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March 06, 2013

Are the Poor Too Free? On the Perils of Paternalism

Paul Thomas asks a provocative question this week. Are the poor too free? Are our schools providing students with tools and skills to foster their independence? Or teaching them to be compliant cogs in a machine whose levers of control they will never touch? Thomas describes the paternalism that has become central to modern education, as well as efforts to "reform" it even further.

February 26, 2013

John Kuhn: Our Schools are Touchstones, and We Will Stand and Fight to Save Them

These buildings aren't just schools, they're touchstones. They're testaments to our local values. The Friday night lights that have illuminated our skies for decades, the school gyms that have echoed with play since the Greatest Generation was young--these aren't monuments to sports. They're monuments to community. They're beacons of our local control, of the togetherness we cherish in our hometowns and city neighborhoods. We don't want education fads imposed on us by Austin or, even worse, out-of-state billionaires.

February 19, 2013

Are Some Charter Schools Becoming Parasitic?

In order for our public schools to thrive they need to have the flexibility to meet the needs of the widest range of students possible. They need adequate funding and the support of their community - and that means we pull together and make sure that our district schools do not become the reservoir of last resort, overburdened with students left behind by charter schools seeking competitive advantages.

February 08, 2013

An Open Letter to Bill Gates: Why Not Measure This?

I will accept that the Gates Foundation may not be able to address all of these problems directly. But according to Bill Gates' annual letter, the sheer act of measuring things and setting goals around them has tremendous power. I believe his school reform project is failing in large part because of the error he identified. It has been measuring the wrong things. If the Gates Foundation is unwilling to tackle the scourge of poverty directly, could it at least begin to actively measure and set goals for some of the things identified here?

January 30, 2013

Gerald Coles: Education in Obama's Second Term: What Lies Ahead?

In the president's inaugural speech, the few signs of his thinking about education and poverty offer no hope that policy in the next four years will differ from the last four. Bleak poverty will continue, education will be constrained within the boundaries of educating to "compete in the global economy," the curriculum will be narrowly crafted toward that goal, corporate attacks on the public schools will be promoted through more support of privatized alternatives, and the president will continue to regard charter schools as "incubators of innovation". It will be in stark contrast to the schooling that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have worked to achieve.

January 27, 2013

School Choice Week: Are We Leaving Children Behind by Design?

But the marketplace and the drive for profits are proving to be very poor at delivering equitable outcomes for many of our students. Why is this? Perhaps the very design of these school choice systems allows - even promotes - the systematic abandonment of students with lower levels of motivation and parental support.

November 20, 2012

How do You Defeat an Army of Determined Educators? You Don't!

These schools are struggling - they are hamstrung by the relentless pressure to raise test scores, and the budget cuts that close libraries and cut essential student services. But we need a campaign to highlight the efforts being made every day by our determined army of educators. We are on the real front lines, in schools like Highland Academy in Oakland and the democratically controlled schools in Chicago, and a thousand other schools in communities across the country. The "reformers" have decided that we are the obstacles to their grand vision - the transformation of our schools using the miracle of the marketplace and the heavy club of high stakes tests. And we are, because we have an entirely different vision. We envision schools that are well-supported and connected to their communities. We envision schools where student learning is displayed and celebrated in all sorts of ways, not just through high stakes tests.

November 19, 2012

Florida School Closures: Why Are High Poverty Schools Under the Gun?

Some parents at the school, such as Mike Nunez, ask the poignant question, "Does it really all come down to money, class, and/or race?" Nunez notes South Lake Elementary has one of the highest poverty and minority rates of all the nearly 100 schools in the district. He stated that in the history of Brevard County, six schools in the North Area have been closed, with each of them lying in economically depressed areas (never in any areas considered to be "Affluent" neighborhoods). Additionally, Nunez suggests that no written criteria for how schools were chosen for possible closures have been found.

November 12, 2012

Bad Teaching Practice #1: "I am Only Going to Teach Those Who Are Ready To Learn"

Have you ever heard this one? A number of times in my career, I heard teachers, usually new ones, it must be said, announce in frustration that they were sick and tired of dealing with the kids who were disrupting class, and that from that point forward, they were going to forget about the "ones who...

November 10, 2012

Must Teachers Shut Down Our Compassion to Survive Education Reform?

Yesterday I received a message from a reader. She wrote: I am convinced that educators in this country have lost their senses. At least, they seem to have lost their consciences. I sent your blog - What Hurricane Sandy is Teaching Us About Students Under Stress - to my fellow teachers this week. No...

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