A little over a year ago, I wrote a series of open letters to ‘reformers’ I’ve known throughout the years.  I was not surprised that the majority of them did not respond.  On average, they each are making over $350K a year in the ed ‘reform’ game, and I would expect that it would be…

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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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Feb 13 2014

Kane Unable

Harvard professor Thomas Kane recently testified on behalf of the ‘families’ in the Vergera vs. California case.  The plaintiffs in this case seek for the teacher tenure process and the LIFO layoff priorities to be changed in order to ensure that students in California have more of a chance to be taught by an ‘effective’…

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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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So far I’ve written about two topics I feel contribute little to math education.  They don’t inspire students to want to learn more about math.  They are not topics that are ‘useful’ in real life or as a prerequisite to other ‘useful’ math.  Though I plan to do about ten parts to this series, you…

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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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After two days of pursuit, I finally found him.  I had never visited anyone in jail before – had never known anyone in jail before.  Most of the people that waited on the visitor’s line with me appeared to be family.  Many were children.  The children didn’t seem to grasp where they were.  Maybe they…

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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 08 2013

Will TNTP demand accountability from itself?

The New Teacher Project (TNTP) was a spin-off of TFA and originally led by Michelle Rhee.  Having worked as a trainer for both organizations, I generally liked working for TNTP more than TFA.  I found the TNTP trainees to be more mature and more committed to education as many of them were ‘career changers’ and…

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Nov 07 2013

On the latest D.C. NAEP Miracle

Today the results from the 2013 NAEP came out, and ‘reformers’ everywhere are celebrating the amazing gains by states with an aggressive reform agenda.  In 2011, the average national score for the four main NAEP tests (4th grade reading, 4th grade math, 8th grade reading, and 8th grade math) was about a 250, with the…

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About this Blog

By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

Region
Houston
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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