December 2013 Archives

In the hope that we might work towards a more fruitful and less vicious discussion of education policy in 2014 than we suffered through this past year, here are eight resolutions we might all do well to heed:

Usually big edu-news doesn't break during Christmas week. But, on Monday, DC Public Schools officials announced some troubling news concerning their acclaimed IMPACT teacher evaluation program. As the Washington Post's savvy Nick Anderson reported,"Faulty calculations of the 'value' that D.C. teachers added to student achievement in the last school year resulted in erroneous performance evaluations for 44 teachers, including one who was fired because of a low rating."

It's the time when we reflect on the past year, yada yada. In that spirit, crackerjack RA Max Eden and I went back to the RHSU vault for the past year to identify ten of the most interesting, discussed, or popular columns. With an eye towards reader traffic, Twitter interest, and our own biases, we've tagged ten RHSU's highlights from 2013. Not surprisingly, there was something of a Common Core overload, so we tried our best to correct for that. Curious to hear your takes on these and on which we might've missed. 10. Data's a Tool, Not a Talisman, ...

I thought it might be fun for the Friday before Christmas week to put up a blog post from last year that has been making me feel a bit prescient about the Common Core rollout. So, here is a blog I penned in May of 2012, "The Fate of The Common Core: The View from 2022."

It's hard to talk about schools today without talking about technology. Enthusiasts celebrate the wonders of tablets, virtual schools, and "blended" learning. Skeptics recall a litany of overhyped, underwhelming past efforts. News accounts whipsaw between breathless tales of digital learning and horrific accounts of troubled virtual schools. Last year, Forbes ran a cover story, "One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education." But we've been there before, plenty of times. Indeed, in 1922, Thomas Edison proclaimed, "The motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system...In a few years it will supplant largely, if ...

Back at the beginning, in 2009 and 2010, I never would've expected the Common Core debate to get this heated and impassioned. Why? Unlike a lot of folks, it's because I thought (and continue to think) that the Common Core itself just doesn't matter that much. Now, please stay with me a bit before deciding you disagree. I always think of the food pyramid. When the pyramid was unveiled, I'm sure some amped-up nutritionists excitedly thought it would make a huge difference when it came to health and obesity. Turned out: not so much. Most people have never paid a ...

NNSTOY's Report on Teacher "Career Pathways" Yesterday, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) released its new report on "Creating Sustainable Teacher Career Pathways" (done in partnership with Pearson's Center for Educator Effectiveness). I had the chance to serve as a discussant at the launch event. The whole deal was useful and interesting, especially given that I'm currently hip-deep in my new book project, The Cage-Busting Teacher (about which, I'm sure, RHSU readers will read more than they'd like in '14). Anyway, the report is well-worth reading. It's smart, thorough, and brings a sensible practitioner's perspective to ...

The Los Angeles Unified School District has been lauded -- and scrutinized -- for its trailblazing efforts to reform teacher evaluation and include student achievement in hiring and firing decisions. But the $1 billion push to provide every student and teacher with an iPad may be attracting the most attention.

Nelson Mandela passed away last week. The encomiums have been touching, plentiful, and, in a case like this, inevitably unequal to the task. There's nothing that I can usefully add on that front. It has struck me, though, that amidst all the touching reactions, there are a few instructive takeaways for those involved in schooling that haven't gotten the attention they deserve.

Bill de Blasio, New York's new mayor, is seeking a schools chancellor. Truth is, I'm pretty impressed by some of the names that have been popping up in the search. That said, today, I want to chat briefly about one of the more out-there names that's been surfaced for chancellor. Brewing behind the scenes is a small, quiet campaign to convince de Blasio to appoint Randi Weingarten.I think the Weingarten-for-chancellor idea is an intriguing one.

Yesterday, the triennial PISA results were announced, prompting a paroxysm of spastic pontificating. Hands were wrung, familiar talking points were rehashed, and PISA Overlord Andreas Schleicher once again took the results as his cue to lecture American educators and policymakers on the wonders of common standards and the perniciousness of school choice. The funny thing is that all this gnashing of teeth is, quite literally, for nothing. There are at least seven reasons I don't give a fig about the PISA results.

During the past couple months, newspapers and cable news have had a field day analyzing Obamacare's troubles. Firestorms over or President Obama's unfounded assurances seemingly sprung from out of the blue. This followed years during which these boiling issues received little media scrutiny, permitting problems to fester. There are important lessons here for K-12's current brouhaha over the Common Core. Introduced in 2010 and adopted by forty-plus states with little notice by the end of 2011, the Common Core has since rocketed into the popular imagination. Headlines are now filled with tales of angry public meetings and legislative ...

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up 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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