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Mar 29 2013

Blackboard Wars episodes 5 and 6

So the first season of Blackboard Wars has ended and, as I expected, it reached the conclusion it was created to.  Yes, ‘reform’ isn’t easy.  The community resists radical change, even when it is what is best for it.  The early ‘success’ of this school and its teachers validates the idea that all you need…

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Mar 20 2013

TFA sponsors reform propaganda videos

I recently learned through one of my Twitter followers about a series of videos from an organization called RESET in Minnesota.  Minnesota is a place that has a large TFA and TFA charter school presence.  Even one of the new co-CEOs has several relatives involved in Minnesota charters.  TFA, as well as several charter organizations,…

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My sister’s friend is a first grade teacher in a ‘challenging’ school in New York.  People who know about education know that poor students often enter kindergarten, already a few years behind their more affluent peers.  Good teachers, when given the freedom to teach their students at an appropriate level for their incoming skills, are…

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Mar 10 2013

Blackboard Wars Episode 4

With two more episodes in this first season of Oprah’s Blackboard wars, they do not have a lot of time left to complete a successful ‘turnaround.’  I can’t say how good this school was before the charter takeover, as I wasn’t there.  I also can’t say how good the school system was in New Orleans…

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I read an article yesterday about a new study which ‘proves’ how effective TFA teachers and TFA alumni teachers are.  The study, which can be accessed here, claimed that middle school math TFA corps members get an extra half year of learning than non-TFA novice teachers, that middle school reading TFA alumni get an extra…

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Mar 05 2013

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss?

A few days ago The Pope of the Catholic church and The Pope of Teach For America, Wendy Kopp, both stepped down. I was not always thrilled with the direction that Wendy Kopp was steering the organization in, and I publicly aired my grievances in my open letter to her.  I was pleased with her…

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Mar 04 2013

Bad O-PR-ah for TFA

Yesterday I watched, for the first time, an episode of Oprah’s new reality show ‘Blackboard Wars.’  The show chronicles a first year ‘turnaround’ high school in New Orleans which has been taken over by a charter company.  New Orleans is ‘ground zero’ for the corporate reform model with a TFAer as state education commissioner and…

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Mar 03 2013

My top 10 most popular posts

I’m going to make a few top 10 lists over the coming weeks since I know from reading other people’s blogs that I don’t often go back and read old posts.  But some of the older posts from me and others are not ‘stale’ in any way.  So in addition to this list, which will…

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Mar 03 2013

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

For the first 19 years of my 21 year struggle to help TFA improve, my issue with them was quality of the training for the new corps members.  It has been frustrating since sending untrained TFAers into the neediest schools is unfair to the kids and also unfair to the corps members.  As the organization…

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Mar 02 2013

Loaded question on a student survey

In New York City schools get an annual ‘progress report’ grade from A to F.  Schools with an F, D, or three consecutive Cs can be slated for closure, and many school have suffered this fate, with about twenty more fighting for their lives this year.  The progress report is based on test scores and,…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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