Tag Archives: edreform

It’s been a tough year to feel positive about Iowa education politics

Storm cell

It’s been a tough year to feel positive about Iowa education politics. For example…

Our governor wants Iowa schools to return to the top of the NAEP rankings and reclaim their ‘world class’ status but is endorsing a 1.25% budgetary increase that doesn’t even keep up with inflation (while requesting a 9% increase for his own office). As a result, most schools will have to cut people just to keep the lights on and the buses running. We can expect teacher layoffs, crowded classrooms, and other disinvestments in the needs of students, despite a solid state economy and a healthy reserve. We may fall as low as 40th in per-pupil spending. So much for being a state that allegedly cares about education.

Our outdated school start date legislation clearly fails to meet the needs of schools (336 out of 338 school districts asked for a waiver last year) but suddenly is being tightly enforced. Our state department of education says that it believes in principles of ‘local control’ but then this year notified districts that it no longer would automatically grant school start date waivers and that essentially every reason they might give for an earlier start date will not be considered legitimate. The school start date consternation is apparently being driven by the tourism industry. Educational needs are being given short shrift.

Of course we’re seeing lots of posturing from both sides of the political aisle (e.g., polarizing comments, Twitter wars, and ‘public’ hearings in rooms that are too small for the public to attend). And we’re seeing some really goofy stuff occurring during what should be important discussions and debates.

We’ve got a superintendent who’s decided he must break the law just to meet the needs of his district’s students. He’s being condemned by some legislators, despite the fact that they themselves break the law year after year when it comes to meeting deadlines for setting school spending authority.

Last week we were notified that our state department of education has now chewed up and spit out its second talented director in less than two years. We’ve got a misbegotten student retention law that’s about to go into effect. Our state assessments don’t align with our state standards. Budgets for our regional educational agencies – which provide essential services to our districts – keep getting reduced. And we’re starting to see proposed legislative attacks on teacher unions that are inconsistent with our rhetoric that we honor and develop teachers. I don’t know if we’re one of ‘those states’ yet when it comes to education but it sure seems like we’re getting closer.

After last year’s legislative session I said to several folks that I was glad it was quiet and positive compared to years past. Apparently last year was just the calm before the storm… [sigh]

Image credit: Storm cell, Tom Gill

Hiding data from the public

Mercedes Schneider said:

I think that any time you have a situation where information is as tightly controlled as it is by education officials in Louisiana, that should raise a real red flag. If you can’t find data that hasn’t been massaged or indexed or changed to the point where it no longer means much, that’s a red flag that there’s something going on that officials don’t want us to know. And if reporters aren’t going to ask those questions, somebody else is going to have to.

via http://edushyster.com/?p=6350

Corrosive to a teacher’s humanity

Ellie Herman said:

If teaching is an art and a science, I’m scared that in our national conversation about education, we are so intent on demanding accountability for mastering the ‘science’ part that we’re creating conditions that seem designed to crush teachers’ souls. When our system treats teachers with disdain, creating accountability measures whose underlying premise is that teachers are so incompetent and lazy that they need to be monitored rigidly, strictly and incessantly, at what point does that myth become corrosive to a teacher’s humanity? 

How do we nurture and encourage the qualities teachers need in order to use all these techniques in the first place, the faith, the compassion, the patience, the passion for a subject? Can we start by valuing those qualities – by which I do not mean putting a dollar value on them? Can we acknowledge and respect the individual lives and experiences that teachers are bringing to the classroom every day, without which none of what they’re teaching would be of any use to anyone? Can we balance our need for accountability with our equal need for inspiration?

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/02/what-makes-a-great-teacher

It’s about opening a door to someone I never knew I could be

Open door

Javier Guzman said:

For my students and the thousands like them, the options they are given are inadequate. The bar is set low and little is expected of them. Mostly they are taught to regurgitate information at breakneck speeds under the guise of equity and the achievement gap. We need to move away from that and build schools that consider the whole person, that understand that our students have passions and interests, and that give them the tools to transcend their environments.

It’s about being given the tools to truly reach one’s full potential. . . . as one of my students stated, “It’s about opening a door to someone I never knew I could be.”

via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH1gxIT4nSE

Image credit: Open door, Martin Müller

What’s good about standardized tests?

