Tag Archives: educational policy and politics

On Education and Data and Ethos

Murray Cohn has, for twenty-three years, run Brandeis according to his own lights. He believes in cleanliness and order—and the halls of Brandeis are clean and orderly. He believes in homework, especially writing—and the students do it, even if they don’t do enough. He believes in publicly praising achievement—and the schools bulletin boards offer congratulations to attendance leaders and the like. What Cohn and other administrators like him impart to their schools is nothing quantifiable; it is an ethos.”

James Traub, as quote in The Great School Debate: Which Way for American Education (1985)

Peter Greene: The Indispensable Glossary to Corporate School Reform

[All of Diane Ravitch’s books are well worth a look, but here’s a reference book that is indispensable to teachers. An earlier edition of this book, by Dr. Ravitch herself, EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon (Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007) is in heavy use here at Mark’s Text Terminal.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this post, Peter Greene reviews Edspeak and Doubletalk, the glossary co-written by me and Nancy Bailey.

This is the book you need, the scorecard, to identify the players in the fast-moving world of reform propaganda and over-hyped programs.

This resulting book, Edspeak and Doubletalk: A Glossary to Decipher Hypocrisy and Save Public Schooling, is exceptionally useful as a quick-reference resource. If you are a regular reader of this or other education blogs, you know that there is a forest of acronyms, a Grand Canyon’s worth of program names and purposes, and enough different edu-focused organizations to pave a road to the moon and back. This book makes for a quick and easy reference for it all, and more. Chapters are organized by general topic, such as Charter Schools and Choice, English Language Learners, Technology, and Separation of Church and State. There are guides to the various players…

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Examining Students’ Understanding

“The quality of students’ understanding rests on their ability to master and use bodies of knowledge that are valued by their culture. More specifically, it rests on their ability to make productive use of the concepts, theories, narratives, and procedures available in such disparate domains as biology, history, and the arts. Students should be able to understand the humanly constructed nature of this knowledge and to draw on it to solve problems, create products, make decisions, and in the end transform the world around them. Put differently, students should use knowledge to engage in a repertoire of performances valued by the societies in which they live.”

Excerpted from: Wiske, Martha Stone, ed. Teaching for Understanding: Linking Research and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.

New Reports Confirm Persistent Child Poverty While Policymakers Blame Educators and Fail to Address Core Problem

[Jan Resseger, whose posts I will occasionally reblog here, is one of the most observant, astute and patient–because I certainly would not have the patience to analyze statistics the way she does, let alone remain patient with what they far too often demonstrate about the idiocy of current educational policy in the United States–analysts of educational policy and performance out there. She is also a gifted and compelling prose stylist.]


On Tuesday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a stunning analysis, by the newspaper’s data analyst Rich Exner, of the school district grades awarded by the state of Ohio on the state report cards released last week.  The new report cards are based on data from the 2018-2019 school year.  I encourage you to follow the link to look at Exner’s series of bar graphs, which, like this one, present a series of almost perfect downward staircases, with “A” grades for school districts in communities with high median income and “F” grades for the school districts in Ohio’s poorest communities.

The correlation of academic achievement with family income has been demonstrated now for half a century, but policymakers, like those in the Ohio legislature who are debating punitive school district takeovers, prefer to blame public school teachers and administrators instead of using the resources of government to assist struggling…

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Arthur Bestor on Democracy and Education

“It is incompatible with democracy to train the many and educate the few.”

Arthur Bestor As Quoted in The Great School Debate: Which Way for American Education (1985)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

Cultural Literacy: Voucher

Because the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has made school voucher programs the white paper in her policy brief, this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of a voucher seems like something to put before my fellow educators. Public school parents and students should understand the implications of Secretary DeVos’s proposals for their communities and schools. The basic explanation on the attached worksheet is as good a place as any to start.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Ted Sizer on Public Education and Public Engagement

“Few citizens really know what’s going on in their schools. They settle for the familiar and ignore the substance.”

Theodore R. Sizer (1932-2009)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.