Archives › 2012 › August

Aug 26 2012

Out of the mouths of babes

In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a rise in the ‘student voice’ around education and ed reform.  First I had read about StudentsFirst and a student chapter at Cornell, the alma mater of both Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten.  Then I heard about SFER, Students For Education Reform, which intentionally sounds a lot like…

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Answer:  They have all been recently caught in huge lies. Last week I wrote a blog post about a Reuters article in which a high level TFA staffer admitted that one of their statistics about the effectiveness of the first year corps members (that 41% of first years get 1.5 or more years of ‘gains’)…

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Aug 17 2012

Is TFA a waste of money?

Yesterday a very significant article was published by Reuters and syndicated nationally called ‘Has Teach For America Betrayed Its Mission?’  For ‘anti-reformers’, like me (note I’m anti ‘reform’, not necessarily TFA.  If they would just sever their connection with the reformers, I would back off), this is a major story.  I think that this syndicated…

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Aug 15 2012

Pass The Chalk Roundup #2

Since the last roundup, I’m happy to report that there is ‘a little’ more balance recently.  Not a lot.  Definitely not enough, but I will point out some things that I approve of in addition to some more criticism, of course. I want to give a ‘shout out’ to the poor TFA staff member who…

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There’s a movie coming out this fall called ‘Won’t Back Down’ which the commercial says is “inspired by true events.”  The movie is about a parent who is unhappy with her child’s school and rallies the other parents plus half the staff to enact what is called the ‘parent trigger,’ shooting the school at point…

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Aug 13 2012

Are you a timpanist or a violinist?

A full orchestra has over 100 musicians, each playing their parts to make their music. Some players, by virtue of their instrument, ‘stand out’ more than others.  An example would be the timpanist.  If the timpanist was missing, the piece would sound noticeably different compared to if one of the twenty violinists were missing. Perhaps…

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Aug 12 2012

That’ll Learn ‘em

There are certain pairs of verbs in the English language that by definition imply one another.  One example is ‘sell’ and ‘buy.’  If you sell something, someone else must be buying.  It would make no sense to say “I’m selling a lot, but nobody is buying.”  If nobody is buying, you might be ‘trying’ to…

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Aug 10 2012

How many things wrong with this first day?

Today I noticed this tweet from TFA: This struck me, instantly, as a very unwise thing to say in a first day of school pep talk.  The link took me to this post by a very good new blogger. Since this was seen as worthy of tweeting to TFA’s 70,000 followers, many of which are…

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Aug 08 2012

The Danger Of Denying The Coleman Report

After 20 years in schools, it is completely obvious to me that schools are limited in their abilities to overcome every challenge that every child faces. Even in affluent schools, children are plagued by all kinds of out-of-school factors including mental illness of various levels resulting in depression and drug addiction.  On an extreme level,…

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Aug 07 2012

Pass The Chalk Roundup #1

A few weeks ago, TFA launched their own blog site called ‘pass the chalk.’  It was described as a way for the TFA community to express our diverse opinions on thought provoking topics. I wrote that I was skeptical that this would happen, and the first few posts were an early confirmation of my suspicion.…

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Aug 02 2012

Movie teaching vs. real teaching

When new teachers envision what they want to be like in front of their classes, they search their memory banks for what they remember their best teachers being like.  Mixed in with the memory of that teachers are the portrayals of heroic teachers on the silver screen. About ten years ago I had an idea…

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Aug 01 2012

How to evaluate teachers

Note:  A publisher has expressed interest in having me do a book about my finding on the ed reform movement, including what I think productive reform would look like.  I’m going to write some stream-of-consciousness drafts and publish them here on the blog, since it motivates me to write when I know it will get…

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Aug 01 2012

Med Reform

Imagine a day when a group of politicians and philanthropists read in the newspaper that the United States does not have the highest life expectancy in the world.  Not only that, we are actually ranked 38th in the world at 78.2, a full four and a half years below the number one country Japan.  Outraged,…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum


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