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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.

December 02, 2016

Teacher Says: Change the World!

We are on the very edge of destroying what makes America truly great. America is a place of free thinking, brainstorming, and giving every child the chance to receive a quality education free of charge.

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.

July 25, 2015

Local Association President: We Teachers Are Far From Mediocre!

The teachers' union helped us to obtain a living wage by doing what we do best; teach. It is not a perfect entity. It is made up of fallible parts. However, we each contribute the best of what we can--and that is what has made us strong advocates for our students and this educational system.

May 28, 2015

Six Questions About Teacher Evaluation

Recently, nearly every story about improving teacher evaluation begins with the Bad Old Days, where substandard teachers slipped through the cracks, due to thoroughly inadequate attention to and assessment of their work. If you believe these op-eds, teachers' core work was essentially carried out without scrutiny. Until--drumroll--new and rigorous evaluation protocols, always including lots of student testing data, turned everything around. Evaluations! The cure for both listless teaching and anemic test scores!

April 30, 2015

The Network for Public Education. Repeat: Public.

When I say "movement" to save public education, what I mean is this: People, like me, who have no particular resources or organizational funding/backing, who got on a plane to be in a room with those like-minded compadres--because they're terrified that America might lose public education. People who think it's not too late. People willing to stake their professional energy on doing right by all kids, keeping democratic equality as critical and central goal of the education system.

January 29, 2015

Nine Reasons Teachers are Unwilling to Stand Up for Their Profession

If teachers are ever going to establish themselves as fully professional, they will need to develop an authentic, very public voice and vehicles to advocate for their professional interests and control over their own work. What did the teachers in one state believe were the core reasons for apparent teacher apathy, compliance and unwillingness to speak out against destructive policies and practices?

October 30, 2014

No, It's Not "Nearly Impossible" to Fire Bad Teachers

Here's the funny thing. Teacher tenure has never really been a fortress that protects incompetent hacks and abusers. It has functioned as a set of rules by which undesirable teachers could be--fairly--jettisoned, then have the decision to release that teacher stand. It gave teachers a reasonable period of time to establish their long-term worth (with the option to open the trap door quickly, in the early stages, for egregiously inept or shady folks). It also gave administrators and school boards a defined set of reasons why a teacher might reasonably be let go, after the district committed to hiring him.

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