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[Editor's note: After something like 8 years as a contributor here, John Thompson (@drjohnthompson) is taking his talents to Diane Ravitch's blog. This is his last post, officially. For an archive go here. You can read his latest post here. Many many thanks for your prolific writing, teacher-based insights, and willingness to work with those with whom you don't necessarily agree. It's been an inspiration.] Washington D.C. teacher/blogger Dr. Shaun Johnson has restarted @ The Chalkface, this time offering nuggets of school reality. Johnson, who left academia for the kindergarten classroom in Ward Eight, may not have the time to teach school and write the detailed and thoughtful posts that he used to publish, but he provides frequent reality checks. Johnson's observations are especially timely as D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson spins the attrition rate for her district's teachers and principals. As the Washington Post's Michael Alison Chandler reports, in Kaya Henderson Addresses Teacher and Principal Turnover in Annual Event, Henderson claims a new fellowship program "teaches leaders ... how to support, develop and retain a staff." And, "'If every year you are replacing a third of your staff, something is wrong,' she said. 'We look at that, we have conversations.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2015 at This Week In Education
Jack Jennings's Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools is a must-read for anyone seeking to improve our public schools. Drawing upon a half century of political and education research, Jennings writes a history of federal involvement in school reform and makes sensible suggestions for the next era of school improvement. Jennings chronicled the first generation of federal education reforms and their results. The ESEA Act of 1965 had big goals and it was well-funded. From the mid-1960s to the 1980s, often fragmented federally funded efforts only produced modest improvements and they did not bring equity. But, those gains now look pretty impressive in comparison to post-NCLB outcomes, especially since their funding did not increase in order to meet the ambitious goal of closing the Achievement Gap. To produce equity for the most disadvantaged students, who disproportionately were concentrated in high-challenge schools, a far greater investment into their entire learning environments would have been necessary. Jennings then documents how and why NCLB accountability failed. He bluntly reminds us that "Tests do not a good education make.” Moreover, “When it came to measuring student progress in school, NCLB got it wrong.” Pulling it all together, Jennings’s analysis of NAEP testing results shows:... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2015 at This Week In Education
Like so many reformers in Newark and elsewhere, Cory Booker was a true believer in "disruptive innovation" to produce "transformative" change. Dale Russakoff, in The Prize, explains that Newark reformers, funded by Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million grant, were slow in developing a plan for creating a "hybrid" district through school closures and expanding the charter sector. Booker had said that the biggest challenge would be "breaking this iceberg of immovable, decades-long failing schools." After this is done, "They'll melt into many different school models. They're going to flower, just like the cherry blossoms in Branch Park." Booker didn't seem to have read about the [then] decade-long history of Chicago school closures started by Arne Duncan. And, he seemed to have forgotten about the murder of Derrion Albert as he walked home from his turnaround school, Fenger H.S. Or, perhaps he believed that Newark gang-bangers would be so inspired by One Newark that they would transform gang turf into cherry orchards for all. In 1998, when I had my first experience with a school closure and reopening, Oklahoma City had some schools as violent and low-performing as those of Newark and Chicago. My John Marshall wasn't one of them. It was... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2015 at This Week In Education
Dale Russakoff's New Yorker article, Schooled, foreshadowed the powerful narrative of The Prize. Before we can inquire more deeply into the nuance of Russakoff's full revelations, the essence of her discoveries must be contemplated. So, Why Cory Booker Should Have Respected Newark's Families and Teachers, This Week in Education, May 20, 2014, is worth a reread: Dale Russakoff’s New Yorker article, Schooled, recounts the failure of the “One Newark” plan to transform Newark schools. One of the key contributions of Russakoff’s excellent narrative is her portrait of the personalized nature of the edu-philanthropy process. As one wealthy donor said, “Investors bet on people, not on business plans, because they know successful people will find a way to be successful.” Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million in seed money after being blown away by then-mayor Cory Booker. Zuckerberg explained, “This is the guy I want to invest in. This is a person who can create change.” Booker created a confidential draft plan to “make Newark the charter school capital of the nation.” Because it would be driven by philanthropic donors, no openness would be required. “Real change requires casualties,” Booker argued, and stealth was required to defeat “the pre-existing order,” which... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2015 at This Week In Education