Susan Berfield said:

Most standardized tests aren’t objective, don’t measure a student’s ability to think, and don’t reliably predict how well a kid will do in the workplace. So what’s good about them? They’re relatively cheap to create, easy to administer, and they yield data.

via http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-12-11/book-review-parents-can-band-together-to-end-standardized-testing

From data to wisdom

Image credit: From data to wisdom, Nick Webb

Reclaiming the language of educational reform

Have your say and make your voice heard

Arthur Camins said: 

The words accountability, no-excuses and choice have already been claimed and defined by currently powerful policy makers and associated with their values. Their accountability language evokes the authority of the powerful to direct others to improve education, but not shared responsibility. Their no excuses language evokes blaming teachers, administrators, students and their parents for disappointing outcomes, while deflecting attention from the need to address systemic issues, such as the burden of poverty on children’s lives and inequitable school funding. Their choice language evokes the individualism of “I am my brother’s competitor” rather than the shared responsibility of “I am my brother’s keeper.”

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/11/19/how-to-reframe-the-educational-reform-debate

Image credit: Speak up, make your voice heard, Howard Lake

Ineffective teachers

Front doors

Peter Greene said:

The new definition of “ineffective teacher” is “teacher whose students score poorly on test.”

Add to that the assumption that a student only scores low on a test because of the student had an ineffective teacher.

You have now created a perfect circular definition. And the beauty of this is that in order to generate the statistics tossed around in the poster above, you don’t even have to evaluate teachers!

As long as you don’t consider the possibility that low-income students do poorly on standardized tests because they go to schools with chaotic administrations, high staff turnover, crumbling facilities, lack of resources, dangerous neighborhoods, and backgrounds that do not fit them for culturally-biased standardized tests – as long as you don’t consider any of that, one thing remains certain…

Low-income students will always be taught by ineffective low-performing teachers.

If you define “bad teacher” as “whoever is standing in front of these low-testing students,” it doesn’t matter who stands there. Whoever it is, he’s ineffective.

via http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2014/06/ineffective-forever.html

Image credit: Front doors, ken fager

It would be hard to imagine an institutional structure less suited for the future

Public School 6, New York City

Richard Elmore said:

While learning has largely escaped the boundaries of institutionalized schooling, educational reformers have for the past thirty years or so deliberately and systematically engaged in public policy choices that make schools less and less capable of responding to the movement of learning into society at large.

Standards and expectations have become more and more literal and highly prescriptive in an age where human beings will be exercising more and more choice over what and how they will learn.

Testing and assessment practices have become more and more conventional and narrow as the range of competencies  required to negotiate digital culture has become more complex and highly variegated.

Teacher preparation, hiring, induction, and evaluation practices have become more and more rigid and hierarchical in an age where the teaching function is migrating out into a more individualized and tailored set of learning environments.

We are continuing to invest massively in hard-boundary physical structures in an age where learning is moving into mobile, flexible, and networked relationships. In other words, it would be hard to imagine an institutional structure for learning that is less suited for the future than the heavily institutionalized, hierarchical world that education reformers have constructed.

via https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-beta/future-learning-what-about-schooling

Image credit: New York: Public School 6, Matt_Weibo

I liked this post so much I split it into two quotes. Here is the other one. Oh, and Will Richardson liked it too.

Schooling for compliance and conformity v. preparing students for a life of learning

Richard Elmore said:

I was trained, as a student, to value schooling primarily as a vehicle for gaining adult approval and control. I learned that lesson well. I also learned it in an environment that prepared me not at all for a life of learning.

I see these patterns reproducing themselves in many of the hundreds of classrooms I have observed over the past fifteen years in my professional work. Students are schooled for adult approval and conformity to highly standardized, institutionalized expectations, created by people in positions of public authority who have no knowledge whatsoever of how learning works as an individual and social activity.

via https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-beta/future-learning-what-about-schooling

Image credits: Personality set for life, wackystuff, and PS 98 First Grade Report Card, Herbert Maruska

Social development report card

First grade report card, 1951

Higher-level thinkers don’t just magically emerge from low-level thinking spaces [SLIDE]

Higher-level thinkers don’t just magically emerge from low-level thinking spaces

Higher-level thinkers don’t just magically emerge from low-level thinking spaces

Download this file: png pptx key

Image credit: When did you last see Bobo?, Matt

See also my other slides, my Pinterest collection, and the Great Quotes About Learning and Change Flickr pool.

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