[Whenever I reblog political posts, I feel obliged for some reason to qualify their presence on Mark’s Text Terminal by noting that this is not a political blog. I offer no such qualification or caveat for this post from Diane Ravitch’s magisterial blog. I worked for the New York City Department of Education throughout the Bloomberg years; yes, I am outraged by this post, but in those years I was more outraged by the culture of contempt toward teachers Bloomberg and Joel Klein ginned up.]
Diane Ravitch's blog
Fred Smith was the testing expert at the New York City Board of Education for many years. After he retired, he became a relentless truth-teller about the flaws of standardized testing and the clever means of distorting the stats to produce the desired results. He currently acts as an unpaid advisor to opt-out parents.
Smith sent this article from 2007 that shows how Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein played games with the data, in this case blaming “immigrant kids” for a drop in test scores.
Mayor Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, have reaffirmed that old Mark Twain saying about the three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.
Using a PowerPoint presentation filled with glitzy graphs and color charts, Klein reached a new low yesterday by attempting to blame a sharp drop in this year’s third-, fourth- and fifth-grade reading scores on thousands of immigrant pupils.
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Diane Ravitch's blog
When I was in the early grades in the Houston public schools, we learned penmanship. At the time, we dipped our quill pens into an inkwell. It was messy, at least for me. At some point we switched to pens that had ink reserves, and you filled them up and wrote with ink. That was better than dipping the quill.
Then a new writing technology came along, called the “ballpoint pen.” No messy inkwells or ink bottles. You just wrote until they were dry, and then you threw them out. The ballpoint pen was a nightmare for me because I am left-handed and all the desks in my classrooms were meant for people who wrote with their right hand. That meant that as I wrote, I smudged my hand across what I had just written. Not only was the writing smudged, but the fingers on my left hand were always…
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[Here is something important from Bob Shepherd, via Diane Ravitch’s blog, that I think is fundamental reading for educators.]
Diane Ravitch's blog
Bob Shepherd, polymath, wrote this:
When I started to work in educational publishing, many years ago, there were some two hundred or so companies dividing up the textbook market in the United States and about twenty with significant market share. Now there are four.
Over the decades, there has been considerable consolidation of the industry. There were many, many mergers and acquisitions. And while this was happening, something else, more insidious, was occurring.
Most of those small publishing companies had been run by people who had started out in education, had entered educational publishing, and had risen through the ranks as editors. Some were started by editors or teachers turned entrepreneurs. But as the companies grew, often via acquisition by outside entities with no background or expertise in education, the old editorial managers were replaced by financial types.
Let me give you an example. Years ago, two publishing guys…
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Elsewhere on this blog, I have sung the praises of The American Educator, the quarterly published by my union, The American Federation of Teachers. Let me belabor my point a tad further here by saying that I think this is a first-rate journal of educational theory and practice; it’s where I first encountered Daniel Willingham, who really is doing as much as anyone out there (with his “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column in The American Educator as well as his excellent books) to assist classroom teachers in applying research to practice.
The current number of the magazine addresses the issue of teaching traumatized students. I started my career working with traumatized adolescents in one of New England’s “ivy league” psychiatric hospitals, and I have continued to work with these kids as a teacher.
A discussion of this population’s needs is long, long, overdue. I cannot sufficiently or strongly encourage teachers to read this issue of The American Educator from cover to cover. This is vital stuff every teacher should know.
Here’s something I just cannot let pass.
Last year about this time, I published this blog post on the pedagogical fad of the “flipped classroom.” The theory of the flipped classroom was presented at a professional development meeting as a fait accompli several months earlier in the school in which I served. When I asked in this session about students living in homeless shelters, or in other circumstances where broadband internet is unavailable, and therefore the various videos on which the flipped classroom depends, the presenter and his administrative enablers had no answer.
So, I am not at all surprised to find in Google headlines this morning this report on the homework gap and its relation to students’ struggle in school. The culprit? Why it is none other than the absence of a reliable internet connection. My reaction? Roll “Theme from ‘The Vindicators'” by The Fleshtones.