Saturday, March 15, 2014



Who Loves the Core?
The architects and salesmen of Common Core have tried repeatedly to marginalize CCSS opponents.Last summer, the narrative, pushed hard by Arne Duncan and picked up by many press outlets, was that the opposition to CCSS was a handful of Tea Party tin hat crazies. But as opposition to the core has spread, Coronistas have scrambled to find a characterization of their foes that would stick and resonat

Feed the Dog
On Saturdays I am sometimes have a chance to check in with #satchat, a Saturday twitter conversation about education. If you are a denizen of the twitterverse, I recommend you check it out. Today this question was posed by moderator Peter DeWitt: In an era of accountability, how can we be change agents for student learning?My answer is that we have to feed the dogs of accountability with one hand

A New Political Party
If you have any doubts about whether or not education debate turns the political spectrum into a giant Ouroborean worm disappearing into its own innards, consider this.Here's a quote from a website devoted to a particular issue:Americans need to understand that sacrifice and a hard work ethic are the motherhood of invention and success. If you are not successful or not happy with your lot in life,
Mansplaining Reformy Stuff
Listen, honey, I know it's all very confusing and there's a lot to take in. But don't worry your pretty little head about it. Let me explain the whole what they like to call narrative of school reform.Back in my day, schools were great. You learned what you needed to learn and as soon as you got out, you were ready to get a job. It wasn't easy-- nosirree-- but we weren't afraid of hard work. I put
Reality Impaired Assessment & Joyce Foundation
Over at Education Week: Teacher, Liana Heitin has rewritten a press release from the Joyce Foundation (if you don't know that name, more shortly) for general consumption. The lede is there in the title: Teachers May Need to Deepen Assessment Practices for Common Core.The article spins off the work of Olivia Lozano and Gabriela Cardenas, two teachers at the UCLA Lab School in Los Angeles. This teac

MAR 13

The Conservative Defense of CCSS
Over at the Daily Caller, Robby Soave and Rachel Solzfoos wrote a story in which Michael Brickman of the Fordham Institute labors mightily to construct a conservative defense of the Common Core.It's a heroic struggle to be sure, as the very first sentence acknowledges, "Conservatives remain deeply skeptical of the Common Core education standards." The Daily Caller's robolinker is not hel

MAR 12

Because It's On the Test
Peter DeWitt wrote a response spun from Marc Tucker's most excellent posting about testing culture and its effects on American education. Tucker's piece scathingly but accurately marks the harmful effects of test-driven education without actually attacking CCSS at all. In his response, DeWitt writes, "It makes me question whether the Common Core is guilty by association, or just plain guilty.

MAR 11

Essay-Grading Software & Peripatetic Penguins
Education Week has just run an article by Caralee J. Adams announcing (again) the rise of essay-grading software. There are so many things wrong with this that I literally do not know where to begin, so I will use the device of subheadings to create the illusion of order and organization even though I promise none. But before I begin, I just want to mention the image of a plethora of peripatetic p
When Is Your Last Teaching Day of School?
Years ago, the Tax Foundation hit upon a great tool for illustrating how large our individual tax load is-- Tax Freedom Day. Starting from January 1, how many days would Americans (or residents of your state, if you break it down that way) have to work just to pay off taxes.In a small piece of PR serendipity, Tax Freedom Day falls in April in most states. By some mid-April day, all Americans have
Bad Threats
It's a lesson from Teacher Basics 101. Don't make a threat if you can't live with the consequences.Do not tell your students that if they don't hand in the homework, you'll fail them for the year. Don't tell your students that everybody runs a four-minute mile or everybody's off the team. And never, ever tell an unruly class that if you hear "one more peep," everybody gets a detention.Th

MAR 10

Reclaiming Public Education 101
Today, I'm opening a branch blog office.I've come to believe there's an unmet need in the edublogoverse (the unmet need is not the one for new made-up words). Most of us who frequent these spots have spent months or years sorting through the giant convoluted multi-threaded novel series that is reformy stuff, and what we write, while perfectly sensible to each other, may leave many other folks scra
Grit-- Not Just For Students!
New leaps forward have been made in grittology, the study of that elusive quality, the lack of which gives reformy leaders cause to castigate schoolchildren across the country.Holly Yettick reports at EdWeek that University of Pennsylvania researchers Claire Robertson-Kraft and Angela Duckworth have published a study of grit as it applies to teachers and the hiring process. The study (the pdf of w

MAR 09

What We Don't Know About Normal
I only just heard about Jon Henreich and his groundbreaking work, but I plan to educate myself further. Henreich's work has implications for anyone who works with human beings and their brains. So, teachers.Let me try to simplify Henreich's work and then I'll try to explain why we should care.Normal Isn't Henreich was doing anthropology grad school field work in Peru in 1995 when he decided to rer

MAR 08

How Did CCSS Happen?
My wife is a smart person, and great and committed teacher. But she rarely reads this blog because mostly she says that it's over her head. She's a reminder to me that for every one of us who have been wading in this stuff for what feels like ages, there are many other concerned professionals who feel like they just walked in on the second season finale of Game of Thrones and aren't sure how to fi
College Loan Sharks
President Obama is stumping for FAFSA again, the ubiquitous all-purpose college loan/family finances proctological exam that is the gateway to college financial aid.In a White House PR piece about the President's visit to Florida on Friday, Obama is quoted being concerned that we still need to get more students in college. “Unfortunately, there are still a lot of young people all across the countr