The conservative spawn of the devil, Rick Hess, writes: "The acid test, I'd think, is whether they [test score increases] carry over to what matters: success in high school, college, and beyond. A decade of stagnant high school metrics is not reassuring, and it's possible that NCLB's command-and-control effort to improve schooling could be delivering up a false sense of progress." Our liberal pragmatist hero, Jack Jennings, writes that "the lack of congruence between state test and NAEP results throws into doubt the ability of NCLB's accountability provisions to raise general students achievement." Jennings concludes, "The recent stalling of progress on NAEP since 2008 ... suggests problems with the NCLB accountability approach." Is there a dimes worth of difference between the American Enterprise Institute scholar's and the consummate insider/scholar's conclusion? Seriously, there is a difference between Hess's "musing" in Of Head Start and SAT and Jennings's thorough analysis of what worked and didn't work in accountability-driven reform. Hess starts with an old-fashioned conservative argument, raising the question of whether Head Start's gains are lasting. He then offers a specific critique of conservatives who keep whistling in the dark when bad news is announced. In this case, it is the decade-long... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2015 at This Week In Education
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One of the bonuses of Kristina Rizga's excellent Mission High is that it shows what it would take to improve principal quality in high-poverty schools. Since principal leadership is so important, systems should require school leaders to have teaching experience with students similar to those who attend the school, as well as having served as a teachers union official. I'm kidding about the requirement that a principal must have union leadership experience; it should not be required, even though Mission High helps reveal why such a qualification should be highly valued. Had Eric Guthertz, the principal of Mission High, not had the ability to work collaboratively with the district, Rizga would have needed a different book title. In large part because of Guthertz's leadership and savvy, the subtitle is One School, the Experts Who Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph. As was so often the case under Arne Duncan's prescriptive School Improvement Grant (SIG) and his Race to the Top, Guthertz almost lost his job. Under the SIG, states had to agree to using test scores for teacher evaluations, ease restrictions on charters, and choose between firing the principal, ½ the teachers, closing... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2015 at This Week In Education
The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton, in New Analysis Argues That Better Teachers Are Flocking to Better Schools, reports that A Tale of Two School Systems, by Families for Excellent Schools, shows that teachers who scored low in the New York City’s evaluation system are concentrated in struggling schools that serve poor and minority students. Teachers with higher ratings are most likely to be found in schools where students test well and tend to be white and Asian. Who would have thunk it? Seriously, we all know a problem has long existed. And, as Layton notes of the reform group's discovery, "It is perhaps unsurprising that teachers at low-performing schools have low job performance ratings, since 40 percent of teacher evaluations in New York in 2013-2014 were based on student test scores." The only shocker would be if value-added evaluations didn't accelerate the exodus of talent from high-challenge schools where it is harder to raise test scores. Reformers have argued that the way to recruit teachers to the most challenging schools is to micromanage them, undermine their ability to teach in an engaging and respectful manner to poor children, and to evaluate them with a high-stakes algorithm that is biased against... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2015 at This Week In Education
When I first read the Education Research Alliance (ERA) report on the effectiveness of the competition-driven New Orleans model of reform, it was clear that true believers in "relinquishment" and market-driven reform would be disappointed by its findings. However, they have still spun the mixed results from the NOLA corporate reform model as a great success. I have left the fact checking of the ERA's methodology and data to the experts. I've mostly limited myself to fact checking the reformers' spin - the soundbites they use to put the NOLA record in the best possible light, and to use its model to break unions and extend test-driven reform across the nation. I admit to being surprised that analyses such as those of the NEPC, Andrea Gabor, The International Business Times, In These Times, Julian Vasquez Heilig, Mercedes Schneider, Gary Rubenstein, and others have found so many problems with the ERA research. I still remain most shocked by the soundbite of the respected researcher Douglas Harris who has contributed to headlines asserting that the reforms "worked." At first, I assumed Harris was just being diplomatic when he said that the "typical elementary- or middle-school student's scores rose by 8 to 15... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2015 at This Week In Education
