Saturday, January 25, 2014

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Breaking News: Indiana’s Governor Pence Will Try Again to Strip Glenda Ritz of Authority
Republicans in Indiana still can’t get over the fact that the voters elected Glenda Ritz as state commissioner of education in 2012 and tossed out their idol, Tony Bennett, who outspent Ritz 10-1. Ritz won more votes than Governor Mike Pence. Ever since the election, Pence has tried to take away the powers of the office of state commissioner of education and transfer them to the state board of edu
Breaking News: New York Teachers’ Union Votes No-Confidence in State Commissioner John King
On Saturday morning, the Board of Directors of NYSUT–the New York State United Teachers–voted unanimously for a resolution of “no confidence” in State Commissioner John King. This is tantamount to calling for his removal. The implementation of Common Core testing in New York state was widely recognized as a fiasco. Many legislators, including the leader of the State Assembly, have called for a del

Drew Faust, president of Harvard University, and Wynton Marsalis, master musician, wrote a joint article for USA Today about the importance of arts education. They wrote: “We hear widespread calls for “outcomes” we can measure and for education geared to specific employment needs, but many of today’s students will hold jobs that have not yet been invented, deploying skills not yet defined. We not

Mercedes Schneider has closely analyzed the union-busting techniques of the so-called Center for Union Facts and its leader Richard Berman. Here she digs out the details of Berman’s long-planned strategy to damage unions with negative advertising. Now Berman is plastering New York City with billboards and radio ads to lower the public’s opinion of the United Federation of Teachers. A poll a year a

Learning More About How Environment Affects Intelligence
Back in the years before World War I, the I.Q. test was invented in Europe, first by Francis Galton in England, then by Alfred Binet in France. The idea of I.Q. testing was adapted in the United States for use in sorting millions of recruits for the Army, deciding which ones were officer material and which were the troops headed for the front lines. After the war, American psychologists enthusiast
NOLA Columnist: Farewell to the Students at John McDonogh
Jarvis DeBerry, a columnist for the New Orleans Time-Picayune, has written a letter to the students at the John McDonogh School, a charter school that is closing after Steve Barr took it over and pledged to turn it around. Barr’s company is called “The Future Is Now.” He invited Oprah to send in a television crew to document his success in taking over what he called New Orleans’ “most dangerous sc
My Response to a Teacher in North Carolina: Please Don’t Give Up
I hope teachers will find the inner strength to stand up to the bullying by governors and legislators. If you can’t teach, find another job. But if you are a good teacher and you are devoted to making a difference in the lives of children, don’t give up. Stay and fight. Join grassroots groups. Join the Network for Public Education. In every state there are groups of parents and educators standing

Pearson Redefines Its Goal as “Efficacy”
Who owns American public education? Until a decade ago, we might have answered: the public. Or the states. Or the local school boards. Now, the likely answer is: the U.S. Department of Education. Or the Gates Foundation, which seems to own the U.S. Department of Education. But there may be another answer (this is not a multiple-choice test, and there is more than one right answer): Pearson, the
Hackschooling: Is This the Future?
This amazing video from a TED talk by a confident teenager named Logan LaPlante has had more than 3.6 million views on YouTube. In his view, the main purpose of education should be to help students become “happy and healthy.” He describes his own unique version of schooling–which he calls “hackschooling.” It is homeschooling of a sort, using the Internet to delve into whatever interests him. It is
Hey, Excellent Teachers! Want Larger Classes?
An organization called Public Impact in North Carolina has this cool new idea–actually, not so new, because Bill Gates has been pushing it for a few years: What if school districts selected only the most excellent teachers, fired the bad teachers, and increased the class sizes of the really excellent teachers? Then the really excellent teachers could make more money, the school system would have f


