Education News from Washington Post
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and at least one other Education Department official urged New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and his team not to choose Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr as the city’s next schools chancellor, according to several people knowledgable about the selection process. It was an unusual move by the nation’s top education official and came in the wake of Starr’s vocal criticism of some of the Obama administration’s school reform policies.Read full article >>
Two D.C. Council members are opposing Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s nominee for state superintendent of education, arguing that Gray’s pick — former city parks director Jesús Aguirre — lacks the experience and management skills needed for the job.Read full article >>
I recently published a list of best and worst education news of 2013 by California veteran teacher Larry Ferlazzo, and here are his predictions for 2014 in education. He teaches English and Social Studies at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, has written five education books, writes a teacher advice blog for Education Week Teacher, and has a popular resource-sharing blog.Read full article >>
I recently published a post with various answers to the question: How hard is teaching? Here is one response I received by e-mail from a veteran seventh-grade language arts teacher in Frederick, Maryland, who asked not to be identified because she fears retaliation at her school. In this piece she describes students who don’t want to work, parents who want their children to have high grades no matter what, mindless curriculum and school reformers who insist on trying to quantify things that can’t be measured.Read full article >>
A few weeks ago I reported that New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio would likely tap Carmen Farina, a close adviser who was a former deputy schools chancellor in New York City, to be the new chancellor of the largest school system in the country. Sources now say he will name her as chancellor as early as Monday.Read full article >>
The U.S. Education Department is pouring $43 million more in federal funds into a program that is aimed at improving the lowest-performing schools but has had highly questionable results.
The department announced last week that seven states would receive more than $43.4 million through the School Improvement Grants program: Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin (see each state award below).Read full article >>
Here is part of a post that Julian Vasquez Heilig, an award-winning researcher and associate professor of educational policy and planning at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote on his Cloaking Inquality blog. The piece, entitled “Tell-All From A TFA and KIPP Teacher: Unprepared, Isolation, Shame, and Burnout,” is largely about a former student of Heilig’s who came to him to tell him about her experience in TFA. The student is still teaching at a KIPP school as a TFA corps member so asked not to be identified.Read full article >>
The Fairfax County School Board is proposing $866 million in school construction and renovations, part of an effort by the administration to address a surge in student enrollment that has led to significant crowding problems.Read full article >>
Twelve-year-old Jason Penate spent the holidays hanging close by his father. They picked out a Christmas tree and decorated the front window of their Gainesville, Va., home with candy canes, and Jason tried very hard not to think about whether his father would still be here in the new year.Read full article >>
Veteran teacher Larry Ferlazzo has found what he says are school reform and classroom management lessons from Pope Francis. Ferlazzo teaches English and Social Studies at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA., has written five books on education, writes a teacher advice blog for Education Week Teacher, and has his own popular resource-sharing blog.Read full article >>
From 2013, in no particular order, with a bonus at the end.
Jon Stewart ridicules preschool critics -- 3/7/13Read full article >>
California Gov. Jerry Brown has been out front for some time as a strong critic of the standardized-testing obsession that has come to dominate the school reform movement. He has even refused to give in to threats by Education Secretary Arne Duncan to withhold some federal Title 1 funds -- intended to help poor children receive an education — if Brown went ahead with plans to suspend most of the state’s standardized-testing program in 2014. The governor’s decision made infinite sense: The tests the state currently uses no longer reflect the new Common Core-aligned curriculum, so he would rather not force kids to take an utterly pointless exam.Read full article >>
Mark Naison, a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University and director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program, has some important questions about charter schools. He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African American History, urban history, and the history of sports, and he is a founder of the Badass Teachers Association. A version of this appeared on his blog, With a Brooklyn Accent.Read full article >>
It’s one of the great ironies of modern school reform that the very people who you would think should have some input into policy decisions -- teachers -- don’t. They are, for that purpose, invisible (though they someone wind up front and center when it comes time for reformers to find people to blame for troubled schools). P.L. Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University in South Carolina, writes in this post about the plight of teachers. Thomas edited the book “Becoming and Being a Teacher,” and wrote the book “Ignoring Poverty in the U.S.: The Corporate Takeover of Public Education.” This was published on his blog, the becoming radical.Read full article >>
How hard is teaching?
Here are some answers to the question:
“Giving a presentation to NASA about how the thermal protection system of a spacecraft is connected to its primary structure is a cakewalk compared to getting 30 teenagers excited about logarithms.” -- Ryan Fuller, a former aerospace engineer who now teaches high school in Colorado Springs, wrote in a piece on Slate.
“Teaching is hard. Not only because of the curriculum, not only because of the new tests, new rules, new measures. Not only because there are tests, tests, and more tests. But because it so often feels like an insurmountable, thankless, stressful endeavor. The rules are always changing. The tests are always changing. And the blame for anything and everything that goes wrong usually falls squarely on our shoulders.” -- Neyda Borges, teacher at Miami Lakes Educational Center in Florida, from this piece on the website of StateImpact Florida, a project of NPR.