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I've always been confused by the seemingly absurd dichotomy. Brilliant computer geeks and digital geniuses create such potentially liberating technologies. But, they also became a driving force in corporate school reform and its efforts to turn schools back to the early 20th century. Gosh, as Greg Toppo explains in The Game Believes in You, computer games were pioneered by a small group of mostly unconnected, visionaries, In the earliest days of the 1960s computer breakthroughs, some inventors were even influenced by LSD. So, why did such creative people commit to turning schools into a sped up Model T assembly line? It would be too much to ask of Toppo, or any other single writer, to definitively answer this question but his excellent book helps us understand why so many architects of 21st century technological miracles helped impose test, sort, reward, and punish, bubble-in malpractice on our schools. Toppo chose to study computer gaming after his still dynamic young daughter became disenchanted with reading, and after he tired of reporting on school reform wars. The fundamental problem predates corporate school reform; for instance, 1/3rd of high school graduates never go on to read another book for the rest of their lives.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2015 at This Week In Education
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Toni Morrison rightly compares Ta-Nehisi Coates to James Baldwin. I hope teachers and education policy makers will read Coates Between the World and Me, and consider its obvious implications for school improvement. I do not want to drag his beautiful book, a touching letter to his son, into our vicious school reform wars. Instead, I will review some of the key parts of Coates’s wisdom that can inform our practice and education policy, and mostly leave our education civil war to another day. I would think that teachers would be thrilled to have a politically conscious student like Coates. Surely most of us would welcome the creative insubordination of a high school student who would quote Nas and challenge us with the idea “schools where I learned they should be burned, it is poison.” After all, teachers and education policy-makers should all wrestle with Coates’s indictment of schools for “drugging us with false morality.” At times, however, class discussions involving Coates could easily become uncomfortable. He “was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests.” Moreover, “if the streets shackled my right leg, the schools shackled my left. Fail to comprehend the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2015 at This Week In Education
The Tulsa Public Schools has reduced the time that teachers and students must spend on testing by 54%, or by more than 72 hours. The Tulsa World’s Nour Habib, in Tulsa Public Schools Says District-Mandated Testing Time to be Reduced by 54%, reports that, “The decision to reduce district-mandated tests is based on recommendations from a task force of teachers that was put together last year to study the issue of overtesting in the district. Teacher representatives from all grades were selected based on recommendations by principals and from the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.” Habib also quotes Shawna Mott-Wright, vice president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association who says, “We are just ecstatic, over the moon. … We really appreciate all of the work that the testing task force did, and we super appreciate and are very grateful for Dr. [Deborah] Gist listening.” The reduction of testing is doubly important because it follows the testing cutbacks initiated by the state. The Oklahoma Department of Education was limited by law from making major reductions, but State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has been clear in explaining why we must "push the reset button" on testing. Fundamentally, the reconsideration of testing was prompted by... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2015 at This Week In Education
John Merrow, in Deciphering Schooling in New Orleans, Post-Katrina, writes that he hasn’t seen enough people take the middle ground when discussing the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans's school reform. He also remembers the city's schools as so bad, pre-Katrini, that one had to "steal electricity from other buildings and utility poles because its own wiring was inadequate—probably rotted through. And the schools, many of them, were violent and dangerous places." I mostly see middle ground in reports on the New Orleans competition-driven reforms, with NPR Marketplace's series on the debate being the latest example. In fact, most of the panelists in the Education Research Alliance conference, where Douglas Harris released research on the test-driven, choice-driven outcomes, were squarely in the middle ground of the discussions. Harris's conclusions were seen as too rosy by many (or most?) of those moderate experts. But, advocates for the New Orleans model of reform had to be upset by these findings and discussions. Harris, and others who are impressed by much of the New Orleans's outcomes, have hardly found evidence in support of other school systems trying to replicate its market-driven, outcomes-driven approach. I wish we could focus on what... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2015 at This Week In Education