Three Newark Principals Reinstated, Two Assigned to Central Office
Bob Braun reports that three of the Newark principals who spoke against school closings were reinstated, and two were assigned to the central office. The national reaction to Anderson’s “indefinite suspension” of the five may have led to the reinstatement of the three. It seems they did nothing worse than disagree with the plan to close down public education in a substantial part of Newark, which
Peter Greene Reviews Arne Duncan’s Performance, But His Spleen Explodes
Peter Greene, a high school English teacher in Pennsylvania, here reviews Arne Duncan’s friendly chat with two teachers. In this chat, he assures them that Bill Gates does not have a seat at the table. Just look at that table! Do you see Bill Gates? No, all you see is Arne and two teachers. Proof! Bill Gates definitely does not have a seat at that table. Peter reminds us that there are people–lik
Duncan Says Gates Has No Seat at the Education Policy Table
Anthony Cody comments on a startling conversation between two teachers and Secretary of Education Duncan. The conversation appears on a video. One of the teachers asks him about the role of philanthropists such as Eli Broad and Bill Gates in setting education policy. Consider this astonishing exchange: “Lisa Clarke: “One of the particular questions we’ve heard teachers ask is if corporate-base
A Fellow Texan Reviews “Reign of Error”
John Savage, a freelance journalist and former teacher, reviewed “Reign of Error” in the “Texas Observer.” I liked the review for many reasons. First, because Savage liked the book. That pleases every author. Second, because the first article I ever published appeared in the “Texas Observer,” a gritty liberal journal that covers Texas politics. The article was called “My Ghetto and Yours,” and i
Shanghai: Where Are the Missing Children?
Tom Loveless had the nerve and courage to publicly rebuke OECD for giving a distorted view of Shanghai’s test scores on the latest international test (PISA). He said that the tests excluded significant numbers of children from migrant families, and OECD ignored this practice. I posted both his articles on the subject. The director of OECD said Tom Loveless was wrong. The Néw York Times wrote up
The Education of David Brooks
In 2011, David Brooks heard me speak at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where I talked about a life course approach to improving the lives of children. Days later, he published an article criticizing me for saying that testing and choice were inadequate to overcome the problems of kids who live in poverty. At the time, he was still enthralled by the idea that charters were a systemic answer to these pr
UK Teacher: Target-Driven Schooling Drives Cheating
A teacher in the UK describes what happens when superiors demand that he or should hit their predicted targets, without respect to reality. It begins: “The Secret Teacher “Some years ago I was called by my head of department to discuss the grades I’d predicted for a year 11 class. They were aspirational and realistic. I was told to change them. My forecast was not in line with school targets for
Why Kill Néw Bedford High School?
EduShyster tells a sad story of the utter irresponsibility and–oh, I can’t think of a better word than “idiocy”–of Massachsetts officials. Local and state officials are “turning around” Néw Bedford High School by firing half the teachers. “Ahoy, matey! That great looming specter in the distance is not a mighty white whale but New Bedford High School being turned upside down and shaken till 50% of
Bruce Baker on the Future of Independent Schools
Bruce Baker, our nation’s pre-eminent truth-teller and statistical whiz-kid, here inquires into a gathering of researchers who assembled to help private independent schools chart their future course. The president of the National Association of Independent Schools, John Chubb, is a political scientist well known for his support for vouchers and his antipathy for teachers’ unions. From my days at t
Pennsylvania: Governor Corbett’s Attack on Higher Education
In an article on Salon, writer James Cersonsky describes the state GOP’s attack on universities. He calls it “the Enron-esque Higher Ed Plan: Fire Tenured Faculty to Fund Students Dorms.” In Tom Corbett’s Pennsylvania, he says, if it’s public and it’s education, burn it down! The same can be said for K-12 education. Corbett is up for re-election. The good news is that his poll numbers are down. On
Tennessee Charter Leader: Diversity Is Not My Problem
Across the south and elsewhere, charters are turning into a force for resegregation–not only by race but by language, class, and disability. They are the ultimate weapon today for those who hope to roll back the Brown decision. In Tennesssee, Chris Barbic said that diversity was not his problem. If society is segregated, there is nothing he can do to change it. That is shirking responsibility. S

