The class, and the Kyrene School Districtas a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million in such technologies.
The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices.
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Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores.
Since 2005, scores in readingand math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.
To be sure, test scores can go up or down for many reasons. But to many education experts, something is not adding up — here and across the country. In a nutshell: schools are spending billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.
Search Results for ""War on Teachers""
Today’s post is a roundup of sorts–be sure to click to read a follow-up question from yesterday’s War on Teachers post, and also to see more linky goodness below.
But, to the matter at hand: I just couldn’t resist this. According to the Boston Globe’s Joan Venocchi, organized labor’s big problem is that they desperately need makeovers:
All the classic accessories were on display at last week’s union rally in downtown Boston: Burly guys in sweatshirts hoisted “Solidarity’’ signs. The song “We’re Not Gonna Take It’’ thumped in the background. Cigarette smoke and angry rhetoric filled the air.
“We’re going to hold those sons of bitches accountable,’’ bellowed Rich Rogers, executive secretary of the Greater Boston Labor Council. This time, labor’s ire was directed at State Street Corp., which confirmed that it expects to receive a federal tax refund of $855 million for 2010 — even though this Boston-based recipient of a $2 billion taxpayer bailout reported a $1.6 billion profit last year.
That really is outrageous. But watching the usual suspects take on the injustice of it all in their usual fashion felt a lot like watching Snooki in “Jersey Shore.’’ Stereotypes make entertaining TV, but they don’t always get action or respect.
This is pretty funny coming from someone working in a dying industry. Here in Colorado, the flagship university has shuttered its School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and I can’t count the numbers of students I have who either started as journalism majors or who completed their degrees and are seeking a second B.A. in History–History–because it seems like a more practical choice! I suppose it is more practical if only because however beleagured History departments are, we’re likely to stick around because we’ve been a part of the curricula for several hundred years now.
How can it be that white collar, college-educated “information workers” like newspaper reporters and columnists are all scrambling for work, when they all shop (or aspire to shop) at Whole Foods and use “summer” as a verb? Continue Reading »
As we suspected, the Thomas Gradgrinds of the world are busy proliferating in school administrations across the nation because of school “Rhee-form” measures that push teachers to focus on facts only, and only those facts immediately relevant to the subject matter they’re teaching. A friend of a friend who teaches High School American and World History in a wealthy school district writes about a recent evaluation by her principal:
“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” This quote was put on my white board for the daily “Do Now” which is a warm up activity for students while I take roll. I read it to the kids and provide a bit of background for context. Besides quotes, I sometimes put up SAT vocab words.
We have a new principal who came in for an informal eval the day I had this quote on the board. When we met to discuss my eval, he told me it was inappropriate as I am not teaching philosophy….”everything I do in class must be connected to the US History content standards for testing purposes.” When I, rather perplexed, explained that I use quotes to inspire my students–from philosophers, world leaders, authors, scientists, proverbs–and that for example, when we our studying WWII, Churchill–that historical actors provide us with a wealth of wisdom which is one of the benefits of knowing history–he told me that I am not teaching philosophy, and that “good teachers” find a way to inspire while teaching their subject content. Continue Reading »
Associate Professor Angela writes:
Do you ever wake up in the morning 100% ready to quit your job? Not to look for another job, but just to walk the hell away?
That was me, at 7 a.m. today. Do you have any advice on navigating mid-career?
If you post this on your blog, I’m quite sure that some responses will be along the lines of “Hey, I’m a grad student/adjunct/non-academic, and I’d be *happy* to have your problems. Boo-f^(king-hoo.” There’s some justification there, to be sure. But, as I said to recently to a former mentor, I try to be grateful that I have a job. I’d hate to be on the market in these times. But “I’m not unemployed” seems like I’m setting the bar too low. It’s like evaluating someone you’re dating by saying “Well, he’s never been in prison.”
Heh. I’ve never felt like resigning, but I can relate, Angela. I was close to where this correspondent is about a year ago, but the advice I got from you readers was really helpful. In short, in the comments on my post about my mid-career slump, many of you told me to Continue Reading »
Yes, it’s that time of the season, friends: the first day of winter, and the day my grades are due! I’m feeling particularly pleased and generous today, in spite of this ridiculous story that holds up one abusive cokehead teacher as emblematic of all public school teachers in New Jersey (h/t RealClearPolitics yesterday.) You think I’m kidding? Take a good, long, trainwrecky look at it. The author, the newspaper, and the entire state of New Jersey should be ashamed of it. (Why do we never read stories like this in the newspaper about abusive, drug-addled investment bankers and how difficult it is to fire them in spite of their graft, corruption, psychopathy, and danger to the global economy? Why are stories about professional male athletes like this actively suppressed, and their victims trashed whenever stories about them leak into the media? Gee–I wonder!)
