Yo Teach…! Or how to avoid teaching like Jason

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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*This post is taken from a paper I wrote for graduate school. I’m posting it because I’m interested in getting feedback from people who don’t spend their life in a university library. I apologize for the length, but I don’t have the time to make them shorter.  It is an unfortunate irony that the attempts…

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(I apologize for the sassy tone below, but now that I’m in grad school I need a place to let out this side of me). I’m talking about Diane Ravitch and Eric Hanushek here. Actually, I can’t bring myself to talk about Diane Ravitch because the people who love to read her sweeping ad-hominem attacks…

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The New York Times has a story about the potentially deleterious effects of teacher turnover. Matt Yglesias, a fantastic blogger on economic issues and one of the best articulators of the pro-market progressive viewpoint, points out that we should really be asking how charter schools are able to produce comparable  results given their more inexperienced teachers, or in…

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I had the pleasure last night of meeting someone in the teachforus comments who was to my right on educational policy issues. The rarity of such an occasion speaks more to those who populate this website than to my own beliefs, which I would describe as disagreeably centrist. Matt, this commenter, challenged me in a…

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As I’ve said a few times, the only people who I really consider enemies in the education debates are those who willfully distort or ignore data to reinforce prior held beliefs. Sadly, I’m beginning to realize that even with that narrow definition, my list of allies grows slimmer by the day. I often respect Mike…

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In an initial take on the data from the new common core assessments in New York, Gary Rubinstein does something very interesting: He compares 2012 results with 2013 results for charter and public schools. Why is this so interesting? The common core assessments are supposedly test higher-order thinking skills. Therefore, schools that won accolades for…

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Paul Peterson, prolific and distinguished Harvard professor, has written a blog post discussing in more depth his WSJ Op-Ed on the apparent growth of the black-white achievement gap under President Obama, based a recent NAEP report discussing achievement gap trends from 1971 (in this circumstance, saying the more PC opportunity gap seems a little silly, but…

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In case you missed it, Florida schools’ chief  Tony Bennett resigned last week because when he was chief of Indiana’s schools, he changed the grade of a school (Christel House) run by strong financial supporters of his causes from a C to an A. Rick Hess interviews Bennet right after the scandal breaks. He initially…

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Before I discuss more comprehensively my critiques of market based school reforms, I thought I’d write about this new article in Education Next, written by Marc Holley, evaluation unit director at the Walton Family Foundation. The purpose of the study is to measure the effect of school choice on district schools. To do this,it performs…

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I went to Wesleyan University, a far left paradise where the number of conservatives could be counted on two hands (one for students, one for faculty). Naturally, in my first education policy class, we all went crazy about the horribleness of the voucher/privatization movement. But despite our talk, when the professor played the devil’s advocate,…

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Betting markets are very effective at predicting outcomes because they force all involved to consume the vast amounts of often conflicting and nuanced information and make a simple decision: buy or sell. This, done thousands of times by thousands of people, send a strong and surprisingly accurate signal. With all the talk, all the nuance,…

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If anyone were to ask me to list the five current thinkers in education I admire most, find the most interesting, or whose books I would most like to be stuck with on a desert island, I would certainly have Rick Hess in one of my top three slots. Hess is a philosophically conservative thinker–he…

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Jul 26 2013

(late) introductions

When I first started this blog, I mainly used it as a pressure valve. I taught every day and rarely had time for much else, but I needed the outlet in case I read something on this website or in the news that would get me so worked up that I wouldn’t be able to…

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There’s been a lot of talk about teacher education the past couple of years. In fact, everyone knows that the state of teacher education is in crisis. Of course, the definitions of these crises are antithetical depending on who you ask. More frustratingly, they are both reasonable. My goal in this post is to outline…

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I have recently made the decision to become a member of audible, entitling me to two free audiobooks a month. The benefit of this lovely service is I get to consume way more educational nonfiction without having to take time from teaching/lesson planning/gym. The drawback is that unlike with fiction, I love having books on…

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I’ve been trying for a while now to draw out my thoughts on education reform in a relatively clear way. However, when I think about any subject, I like to think not just in terms of how things are, but rather how they are changing. So, what follows is a hypothesis (or really a series…

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In the fall, I will begin a doctoral program in educational policy. I’m hoping to spend the next few months clarifying my thoughts on schools and education reform, and I think the best way to do that is to read a diverse and influential series of articles and books that challenge and expand my assumptions…

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In response to the ever-vexing Joel Klein, a couple Atlantic authors released a solid critique of the new “teacher bar exam” movement. No doubt, teaching has definitely solidified for me the idea that “standard resume characteristics — level of education, certifications or licenses, and experience beyond the first few years of teaching — have essentially…

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At a recent TFA professional Saturday, someone mentioned that they don’t like the term Achievement gap, using instead the term achievement deficit. I’ve never really thought of what’s implied by the term achievement gap, but hearing him say achievement deficit sparked a few thoughts, tied mainly to my understanding of our economic deficits. Deficits come…

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I have a lot of mixed feelings about debates surrounding educational reform. On the one hand, I believe that Sweden–where educational achievement has plummeted since it implemented a universal and even egalitarian voucher system in the early 1990s–is the evidence all critics of school choice should point to that even in the best circumstances, school choice will…

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Oct 11 2012

What we lack in skill…!

I’ve never spent much time on this blog saying anything flattering about my teaching skill. That’s because, like most first/second year teachers, I don’t have much. I’m sure my principal (and coworkers after a few beers) would agree that especially in my first 2/3 of a year, management and organizational issues often prevented me from…

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Oct 06 2012

The Psychology* of teaching part II

* My philosopher friend tells me psychology is the wrong word because there is absolutely no science in these posts, just discussion and extrapolation of first-person thought processes. The real word is phenomenology, apparently. Sorry. Quick thought: what is the most powerful incentive to teachers? Keeping their job? Getting a promotion? Getting a bonus? Not losing…

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I think one of the most difficult jobs of a teacher is taking responsibility for everything they do. Since this may sound condescending, I’ll speak in the first person. As a teacher, it can be hard in the moment for me to realize every time my class seems “bad”, it is more likely a reflection…

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Sep 27 2012

Rick Hess’ vision for school reform

Not yet finished with the article, which is equally dismissive of past democratic and republican efforts to improve schools over the past decades. So far though, I think this critique of RTTT gets at the heart of the  problem with Duncan’s innovative–but in the end still ineffective–attempt to implement federal reforms in a way that…

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I happened to be CC’d on a thread where my team (10+ year veteran at the school) lead sent some things to the social studies coach at my school. In her response, the social studies coach advised the team lead “please be advised before administering a formative assessment I need a paper copy 3 weeks…

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