In the second This American Life report on segregation, The Problem We All Live With - Part Two, Chana Joffe-Walt reports that the Hartford, CT school system sought to convince white families it’s in their self-interest to go to integrated schools. Joffe-Walt concludes that “the results have been impressive. It used to be that 11% of Hartford students were in integrated schools. Now it’s nearly half.” As is the norm with This American Life, the report is nuanced in explaining how tricky the issue is, and every twist of the plot was enlightening. Hartford demonstrates great marketing skills and savvy and persuades enough white parents to participate. It is unclear whether it will be able to continue to increase white participation rates enough to meet the policy’s metrics and thus survive. (This weird numbers game is worthy of Catch 22, but Hartford is not alone; Sarah Garland [whose work was cited by This American Life] documented a similarly bizarre situation that hindered a successful desegregation effort in Louisville, Ky.) Also, at a key point in Joffe-Walt's report, where we are reminded that not all poor children are being admitted to integrated magnet schools, we are implicitly reminded of the need... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2015 at This Week In Education
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When writing her excellent Project Fatherhood, the UCLA gang expert Jorja Leap exposed herself to a daunting risk. Leap accepted a degree of physical danger but it was the professional risk that could have been intimidating. Leap defied academic convention and spoke honestly about race, family, child-rearing, domestic abuse and, even, the “P-stuff” or post-traumatic shock. Much of the credit for Project Fatherhood’s open and candid discussion of some of the 3rd rails of social policy must go to “Big Mike” Cummings, who guided her and the quest they shared with felons and fathers in Watts. Big Mike was exceptionally astute in coaxing the project’s participants into an honest appraisal of the causes and the effects of domestic abuse, as well as fathers not holding up their share of family responsibilities. Scholars and educators often shy away from the issues tackled by Leap and Big Mike, and correctly argue that it is not just fathers - of whatever backgrounds - who have failed our kids. The horrific conditions of the inner city are a legacy of history, of economic exploitation and oppression, and of abusive political and criminal justice systems. It is often feared that a conversation about child-rearing will... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2015 at This Week In Education
In 2009 and 2010, the contemporary school reform movement became the dog that caught the bus it was chasing. The Obama administration funded the entire corporate reform agenda. The wish list of market-driven reformers, test-driven reformers, and even the most ideological anti-union, teacher-bashers, became the law (in part or in totality) in 3/4ths of the states. Due to the Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, and other innovations, competition-driven reformers, and corporate reform think tanks were granted the contracts that they claimed would reverse the effects of poverty. Now, ideology-driven reformers are supposed to be announcing the increases in student performance that their gold-plated reforms promised. Instead, across the nation, outcome-driven reformers are delivering excuses about their experiments’ disappointing results. Some are completely contradicting themselves, as they announce gains in graduation rates that are attributable to more counselors and student supports. Accountability hawks conveniently forget that they previously derided those old-fashioned, input-driven programs as artifacts of the education “status quo,” and its “low expectations.” Some defeated reformers, like Michelle Rhee and Cami Anderson, remain blunt in blaming teachers and persons who disagree with them for the failure of schools that accept every student who walks in the door to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2015 at This Week In Education
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Thanks to Alexander and NPR's Claudio Sanchez for reminding us of the 50th anniversary of the firing of Jonathan Kozol for "curriculum deviation." Everyone should (re)read this book. Rather than immediately using it to discuss the ways that education and racism has and has not changed in the last half century, we should first focus on the horror of Death at an Early Age. Kozol was a substitute teacher in a class of 8th grade girls who were designated as "problem students" because they either had "very low intelligence" or were "emotionally disturbed." In a 133-word sentence, Kozol recalls his reading of Langston Hughes's "The Landlord." No transistor radios reappeared or were turned on during that next hour and, although some children interrupted me a lot to quiz me about Langston Hughes, where he was born, whether he was rich, whether he was married, and about poetry, and about writers, and writing in general, and a number of other things that struck their fancy, and although it was not a calm or orderly or, above all, disciplined class by traditional definition and there were probably very few minutes in which you would be able to hear a pin drop or... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2015 at This Week In Education
I grew up in the post-World War II era known as "Pax Americana." We all knew that our ambitious New Deal/Fair Deal era policies, ranging from G.I. Bill to the rebuilding of Europe with the help of the Marshall Plan, were not perfect. But, we knew in our bones that tomorrow would be better than today. Government and social science would both play a role in the campaigns to expand the promise of America to all. The Marshall Project's Eli Hager, in What Prisons Can Learn from Schools, pulls two incredibly complicated social problems together in a concise and masterful synthesis. Hager's insights are deserving of a detailed analysis. This post will merely take a first step towards an explanation of why Democrats and liberals, especially, must heed his wisdom. School and prison reform are both deeply rooted in the Reaganism and the lowered horizons of the 1980s. The defeat of the "guns and butter" approach to the Vietnam War demonstrated the limits of our power. The Energy Crisis of 1973, along with a decade and a half of falling or stagnant wages, was somehow blamed on liberalism. The U.S. entered the emerging global marketplace without the confidence that had... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2015 at This Week In Education
