Saturday, May 17, 2014

5-17-13 Curmudgucation Week


PA Charters Don't Want To Die By Sword
In Philadelphia, Irony has collided with Karma, casing an explosion of hilariously tragic tears.First, some history. Philadelphia schools have suffered from financial and political issues (PA's school funding system is messed up, but we'll save that for another day), as well as questions about how well it was actually teaching children. In the late 1990s this resulted in some lawsuits against the


Computer Shmomputer
You do know, don't you, that today' students have been around computers their lives, right? So why do some folks still think that a boring worksheet will suddenly be cool if it's on a computer? Or that a lecture from a teacher who can't be questioned is more interesting if it's on a computer?I tell you what. For every fifteen year old you find me who says, "Wow! This instruction is on a compu
Jack Schneider & That Woman
Jack Schneider is my hero.Over at EdWeek, he has spent the last month co-authoring, "Beyond the Rhetoric." The other co-author of the blog is She Who Will Not Be Named. In the opening piece, Schneider talks about the considerable tension created by the forces surrounding the fight for public education:Sometimes this tension has been fruitful—leading to the adoption of policies for which

MAY 15

What is "Failing"?
(This started out as part of this previous column, but it got away from me) We've been hearing a ton of verbage spewed out over the past umpteen years about failing schools. We need Common Core because our schools are failing. We can't go back to the failing schools of yesteryear. Failing failing failing. Well, the next time somebody tells you that schools are failing, please ask them this for me-
What Is "Working"?
At first this post started with a long embedded twitter conversation between @TeacherSabrina and @MichaelPetrilli, spinning off from a discussion of how charters and closings lead to re-segregation, but I've narrowed it down to a most revealing exchange:@TeacherSabrina "Who should get to decide what works and what doesn't?"@Michael Petrilli "What works and what doesn't work is a mat
US DOE Ambassadors!
US Department of Edumacation press releaseThere has been much discussion lately of our Principal Ambassador program, a program in which US DOE-indoctrinated principals are inserted into school settings where they can sort of work for the school district while spreading the good word of Common Core Etc. This was spun off of our successful Teacher Ambassador program which replaced classroom teachers

MAY 14

Jennifer Rubin Strikes Out
Over at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin took her turn at propping up the ever-besieged conservative defense of Common Core. She did not succeed.Strike OneRubin starts out with the old standard "We were getting totes whupped on the PISA by all the other kids on the playground, which was completely a crisis because we're worse than Korea and the Netherlands." She crunches some of the s
Where Are the Teacher Leaders?
Over at EdWeek, Nancy Flanagan is asking "Is genuine teacher leadership dead in the water?" It's one more way of asking the time-honored question, where the heck are all the teacher leaders?Flanagan has paid her dues on this subject. A Michigan teacher of the year, National Board certified, member of the Teacher Leaders Network and an organizer for the Institute for Democratic Education
Brookings Whips Up Some Teacher Eval Research
The Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings has released a new report, "Evaluating Teachers with Classroom Observations,"  a study intended to Tell Us Some Things about teacher evaluation and how to do it best. Is this going to be a trip to the unicorn farm? The very first sentences tell us where this report's heart is:The evidence is clear: better teachers improve student outcomes
Why Isn't the 21st Century Here Yet?
Technology is awesome and transformative, and will completely change the way we do business in schools and in the classroom. So why hasn't that really happened yet? Why aren't we all working in high-tech, super-duper computer driven schools yet? I think I know, and it has nothing to do with philosophies of education or resistance to change.I'm starting this piece on my laptop. I'm doing that becau

MAY 13

PSEA Has Lost The Election Already
It's only May, and the Pennsylvania State Education Association is already in the weeds for this year's gubernatorial election.Democrats in Pennsylvania have been pretty excited about the chance to run a candidate against Tom "Most Beatable Republican in the Country" Corbett. Several started throwing hats at the ring a while ago, and for reasons that are not entirely clear out here in th
Better Teacher Training
The US DOE recently revived an initiative for improving teacher training in this country. It's a dumb initiative. Pearson offers edTPA, basically a new gateway into the profession, to insure that only the qualified enter the profession. edTPA is a dumb program. TFA is only the most prominent of the many "alternative paths" into teaching. As a means of creating great teaching professional

MAY 12

Edutopia Serves Up Grits (With Maple Syrup)
If you have been looking for ways to grittify your classroom, edutopia has you covered with a new addition to its "Research Made Relevant" series (and while I guess I understand what their point is, but I have mixed feelings because nobody is out there explaining how to make water wet-- if the research is relevant, why would we have to "make" it anything. So maybe what they mea

MAY 11

Smart People Problems
"He doesn't understand how anyone can not understand."My daughter and I were discussing why somebody would make a lousy teacher, and this was her observation. I realized that I have seen student teachers with this problem-- they do not understand how anybody can NOT understand the concept at hand, and so they have no idea how to teach it.This is a smart person's problem. Some smart peopl
Mixing With Politics
There's a great line, usually attributed to Rev Gene Carlson of Wichita, about religious getting involved in politics:When you mix religion and politics, you get politics.His point was that while you may think that political power gives you leverage you need to engineer the social changes you want (in Carlson's case, conservative Christian changes), politics always ends up in the driver's seat.The

MAY 10

Common Core Leads To Use of Food and Air
Okay, that headline may be a slight overstatement, but it was my first response when I stumbled upon this item on the engageNY blog.In "Connecting Parents to the Classroom," we meet Michelle Labuski, a twenty-year teaching veteran currently teaching sixth grade in Smithtown. Apparently for all of those twenty years, Labuski has been wondering how to communicate with parents about what is
Computerized Grit & Snake Oil
At last! Students can learn grit on their computers!!EduGuide (Motto: One more company that figured out how to work "edu" into its name!) is proud to announce "The nonprofit, evidence-based online training program that strengthens core learning skills." So, with trembling, excited fingers, I am going to scroll down this very long page and see what the secret of teaching grit wi