Aaron Pallas | Ecology of Education
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Why teachers quit—and why we can’t fire our way to excellence

In the past few weeks, two major reports on teacher turnover and retention have been released. One was rolled out with extensive media coverage, and has been the subject of much discussion among policymakers and education commentators. The other was written by me, along with Teachers College doctoral student Clare Buckley. The first report, “The […]

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Duncan vs. Duncan

“Poverty isn’t destiny,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fond of saying. Taken literally, it’s a ridiculous statement. If “destiny” is defined as an inevitable or predetermined end state, it only takes one instance of someone escaping poverty to refute the claim that poverty is destiny. Race isn’t destiny, either; but that’s little consolation […]

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Reading between the lines: What Arne Duncan was (maybe) thinking in his letter to teachers

As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan published an open letter to America’s teachers. Perhaps Secretary Duncan writes his own speeches—but the fact that the U.S. Department of Education lists 124 employees for the Office of Communications and Outreach suggests otherwise. Perhaps the secretary’s mind wanders as he reads the texts prepared for […]

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Sputnik 3.0?

The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data have been released, and the U.S. once again is shown to be lagging behind many other developed countries. Is this, as some have suggested, a Sputnik moment? It’s worth reflecting on the original Sputnik moment. In October 1957, Russia launched a satellite into space, immediately prompting fears that the […]

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An Inconvenient Truthiness

Here’s what you need to know about “Waiting for ‘Superman.” It’s not a film — it’s a propaganda campaign. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The term “propaganda” has gotten a bad rap, ever since its association with 20th-century totalitarian governments promoting troubling political objectives. But there is a long and honorable tradition of propaganda […]

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