Tag Archives: educational policy and politics

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.]

janresseger

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.

The Textbook Hitler

[I grabbed this squib from the book cited below, which accompanies another important book from the National Research Council, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (Washington DC: National Academies Press, 2000). This passage demonstrates the problem with studying history without reaching into conceptual material, particularly concepts like diplomacy, political science, international law, social norms, and philosophy. While this passage is not technically untrue, at the very least it fails to address the norms Hitler violated on his way to power, then in his statecraft.]

“In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. In elections held soon after he became chancellor, he won a massive majority of the votes. Pictures taken during his chancellorship suggest his popularity with the German people. He presided over an increasingly prosperous nation. A treaty signed with France in 1940 enable Hitler to organize defenses for Germany along the Channel coast, and for a time Germany was the most militarily secure power in Europe. Hitler expressed on many occasions his desire to live peaceably with the rest of Europe, but in 1944 Germany was invaded from all sides by Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Unable to defeat this invasion of his homeland by superior numbers, Hitler took his own life as the invading Russian armies devastated Berlin. He is still regarded as one of the most important and significant figures of the twentieth century.”

Excerpted from: Donovan, M. Suzanne, and John D. Bransford, eds. How Students Learn History in the Classroom. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2005.

The Current Number of The American Educator

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.

The “Homework Gap” and the Flipped Classroom–Redux

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.