Lessons To Be Learned from Elizabeth Green’s Building a Better Teacher

Elizabeth Green’s Building a Better Teacher contributes explicitly and implicitly to two key school reform debates. Although I’m not fully convinced by her main argument, she makes a great case that we can build a better teacher. The implicit issue is whether a concerted effort to improve teacher quality could drive reforms in high-poverty schools […]

Elizabeth Green Asks Whether True Believers in “No Excuses” Can Learn

The first rule of teachers in schools that serve every child who walks through the door is “pick your battles.” A teacher’s key skill, we’re often told from day #1, is “learn what to ignore.”   A charter school teacher who does not understand the essential nature of such survival skills may claim to teach the “same […]

Elizabeth Green’s Building a Better Teacher, the Rabbi, and the Chicken

The first half of Elizabeth Green’s Building a Better Teacher recounts the rise and fall of modern academic teacher improvement efforts, as well as the way that Japanese elementary schools, at least, learned from this (seemingly) quintessential American movement. I am not qualified to comment on Green’s discussion of Japanese schools, but this is the […]

Elizabeth Green’s Portrait of the Potential Benefits of Academic Teacher Education Programs

Elizabeth Green, author of the outstanding Building a Better Teacher, recalls that she attended affluent high schools but she didn’t have a surplus of engaging teachers. She still must have had far better teachers than I had in the 1950s and 1960s. I’m also likely to look differently at the question of whether we now […]

Elizabeth Green Tackles the Question; Are Teachers Born or Made?

It’s hard to believe that there will ever be an answer to the question of whether teachers are “born” or “made.” As with the question of whether comedians or poets are born or made, the way that the question is phrased, and its context, will determine the answers. As with the case with other timeless […]

How Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World Falls Short

Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World is primarily concerned with what we can learn from other countries, and several of those lessons are very valuable. It also has a very few pages that are jammed-packed with inaccurate, un-footnoted statements about standardized testing in America. My sense is that Ripley feels compelled to offer […]

James Heckman’s Research Argues Against Test-Driven Accountability

The Myth of Achievement Tests, by James Heckman, John Eric Humphries, and Tim Kautz is more than a meticulous work of social science. It also is an objective, but hard-hitting, analysis of the testing that has driven school reform, and a warning about the unintended harm done by ill-conceived policies. One of the best things […]

Concerns About the Focus on “Grit” in School Improvement

My approach was to focus on my students’ strengths. To do so, it could be said that I needed to “get inside the mind(s)” of my students. To help my students master a legitimate college prep curriculum, I would prefer to say that I needed to listen to my students. In my experience, if teachers […]

Drawing Upon Paul Tough to Nurture Soft Skills Not “Grit”

It is always reassuring to read about pedagogies developed in the classroom being later determined to be based on scientific principles documented by academic researchers. That is one reason why I was so impressed with Paul Tough’s New York Times Magazine article, “Who Gets to Graduate?” Tough’s article was published this spring and I immediately […]

How Can 2004 Data Prove that Reports in 2007 to 2012 on the Damage Done by NCLB Would Be Wrong?

“Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers and Their Work Environments and Job Attitudes,” by Jason Grissom et. al., uses NCES polling data from 1993-94 to 1999-2000 to 2003-04 to 2007-08. It begins by reviewing and challenging “anecdotal” evidence from great journalists and education writers. As I explained previously, I believe the […]

Ignoring the Job Market (and How We Do Our Jobs) When Studying Teachers’ Job Satisfaction

“Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers and Their Work Environments and Job Attitudes,” by Jason Grissom et. al., uses NCES polling data from 1993-94 to 1999-2000 to 2003-04 to 2007-08. It begins by reviewing and challenging “anecdotal” evidence from great journalists and education writers. As I explained previously, I believe the […]

Mis-Estimating the Effects of NCLB on Teachers’ Job Satisfaction

I expected to have mixed feelings when reading “Estimating the Effects of No Child Left Behind on Teachers and Their Work Environments and Job Attitudes,” by Jason Grissom et. al. On one hand, their finding as summarized in the press was so surprising that I knew a careful and skeptical reading would be required. On […]

Oklahoma Makes History, and Not Just in Edu-Politics

It looks like Paula Sophia will be elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Unlike Paula, I never served in Iraq, but we were comrades in a “broad church” of open arms. Paula is a 22-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department. Back when our neighborhood was still the turf of the Hoova’ set […]

Oklahoma City Families and Teachers Find Their VOICE

Until recently, I thought of VOICE as a handful of liberal Christians, spitting into the hot Oklahoma City wind. Similarly, I never expected a grassroots coalition of parents from across the state to stand up to the bubble-in testing mania. I realized last Sunday that VOICE has also become a force to be reckoned with. […]

Why Tenure is Essential

I usually find it easier to communicate with conservative reformers like Mike Petrilli or Rick Hess. Unlike their liberal counterparts, they don’t have to contort themselves into crusaders for equity and justice. They don’t have to pretend that attacks on teachers and other workers is some sort of civil rights crusade. These defenders of Scott […]

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