Why has the structure of learning in our country remained basically the same for so long? John Merrow’s blog, Taking Note, this week poses an interesting set of questions based on the premise that there has been little innovation in the field of education in the past 50 years. He wonders why, and offers reasons primarily related to the flat pay structure for teachers, resulting in few incentives for innovation. He writes: The thirst for money, prestige and fame are reliable spurs of innovation. Living in Silicon Valley as I do, I’ve seen plenty of evidence of that. ...


How can we balance the nurturing and acceptance our children need with our role as academic taskmasters? Today’s entry is a departure. Rather than just tell you what I think, supported with facts and figures, I want to open some questions for discussion. After all, this is intended to be a dialogue. I just watched a couple of old videos of one of my favorite characters, the late Fred Rogers. My family did not have a television until I was ten years old, so that must be when I watched his show sometimes, on days I stayed home from ...


Last week I shared Dan Pink’s convincing case against the use of bonuses to motivate teachers to pursue higher test scores. It is very important that we move beyond dead-end reforms such as NCLB and pay for test scores, so we can do things we know will work. We got a clear indication this week that shows us the way. A study arrived from the American Economics Journal: Applied Economics that looks at 12 years of data from North Carolina schools, and discovered that teachers are profoundly affected by the quality of their peers. As teachers, we know how ...


Teacher motivation is front and center in educational policy, and many seem to think that rewarding teachers for higher test scores is the most efficient way to close the achievement gap and make the US more competitive. Some powerful evidence to the contrary is emerging from a surprising source – the world of business. This week a video featuring Dan Pink came along from TED, where he builds a strong case that systems of rewards and punishments actually inhibit performance, especially in higher-order tasks. Pink, a former speech-writer for Al Gore, marshals several studies from sources such as the Federal Reserve ...


Stop this train! That is the message Jerry Brown sent this week to Arne Duncan. Secretary of Education Duncan will visit Sacramento on Thursday, to make sure the state complies with his requirements that we allow test scores to be linked to teacher pay and evaluations, and to unlimited expansion of charter schools. California's former governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown sent this comment on August 28, 2009, in response to Arne Duncan's Race to the Top. I think it is worth reading. Via eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov Re: Race to the Top Fund [Docket ID ED-2009-OESE-0006] In ...


Why is the achievement gap so persistent? Herb Kohl thinks we are asking the wrong questions, and our efforts to close the gap are largely misguided. I first got to know Herb Kohl when I was a teen in Berkeley in the 1970s, when he was working to create alternative schools there. You may have seen Kohl's provocative thoughts recently, as he has taken Arne Duncan to task for extending and expanding the education policies of the Bush administration. I thought of Herb again when commenters on my blog raised some questions about how teachers can balance direct instruction with ...


Hearing about a condemned apartment complex makes Anthony Cody reflect on poverty’s effect on students.


A major conflict between the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program and unions representing teachers has ignited in California, where current education code places limits on the use of student test score data. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has made it clear that California is ineligible for precious Race to the Top grant dollars because the state places limits on the use of student test score data, and on the expansion of charter schools. While districts and schools are free to use such data, current law prevents individual teacher data from being used at the state level. Now ...


According to test score data released today, California students have increased their ability to pass state tests so that fully half of them are proficient in English, up from 46% proficient a year ago, and 46% are proficient in Math, up from 43% a year ago. However the achievement gap remains as wide as ever, with only 37% of African American and Latino students performing at a proficient level in English. This does not come as any shock to most educators. For all the emphasis on closing the gap, little has really changed for these students. Teachers and students have ...


Good news! The productivity of this country has risen by 6.4% in the past quarter, while labor costs have dropped by 5.8%. We seem to be getting even more competitive as a nation. But the news isn’t all so good. New economic data shows that the gap between the rich and poor is wider than ever before – even than the 1920s. Research by UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez shows that in the year 2007, more than 50% of the income went to the top 10 % of the population. Much of that gain was due to tax cuts ...


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