Saturday, June 14, 2014

6-14-14 Curmudgucation Week


Curmudgucation Week

How To Get Great Teachers
One of the relentless reformster refrains these days is that we must put a great teacher in front of every student. We must get the best and brightest into our classrooms, and we must keep them. We talk as if there are millions of awesometastic young teachers fighting to get into classrooms (which are currently occupied by hoary old wildebeasts of teaching), when in fact almost fifty percent of ne

Van Roekel Gets Feisty-ish
It has been a noisy week for NEA president Dennis van Roekel. In the face of a great deal of anti-teacher rhetoric (some if it coming from a sitting judge in a major court case), DVR has decided that it's time to finally speak up on behalf of teachers.First, he opened up in HuffPo, declaring that our accountability system is flunking. He wrote, in part:The idea that everything will be better if we


Directory of Anti-Teacher Trolls
It may or may not be a good idea to attempt reading all the pieces responding to the Vergara decision, but it's definitely a mistake to read the comments section for any of them.If there is any group that has been emboldened by the California court's fact-free finding against teacher job protections, it has been the legion of anti-teacher trolls. From mainstreamish media like Slate to the usual bl
Dear Teacher Educators at CUNY: Why You Failed To Convince Me
Dear CUNY Teacher Educators:I just saw your letter in support of edTPA on Diane Ravitch's blog. As will become obvious, I am not an academic. I'm a classroom teacher with thirty-some years of experience; I've also served as co-operating teacher for ten or so student teachers. Let me tell you why your letter did not convince me that edTPA is a great, good, or even okay program.You characterize edTP

JUN 12

Ineffective Forever
This old piece of reformster wisdom has been popping up again in the wake of Vergara.I've explained this before, but let me lay out for you once again how the new interpretation of "ineffective" or "low-performing" guarantees that there will always be an endless supply of ineffective teachers.The new definition of "ineffective teacher" is "teacher whose students
Let's (Not) Pay Teachers More
In education reformster land, words often mean the opposite of what they say. So, for instance, "Let's protect excellent teachers" actually means "Let's fix it so that any teachers can be fired at any time."But a popular new opposites-land reformster refrain is "We need to pay teachers more."It has been featured in a many StudentsFirst campaigns (including a crowdsour
Are Reformsters Under Attack?
I have generally avoided picking on quotes from That Woman that appear in her joint blogventure with Jack Schneider, mostly because I think it's a worthy experiment that deserves some place to breathe. But recently she dropped an extraordinary quote that I can't let pass. It happened in a discussion of unions, specifically discussing the need for bridge-building if any collaboration is going to oc

JUN 11

StudentsFirst Cynicism Truly Boundless
An alert reader shared with me an email she received with the subject line "Demand Better Compensation for Teachers." Turns out, it's just further proof of how cynical the reformsters at StudentsFirst are these days.The email was generated by the site, a website of the kickstarter crowdsourcing variety, aimed specifically at projects for, well, the greater good. Anybody c
The Kindergarten Cell
This little article has stirred up a small tempestita on facebook and the twitter. "Rethinking the Colorful Kindergarten Classroom" by Jan Hoffman, and the argument that has sprung up with it is one more signpost on our road to education hell.Hoffman is simply passing on some research that says all the colors and pictures and decorations etc etc etc are a distraction for tiny minds, and
The Teaching Force Is Largely Newbs
In their article "The Greening of the American Teacher," Mercer Hall and Gina Sipley focus in one finding of a CPRE report on shifts in the American teaching workforce. That report is worth a look all by itself, but we'll save that for another day, because Hall and Sipley have some interesting insights to share.The American teacher is now most probably a newb. There are several possible

JUN 10

Arne Tells Teachers To Go To Hell (Again)
Arne has popped up with a statement in reaction to the Vergara tenure-FILO-smashing verdict. You will be shocked to discover that Arne sides with the billionaire backers of this attack on the teaching profession. Let me break it down and translate for you:For students in California and every other state, equal opportunities for learning must include the equal opportunity to be taught by a great te
Well, Damn
The interwebs are currently blowing up with reaction to the Vergara verdict in California which, and there's no way to soft-pedal this, rips the guts out of tenure and seniority for teachers. If this stands, we will all be at-will employees soon enough.My default setting is to assume that people mean well, or at least mean to do what they believe is right. I find it kind of rage-inducing to encoun
What Do We Do About Bad Teachers?
I believe bad teachers exist. I believe that on any given day, in many schools in this country, there's a person standing in a classroom doing a lousy job. I just spent a chunk of bandwidth explaining that I don't believe Find and Fire is the correct policy response to bad teaching. So what do I propose instead?The Heart of the ProblemI'm going to spend the least amount of time on the hugest part
Firing the Right People
One theory of education that reformsters like to put forward is the idea that if we fire the right people, schools will get better.We hear this refrain every time reformsters go after tenure and FILO (as they are currently doing in Pennsylvania) with the usual anecdotal evidence that [insert school district here] had to lay off [insert number here] fantastic young teachers because of that stupid F

JUN 09

Before We Get Too Excited About Crumbling CCSS
As the Common Core takes hit after hit, it's easy to get excited. We shouldn't. There are dangers to public education waiting in the wings.When the Lion Sleeps, the Jackals FeedAn antelope may fight off a lion, may even convince the lion that it's not worth the trouble. But the fight with the lion may leave the antelope weakened and easy prey for other predators.I've written before about the folks
Never Mind the SAT
Today's Slate includes an intriguing report of the non-traditional application process for Bard College. Rebecca Shuman presents the new elective small-college alternative:Bard College, a highly selective liberal-arts school in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, is about to enter the second year of a revolutionary college-admissions experiment: four wickedly challenging essays, 2,500 words each, revie
Takeaways from Layton's Gates Interview
If you have not yet read Lyndsey Layton's extraordinary piece about How Gates Did It, you must do so. (And when you're done, also take a look at Mercedes Schneider's simple question-- why is the interview being published three months after it actually happened?)The article is a nice piece of work, and I'm not going to rehash it here. But I am going to underline just a few of the pieces that jumped

JUN 08

If Competition Is So Great...
Reformsters love competition. Love it.Our students should be competitive. Our measure of success is how well our students can compete with workers in Shanghai and India and China (we never discuss that a good way to compete would be to learn how to live on ten bucks a week pay, but never mind that-- competition!).Our schools should be competitive. We should let everybody who wants to open up a sch
CCSS: Schooling for Wretched People in a Miserable World
The Council of the Great City Schools (yet another group apparently set up to make money by shilling for the Core) has created a marvelous promotional video for the Core. Done in the style of those high-speed marker-drawing videos that the interwebs love, and narrated by a possible-non-caucasian lady narrator, it does a fabulous job of distilling the world view embedded in the Common Core complex.

JUN 07

PA Newest State To Assault Teaching Profession
This week the PA House Education Committee pushed forward the latest assault on the teaching profession in Pennsylvania.Following the template pushed by StudentsFirst (a piece of naming genius right up there with "Peacekeeper Missile" and "jumbo Shrimp"), the bill proposes stripping teachers of most meaningful job protections and seeks to line PA up with North Carolina on the l