Guest post by John Thompson The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), is a Gates-funded organization dedicated to data-driven, market-oriented "reform." It sees itself as a part of a coalition for "a better orchestrated agenda" for accountability, choice, and using test scores to drive the evaluation of teachers. Its forte is publishing non-peer reviewed opinion pieces under the guise of "policy analysis." The latest NCTQ opinion piece, "Teacher Quality Roadmap," (downloadable here) seeks to shape Los Angeles school policy. The worst part of the latest attack on teachers is its saber-rattling statement that "economists recommend that districts routinely dismiss at ...


It has been a year and a half since I wrote an open letter to President Obama, and started a project called Teachers' Letters to Obama. Back in December of 2009, I sent a package of 107 letters to the President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (downloadable here). Sadly, there has been no change in education policies, and the administration seems more determined than ever to enforce policies that attach ever higher stakes to standardized test scores. On March 28 of this year, as President Obama began looking towards his reelection in 2012, he held a town hall meeting ...


Teacher Jim Owens was chosen by the 435 graduating seniors at Gainesville High School to address them and their families, and delivered this speech to an audience of 5,000 on June 5, 2011. Testing. Testing 1,2. Just like school, no? Always testing. Can you hear me in the cheap seats? Look at you! You're radiant. You look brighter than ever today. You look like you've learned something. It must be the cap. What do you think, should we make it and the gown the SCHOOL UNIFORM for next year? Think of the photo ops. That would show the ...


Last week, in the pages of the New York Times, Diane Ravitch went after the most sacred of cows of the education "reform" movement -- the supposed "miracle schools" that prove the reforms actually work. Columinist Jonathan Alter offered a rebuttal that was carried in a media outlet owned by leading education "reformer," New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. But his approach was to attack Diane Ravitch, and had little substance. It was immediately rebutted by dozens of commenters (including me -- see here.) Duncan himself was compelled to respond -- the only thing more significant would have been if Obama ...


The Wall Street Journal recently carried a report about a study that found that students are often affected by the stress that adults working with them are experiencing. In a time when education "reform" and budget cuts often seem to be making schools more stressful, this seems like a very significant issue. I wrote to one of the researchers, Catharine Warner, and asked her to explain more. Here are her answers. What were the key findings of your study? We find that just as adults' workplaces can affect their well-being and stress levels, so also does children's "work" at school. ...


@anthonycody It has happened again. An "education reformer" has used the pages of corporate media to go on the attack against a leading critic, Diane Ravitch. And lived to regret it. Jonathan Alter, an MSNBC commentator and former Newsweek columnist, penned an op-ed two days ago in the Bloomberg website. Titled, "Don't Believe Critics, Education Reform Works," the piece was long on ad hominem attacks and short on substance. I wrote a response and posted it on the site - and was soon joined by scores of others, almost all scathing. (Note -- comments on the piece were closed off ...


The fourth and final video in our special series of Save Our Schools video spots has been released. We do not have a big budget - just a lot of heart. So when we wanted to share some positive messages about why we are marching this summer, we went to YOU, to ask for images and video footage to help show how we are supporting students, parents, teachers and schools, and build awareness of the Save Our Schools March this coming July 30th. The amazing Tom and Amy Valens, who produced the documentary "August to June," have crafted these images ...


I offer here a short list of seven things that have become obvious, from my position as a teacher. If only our education policies might be constrained by the requirement that they honor the obvious! 1. Children do not learn well when they are under stress. This single fact is enough to explain so many things. If we were to design an ideal learning environment, there would be great attention paid to relieving all involved of unnecessary tension. A recent study found that first grade students in classrooms affected by budget cuts suffer because of the stress their teacher experiences ...


Last month I wrote about the Oakland Teachers Convention, which was convened by the Oakland Effective Teaching Task Force, of which I was a member. One of the most powerful messages to emerge from this dynamic event was that teachers desire time and support for collaboration centered on their teaching practice. They also want to build on what is already working in the District, rather than bringing in costly consultants from elsewhere. Last week I attended an event at an East Oakland elementary school where nine teachers, who had engaged in teacher action research this year, shared their insights. This ...


A New York Times article published on Saturday has uncovered some of the strategies billionaire Bill Gates is using to influence the future of education in America. Reporter Sam Dillon has dug beneath groups that appear to represent ordinary teachers or parents, and found that often, these groups are funded by the Gates Foundation. And the funding may have a great influence over what these groups wind up advocating. These groups look like grassroots advocates, but are termed Astroturf due to the compromises they make to sustain their funding. As Diane Ravitch has so clearly described, the Gates Foundation has ...


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