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September 22, 2018

13 Things I Learned While Blogging for Education Week

This is the 500th blog I've written as the Teacher in a Strange Land, for Education Week Teacher. As it turns out, it's also my final blog for EdWeek. Here are 13 things I have learned in the past nine years of observing and writing about Ed World.

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.

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.

January 03, 2017

What the Shortage of Substitute Teachers Says About Public Education

We ask more of babysitters, playground monitors and burger flippers than substitute teachers--more qualifications, more on-the-job training, more care in selecting and retaining the right person for the job. If you start with the bar for admission and reward extremely low, you're making a statement about the work, as well as the people willing to do it.

June 30, 2016

Advanced-Stage Charter Syndrome: What "Maturity" Means to the Charter Movement

All the good intentions in the world cannot override the conversion of a long-established public good into a profit-making commodity. I no longer believe that there is a magic legislative formula that will allow "good" charters to exist harmoniously with public schools. I now understand that the end game of unfettered charterism: privatization and exclusivity.

February 24, 2016

What's the Matter With Detroit Schools, Pt II: Charter Conversion 'Solution' Fails

So there's the micro-question: What does it take to keep something successful and amazing going--providing the same critical services, contributing to the value of the Detroit community and students' lives? Do you do whatever it takes, and deal with the consequences as they come? Then there are the macro-questions: When resources from a public system build something wonderfully useful, addressing a social need with persistence and imagination, what do you lose when you turn over control and management to a private company? What strings are attached when you supplement public monies with private funding?

January 11, 2016

What's Going Down in Detroit Today?

Today, a group of Detroit teachers--fed up with Darnell Earley, the same Emergency Manager who presided over the Flint water scandal, and a raft of further harmful offenses to real Detroit children and their education--organized a sick-out. They did so in frustration, knowing full well they would be accused of greediness, or keeping children from their federally subsidized meals. They did so knowing they will be labeled "unprofessional," led around by their unions (false)--when their actions represent what is ultimately the core of what professionalism means: autonomy over important work.

December 28, 2015

When It Comes to Education, America Has a Lot to Learn

Themes around quality education are woven into Michael Moore's latest film: From France, delicious fresh-food school lunches, including a cheese course, designed to make students healthier and more conscious of good eating habits. Free college educations for all students in Slovenia (including American ex-pats, escaping absurd loan debt back home). Enlightened, non-punitive sex education. Teachers who feel entirely autonomous in their classrooms. European teachers who pity American educators, because their work is evaluated by their students' testing data.

October 29, 2015

Let's Blame the Parents!

Just try to read an editorial or feature piece on education, via any media outlet at all, without coming across a commenter who wants to righteously and indignantly toss all the problems--from low test scores to Security Guards Run Amok--back into parents' laps. It's as if the rest of American society didn't exist. As if grinding poverty, political corruption, greed, cultural debasement and racism had nothing to do with the so-called failings of students and their families. Let's blame the parents.

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