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Apr 15 2014

Arne Debunkin’

A little over three years ago, I first encountered Arne Duncan when he spoke at the TFA 20 year alumni summit and described the miracle school Urban Prep.  He implied that this school had a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate, which inspired me to investigate this clam leading to my very…

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Mar 16 2014

Keeping Important Pinky Promises?

On the subway yesterday, I saw this advertisement for KIPP: The claim is that “Our K-12 public schools promise to see each child to and through college.” One problem with this claim is that even in the most generous study possible, KIPP’s own, only a third of students who completed KIPPs middle schools eventually graduated…

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TFA has been recently taking a beating in social media.  Whether in response to this, or if it is just something that’s been planned for a while, the two co-CEOs Elisa Villanueva-Beard and Matt Kramer were part of a live webcast tonight called ‘What’s Next at Teach For America?” This was an hour long live…

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Feb 28 2014

TFA answers my FOIA-like request

Though education ‘reformers’ always speak of the need for transparency, Teach For America is one of the least transparent organizations out there.  Though they get a lot of public money, I don’t think that there is a way to FOIA their internal records so we are often left with their interpretations of the data with…

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Recently, several people have contacted me with interesting stories they wanted to share with the people who read this blog.  In the coming weeks there will be more guest posts like this one from Bryn Mawr College senior Emma Gulley. How Interning for Teach For America Convinced me of its Injustice Over the past several…

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In April, 2012, The New NY Education Reform Commission was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo.  The members of the committee are a diverse group ranging from high profile ‘reformers’ like Waiting For Superman hero Geoffrey Canada to low profile ‘reformers’ like Waiting For Superman villian Randi Weingarten.  They released two reports recently, a 92 page…

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A rising superstar in education is Rutgers student Stephanie Rivera, who I first wrote about last year.  Stephanie just published a very compelling blog post called To All The Teachers Telling Us To Not Go Into Teaching, Stop.  In response to the recent flood of videos and blog posts by frustrated teachers, Stephanie suggests that…

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On February 12, 2013, founder and long time CEO of TFA, Wendy Kopp, stepped down.  Two new co-CEOs were appointed, Elisa Villanueva-Beard and Matt Kramer. Elisa was a 1998 corps member and Matt had never taught.  Both were working as very high administrative positions in TFA before this recent promotion. I was pretty surprised by…

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The old math standards, say common core defenders, were “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  I’m inclined to agree with this.  Too many topics and too little time led to teachers having no choice but to teach many topics at a superficial level.  As time in a math class is a somewhat fixed quantity…

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Last month I wrote a post called ‘The Death of math’ which got a lot of attention as I described how I’d improve math teaching in this country by significantly reducing the number of topics taught and by making math optional after 8th grade.  A line that got quoted a lot when people tweeted about…

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I remember when I taught in Houston back in the early 1990s and felt it was a crime that my school did not offer any real computer programming course.  The best they had was something called ‘computer applications’ where students would spend the semester mastering things like Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.  I felt that…

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Dec 09 2013

Please Support Spencer Smith’s Recovery

This past summer I befriended a new TFA corps member named Spencer Smith.  For five months I followed his journey from his teacher training to his experiences in his Detroit classroom.  Sometimes I’d needle him about being in TFA, but he always took it in stride.  The other day I noticed that Spencer had not…

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Dec 02 2013

My first year, re-evaluated

A lot of what has motivated me throughout the past twenty-one years has been the desire to redeem myself for what I considered to be an unacceptable first year of teaching sixth grade math during the 1991-1992 school year at Deady Middle School in Houston. Nowadays, districts pay a $5,000 recruitment fee to TFA for…

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The Common Core has hit home for me, literally.  I received from my daughter’s school a kindergarten common core workbook, and, as you might imagine, I have ‘issues’ with it. My daughter’s school, like most schools, is having a budget crisis.  So when I think that these workbooks each retail for about $30, I question…

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A few times a year I host a live internet ‘talk show’ which is a lot of fun.  Most of the old shows were erased by a server crash, but the two I did over the summer episode 5 and episode 6 are still archived if you want to get a sense of what the…

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Nov 15 2013

My advice to TFA staffers: Quit For America

The organization of TFA is a bit like a pyramid scheme.  There are a bunch of VPs who are making a lot of money for a non-profit, certainly six figures.  Then there are the majority of staffers, people who work in recruitment, teacher ‘effectiveness’, even the alumni team, IT, etc., who make much less.  But…

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Nov 11 2013

My review of ‘Test and Punish’

If ‘Reign of Error’ were to meet ‘The DaVinci Code’ the result would John Kuhn’s ‘Test-and-Punish: How the Texas Education Model Gave America Accountability Without Equity’.   Kuhn is the superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt school district in Texas.  I first learned of him when I marveled at his show-stealing speech at the Save Our Schools rally…

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Nov 08 2013

The lack-of-wit and lack-of-wisdom of Arne Duncan

I became aware of Arne Duncan when I sat and watched his keynote address at the Teach For America 20 year alumni summit on February 13th 2011.  In that speech he made a claim about how he helped turn around a school in Chicago by firing the teachers and turning it into a charter school. …

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Nov 05 2013

Closing (The Achievement Gap) Bad

So if you’re wondering why I’ve slowed down a bit on blogging lately, there are a bunch of reasons.  One is that I’m happy about the amount of coverage phony ed reform is getting by not just other bloggers, but even in the main stream media.  A lot of my blogging stems from the feeling…

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Oct 19 2013

The Death of math

Galileo once wrote “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.”  It is said that over the door of Plato’s Academy were the words “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter.”  Indeed, the word ‘Mathematics’ comes from Ancient Greek meaning ”that which is learnt.” Few people love Mathematics more than I do.  What…

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Oct 10 2013

Common Core vs. Common Sense

Four times a year the American Federation of Teachers publishes a magazine called American Educator.  Though I generally like what they have to say in this publication, I was somewhat disturbed by the cover story of the recent issue.  The article, which you can read online, is called ‘Letting the Tet Take Center Stage.  How…

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Oct 07 2013

Saving Public Ryan

There’s nothing more dangerous than a first year TFAer who is having an easy time.  And don’t tell them that they’re having an easy time or they will protest that it is not easy, but actually the toughest thing they’ve ever done in their lives.  But the fact is that although most new TFAers are…

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Oct 04 2013

The Id, The Ego, and The Super-Rhee-go

Reformers have been obviously working on re-vamping their public images.  People are tiring of their empty promises, their overly simplistic remedies, and their unwillingness to engage in an honest discussion about what is and isn’t working.  So the reformer’s reformer, Michelle A. Rhee, my old acquaintance from when I worked with her at the 1996…

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Sep 26 2013

You always know just what to say

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a change in strategy in the way many ‘reformers’ have been presenting themselves publicly.  It seems that they have begun to realize, especially with the release of the new Ravitch book, that the public is wising up to their antics and starting to get very frustrated by the…

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Sep 17 2013

Let It Reign!

The reformers can wait for Superman all they want.  We’ve got Wonder Woman. ‘Reign Of Error:  the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools,’ released today, is what Arne Duncan would call a ‘game changer.’  This will bring a new and wider audience to Dr. Diane Ravitch’s analysis of the…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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