Tag Archives: WFS

Rhee, M. (2010, Dec. 6) What I’ve Learned. Newsweek.

Excerpts from the Newsweek article

What she could have done better:  you can’t go slow, communication with good teachers, and parents.


State of education is still bad..image

Rhee notes that “there is no big organized interest group that defends and promotes the interests of children,” which is also something that I heard Scott Oki say in a talk he gave at MIcrosoft (and I guess is also in his book).  I wonder if she is getting some help from Oki on her new venture http://www.StudentsFirst.org?

“So many great teachers in this country are frustrated with the schools they are working in, the bureaucratic rules that bind them, and the hostility to excellence that pervades our education system.”

“Education reform is the civil rights movement of this generation,” says Duncan.  “Game on” says Rhee.


Learning Illustrated: Step Aside Superman, Waiting for a Better Paradigm

Sir Ken Robinson

Changing Educational Paradigms, a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson at the RSA.

Points that resonated with me:

  1. schools have not kept pace with massive changes in society in the past 50 years.
  2. enlightenment + industrial revolution gave us our current system, and in particular an intellectual model of the mind, smart people or non-smart people, which has caused chaos (social and educational)
  3. modern epidemic of ADHD seems to be concentrated on eastern seaboard?
  4. children are living in a most stimulating age, and yet school is not capitalizing on these stimulations
  5. Education system is built for industrialization, by industrialists.  Bells, batches by years, standardized tests, standardized curricula, all about conformity.
  6. Education seems to (Breakpoint and Beyond, 1998, George Land and Beth Jarman) drive divergent thinking out of students over time.  And divergent thinking is a pre-requisite for creativity, and creativity drives an economy.
  7. Robinson’s recommendations
    1. change the gene pool of education, think differently about human capacity
    2. get over the myth of “academic”, “non-academic”, “abstract”, “theoretical”, “vocational”
    3. most great learning happens in groups (collaboration is the stuff of growth), if you try to individualize you are creating a disjunction between some people and the environments where they best learn
    4. it is about the culture of our institutions, the habits and habitats they occupy

If you like this animation, there are more here:  http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/

Waiting for Superman, a film by Davis Guggenheim

Key assertions in the film:

1. given increased spending per student since 1980, test scores have remained flat

2. given that every President since Johnson has wanted to be the education President little real change has occurred

3. given that the economy has changed since 1950, US schools haven’t kept up and many have become dropout factories

4.  even schools in the suburbs, have not pushed the standards up on all students, they continue to put students on tracks which may not actually lead to college

5. unions are entrenched and resistant to change that needs to happen to keep this country competitive

6. teachers are demoralized or disenchanted and cannot be fired easily, conversely excellent teachers cannot be rewarded

7. parochial and charter/magnate schools are trying to keep up, but demand outstrips supply, forcing lotteries

8. some charter schools have shown that the rich / poor gap in test achievement can be closed

9. Geoffrey Canada’s breakthrough was realizing that children need to be tracked from birth to graduation in order to ensure reliable results

My questions: 

  • how did jaded teachers get that way?
  • how do you bust the union?
  • is it too late for some students?
  • when is the film going to be available free on the internet?

Recent articles:

How Superman could revive Canada’s charter school movement, National Post, Paul W. Bennet, Oct 7, 2010

Announcing HuffPost Education:  Turning a Spotlight on America’s Education Moment, Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, October 4, 2010

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

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