JAN 23

A Hero of Public Education in Michigan: Ellen Cogen Lipton
State Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton has bravely fought for public education and for the children of Michigan in a hostile environment, in a state where free-market fundamentalists control the governorship and the legislature. She has been unable to hold back hostile legislation and anti-civic policies, but she has actively resisted those who encourage the plundering of precious taxpayer dolla
John Austin, President of the Michigan State Board of Education, Writes the Readers of This Blog
I have posted several articles about Governor Rick Snyder’s all-out assault on public education, most recently, this one earlier today. Some 80% of charters operate for profit, fiscally troubled districts have been handed over to for-profit charter corporations (with poor track records) that extract as much in profit as the district’s deficit (this happens only in majority African-American distric
Politico: A Wish List for Obama’s State of the Union Address asked a number of people to suggest what President Obama should say in his annual State of the Union Address and what he was likely to say instead. Yours truly weighed in below. You will see that I recommended that he toss out Race to the Top as a failed initiative and get a new Secretary of Education. But just take a look at the headline summary of my written remarks. Since most of t
“What Are We Willing to Stand Up For?” Why Parents Opt Out of Testing
Rebecca Mead has written a brilliant blog post for “The New Yorker” explaining why parents plan to opt their children out of NewYork’s Common Core testing in 2014. It Is as succinct an explanation as I have read, and it is vivid because the writer is a parent in a progressive public school that teaches students to think for themselves. The principal of the Brooklyn New School has spoken out again
Peter Greene: John King Said What??
I didn’t plan to say anything at all about Néw York Commissioner John King’s tasteless commentary on Martin Luther King Day. He twisted logic and common sense to claim that adopting Common Core was somehow a fulfillment of Dr. King’s noble vision of justice and equality. I thought it best to let it pass unremarked. But Peter Greene, who has a keen sense of language, literacy, and simple decency d
EduShyster Takes a Ride on a Rocketship and Finds Miraculous Visions
In this post, EduShyster surveys the progress of the Rocketship charter chain, which aspires to enroll 1 million children in its low-cost, high-tech fleet of schools. She writes: “The audacious exercise in audaciousness was off to an audacious start. Fueled by an explosive combo of Silicon Valley funding and free advertising from *journalists* who found the use of rocket-related terminology irresi
Teacher: My Experience in a Turkish Gulen Charter School
The Gulen charter schools are the largest charter chain in the nation. To learn more about them, read Sharon Higgins’ blog. William Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition posted this story by a teacher in Ohio: Matt Blair, an Ohio teacher, with experience in a Turkish Gulen charter school, provides a glimpse into this operation, which is unaccountable and nontransparent. How charter s
Michigan: Governor Snyder Is Succeeding… Destroying Public Education
One of our readers brought this sad article to my attention. Under Governor Rick Snyder, more school districts have collapsed into emergency status than during the time of any of his predecessors. Failing districts get taken over by the state and put into its Emergency Achievement District, an oxymoron. Once in the EAA, a graduate of the unaccredited Broad Academy arranges to dissolve democratic
Developer in NC Gets OK for Charter At Entrance to His Gated Community
North Carolina policymakers are putty in the hands of Art Pope, the zillionaire libertarian who funds the John Locke Institute and is also state budget director. Bill Moyers featured him in an exposé and Jane Mayer of the New Yorker wrote an article about his successful takeover of the state, in which he successfully defeated moderate Republicans with extremists to his liking. The far-out anti-pu