I'm not about to reverse myself again and support Common Core, but my reaction to Kate Taylor's English Class in Common Core Era: "Tom Sawyer" and Court Opinions is somewhat different than that of many educators who I highly respect. The NYT's Taylor wrote, "In the Common Core era, English class looks a little different." She described lessons where ninth graders study excerpts from “The Odyssey" along with sections of the G.I. Bill of Rights, and 10th graders read Catcher in the Rye along with articles on bipolar disorder and the adolescent brain. Those lessons remind me of my old history classes where, for instance, we had multimedia lessons on Ralph Ellison and Oklahoma City's "Deep Deuce," and students learned how they inspired his classic novel The Invisible Man. The district used to encourage teachers to devise those sorts of multidisciplinary lessons in the name of "horizontal alignment." Then came NCLB, "vertical alignment," and paced instruction that often killed engaging and in-depth classwork, as teach-to-the-test was mandated. Common Core supposedly began as a way to turn the clock back to the days before bubble-in testing dummied school down. When stakes were attached to Common Core tests, however, much or most... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at This Week In Education
Let’s recall the excitement in 2007 when Bruce Fuller, Katheryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, and Joseph Wright published Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working? Fuller et. al showed that NAEP test score growth had largely declined after NCLB took effect, but states reported huge gains on their standardized tests. Oklahoma, for instance, posted a 48 point gap between its 4th grade reading NCLB scores and its NAEP results. After NCLB, the state’s 4th grade reading scores increased 2.3% per year while its NAEP results dropped by .3 per year. Fuller’s blockbuster was a definitive indictment of the reliability of state NCLB test scores; it even got the test-loving Education Trust to question whether bubble-in accountability was working. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before testing received a unanimous verdict as guilty of being a hopelessly misleading metric. I thought the idea that state test score growth, during an age of test-driven accountability, could stand alone as evidence of increased learning would soon be discredited. While I must emphasize how much I admire the work of Douglas Harris, I’m dismayed by one passage in his report on the New Orleans model of reform, The Urban Education... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at This Week In Education
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The safest summary of evidence on the effectiveness of New Orleans school reforms is Politico's Caitlin Emma. Emma's The New Orleans Model: Praised but Unproven explains that "mayors and governors from Nevada to Tennessee have sought to replicate the New Orleans model by converting struggling public schools into privately run charters and giving principals unprecedented autonomy to run their own staffs, budgets and curricula — as long as they deliver better test scores." But, she adds, "behind all the enthusiasm is an unsettling truth: There’s no proof it works." Emma further notes that there have been "similarly mixed signals in other places where the New Orleans model has been tried." As we wait for better evidence, a newcomer to education, such as the Washington Monthly's David Osborne, could have contributed to the discussion on the lessons of New Orleans, but he would have had to have written an article that was far different than his How New Orleans Made Charters Work. Osborne starts with the dubious claim by the pro-charter CREDO that charters receive less per student funding, but he did not mention the additional $3,500 per student funding provided for post-Katrina schools. He cites the objective researcher, Douglas Harris,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2015 at This Week In Education
In Do Lazy June Days Include Too Many Parties and Movies?, The Washington Post's Jay Mathews says that June 1 is "the traditional beginning of parental complaints about how little work is done as the school year nears an end." He cites an Arlington parent who complains, “Every year the standardized tests come and go, and after that the education stops.” Well duh! The suburban dad should remember that education often stops when the annual test prep season begins. Moreover, this testing teaches lessons about life that I bet most parents would reject. After further inquiry into what was happening at his son's suburban school after testing finished, the father discovered that more opportunities for learning were still being offered than many would have anticipated. But, he concludes, “Nearly this entire week seems like a waste of time to me.” I believe Mathews reached a wiser conclusion, "He (the dad) has a point, but given the depth of what his sons have been learning during the year, I’d let it go." I'd also ask whether schools today have too few parties and movies during their entire year. It is especially worrisome that films and videos aren't used enough to teach... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at This Week In Education
