Amazing holiday travel experiences, followed by extended recovery from jet lag and a nasty cold I picked up, have kept me from blogging for all of January, but now I am well and ready to express my random thoughts again. Most of my thoughts right now are ones of hopeful optimism. It's a new year … Continue reading It’s 2016!
What Teach For America Could Learn From Peace Corps
In 1993, when I was a shiny new Harvard grad with no career direction except a fervent desire to help people, I joined Teach For America (TFA). It was a brand new organization then, modeled at least in part after the Peace Corps. The plan was to send smart, idealistic, young people to teach for … Continue reading What Teach For America Could Learn From Peace Corps
Yes, Mr. President, Tests Must Be “Worth Taking”
I am glad President Obama has admitted that there is too much standardized testing in our public schools. He has produced a "Testing Action Plan" to address this issue. He wants our testing policies to be smarter, and he and his advisors have come up with a set of guiding principles to that end. Every … Continue reading Yes, Mr. President, Tests Must Be “Worth Taking”
Data is not a thing.
Many supposedly highly educated people do not understand data. They use it all the time, rely on it, even revere it to a level that approximates worship, but since they don’t understand it, it becomes merely fuel for confirmation bias. Any study that tells them what they want to hear is “hard data”, and any … Continue reading Data is not a thing.
If You Care About Education Reform, You Must Read The Prize
No matter where you stand in the current education chaos, Dale Russakoff’s The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools? is worth reading. It is outstanding writing based on outstanding reporting, and it is the best explanation I have seen of the complexities of public education in the United States. My favorite quotation in the … Continue reading If You Care About Education Reform, You Must Read The Prize
Guiding Principles on Teaching, Learning, and Reform
I almost always agree with things Larry Cuban says about education. This post of his seems especially worth sharing, so I am reblogging it in full.
Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
From time to time readers will ask me what I believe should be done about teaching, learning, and school reform. They usually preface their request with words such as: “Hey, Larry, you have been a constant critic of existing reforms. You have written about schools not being businesses and have pointed out the flaws in policymaker assumptions and thinking about reform. And you have been skeptical about the worth of new computer devices, software, and online instruction in promoting better teaching and faster learning. So instead of always being a critic just tell us what you think ought to be done.”
Trained as a historian of education and knowledgeable about each surge of school reform to improve teaching and learning over the past century, I cannot offer specific programs for school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and voters to consider. Why? Because context is all-important. I know of no reform…
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New Orleans in the News Again
There has been renewed press in recent days about the New Orleans Recovery District. Andrea Gabor's opinion piece in the New York Times entitled "The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover" received a lot of attention and a ton of criticism, and so the same old debate continues. It is amazing anyone still thinks … Continue reading New Orleans in the News Again
Thoughts on the Beginning of Another School Year
A new school year is beginning. For many students, here in Los Angeles, it begins today. I feel terrible for them, because very few of them will be receiving the education they deserve. I also feel terrible for us, as a society, because we will not receive the benefits of the contributions these children are … Continue reading Thoughts on the Beginning of Another School Year
Why I Quit, and Why Teach For America Should Too
A lot of Teach For America (TFA) alumni have been telling their stories lately. Here’s mine: In 1993, the year after I finished college, I joined TFA, which was still a new organization. At the time, there was a teacher shortage, and the whole point was that we were going to work in schools that … Continue reading Why I Quit, and Why Teach For America Should Too