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May 04, 2016

Public Education vs. Charter Schools: A Tale of Two Cities

Why are the papers and the policy-makers all over those protesting teachers in Detroit--while the white-collar crime in charter world goes virtually unnoticed?

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.

November 22, 2015

So You Think You Can't _____?

It strikes me that we are shaping our education system around the media-driven idea that only some ideas and abilities matter and must be pursued, full-bore. Other ideas--say, the potential of representative democracy, or caring for our fellow humans--may be nice, but are completely secondary to striving and winning, nose to the grit stone. What good is a growth mindset if the things you feel most passionate about doing and being are undervalued?

November 10, 2015

Five Cynical Observations About Teacher Leadership

Who's really in charge of explaining school-embedded teacher leadership, selecting the right goals and purposes for individual classrooms? Who is inspiring teachers to find their own paths--based on the own carefully honed experience and observations--to lead? Is what we're seeing about teacher leadership in the media driven by the big cannons--the federal government, the well-funded organizations and grant-receiving universities--rather than actual teachers working in grubby classrooms, scattered across the country?

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.

July 06, 2015

Who Are the Education Experts?

Haven't we had enough blue-ribbon commissions, slick data-rich presentations and spurious happy talk about soaring scores and college enrollments?

May 08, 2015

The Weird Juncture of Teacher Appreciation Week and Charter Schools Week

Maybe it's inevitable. Maybe some things--the Common Core, annual testing, charter proliferation, test-based teacher evaluation--are the new normal. Do I wish my own state had passed strong standards for establishing charter schools, twenty years ago? Absolutely. Would it have prevented the charter school corruption and fraud in my state? Who knows?

February 18, 2015

Squeezing More Entrepreneurial Juice Out of Public School

It's not exactly clear what the Reimagine Learning network will do with the $50 million start-up cash. Their mission: "Making a difference in the lives of millions of students who may be marginalized or disengaged in school because of learning and attention issues or social emotional issues." That's a lot of scratch dedicated to letting students with "issues" discover their own power and uniqueness. And here's the thing--I don't know many teachers who aren't doggedly working toward that very end already.

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