JAN 22

Message to N.C. Teachers “We Hope You Die Young”
This teacher deconstructed the proposal to change compensation for teachers in North Carolina, which follows on last year’s full menu of legislation intended to reduce the pay, job security, and rights of teachers in that state. Bear in mind that the specifics of the plan are evolving, but here goes, from Kafkateach: “I originally started this blog as a coping mechanism to deal with the absurdit
David Sirota: Who Is Thomas Friedman?
Yesterday, Thomas Friedman published yet another article lambasting American public education. Every time he writes about public schools, it is a put-down. He said in one article that America is “in decline” because of low scores on international tests, because McKinsey & Co. said so. Google his name and “Teach for America,” and you will get more than 100,000 hits. David Sirota, an investigati
Charter Chain Defends Teaching Creationism
Last week, Slate published an article about a large Texas-based charter chain that teaches creationism in its science classes. A spokesman for the chain, Responsive Education Solutions defended the practice. “According to the article in Slate, students in Responsive Education Solutions charter schools get a different spin on biogy and history, to accord with religious dogma. “ Zack Kopplin wrote:
Lodge McCammon in 2011: Flipping the Classroom, Larger Class Size, Pay per Pupil
A reader pointed out that Lodge McCammon proposed his plan to change teacher compensation in North Carolina at least two years ago. McCammon is the author of the much-discussed 60-30-10 proposal. Actually, Lindsay Wagner cited this article in her report this morning. The article was written by McCammon, not taken out of context. He wrote then: “RALEIGH — Our nation is plagued by a failing system o
I Left My Heart in San Diego
Must be something funny in the water in San Diego. Back in the 1990s, when it was widely seen as one of the best urban districts, the San Diego business community decided it was no good and needed a tough master to bring it to heel. So they hired Border Czar and attorney Alan Bersin as superintendent, and he launched controversial, pedal-to-the-floor reforms that I wrote about in “Death and Life o
Update on North Carolina Proposal: The Story Evolves
This morning I posted about a bizarre proposal to change (demolish) the teaching profession in North Carolina, called the 60-30-10 plan. It included features such as, all teachers re-applying for their jobs in 2015. Flipped classrooms. Larger class sizes. Teachers paid per student. No teacher allowed to teach more than 20 years. Constant churn. No profession, just a temp job monitoring work on co
A Video of My Talk in Bedford, NY, about Common Core, Teacher Evaluation, and the Mess Caused by Federal Policy
I spoke at Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York, on January 16. Here is a video of my talk.  I explain how federal policy has taken control of every public school in the nation, promoting policies that have no research or evidence behind them, closing schools, and causing demoralization among teachers and administrators. I recommend a moratorium for testing of the Common Core. I recommend reg
Author of NC Proposal Responds
Lodge McKammon, author of the 60-30-10 plan for teachers in North Carolina, which would encourage larger class sizes, sent this comment: “For the record, this article in NC Policy Watch was published before I had a chance to speak with the author. These are, in a sense, some of the ideas that I have been brainstorming over the past few years. However, this write-up (including the document) is tak
Oprah’s Star Charter School in New Orleans Is Closing Down
It seems like only yesterday that the Oprah television network featured an exciting new charter school in New Orleans that promised to turn around the John McDonogh school. The new charter group was led by Steve Barr and his Future Is Now organization. “One year after the Oprah television network featured New Orleans’ John McDonogh High School in “Blackboard Wars,” hoping to depict a successful c
Tennessee Parents Fight Back Against Corporate “Reform”!
Please support this wonderful new organization of parents and other citizens in Tennessee, organizing to reclaim public schools from bad policy and corporate takeovers. Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence MISSION: TENNESSEANS RECLAIMING EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE (TREE) IS ROOTED IN FIGHTING FOR STRONG, EQUITABLE PUBLIC EDUCATION AND IS COMMITTED TO GROWING CHILD-CENTERED EDUCATION POLICY.
North Carolina: Greatest Insult to Teachers Ever Cooked Up in Backroom
I thought this must be a joke. It is not. North Carolina legislators are considering a law that would demolish the teaching profession and encourage teacher turnover. Call it the “here-today-gone-next-year” policy. The goal is to cut costs by increasing class sizes, pushing out senior teachers, and using technology to “flip” classrooms. According to NC Policy Watch: “A new plan to raise some t

