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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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Education’s Davids and Goliaths

Fairtest, Parents Across America, Save Our Schools, United Opt-Out National, and regional groups such as Fund Education Now, are fighting to stop the corporate takeover of public education. It’s a David-Goliath match. They’re up against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the biggest philanthropic foundations in the world, most of […]

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Engage (the Teachers as Transformative Collaborators)

Over the course of my 11 years in the classroom I lost a lot of sleep. Over students. Over parents. Over grading papers and lesson plans. During my last years, and even now as I leave the classroom to embark on something new, I’ve been up nights pondering the brand of educator professionalization being heralded […]

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Four questions about education in Finland

Q: What is the purpose of public education? Public education guarantees every child good basic education and equal opportunities to further learning. Public education also equalizes the differences that income inequalities and other socioeconomic characteristics create to different learners. In brief, public education is basic human right and basic service to all children and their […]

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Disparate Impact Gone Awry: Civil Rights Law & the Demonizaton of the Teachers

One of the unexamined dimensions of the history of the School Reform Movement is the role that Civil Rights law played in shaping its guiding assumptions and strategies. I was reminded of this the other day when reading an unpublished manuscript by an Oklahoma City based teacher named John Thompson, who pointed out that civil […]

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What standardized tests should assess

If you fly, thank Myron Tribus for helping make your flight safer. He played a major role in the development of the equipment that keeps airliner wings free of ice. Myron was a captain in the Army Air Force during World War II. Later, he was a gas turbine design engineer for General Electric, dean of […]

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4 Problems with Parent Trigger Bill

Saying nothing of the fact that business interests, such as the Chamber of Commerce, love this bill (which always gives me pause in education policy) there are some inherent problems with the “Parent Trigger” bill (SB 1718) about to go to vote on the floor of the FL Senate this week. I laid many of […]

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A New Model: Schools As Ecosystems

The following post is by  Mark Anderson and William Johnson, and was originally posted on Gotham Schools.  What makes a great teacher? To a lot of people, the answer seems simple enough: a great teacher is one whose students achieve. For the most part these days, student success is measured with test scores. Logically then, a great teacher is […]

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Education Reform: An Order of Magnitude Improvement

Imagine the present corporately promoted education reform effort as a truck, its tires nearly flat from the weight of the many unexamined assumptions it carries. On board: An assumption that punishment and rewards effectively motivate; that machines can measure the quality of human thought; that learning is hard, unpleasant work; that what the young need […]

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When an adult took standardized test forced on kids

A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do. He took versions of his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public. By any reasonable measure, my friend is a success. […]

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How Bill Gates can be an education hero

A couple of days ago I watched and read the transcript of Fareed Zakaria’s CNN primetime special, “Restoring the American Dream: Fixing Education.” Zakaria talks to Bill Gates, whose five-billion-plus investment in schools has bought him a seat at the head table of education reformers. If I’d gotten any response from my previous attempts to correspond with […]

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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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On a road to nowhere

The popularity of international student assessments, especially the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), allows us to compare national education systems in ways that were not possible before. These comparisons are made by looking at the national averages of 15-year-old students’ standardised test scores in reading, mathematics and science. Many countries are increasingly obsessed by […]

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Paradoxes of the Finland Phenomenon

Have you noticed there’s a lot of hullabaloo about Finland’s education system lately? I’ve been paying attention to what the Finns have been doing for a couple years now, but it is only after reading an essay by Sam Abrams and hearing him subsequently elaborate in a talk in Banff that I’ve thought to pay attention […]

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Pulling Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps: Is it Enough?

The legacy ingrained in the collective history of our country is one of individual agency. In order to succeed in the U.S. you must “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and succeed despite any odds set against you. We tend to view education as an equalizer, a means of succeeding in spite of circumstance. We’ve […]

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Educational Reform: A Starting Point (Perhaps)

We’ve heard the studies and statistics. Today’s students will likely change jobs X times in their adult lives. Creativity and critical thinking are prized by employers but not found in new hires. The world’s knowledge is doubling every X days/weeks/months. The current school structure is better suited for the factory age than the technological age. […]

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Warring learning theories. Choose yours.

The rich philanthropists, hedge fund managers, state governors, big-city mayors, and syndicated columnists now shaping national education policy have reached a firm conclusion. The Number One factor in student performance is teacher performance. Poverty, broken homes, lead and mercury poisoning, bad teeth, poor eyesight, language difficulties, hunger, low self-esteem, run-down schools, frequent moving, cultural differences, […]

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Enduring Trend: Blissful (Environmental) Ignorance

We can talk about merit pay, accountability and tenure. We can debate (endlessly it seems) students first, testing, failing schools, poverty and unions. We can go toe to toe over the value of choice, charters and vouchers. PISA, Finland, Arne and Rhee. Ravitch, Race to the Top and common core. All worthwhile conversations. And necessary. […]

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The Service of Democratic Education

The following address was given by renowned Stanford professor, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, at the commencement ceremony for Columbia University’s Teachers College when she received the college’s Distinguished Service Award on May 18, 2011. I could not be more honored than to be awarded this recognition from Teachers College, one of the places of all those […]

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