While I certainly want all children to have rich experiences with music, including cello lessons and singing in the Glee Club, it's not because music may have a salutary effect on their algebra grade, or raise their SAT scores. Music is its own worthy self.

The real issue is not tracking down the precise percentage of schools that cheat. It's determining why administrators and teachers feel compelled to cheat--and figuring out what to do about the impact of high-stakes testing on both student learning and instruction.

Without a knowledgeable human to think about why we got those results-- and develop a plan for moving forward using the information it provides--data is just a statistical beauty contest.

Would teachers be motivated to work harder by iPods, gift cards or even large cash awards? Doubtful. What would teachers like, as awards for exemplary work?

Authentic school reform--the kind that yields long-lasting, productive alterations in daily practice--never happens until a critical mass of key players shift their thinking.

Assessment informs instruction. At least, that's the way it should work.

Thirty years of teaching school have given me a hard crust of cynicism about many things related to education and America. But I never lost my enthusiasm for the Memorial Day parade.

Who speaks for teachers in the national conversation about fixing struggling schools? Can they network to organize their own voices? Power to the teachers, right on.

That call with Secretary Duncan? Short and kind of like speed-dating.

If teachers are clueless about suitable dress, take them aside for a helpful chat. Don't make a federal case the impact of flip-flops on the educational climate.

The opinions expressed in Teacher in a Strange Land are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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