JAN 21

Chicago: Rahm’s Demolition Derby for Public Schools
An independent investigation found that nearly half of Chicago’s charter schools are under-enrolled, but the mayor-controlled school board plans to open more. This will drain more students and resources from the public schools. Mayor Emanuel hopes to destroy public education as his legacy to the city. The mayor’s hand-picked board will vote tomorrow on authorizing 31 new charters. FOR IMMEDIATE R
On the Road Again….
After a long hiatus, recovering from travel-related deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs), I started my traveling again this week. (My trip to Chicago last week to speak to MLA didn’t count, but I can’t recall why. Arbitrary.) I am speaking at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Wednesday at 7 pm. The plan was to fly to Gainesville on Wednesday morning, via Atlanta. But life does
John Merrow Comments on a “Rigged” Match: Rhee vs. Ravitch
John Merrow, who doggedly pursued the cheating scandal in D.C. here takes issue with someone named John Buntin who wrote of a fictional match-up between Michelle Rhee and me. Merrow chides Buntin for ignorance of the facts that Merrow covered. He sent this letter, but got no reply: “I have a couple of observations about your Rhee/Ravitch piece that I hope you don’t mind my sharing. The first is
Best Friends Forever: Chris Christie & Eli Broad
The Eli Broad Foundation gave Néw Jersey $430,000 for Broad-style corporate reform. There was one strange string attached: the money would keep flowing only if Chris Christie remained governor. This is how Rick Cohen of the Non-Profit Quarterly described this cozy deal: “The Broad Foundation grant is in support of various educational reforms in the state, with performance benchmarks such as a 50
Arizona: 25 Néw Charters to Open in Phoenix
Twenty-five new charter schools will open in Phoenix, targeting low-income Latino students. The project is funded mainly by the Walton Foundation. The schools will rely on Teach for America recruits. The story in the NY Times notes that charter schools in Arizona get more public funding than public schools and charter schools get lower test scores. This is privatization for the sake of privatiza
Ohio: Former State Monitor Questions Gulen Charters
The following was sent by Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy: Denis Smith, a retired public school teacher, administrator and former charter school consultant at the Ohio Department of Education, sent the message below to the editor of The Columbus Dispatch. January 16, 2014 Denis Smith, a retired public school teacher, administrator and former charter school consultant at
Errol Louis Gets It: Merit Pay Is Useless
Errol Louis is one sharp journalist. He is a newscaster for NY1, the city’s local all-news TV station. I have benn interviewed by him a few times and have always been impressed by his insight. In this article, he explains how dumb merit pay is. He notes that Governor Cuomo has proposed a $20,000 bonus for the state’s “highly effective” teachers. He didn’t say how he would pay for it. Maybe he wo
My Speaking Schedule This Spring
My speaking schedule from now to mid-Summer. More details will be added as the date gets closer. January 22: Gainesville Fl – University of FL 7 pm lecture February 1: Louisville KY – Kentucky School Boards 9:45 a.m. lecture February 3: New York Performance Standards Consortium 9 am lecture February 11: Raleigh NC – Emerging Issues Institute Approx. 9:15 – 10 am 30 minute lecture February 11, Conv
Jersey Jazzman: The Newark 5 Are Not Alone!
The indefinite suspension (firing) of five principals in Newark–who spoke out against the closure of their schools– by Chris Christie’s appointee Cami Anderson is going viral! Time for an anti-bullying program in New Jersey. Jersey Jazzman shows in this post that the bullying agenda of Governor Chris Christie is advancing in many New Jersey towns, but it is no longer hidden. Veteran journalist e
Reader: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Call for “Creative Extremists”
A reader sent this full expression of Dr. King’s vision of the best kind of extremism: “The quotation, as presented, is quite truncated. Here are Dr. King’s full words: ” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In
David Berliner Invites You to Try a Thought Experiment
David Berliner has designed a provocative thought experiment. He offers you State A and State B. He describes salient differences between them. Can you predict which state has high-performing schools and which state has low-performing schools? The Roots of Academic Achievement David C. Berliner Regents’ Professor Emeritus Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Arizona State University Let’s do a thoug
Maureen Reedy: How We Can Turn the Tide in 2014
Maureen Reedy taught in public school in Ohio for 29 years. She ran in 2012 for the state legislature and narrowly lost. She continues to be a leader in the fight against destructive privatization and excessive high-stakes testing. She writes: New Year’s Resolutions For Public Education: First of all, Kudo’s to Ohio’s Plunderbund investigative journalist, Greg Mild, public school teacher, for his
Julian Vasquez Heilig Gives a Lesson to Senator Harkin About TFA
This is a true story. A mother who lives in Iowa wrote her Senator to complain about her daughter’s terrible experience in Teach for America. Her Senator is Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee responsible for education. The Senator sent her a response which she found unsatisfactory. She sent the Senator”s letter to me, and I asked Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig of the University of Texas to re

