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Jul 02 2013

Why I am sending my daughter to P.S. 163

Over the past year there have been several articles analyzing which schools people on both side of the ‘reform’ debate send their children to go to school.  For example, Obama’s kids go to Sidwell Friends.  Duncan sent his kids to the progressive Chicago Lab School. This information is interesting since it enables us to get…

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Jun 29 2013

The Unreliable Narrator

An expression that has been popping up in many of the blogs by new TFA corps members is “behavior narration.”  This is, evidently, the big new ‘thing’ that the new TFAers are leaning as a classroom management tool. Back in 1991 when I was a CM, myself, the first edition of the book ‘Assertive Discipline’…

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It has been a while since I’ve done an episode of ‘Talking Ed.’  Last year I did four episodes which, unfortunately, were wiped out when Spreecast’s server crashed.  Now, with the school year almost over, and with TFA inductions and institutes starting to happen, I’ve decided to do another live show tomorrow, June 24th at…

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Jun 22 2013

“those teachers are failures”

It is nearly July which means that it is the time of year, again, where I offer my unsolicited, and generally unwanted, analysis of some of the blog entries by the newest cohort of TFA corps members.  I generally take a lot of criticism for doing this, even from people who regularly read my blog. …

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Throughout my teaching career, one thing has remained constant: what I’m trying to accomplish.  Back in the early 1990s there was no focus on test scores, thankfully.  My goal back then, as it is now, was for my students to like math more when they complete my class than they did when they began the…

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Jun 08 2013

My experience at a #TFAListen event

TFA has two new co-CEO’s, Elisa Villanueva-Beard and Matt Kramer.  Since they have started a few months ago, they have been going on a ‘listening’ tour around the country.  Based on Tweets I had read about the tour and also from a montage video I had seen, the tone of the meetings could best be…

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The state education commissioner of New York, John King, recently imposed a teacher evaluation system on New York City after years of disagreement between the city and the teacher’s union. The evaluation system will consist of three components:  55 points for principal observations, 40 points for test scores, and 5 points for student surveys.  Much…

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May 29 2013

Huffman vs. Straw Man

Kevin Huffman is one of two TFA alumni who is currently a state education commissioner.  I was a 1991 Houston corps member and Kevin was one in 1992 so I have known him, at least informally, for over twenty years.  I interacted with him from time to time when he was a TFA vice president…

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May 24 2013

Good Kopp, Bad Kopp

Two months ago I wrote about Wendy Kopp stepping down and two new co-CEOs of TFA taking her place.  As the weeks have passed, I’ve been able to get more of sense of who these CEOs are and what their views are. Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva-Beard have been carefully chosen to be the faces…

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May 18 2013

StudentsFirst (again) Distorts Numbers

StudentsFirst has raised tens of millions of dollars on the lie that they, alone, care about students who need to be defended from all the teachers who only care about themselves. The biggest distortion of their numbers is their claim that they have 1.3 million members.  Many of these ‘members’ are people who are completely…

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May 14 2013

New TFAers read a Top 10 list on Letterman

On Letterman the other day, the top 10 category was:  Top 10 reasons I’ve decided to become a teacher.  Reading the reasons were ten brand new 2013 corps members. So of course it is pretty ironic that out of all the perspective teachers in the country who could have been chosen from various education programs,…

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May 03 2013

Bizarre Common Core Ad Campaign on NYC Subway

Riding the Subway today I saw this poster about the Common Core tests.  I won’t analyze it at length here.  Just take a look at how far away the basket is from the kid.  If he can’t make that shot, would it mean that his basketball coach is ‘ineffective’?

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Apr 30 2013

The Three Biggest TFA Lies

When I was a kid, around ten years old I guess, my father told me a joke that began with the question “What are the three biggest lies?”  I said I didn’t know and he proceeded to tell me that the first biggest lie is “The check is in the mail,” which as a ten…

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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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Feb 27 2013

A Tale of Two Open Letters

Wendy Kopp announced that she is stepping down as CEO of Teach For America, and around that time on The Huffington Post, a TFA alum named Kate Casas wrote an open letter to Wendy.  This letter was in stark contrast to the one I wrote which I was pretty proud of and which actually got…

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Feb 23 2013

Overheard at KIPP

In November I visited the KIPP high school in New York City and wrote about it.  Trying to be diplomatic and maybe even be invited to come back some time, I left out some things that I wanted to write about.  More recently, I reached out to the two founders of KIPP in one of…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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