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March 07, 2018

Ten Things We Shouldn't Expect Public Schools to Do

I'm hardly the first person to say this, but we expect way too much from our schools, which are only as good as the steadfast people who show up to work in them. Schools can't re-order the mess we've made of our democracy or work individual miracles on every undernourished child.

January 08, 2018

Redefining Giftedness

What tangible benefits have there been, for all of us, in categorizing children and offering enrichment to those with high potential?

December 22, 2017

The Best Books I Read in 2017

Why are there no mushrooms, mold or mice where wealthy white children go to school? Freedom demands a collective effort to engage the young people of Detroit in building a new world, for themselves and us, in which we do not permit human beings to be poisoned in the first place.

November 26, 2017

Talking About Public Education: The Good, the Deceptive, and the Destructive

We have the human capital, the resources and the technical knowledge to transform public education over a generation. What we lack is the public will to do so—for children other than our own, at least.

January 25, 2017

My Top 10 Reads of 2016

Ten books that rocked my world in 2016. A mix of fiction and non-fiction, all delicious.

August 06, 2016

Ten Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School

I had a colleague who spent most of August sorting books into leveled baskets, going steady with the laminating machine, and running up colorful curtains for the door to her classroom. Her husband, conversely, would mark the beginning of the school year by wandering around the house, trying to find his thermos. This was immensely irritating to her, of course. But it's hard to say who was the better teacher.

March 30, 2016

Whacking the Mole Again: More Thoughts on Teacher Leadership

I have seen any number of education organizations, with thoughtful and important goal statements on their websites, position teacher leadership as something they can somehow teach or imbue (kind of like grit, come to think of it). Yes, there is Stuff You Have to Know to become a teacher leader (teachers don't wade around in policy-making, traditionally). Yes, it helps to collaborate with others who have good ideas. But is there a formalized pathway to leadership? In a sense, it's an insult to excellent teachers everywhere, who have held their grade level cohort or department or buildings together through determination to maintain good programming or to mount campaigns against dumb policies. They are leaders, badge or no badge.

October 14, 2015

Are There Edu-Tribes? Are They at War? Who's Winning?

I am in full agreement that we would be better off if people across the spectrum in Ed World started with a vision of what public education could be, rather than going for the next big win, as is our habit in matters of public policy. But. I spent 30 years in the classroom, serving as test subject for high-flown political rhetoric and ill-advised policy. The idea of a "personalized, relevant, and real-world-situated" classroom for every child is not even close to new.

March 16, 2015

Those Amazing, Groundbreaking Schools of the Future!

There are major things about effective schooling that never go away: getting kids motivated, finding good materials, building a sense of community or relationships, nurturing persistence, quality staffing and how to cope with abundant mandated testing, state regulations, and the management of finite resources. Did I mention testing and subsequent uses of the data it generates? Oh yeah. The main reason that innovative, cage-busting ideas go bust. That and money.

February 27, 2015

The Four Things You Need to Create a Good School

It's a scenario that's been posited before, many times: If you could start over--no residual assumptions--and build an ideal school from the ground up, what would you keep? What would you discard? Thoughts: There are no silver bullets, but there are no fatal-flaw structures or technologies, either. When you come down to it, schools are mostly about getting the right people together.

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