucedo. My interest was sparked by a June, 2011 notice on Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's website of a $500,000 grant to the Future Is Now Schools, (FIN) a charter schools management organization founded by Steve Barr. FIN has been recently re-branded (some say divorced) from the LA-based Green Dot Public Schools, founded by Barr, and from Green Dot America, an effort by Barr to open charter schools nationally. ...


Jonathan Kozol has been a tireless advocate for civil rights in education for the past five decades. His book, Savage Inequalities, was a call to conscience for the nation. He will be among the speakers at the Save Our Schools March and Rally in Washington, DC, on Saturday, July 30th. I asked him to explain his reasons for marching this summer. You published Savage Inequalities back in 1992. What has happened to the level of inequity in our schools in the two decades since then? The inequalities are greater now than in '92. Some states have equalized per-pupil spending but ...


On Thursday I shared an interview with education historian Diane Ravitch on the controversy surrounding the video of Jonah Edelman, CEO of the non-profit advocacy group Stand For Children. She discussed how a number of supposedly grassroots groups like this have cropped up and had a significant impact on education policy. She listed several groups, including one called Teach Plus. I did a bit of digging to find out more about the role Teach Plus played supporting Senate Bill 1, passed this spring in Indiana. I found out that Stand For Children was responsible for active support of the law, ...


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