What Makes a School Great, Time Magazine, Sep. 23, 2010


Since this edition of Time has been mentioned a couple times in class, I wanted to give it and related education articles in this edition of Time a thorough reading. 

Waiting for Superman:  A Call to Action for our Schools

First Response:  yeah, right, a movie is going to help improve American Education?

Second Response:  it’s the unions, stupid!

At almost every other school in the country, such flexibility [principals can hire their own staff] and professionalism are inconceivable because of teachers’ union-negotiated contracts, long-standing education-culture norms or, in some cases, state law. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident, teachers’ unions have a long history of working against the interests of children in the name of job security for adults. And Democrats in particular have a history of facilitating this obstructionism in exchange for campaign donations and votes. Meanwhile, most schoolteachers work in isolation: they can get tenure after an average of just three years on the job, which means they likely have a job for life, but they very rarely get meaningful evaluations or effective training to improve, either. Guggenheim, a Democrat and a member of the directors’ union, agonized over his portrayal of the teachers’ unions in the film. But eventually, he decided he would have to acknowledge these truths. "We have to change," he says. "The unions can’t protect bad teachers. They have to start helping good teachers."


Fourth Response:  OK, I am going to go and see the movie.  Here’s a link to the web-site, in particular the part of the site for taking action. http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/action/

[just saw the movie today 10/10/10, see separate post under tag WFS]


How to Recruit Better Teachers

First Response:  many great teachers held other jobs first…

Second Response:  need to check out TNTP (the new teacher project)

But TNTP and TFA argue, correctly, that many of their Ivy League applicants would never teach at all if they had to earn an education degree first. The groups have powerful allies. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a contrarian 45-year-old who used to run the Chicago school district, has spoken admiringly of both organizations. And not long ago he gave a speech denouncing the traditional system of teacher-training: "By almost any standard," he said, "many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom."

Third Response:  the need is great

The Department of Education estimates that by 2014, the nation will need up to 1 million new teachers. But if a city has too many broken streetlights, should it ask for paid volunteers to fix them? Or should it hire more professional electricians?

Fourth Response:  Passion is not enough.  Without training the job will wear you down.

Fifth Response:  the first year doesn’t need to be so bad

Solomon started the Boston Teacher Residency in 2003; 85% of its teachers who took jobs in the Boston public schools are still in the classroom, compared with 61% of TFA teachers nationally. Those who are accepted into the Boston Teacher Residency must make a four-year commitment that includes earning a master’s degree in education, something neither TNTP nor TFA requires. Boston teacher residents spend that first awful year working with an experienced teacher, one who helps them learn the craft. The residents are in classrooms from Day One but never alone as most participants in the alterna-programs are.


How to Help:  If You’re a Recent High School Graduate

Check out CityYear.org or Coach Across America

How to Help:  If You’re a College Student

Check out Service Learning, Federal Work Study Program, and Peace First.

How to Help:  If You’re a Working Adult

Check out Citizen Schools, National Lab Day, Communities in Schools, Mentoring (Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mentor, or U.S. Dream Academy) and Junior Achievement.

How to Help:  If You’re a Senior Citizen

Check out Experience Corps and Foster Grandparents.

How to Help:  Donate

Check out DonorsChoose.org, Digital Wish, Adopt-A-Classroom, First Book, and Reading Is Fundamental

How to Help:  Be Heard

Visit GreatSchools, join the PTA or PTO, contact your local school boards, governor and legislators.

Still need to read and comment on:

The Case for National Service (12 articles)

Community Service 2009 (25 articles)

Organizations to look at:

Strategic Grant Partners

Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: