Latest News and Comment from Education

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Reclaiming the Field | The Merrow Report

Reclaiming the Field | The Merrow Report
Reclaiming the Field

I know that I interviewed hundreds of future Trump supporters during my 41 years of reporting on public education for PBS and NPR. I’m also pretty sure that I taught some of them in high school 55 years ago.  Joey L. is a case in point.  Joey was a junior back in 1966 when he was in my English class, so he would be about 70 years old today.  Back then most public schools (including his, Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, NY) tracked students into groups.  Joey had been placed in the third level in its 1-5 system of tracking, and Level 3 was certainly not a winner’s track.

I was a rookie teacher, assigned to teach only 3’s and 4’s, and Joey was in my class. I knew nothing about tracking–and therefore nothing about how the Administration viewed my students. I didn’t see them as ‘losers’ or even as ‘others.’ They were my students, and I wanted and expected them to work hard, think, and write and rewrite.

“MacBeth” was part of the curriculum, and because I suspected that Shakespeare might be tough sledding, I got the Caedmon recording of the tragedy and played it in class. My students (including Joey) understood it and began arguing in class about MacBeth’s and Lady MacBeth’s guilt. Out of that came the notion of putting the two of them on trial for first degree murder.

Which we did.

Some students were lawyers, others were the defendants or witnesses for the defense and prosecution. In order to testify, they had to know the play backwards CONTINUE READING: Reclaiming the Field | The Merrow Report

CATCH UP WITH CURMUDGUCATION + ICYMI: Long Weekend Edition (11/29)

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Long Weekend Edition (11/29)

Long Weekend Edition (11/29)

Thanksgiving was not so bad at our house; the board of directors had a lovely time and I was able to talk to both grown children. So we'll call it a win. In the meantime, people keep writing stuff and I have some of it here for you to read.

How a Bad Bill Becomes a Bad Law   

Sharon Murchie is an English teacher in Michigan, and she decided to go find out how, exactly, the sausage that is one of Michigan's cyber school laws was made. Her patience and thoroughness are inspirational; how the sausage was actually made is not. 

Ten Things I Used To Think   

Nancy Flanagan looks at some things that, after the past few years, well, not so much. A thought-provoking list.

Bad Education  

The indispensable Mercedes Schneider wrote a review of Doug Harris's New Orleans reform book for Commonweal Magazine, and here it is. Smart and on point and informed by actual first-hand knowledge of NOLA as well as her expertise as a data-cruncher. 

How Venture Capitalists Are Deforming Capitalism   

A New Yorker piece that wouldn't have anything to do with education if it weren't for all the venture capitalists who are mucking about in the ed biz. Here's why those folks should be sent packing.

The Biden Cabinet

Grumpy Old Teacher blogs about the job requirements for a new secretary of education. Also, balm in Gilead.

Selling Ed Tech as Philanthropy

Thomas Ultican peels back some layers of this philanthro-marketing onion

Minnesota school custodian gets gift of from a teacher

A legitimately heart-warming story about a third-grade teacher's sacrifice for one of her co-workers.

US public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists

Axios with some news (cribbed from the New York Times and others) that will surprise absolutely nobody.

CURMUDGUCATION: ICYMI: Long Weekend Edition (11/29)


Is Public Education Part Of The Foundation Of Democracy? A New Book By Legal Scholar Derek Black Says Yes. - by @palan57 on @forbes

Four Questions Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Never Answered - by @palan57 on @forbes

No, There Really Doesn't Need To Be A Big Spring Test In 2021
Many folks fear that schools will not trot out the Big Standardized Tests this spring, that neither the pony nor the dog will be called on to perform. Among those people, you can count Chester E. Finn, Jr., Big Boss Emeritus of the Fordham Institution and former player in the U.S. ed department; nowadays he serves the Hoover Institution ( ever a source of reliable and not-at-all misleading info )
School Marketing Is A Thing-- But Not A Good One
When school choice advocates tout their vision for the future, it has tended to be a picture of parents soberly examining hard data about possible schools in order to select the "best" or "most fitting." But if folks are going to great education like a commodity, then it's going to be sold like toasters or breakfast cereal or panty hose. And that means-- Marketing! There is no sector of the free
FL: Big Brother Is Watching Your Child
Eyebrows shot up around the country this week a s the Tampa Bay Times reported on how the Pasco County Sheriff's Office keeps a secret list of "at-risk" kids who could “fall into a life of crime." Creating the list involves the office collecting and factoring a whole bunch of different you-probably-thought-they-were-confidential records, including records from the school district and from the sta
Donors Choose Belated Monday: Orff and Robots
Okay, so I got caught up in the business of holiday stuff and pandemic surge, and I forgot to post Monday. But I am continuing with making a modest weekly contribution to some classroom somewhere in this country. As I've said before, Donors Chose shouldn't be a thing because schools should be fully funded, but in the meantime, individual teachers in individual classrooms can use a hand. This is d
Internet Data Caps Are Coming
If you are a Comcast customer in the Northeast US, changes are coming. 2021 will bring caps for home internet customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, and DC, as well as selected slices of North Carolina and Ohio. There are reasons not to freak out. First, the cap is at 1.2 TB, which is
The False God Data Fails Again
The dream of the Cult of Data is that for any issue, we simply design an instrument for collecting the data, analyze the Data, and select a solution suggested by the Data. Phrases like "data driven" or "data informed" are used to express the assumption that decisions backed by Data are inherently smarter, better, stronger, and wiser than Those Other Kinds of decisions. But what if they aren't? Wh
What Is The Actual Purpose of Social and Emotional Learning
I'm increasingly convinced that one of the reasons social and emotional learning (SEL) is such a matter of contention in education (and it has been, every time it has been it has been brought up under one guise or another) is that it requires us to look at the places where education bumps up against the really big questions-- what is the purpose of education? why are we here? what is our purpose?
ICYMI: Here Comes Thanksgiving Edition
Well, the holiday certainly feels heavily weighted this year, doesn't it. Will people get together? Will people die because they couldn't bear not to see Grampa cut the turkey? And how hard will it be for some folks to think of something to be thankful for? Yes, this is going to be a fun week. In the meantime, here are some things to read. Public Schools. Public . Nancy Flanagan makes a great ple
Another Rich Guy Wants To Fix Education
Joel Greenblatt is a hedge fund guy from NYC who, like many hedge fund guys, has it All Figured Out and occasionally writes books to share his insights with rest of us. Of course, that includes education. It was Greenblatt and fellow Rich Guy John Petry who recruited Eva Moskowitz to take their little charter school, Harlem Success Academy, and turn it into the Success Academy juggernaut. They ev
Teaching Bad Test Prep Writing For Fun And Profit
This is the sort of thing that the Big Standardized Test has brought us-- Top Score Writing . TSW is the brain child and property of Lisa Collum , who bills herself as mompreneur. Collum graduated from Florida Atlantic University about 16 years ago and went to work in 2004 as a writing teacher in a Pal