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Jul 13 2012

Her Royal Majesty

There was an amazing development yesterday in the continuing saga of the incredible, and incredibly surprising, speech Dr. Camika Royal delivered to incoming 2012 corps members at the Philadelphia institute. For those who have not been following this, I discovered the video on YouTube, blogged about how I agreed with the message, then the video…

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Jul 08 2012

The man who saved TFA

One day, that is what I’ll be known as because of this post. But, you’re thinking, aren’t you the guy whose life purpose is to destroy TFA?  Are you not The Joker to their Batman?  No, my purpose is to fix, not to destroy TFA.  My concern is that the way things are going TFA…

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[Updated] I have spent a lot of time, over the past year, criticizing TFA alums who have gone on to become education ‘reformers.’  These are the people who after two or three years of teaching have entered the leadership pipeline and have now become heads of districts, states, or started their own ‘advocacy’ organizations. TFA…

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Jun 22 2012

TFA: The paradox of ed reform

When you hear proponents of the current style of ed ‘reform’ speak about their mission, it is all about getting ‘great teachers.’  LIFO causes us to fire great teachers.  Three great teachers in a row can close the achievement gap.  Effective teachers teach three times as much as ineffective teachers.  Despite all the research that…

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Jun 09 2012

Confessions of a recovering value-adder

In general, the ‘better’ I teach, the better my students do on my bi-weekly exams.  A big part of teaching is trying to accurately monitor assessment during the lessons and trying to ensure that by the time that the teacher-made test is administered, the students will do well.  There are exceptions.  I’ve taught units with…

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May 01 2012

Examining NYC DOE’s Only Egg Basket

When the leaders of the largest school district in the country decide to put all of their proverbial eggs in one basket, that basket had better be strong.  In the case of New York City, this basket is the June 2010 ‘research’ report by MDRC entitled ‘Transforming the High School Experience:  How New York City’s…

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This is a preprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in the Journal of School Choice © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC; the Journal of School Choice is available online at: Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools, by Steven Brill. (Simon and Schuster, 2011; 496…

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A recent post by one of the most thoughtful TFA bloggers on this site was called ‘Don’t Hate Me Because I’m TFA.’  In it, Tony B responds to another blogger that I think is great, Katie Osgood, from Chicago.  What people who have just begun following the education debate in this country might be surprised…

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In today’s New York Times there was a story about a research study which supposedly proved that students who had teachers with good value-added scores were more successful in life. This inspired me to complete something I have been working on for several months, off-and-on, a detailed analysis of the raw data supplied in the…

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Oct 31 2011

Why I did TFA, and why you shouldn’t

There was a time, not very long ago, when I was an active volunteer alumni recruiter for TFA. And, as you might expect, I was great at it. One year, I think it was 1998, I did a recruitment session at Colorado College, a very small school, which brought the house down. A year later…

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Oct 19 2011

Readin’ > ‘Rithmetic

Something that nearly every adult has wondered about, but is scared to say it out loud is “Is knowing math really that important?” They don’t say it out loud because they fear that someone, possibly a math teacher like me, or someone else who knows better, will put them in their place with a long…

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Oct 12 2011

New Orleans RSD — the ‘miracle’ district

The Louisiana Department Of Education just released the 2011 School Performance Data. As New Orleans has been hailed as a ‘miracle’ district, I was eager to see the results. As you might know, after Katrina the lowest performing schools were assembled into a district known as ‘The Recovery District’ (RSD) which has become a grand…

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Aug 03 2011

Tilson vs. Rubinstein Round II

Whitney Tilson and I are engaged in a pretty fierce debate about the key issues in education reform. As he is the only corporate reformer who is willing to engage in a debate, I’m impressed he’s been willing to do this in a public way. Most of them clam up as soon as evidence is…

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Aug 02 2011

Tilson vs. Rubinstein Round I

One problem in the current ed reform debate is that there is not enough genuine debating.  Really, there’s no communication at all between the two sides who I see as the ‘corporate reformers’ (Duncan, Klein, Rhee, and even Kopp) and the ‘realistic reformers’ (Ravitch, Cody, Valerie Strauss, and others including me).  Without direct communication all…

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May 21 2011

What happened to my TFA?

Some readers of my blog, particularly the TFAers who  are about to begin their training, are probably a bit confused about who I am and why I’m so cranky. Originally, I was just a guy who had a very tough first year of teaching followed by three very good years in Houston.  I wrote a…

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Apr 28 2011

Is Poverty Destiny?

Which of the following two statements would get a standing ovation at a TFA event? 1.  “Poverty is not destiny. Social challenges in the community are not destiny. We can take you to school after school in some of the toughest neighborhoods in urban areas around the country where, again, every single student is graduating…

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Mar 06 2011

Same Kids, Same Building, Same Lies

One of the highlights of the TFA 20th anniversary summit was certainly when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a rousing speech at the closing ceremony. The most impressive part of his speech was when he described the transformation of Englewood High School in Chicago while he was heading that school district. He said that…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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