“In the primary grades, we deal with gross bathroom-related issues. Even a high school teacher could never understand some of the crises related to bodily functions that a typical K-3 teacher has to deal with on a regular basis. Potty accidents (and more instances too disgusting to reiterate here) are something that we can’t shy away from. I’ve had third grade students who still wear diapers and let me tell you it’s stinky. Is there any amount of money or vacation time worth cleaning up vomit from the classroom floor with your own two hands?” -- Beth Lewis, from About.Com
“American teachers deal with a lot: low pay, growing class sizes and escalating teacher-bashing from politicians and pundits. Federal testing and accountability mandates under No Child Left Behind and, more recently, Race to the Top, have added layers of bureaucracy while eliminating much of the creativity and authentic learning that makes teaching enjoyable. Tack on the recession’s massive teacher layoffs and other school cuts, plus the challenges of trying to compensate for increasing child poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity, and you get a trifecta of disincentives to become, or remain, a teacher.” -- Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, in this piece on Huffington Post.
“Teaching is a hard job with long hours (with no overtime). It’s no way a 9-5 job (nor a 7-3 job). My job starts way before the students enter the classroom, and it starts again when the students leave the classroom. I work after school and I work at home at night. Most of the work has to do with preparing lessons, contacting parents, grading papers, going to numerous meetings, extra help for students, dealing with tons of administrative paperwork, etc. etc. etc. I feel like the time I spend in the classroom with students is like the end result you’ll have a good lesson and good rapport with the students because you did all your ‘homework’.
“Just know that you will not sleep much the first few years (at least). You will have to deal with difficult students, and even more difficult parents. You will have to deal with stupid administrative crap, You will be forced to follow curriculum and adopt teaching styles designed by people who probably have not taught in decades. You will not get much support from the administration. You will be pretty much on your own to figure things out. YOU WILL BE OVERWHELMED. And everyone around you will think that you have an easy job because your work is done at 3 pm (yeah, right) and you have the summers off (yeah, we don’t get PAID either).” -- Ms. K on Yahoo.
“We’re not just teachers. The word ‘teacher’ just doesn’t cover it. We’re also nurses, psychologists, recess monitors, social workers, parental counselors, secretaries, copy machine mechanics, and almost literally parents, in some instances, to our students. If you’re in a corporate setting, you can say, ‘That’s not in my job description.’ When you’re a teacher, you have to be ready for everything and anything to be thrown at you on a given day. And there’s no turning it down.” -- Beth Lewis, from About.Com
“You know, this is precisely why I loathed being a teacher! Young people are so infernally convinced that they are absolutely right about everything.” -- Professor Phineas Nigellus Black, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
“Teachers must take on a large agenda: to help students abandon the safety of rote learning; to instruct them in framing and testing hypotheses; and to build a climate of tolerance for others’ ideas, and curiosity about unusual answers, among other things. Teachers who take this path must work harder, concentrate more, and embrace larger pedagogical responsibilities than if they only assigned text chapters and seatwork. They also must have unusual knowledge and skills. They require,for instance, a deep understanding of the material and modes of discourse about it. They must be able to comprehend students’ thinking, their interpretations of problems, their mistakes, and their puzzles. And, when students cannot comprehend, teachers must have the capacity to probe thoughtfully and tactfully. These and other capacities would not be needed if teachers relied on texts and worksheets. In addition, teachers who seek to make instruction more adventurous must take unusual risks, even if none of their students resist. For if they offer academic subjects as fields of inquiry, they must support their actions and decisions as intellectuals, not merely as functionaries or voices for a text.” -- University of Michigan Professor David K. Cohen in this paper, “Teaching Practice: Plus a Change ”Read full article >>
Fewer Fairfax County students took Advanced Placement tests in 2013 compared with the year before, according to data released by the school system this month. And among those students who did take the tests, scores declined slightly.Read full article >>
Here’s a really sweet video showing Rion Holcombe, a 20-year-old with Down syndrome, opening up a letter from Clemson University accepting him into the two-year ClemsonLIFE non-degree program for students with special needs. You can’t help but smile watching this video, taken by his mother.Read full article >>
A Muslim cleric who lives in seclusion in Pennsylvania and has been linked to a network of more than 135 public charter schools in the United States is believed to be deeply involved in the political drama that is unfolding in his home country of Turkey.Read full article >>
I know it’s more common to do a Top 10 list but here are 11 of The Answer Sheet’s most popular posts in 2013, some that I wrote and others that some of my wonderful guest writers have authored. I have chosen posts that seem to me to be revealing about the path that corporate-influenced school reform took in the past year and about what is ahead for 2014. The subjects include the Common Core State Standards, the demoralization of teachers, Teach For America and the standardized testing obsession.Read full article >>
Brian Stewart’s rejection letter from a fraternity at Morgan State University in Baltimore stated that members had reviewed and vetted his application and that, unfortunately, not enough brothers wanted him to join.Read full article >>