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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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About a year and a half ago, The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) contacted me to ask if I’d write something for the new teacher edition of the magazine Educational Leadership.  So I wrote something called ‘The Don’ts And Don’ts Of Teaching’ about the sorts of mistakes that new teachers are prone to,…

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I’m doing another Spreecast show this Wednesday and I’m excited to announce a very special guest, Dr. Camika Royal.  She is awesome and definitely one of the wisest voices in the education discussion today.  She is often on Huffington Post Live, and always steals the show.  It should be great. If you have a web-cam,…

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Aug 09 2013

My New eBook Available On Amazon

But it’s not the book you book think. People who like this blog would probably like to see a book about my ed reform tales and research, and I have actually started that book a few times.  I even have a working title, something like, “The Attempted Hijacking of American Education:  How I helped a…

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Aug 01 2013

Villanueva-Beard Strikes Back

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called ‘TFA co-CEOs vs. The Boogeyman’ in which I challenged Elisa Villanueva-Beard’s frequent use of the term ‘status quo’ to define people who are opposed to unproven theories of the corporate reformers, many of them TFA alumni.  I wrote that this was an unfair, and untrue, phrase…

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Jul 19 2013

TFA co-CEO’s vs. The Boogeyman

So here I am trying to mind my own business when I see this tweet on my feed: This is by one of the co-CEOs of TFA, Matt Kramer, quoting something that the other CEO Elisa Villanueva-Beard said in a speech at an alumni award event in Detroit.  This line surely got Villanueva-Beard a large…

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Jul 17 2013

My Viral Video Message to the 2013 TFA CMs

Recently there has been a lot of good discussion about the pros and cons of TFA.  It started this summer with Katie Osgood’s An Open Letter to New Teach for America Recruits which has gone ‘viral’ and already has 500 comments.  Alex Morgan, A blogger here at wrote a competent, but generally weak, rebuttal…

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Jul 16 2013

Preventing a disaster

It’s not easy being me. How would you feel if you had the power to foresee a tragedy in the near future, know that you have the power to help prevent it, yet also know that the beneficiary of your help does not want your help, does not believe she needs your help, and pretty…

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Jul 12 2013

Hanging Chad

I know that people always get upset, no matter how many times I issue this disclaimer, when I use a blog post or tweet from a new corps member to illustrate some of the problems with the TFA ‘mindset’ training.  These are never intended to be personal attacks.  I just like to do them as…

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So this is pretty hypothetical, as you can glean from the title. I took my five year old daughter to see Monsters University the other day.  This is a prequel to Pixar’s Monsters Inc., one of the best movies ever made, animated or not.  I’m generally a sucker for anything Pixar, with the exception of…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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