JAN 20

The MLK Test for Corporate Reformers, via the Schneider Standards
Mercedes Schneider has created a test question for corporate reformers. She proposes a compare and contrast between Martin Luther King’s original “I Have a Dream” speech and the vision of “reformers” who claim that their tactics to leave no child untested and no  public school undisturbed is “the civil rights issue of our time.”
Julian Vasquez Heilig on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Extremist
On his blog “Cloaking Inequity,” Julian Vasquez Heilig remembers Dr. King as an extremist and quotes his words. Heilig writes: So if you are a supporter of union busting via mayoral control, parent trigger, vouchers, and charters you are at odds with MLK, and you will find yourself on the wrong side of history.  Says Heilig: Be inspired to be a creative extremist for unions and living wages. Hono
EduShyster Imagines Dr. MLK & Today’s “Reform” Movement
EduShyster has a dream, but it is not the one that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke about in 1963 at the March on Washington. She has a dream of Dr. King returning today to see the new “reform” movement which so often claims that it is the “civil rights movement” of our time. He tours the “no excuses” school and sees that it is segregated. He discovers that the new “civil rights movement” is fun
Naison on Dr. King’s Legacy
I am going to violate the unwritten rule of blogging here by reprinting the entire post, plus adding the link. Typically, I post only a summary and the link, to drive traffic to other bloggers. But in this case, I think Mark Naison has written such a valuable summary of Dr. King’s legacy that I want to share it with you, crediting him. He writes:
Bob Braun: More on the Outrage in Newark
Bob Braun covered politics and education in New Jersey for the Star-Ledger for 50 years until his recent retirement. He now has his own blog, which is an invaluable source of information and insight into New Jersey political doings. Here he writes about the ouster of five Newark principals by state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson. Four of them spoke at a public hearing about the pending clo
The Sorry Condition of Civil Rights in New Jersey
Social activist Jan Resseger points us to a sobering article by civil rights attorney Paul Trachtenberg of Rutgers University in New Jersey. Trachtenberg describes the two school systems in New Jersey, one overwhelmingly white and successful, the other highly segregated and poor. One controls its schools, the other is controlled by the state. She writes: “One, the predominantly white, well-to-do a
Are You Sick of Highly Paid Teachers?
Thanks to Jennie Shanker for tweeting this to me. It appeared in the Daily Kos. It shows how to adjust the wages of teachers.
Edward Johnson: What Does Dr. King’s Legacy Mean Today?
Edward Johnson is a community activist in Atlanta who fights tirelessly for a wiser approach to education than the current ideology of competition. He is a devotee of Dr. Edward Deming, who taught that when things go wrong, it is because systems fail, and the systems must be fixed. He also taught that teamwork and collaboration produce better results for everyone than incentives, threats, and com
A Critique of David Coleman’s Reading of ”Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
Daniel E. Ferguson, who taught in his native Birmingham, is now a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University. Here he reviews David Coleman’s “close reading” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Coleman wants the reader to interpret the text without reference to his or her personal views. He demonstrates that this technique is designed to serve the needs
Paul Thomas: Ending Poverty Requires Community, Not War
Paul Thomas has written a post to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in which Paul explains that it is a great mistake to think that we can end poverty by making “war” on it. War always leaves victims and collateral damage. He writes: A big picture message offered in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is that the war on drugs, a key part of the larger era of mass incarceration, has devas
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: When Breaking the Law Is Just
In Newark, several principals spoke out against closing schools. They were “indefinitely suspended.” Should they have spoken out? Should they have kept their views to themselves? Dr. King had some advice to those who feel that what was done to their community was unjust. The principals did not “break a law.” They were, in some people’s eyes, insubordinate. Is that akin to law-breaking? Most of us

