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April 27, 2013

Jack Whelan: Can Humanism Prevail Over the Technocracy?

I have come to look at schools as a critical focal point in the fight for the soul of the nation. Our schools are foundational for our cultural life, and so much depends on our having a flourishing, humanizing public-education system. The battle over the schools is a microcosm of the battle that is going on everywhere else, but which most people feel too powerless to fight. Maintaining local control of our public schools system is essential for enabling even the possibility of such a fight.

April 24, 2013

John Thompson: Education Reform Party is Over -- What a Mess!

Guest post by John Thompson. Back when "Dandy Don" Meredith was host of Monday Night Football, when the game was all over but the shouting, he would break into song. We need a 21st century way of saying the obvious. Test-driven school "reform" failed. To borrow a phrase regarding "closing time,"...

April 24, 2013

We Are Chicago Students, and We Are Here to Save Our Schools!

We are over-tested, under-resourced, and fed up with the policies put in place by Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Board of Education. Today, students from across the city are fighting back! CPS officials have tried to threaten and intimidate us but students and the community have been silenced for too long. We know this is an action that puts us at risk of retaliation, but it's a risk we are willing to tak

April 22, 2013

This Teacher Supports Common Core, Opposes Tests

I am deeply troubled by the path our state is headed down in assessing our elementary school students, and I strongly urge you to re-think both the design of and the importance placed on state assessments. You are making it that much harder to recruit talented individuals to the teaching profession. The tests are also souring the educational experiences of our youngest citizens, the ones we are preparing so hard for college and career readiness. However, we must also invest more in breaking the insidious, concrete-walled cycle of poverty in our nation. A much greater importance must be placed on fixing the root causes of low academic performance and educational inequities.

April 09, 2013

Michelle Gunderson Offers Pledge for Ethical Use of Student Data

Now, we see standardized test scores used to justify privatizing our schools. Over and over again our downtown administration starves neighborhood schools of resources and refuses to address the needs of our impoverished students. Then when these schools have low performing test scores, they are closed. Charter schools, which are private enterprises even when non-profit, are opened up to fill this void. Hence, in my career as a CPS teacher I've witnessed standardized testing used to sort, punish, and privatize. And I am saying enough is enough.

April 01, 2013

Gates and Murdoch "Personalize" Learning with Larger Classes and Big Data Systems

A personalized learning environment is driven by the relationships between learners and one another, and with their teacher. That is why class size is so important. That is why it is so important to honor the knowledge, skill and culture that our students bring to school - because a respectful relationship with each student is based on our acceptance of them, and our desire to help them achieve their goals, rather than force them to meet predetermined benchmarks.

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.

March 05, 2013

John Thompson: Texans Debunk Test-Driven Reform

Addressing the Save Texas Schools rally in Austin on Feb. 23, Superintendent John Kuhn nailed the essence of test-driven "reform." "Some people have forgotten that good teachers actually exist. They spend so much time and effort weeding out the bad ones that they've forgotten to take care of the good ones. This bitter accountability pesticide is over-spraying the weeds and wilting the entire garden." He later rebutted a key argument of market-driven "reform," reminding us that "They say 100,000 kids are on a waiting list for charter schools. Let me tell you about another waiting list. There are 5 million kids waiting for this Legislature to keep our forefathers' promises."

February 28, 2013

John Thompson: The Head vs the Heart: Which Should Rule in Our Schools?

The contemporary "reform" movement is based on the principle, however, that educators cannot be granted the autonomy of deciding whether they commit to building trusting relationships with students or whether "In Data We Trust." The immense body of social science that describes the emotional dynamics of schooling that was to be flushed down the toilet. Test-driven "reformers" demanded that we teach primarily to the narrow part of "the Head" that processes Big Data.

February 12, 2013

Could Community Based Accountability Get the Federal Government Out of Our Schools?

Schools today are seeing an unprecedented expansion of federally-driven accountability practices. In addition to annual high stakes standardized tests, more and more students now take interim assessments for use in teacher evaluations, mandated by NCLB waivers and Race to the Top grants. Soon we wil...

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