The Education Trust's Katie Haycock, in Calling the Nation's Civil Rights Leaders Ignorant on Testing: Really? inadvertently illustrated the key issues involved in Common Core and Opt Out controversies. First, she blasted Marc Tucker for challenging her prime soundbite - that testing is a civil rights issue. Second, Haycock's venom shows how preoccupied she and many other reformers are with settling scores with teachers and policy people who resist their test, sort, reward, and punish approach. Tucker's sin, in Annual Accountability Testing: Time for the Civil Rights Community to Reconsider, was calling on civil rights communities to reconsider the idea that annual testing is necessary to advance equity. He noted the critiques of testing by an array of highly respected education experts. Tucker also reminded civil rights leaders that the growth in student performance slowed after No Child Left Behind. Haycock responded by condemning Tucker's "arrogance" and accusing him of "subterfuge." Neither did she miss an opportunity to blast teachers unions that supposedly "dupe parents into sabotaging the best tests we have ever had just because those tests also are used in the evaluation of some teachers." The essence of Haycock's tirade is: What is so especially galling, though, is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2015 at This Week In Education
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National Public Radio committed fourteen reporters to an investigative series, The Truth about America's Graduation Rate, which identifies three major ways that school systems try to improve their graduation rates. NPR finds that some districts did it in the proper way, by "stepping in early to keep kids on track." Too many improved graduation rates by "lowering the bar by offering alternate and easier routes when students falter," or "gaming the system by moving likely dropouts off the books, transferring or misclassifying them." NPR's excellent series should push us to ask some tougher questions, such as what is the harm of "juking the stats" in order to graduate more students? Credit recovery is the alternative route that might have the most potential for helping students graduate, but when abused, it has great potential for harm. In the early years of NCLB, my students shunned credit recovery as "exercising your right-click finger." But, as credit recovery expanded, the practice literally became dangerous. In many inner city high schools, most of the chronic disorder and violence is prompted by students who attend irregularly and/ or who come to school but don't go to class. Credit recovery can send the message to students... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2015 at This Week In Education
If the purpose of school reform is improving education and not union-busting and privatization, reformers should do some soul searching after they read Robert Putnam's Our Kids. Had they known twenty years ago what Putnam documents today, would accountability-driven, competition-driven reformers have rolled the dice and sought to increase equity by holding teachers accountable for raising test scores? Would they have believed that education failures produced by the stress of generational poverty could have been reversed by the stress of high-stakes testing? Would they have pretended that increased segregation produced by school choice could have been the cure for segregation created by economics? Had they recognized the importance of trusting social relationships, would reformers have demanded a basic skills testing regime that would inevitably degrade the learning cultures of poor schools and replace holistic instruction of poor children of color with nonstop remediation for primitive bubble-in tests? I've long thought that conservatives like Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who now criticize value-added teacher evaluations, would be especially open to the insights of Putnam and others who help chart an escape from the constraints imposed by top-down micromanaging of classrooms. And, yes, Petrilli seeks to liberate some students from the social engineering known... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2015 at This Week In Education
I still teach GED part-time, so I have not become completely absorbed into the edu-political world that is so divorced from the reality of inner city schools. I seek a balance, addressing the school improvement proposals that are politically viable, while remaining connected with the reasons why practitioners and parents are so dismissive of reform agendas. I can't deny that I've been acculturated into much of the "status quo" mentality illustrated by my first principals' mantra, "Pick your battles." The battles that we inner city teachers want policy people to launch are simply not winnable. However, Jay Mathews, in How Do We Help Our Least Motivated, Most Disruptive Students?, tackles the issue that I know I shouldn't touch. Twenty years after I was repeatedly warned that assessing disciplinary consequences in a credible manner is an issue that school systems won't dare address, and as the agenda has shifted to reducing suspensions, why should I try to answer Mathews' question? Against my better judgment, I'll respond to his columns and readers. (After I read the book he cites, I'll see whether I dare to get closer to the 3rd rail of edu-politics by discussing it.) Mathews wrote a three-part series on... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2015 at This Week In Education