JAN 19

Hey, Tom Friedman, What About the Children?
This comment was written in response to a post I wrote about Tom Friedman blaming lazy students and parents for America’s education woes: “To echo everything you said about the current state of affairs and add one important thing you did not explicitly mention, there is the child; the child entering kindergarten, moving onto middle school and with great hope graduating high school and going on to
Jere Hochman on Tom Friedman’s Column in the NY Times
Jere Hochman, superintendent of the Bedford Central School District in New York responds here to Tom Friedman’s column in the New York Times:     I could scream! That is my reaction to Thomas Friedman’s column, “Obama’s Homework Assignment” Mr. Friedman sees the big picture on every issue. This column is a shocker. They put in annual high-stakes testing – that didn’t work. They labeled district
Tom Friedman Is As Clueless As Arne Duncan
Most educators and even most legislators seem to recognize that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have failed to “reform” American education. After 13 years of test-based evaluation and school closings, no one claims success. We need what: More of the same! Congress doesn’t know what to do to change a failed status quo. Feckless Arne Duncan, having failed in Chicago, now looks for scapegoat
Diana Senechal: How NOT to Read a Poem
Diana Senechal demonstrates how the Common Core standards may be misinterpreted. She gives the example of a video lesson purporting to teach students how to interpret a poem, in this instance William Wordworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” familiarly known as “The Daffodils.” Students are supposed to summarize each stanza in their own words and write it on a sticky note, according to the instr
Louisiana Court Rules That 7,000 Teachers Were Wrongfully Terminated
It is always astonishing to be reminded that the rule of law still exists in Louisiana, despite the authoritarian command of Governor Bobby Jindal. But it does! Louisiana courts found the funding of the voucher program, using money dedicated to public schools, to be unconstitutional. The courts found Jindal’s law stripping teachers of all legal rights and protections to be unconstitutional becaus
L.A. Needs Basic Maintenance More Than iPads
Ed Liebowitz is a parent of children on the Los Angeles public schools. He describes in this article what the district really needs: not an iPad for every student but basic and essential repairs to its schools and their infrastructure. When he and other families complained about broken playground equipment, LAUSD didn’t have the money to make the repairs. When he and another family chipped in and
Colorado Parents Say “NO!” to High-Stakes Testing!
The corporate types who hate teachers’ unions and public schools have been running a billboard and mass media campaign in New York and New Jersey. But they are not the only ones who know how to frame a message. Here is a fabulous billboard posted on a major highway in Colorado by critics of the nutty testing regime imposed by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
Paul Karrer: Why the Moon Is Made of Green Jade
Paul Karrer, who teaches in Castroville, California, wrote this article for the local newspaper, the Monterrey Herald. Many of the children he teaches are English learners and special education. He told me he wanted to title his article “Moon Made Jade Not Cheese and We Can Thank Bill Gates,” but the newspaper changed it to “Education’s Race to the Bottom.” He writes that the super-rich have impos
Cami Anderson and the Unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy
In an earlier post about the indefinite suspension of several principals in Newark, who had protested the closing of their schools at a public meeting, I wrote that state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson was a graduate of the unaccredited Broad Academy. Readers have informed me that she is not a graduate of said “academy,” but that she is associated with it through a fellow organization: htt
Paul Horton: Why We Need to Tell Stories About Our Lives
Paul Horton, who teaches history at the University of Chicago Lab School, here ponders a famous remark by David Coleman, architect of the Common Core standards. Coleman said, while giving a speech in New York that was taped, that students need to learn that no one gives a s— about what you think or feel, which was his way of saying that your opinions and feelings matter little in the world, as com
Why VAM Is a Sham
The centerpiece–and the most destructive element–of Race to the Top is the insistence that teachers must be evaluated to a significant degree by the test scores of their students, whether they go up or down. It is destructive because it makes standardized tests the purpose of education. The tests cease to be a measure and become the aim. That is wrong. It leads to a narrowed curriculum, teaching t
Schneider: A History of inBloom and Its Cozy Nest
Mercedes Schneider has turned her investigative skills to unearthing the history of inBloom. She explains what it is, why it matters, and why it is deeply embroiled in the controversy over the Common Core standards. You may be astonished by the connections among the major players in inBloom, CCSS, and every other aspect of the current “reform” agenda.

