Monday, June 30, 2008

Told you so and four letter words

Teaching in the 408: Rumors Of My Demise...:

In a few weeks I start work with the stellar folks at The Education Trust – West, an organization doing heavy lifting on ed reform, and one I’ve admired for some time.


This blog, or a similar version located elsewhere, will continue to exist.

Told you so.

The Education Trust - West does great work. If someone is going to be their front man, it might as well be someone as experienced and talented as Kilian.

Do you think they will still let him use four letter words in his posts?

p.s. I am still taking bets on his book

eduwonkette: Guest Blogger Sarah Reckhow: Easy to Blame

eduwonkette: Guest Blogger Sarah Reckhow: Easy to Blame

Eduwonkette lets ex-Douglass High School Teacher (and TFA alumni) Sarah Reckhow try and defend Douglass High School from the review that Liam Julian wrote for the National Review.

Like the documentary, her review does nothing to help Douglass High School. She rambles on for about 5 or 6 paragraphs before finally offering the only good thing that she can muster about Douglass High School.

Yet grumbling about the teachers who work in this difficult environment is not the answer. In fact, the film offers some illuminating scenes of teaching and learning at its best, only they don’t take place in a “typical” classroom setting. These include the school’s debate team, choir, band, and music production class. The students involved in these activities display precisely the attitudes we want schools to instill—pride, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Furthermore, the students are expected to perform well and rise to the occasion. Much of the commentary on this film has focused on Douglass at its worst, but much can be learned from Douglass at its best. [emphasis mine]
That's it. The best she can do is say that the students like extra-curricular activities. Her school has hit on a secret... that just about every other school in the world has already figured out.

At least she didn't blame the failures on money.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sam Singer: Where Teach for America goes wrong (And Troops to Teachers gets right)

Sam Singer: Where Teach for America goes wrong - Opinion

Well crap, this 21 year old kid hits the nail right on the head.

Proponents claim that little by little, Teach for America can change this. That by enlisting only the academic elite - corps members carry top-tier credentials, and studies show them to be more effective than permanent faculty at participating schools - Teach for America is cultivating a commitment to public service and education among some of the brightest minds of our generation.

But hold your applause: According to The New York Times, of the trifle more than half of participants that actually remain in education, most do so in an administrative capacity. Turns out Teach for America hatches superintendents and curriculum planners far more frequently than it does teachers. If these numbers are on target, this isn't a teacher training corps - it's an incubator for would-be deans and well-rounded law students. [emphasis mine]
He forgot to mention that TFA is also good for producing bloggers, books, and charter school systems, but he still nails it though. His best line, though, is this:

Any grandeur that primary education had left was lost the moment we forced trained professionals to share faculty lounges with unseasoned college grads, many of who finished their final semesters with blood-alcohol contents that rivaled their grade point averages.
I might take issue with the term "trained professionals", but you get his point.

And just to add a comparison to Sam's first point:

According to the latest performance report from the Department of Education, the percentage of Troops to Teachers participants who remain in teaching for three or more years after placement in a teaching position in a high-need school is 88% for 2005, and 84% for 2006.

Once again, I think it's safe to say that TTT beats TFA.

Of course you don't see the NY Times or any other major newspapers writing semiannual puff pieces on Troops-to-Teachers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

When a link aint good...

Ordinarily, I would be estatic to get a link from an esteemed blogger like TMAO, but not when the post he links to sort of makes me look like an ass.

While I love the freedom blogging gives me to express my opinions, it is always a bit frustrating in that it is difficult to convey the totality of the person behind the blog. I think it might have to do with the fact that blogging takes effort, effort which is more easily mustered during bouts of indignation, emotion, or frustration. This leads to posts that are don't always reflect the entirety of my offline mellower personality.

To sum up: I am not as big a d**k that that blog post makes me seem like... really.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hard Times at Douglass High: First Impressions

If the goal of the HBO documentary HARD TIMES AT DOUGLASS HIGH: A NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND REPORT CARD was to make me feel sorry for the kids. schools, or to turn against NCLB, then it's a failure.

After watching it, I am convinced of one thing. Once the kids get to 9th grade it's to late to save them. Education reform will have to start at the elementary school level.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fish hate me

I have been fishing a lot lately. What do you expect, I live in Alaska now.

Fish don't like me. I guess that's why they call it fishing and not catching.

On the education front, the new GI Bill rocks! This means that my teacher certification is paid for and my family still gets to eat.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Quick and the Ed

The Quick and the Ed

Kevin Carey comments on TFA haters:

And while it may be frustrating to advocates for the professionalization agenda that TFA complicates their narrative, that's no excuse for wasting valuable time and energy trying to tear down a program that unambiguously makes the world a better place.
"unambiguously" is a might strong word isn't it. There are many arguments about how TFA might not make the world a better place. I previously laid one out here, which boils down to the suspicion that the media's obsession with TFA deflects from other reforms that could make a much more significant dent in educational outcomes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Success for All

My 2nd/3rd graders summer school program uses Success for All to re-mediate struggling readers.

My question is if SFA works so well for remediation, why not just use it during the school year?

On another note...

A teacher at the summer school was handing out brochures for parent math worksheets, so I asked her if it was for "Everyday Math".

She said no, but asked me if I wanted to know anything about EM. I said, "Only when is the school district going to get rid of it?"

She replied back, "Oh never, we love it."

I responded, "Of course you do, keeping kids in Summer School is job security."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Kevin Carey Has Mad Mojo

Read what Kevin Carey, from The Quick and the Ed, said a few days ago in this OpEd at Inside Higher Ed.

The world is extremely large and, comparatively speaking, Yale is very small. It could easily credential ten times, a hundred times more students over the Internet than it currently does in New Haven. Students would have more incentives to take great Yale courses, and the number of valuable Yale-certified learners would increase. This would rankle those who value Yale’s exclusivity over the bounty of knowledge, culture, and insight the university could potentially provide. But that’s a morally suspect position. Who cares what such people think?
He must have some pull at Yale, because look at todays news in the NY Times.
The president of Yale University announced on Saturday that Yale will increase its undergraduate enrollment by 15 percent, to about 6,000, by building two new residential colleges that are expected to open in 2013.
Kevin, if you happen to read this, could you put in a word to the admissions department about my kids? Would totally love to get them into Yale.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

EF is the new IQ

What do you get when you cross this

"executive function," may be more important to academic success than traditional measures of intelligence
with this
a set of capacities known as "executive functions" - is almost entirely genetic in origin