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April 10, 2018

Suffering Teachers Can't Be Good Teachers

Teacher walkouts are the ultimate outcome of wringing every drop of energy, patience and creative juice out of a well-meaning workforce.

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 22, 2018

Should Teachers Invite Policymakers Into Their Classrooms?

In my teaching career, I have had more than the usual number of opportunities to have outsiders (including media, education organizations, researchers and, yes, legislators) visit my classroom. And I can testify that most visitors don't come to learn something new from an hour or two walking in the teacher's shoes. They come with an agenda.

October 24, 2017

In Defense of (Some) Standards

The funny thing is this: while Reformsters and policy-makers and researchers write and rewrite standards, benchmarks and assessments (or change the names of state standards to avoid the taint of "Common Core"), teachers go on teaching, standards or no standards.

July 20, 2017

The Many Ways We Are De-Professionalizing Teaching

The policy goal here is de-professionalizing teaching, establishing it once and for all as a short-term, entry-level technical job designed to attract a revolving door of "community-minded" candidates, who will work diligently for cheap, then get out because they can't support a family or buy a home on a teacher's salary.

March 15, 2017

The Kids Are All Right

I am fortunate; I get to spend time in a range of public schools, as observer, presenter, consultant and, on occasion, substitute teacher. I know that the plural of anecdote is not data--but there are hundreds of thousands of vital examples of what needs highlighting and replicating in public education. Why aren't we focused, like a laser, on those?

February 14, 2017

Famous School Choice Pundit vs. Ordinary Teacher

While I toiled away at what you termed the retail level, you, Checker Finn, studied the research, analyzed the data, and made pronouncements impacting education across the nation. It's interesting to think that you have, in many ways, shaped the work that I actually did. For decades.

March 23, 2016

Ignore Insults and Falsehoods About Public Education? Or Push Back?

Blaming public education for things over which it has zero control is now thoroughly woven into the national discourse on a myriad of issues. Stupid voters? Blame the schools. Lazy workers and economic downslope? Public education's fault. Anti-intellectualism? They must have learned it at school. Just another opportunity to take a cheap, unsubstantiated shot at public schools. Who does that? And believes they're justified in doing so?

December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas, Ramone. You Represent Hope in a Seriously Messed-Up Education Nation.

How can we live in a nation where someone like Ramone Williams doesn't want to be a "distraction" to his fellow scholars? It's gratifying to read about all the families who offered Ramone a safe, warm place to stay over the holidays--and to think that, temporarily, he has enough money to finish a college degree and launch his adult life. But what about the other 56,000 students patching together their holiday "vacation" around donated food and temporary shelters--are they also trying to avoid being a distraction to the American academic conscience? Aren't we supposed to be Education Nation?

September 13, 2015

Wake Up, Sleepyheads: Should We Change School Start Times?

Here's the truth: "Schools"--and the people who work in them--have always understood that they only have so much time with students and only some of that time is prime learning time. Start and end times are part of a massively complex system of overlapping needs and goals, not contained in a single district.

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