Friday, April 30, 2010

Everyone Agrees

Good blog post today from Deborah Meier on the current conventional wisdom about education:
It reminds me of anther ploy that I run into a lot in the print media. "Everyone agrees," "a consensus has developed"—sometimes followed by a quote from the head of the union as the sole dissenter. I don't recall there ever being a discussion, so where and when did this consensus form around getting rid of "traditional" public schooling that rests on local communities? When did we have a discussion about the larger moral issues that "seniority" represents in general, not just in schools? Or due process? Why do we presume guilt, not innocence, when someone is arbitrarily sent to the so-called "rubber room"? Or, who should decide what curriculum and pedagogy to adopt—or reject? Or, how we should judge schools or teachers...not to mention kids! Who decided that algebra would be a gateway skill to possessing a high school diploma (and thus entry to almost any job)? Who decided that private, for-profit managers should take over large portions of public education—including replacing entire former public school space? Who decided that the representatives of teachers don't represent them—but are just "labor bosses"? Who decided that Ivy League-educated students fresh out of college will be better teachers of our kids than experienced graduates of the non-elite universities?
I could be mistaken, but it seems as if the ideas behind the specific examples she lists have really put down roots in the mainstream media over the past two or three years: schools are bad, teachers are self-serving and cling relentlessly to the status quo, teacher education is a waste of time, any ideas coming from outside education are by definition better than any ideas coming from inside, etc. Has anyone read anything interesting that helps explain how perceptions of education are currently being shaped by the media and other forces?

A related post worth reading is this one at Public School Insights by Claus von Zastrow.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NRC Report on Teacher Ed Finally Appears

Back in 2004, Congress commissioned the National Research Council to do a study of teacher preparation. Given the impact of the NRC report on the teaching of reading, that seemed like an important (possibly even alarming) development. As the months and years went by, I would occasionally visit the NRC website to see if they were making any progress. Once in a while the minutes of a meeting would be posted but eventually it looked as though the project had disappeared into the bureaucratic ether. I thought perhaps it had lost its funding. (I realize that admitting I was following this so closely shows what a nerd I am.) But today the study finally appeared. You can read about it in Education Week or buy a copy here. Now, in 2010, it doesn't seem quite so important, but I'm not sure why.

Monday, April 19, 2010

On the Verge

Interesting article in the NY Times about how the State of NY is considering allowing entities other than schools or colleges of education to offer degrees in education. Key quote from Arthur Levine: “Education schools are on the verge of losing their franchise.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stanford Charter Closes

Stanford's experiment in running a charter school ends. This seems like the kind of story that can be read in a dozen different ways, depending on your point-of-view about test scores, charter schools, schools of education, high-prestige universities, etc. Take, for instance, this statement by the board president: “I would have expected that any school that is overseen by Stanford would have the best scores."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

More on Florida

From the Associated Press, via Education Week:
Conservatives Hail Fla. Teacher Bill as Model

Business interests as well as most Republicans backed the bill that was opposed by teachers and their unions, local school officials and Democrats.

Read the rest here.

I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts from Florida CEE members about this.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


A professor at the University of Houston is outsourcing the grading of student essays (to Bangalore).

Twilight Zone

Another high school, this time in Savannah, Georgia, is firing its entire staff. Here's the Twilight Zone line, from "public information manager Karla Redditte": “The superintendent is very pleased with the staff – it’s not any fault of theirs . . ."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Grim Times

Two good columns today, one from Derek Jackson at the Boston Globe on "The Death of Public Education" and another from CEE's own Michael Moore at the Savannah Morning News on "Merit Pay for Parents."
And, on the same theme, more news from Florida.
(One thought about the moves to undermine teacher tenure occurring in Florida and elsewhere: I usually assume that attacks on the teaching profession are at least partly about union-busting. But isn't it likely that teachers who are deprived of the due process protections offered by tenure will turn elsewhere for such protections? Could this end up reinvigorating the unions in education?)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Lesson Planning?

I just got out of a Secondary Education program meeting where the topic under discussion was lesson planning, especially the question of how much various subject areas have in common when it comes to lesson planning. I always leave such discussions a little confused about the proper role of lesson planning in teacher education. Some faculty appear to see it as absolutely central while others seem to think it's over-emphasized, that it's a kind of red-herring, distracting us from more important matters. My sense is that there's a similar divide among K-12 teachers. For instance, I'm thinking of one very good teacher I know who's somewhat dismissive of the idea of lesson planning because she thinks creating efficient routines and managing student work make the idea of "the well-planned lesson" almost obsolete. So I'm curious about other teacher ed. programs--what's the status/role of lesson planning where you are? Is it under-emphasized? Over-emphasized? Under-theorized? Fetishized?