Can we teachers, professors, and other educators let this go unanswered? I don’t think so. So that’s why I’ve named this observance of the Winter Solstice the Thank a Non-Cokehead, Non-Abusive Teacher Day! The warriors against America’s teachers have loads of worst-case-scenarios like the teacher in this story, but we never hear from all of the people who are happy with teachers. We never hear about the teachers who stoop down to help tug off boots or tie shoes, even if they’re not your teacher (or your kid’s teacher). We rarely hear about the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are spending their own money to keep their students in crayons, glue, and pencils. We almost never hear about the days and evenings teachers spend after school tutoring their students, addressing parents’ concerns, and/or working with social services to ensure their students are living in safe, clean, and supportive environments. You know, the kind of things teachers do that they consider part of their jobs, for which they’re never given any credit (or even any respect these days.) Continue Reading »
How to cash in on her educrat celebrity! From a lengthy, self-serving analysis of her time as Washington, D.C. school chancellor:
There are enough people out there who understand and believe that kids deserve better, but until now, there has been no organization for them. We’ll ask people across the country to join StudentsFirst—we’re hoping to sign up 1 million members and raise $1 billion in our first year.
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Though we’ll be nonpartisan, we can’t pretend that education reform isn’t political. So we’ll put pressure on elected officials and press for changes in legislation to make things better for kids. And we’ll support and endorse school-board candidates and politicians—in city halls, statehouses, and the U.S. Congress—who want to enact policies around our legislative agenda. We’ll support any candidate who’s reform-minded, regardless of political party, so reform won’t just be a few courageous politicians experimenting in isolated locations; it’ll be a powerful, nationwide movement.
Great! Just what Washington needs: another billion-dollar “nonprofit” lobbying firm! Yeah, I bet that will change everything–for the children, of course. (It will change everything for Michelle Rhee, anyway–I’m sure she’s looking at a major salary bump!)
Rhee can cry publicly about those meanie teachers in Washington, but she should be sending them a big thank-you note. In defeating Mayor Adrian Fenty’s bid for re-election and ousting Rhee, the biggest winner in all of this is Rhee herself. See, the number one lesson of being an educrat is that you never stay in one job long enough for the conclusive test results to come in assessing your tenure. It’s much better to be driven out after just a few years and complain that you didn’t have time to implement your brilliant ideas. That way, there’s never accountability for educrats, who can continue to claim to be working on behalf of the children, but who are never asked to show any proof that what they’ve done is working. Certainly they’d never subject themselves to the same pay-for-performance that they claim is the only way to go with teachers earning $40,000 a year! After three or four years, they’re off to superintend or chancellorize yet another big city school system, or (better yet!) to enter the super-lucrative revolving door of lobbying and “public service” in the nation’s capital. Continue Reading »
Yesterday, the Denver Post ran a story that dared to suggest that someone other than teachers are responsible for students’ educations. Apparently, one Denver high school is doing the obvious–engaging parents in their childrens’ educations. (Good for them!) But how did this Thought Crime get into a major media outlet, especially one that has so vigorously promoted school “reform” schemes premised on the precarization of teachers’ professional lives?
Much of the talk around educational reform has focused on the role teachers play in students lives, all but ignoring another big player: parents.
One Denver high school is changing that narrative, creating a multi-school system that empowers parents with the goal of getting more students into college.
Antonio Esquibel, principal of Abraham Lincoln High School, is using money from a three-year federal school-improvement grant to build a collaboration with its feeder schools — CMS Community School, Godsman Elementary and Kepner Middle School.
How does this amazing new theory of education work? Continue Reading »
Diane Ravitch tells it like it is about current “educational reform” ideas. She nails the key issue I have with all of the educrats who are waging war on America’s teachers, this time around with the fetish of the standardized test:
Tests that assess what students have learned are not intended to be, nor are they, measures of teacher quality. It is easier for teachers to get higher test scores if they teach advantaged students. If they teach children who are poor or children who are English language learners, or homeless children, or children with disabilities, they will not get big score gains. So, the result of this approach—judging teachers by the score gains of their students—will incentivize teachers to avoid students with the greatest needs. This is just plain stupid as a matter of policy.
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Making war on teachers and principals is ridiculous, outrageous. None of the people at the foundations or in the policymaking circles work as hard as the average teacher, face as many challenges every day, for as little pay. None of the pundits who blithely denounce teachers would work 20 years with the hope of getting a salary (today) of $52,000.
Yeah: the problem with education is the people who actually give enough of a $hit about education to go to college for four years, and frequently earn Master’s Degrees and even Ph.D.s so that they can become teachers. Continue Reading »