JAN 18

Breaking News: Outrage in Newark as Christie’s Superintendent Fires Principals for Opposing School Closings
On the very eve of the weekend celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Newark’s state-appointed superintendent showed the citizens of Newark that they have no votes and they have no voice when it comes to the fate of their schools. The Newark public schools have been under state control since 1995. Cami Anderson, the current Newark Superintendent is a former Teach for America teac
Do International Test Scores Matter?
Readers of this blog know that I have repeatedly argued that standardized scores on international tests predict nothing about the future. Now comes an article in Forbes–Forbes!–saying that the international scores don’t mean much. Scott Gillum quotes sources such as Sir Ken Robinson, Carol Dweck, and Yong Zhao to argue that what matters most–creativity, originality, initiative–is not captured by s
Reader: Memories of a Better Time in Education
This reader shares memories of a different time. I can vouch for what he or she writes. I remember those days too. The time after school was spent riding bikes or playing pick-up games of baseball or playing in someone’s backyard. Homework was for after dinner. There was always time for play with friends. The family ate dinner together. I went to a high school with about 1,200 students. None of th
Peter Greene Reviews Fordham’s Wacky Video
Peter Greene, an English teacher and blogger in Pennsylvania, reviewed the wild and wacky video made by the staff at the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Apparently the kids there wanted the world to see them as fun-loving buddies who can laugh at themselves, but Greene thinks it didn’t work. Despite the high production values, there is something unfunny about Fordham’s policy ideas (no t
Caleb Rossiter on KIPP and the Challenge of Educating All
When we talk about educating all, we usually mean educating all. But as Caleb Rossiter points out, educating all is a mighty challenge when so many children are so woefully unprepared and unmotivated. Caleb quit his job in a charter school because he was asked to raise scores that were undeserved. But now he has a habit of speaking with candor about kids who have no interest in what is happening i
Jersey Jazzman on Governor Chris Christie
Those of us who care about public education and who respect teachers have known for a long time that New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie was a bully. We have seen him bullying teachers since he took office. Now he has this mess on his hands because his closest staff–with or without his knowledge–bullied a Democratic mayor who failed to endorse Christie in his re-election campaign. So the governor
Maryland: Common Core Testing Will Cost $100 Million
According to a report by Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post, Maryland will spend at least $100 million for Common Core testing. The testing is wreaking havoc in states like Néw York, where absurd failure rates have outraged parents across the states. Now we learn that the cost of all-online testing are likely to cause fiscal strain, larger classes, and cuts to necessary programs and courses.
My Speech about Common Core to MLA
On January 11, I spoke to the annual meeting in Chicago of the Modern Language Association about the Common Core. My talk was titled “Common Core: Past, Present, Future.” I think readers of this blog will find it of interest. It is about 17 pages long, so sit down. I explain the background of the standards and explain why they have become so controversial, with critics and supporters on all points

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