In which I visit Arne Duncan’s alma mater on the hunt for *secret sauce*
The University of Chicago Lab Schools which Arne Duncan attended from K-12.
Reader: you are almost certainly aware that our Secretary of Education, Mr. Arne Duncan, has many excellent ideas regarding how to enhance the excellence of our failed and failing public schools. But did you ever pause to ask yourself *from whence did those ideas come?* It’s field trip time and our destination is none other than the very school that nurtured young Arne’s spirit: the University of Chicago Lab Schools, the bastion of progressive education founded by none other than John Dewey himself in 1896. And since I know that you are, at this very moment, administering a high-stakes test, I recently took it upon myself to drop in on the school on your behalf. Continue reading
What if the *solution* turns out to be a big part of the problem?
By Sarah Lahm
Friends, we have a problem on our hands. It turns out that experienced teachers—otherwise known as LIFO lifers—may not be causing the chasm of the achievement gap all by their lazy little selves. Now you’re probably thinking to yourself at this point: *color me confused.* After all, everyone who is anyone has been telling us for about as long as we can remember now that there is a money-back guaranteed way to boost all children up, no matter their zip code or lack thereof: de-tenurize teachers and take their golden *seniority* tickets while we’re at it. Continue reading
Will you help me realize my dream of attending Camp Reform-a-Lot?
Whiteface Lodge – look how nice it looks!
Reader: it’s a well known fact that nothing thrills me more than the prospect of attending an elite gathering of education reform elites. Which is why when I learned about this all-star camping trip of elite reform all stars, to be held next month at none other than Whiteface Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains, I knew that I had no choice but to go. Alas, there was a problem—actually a great many problems. You see, it turns out that all-star camping is not an inexpensive proposition. And to put students *first class* costs even more. Continue reading
Teach for America alumnus Ben Spielberg talks Vergara vs. California, teachers unions and why education reform without social justice isn’t possible.
TFA alum Ben Spielberg is now a leader of the San Jose Teachers Association.
EduShyster: Vergara vs. California, the landmark case that seeks to eliminate tenure for teachers, wrapped up this week. Do you think the plaintiffs made their case?
Spielberg: I’ve got to believe that they won’t win because their case was really bad. Even the experts they brought in to testify have found that there’s not that much disparity in terms of teaching quality between lower income and higher income schools, and because the statutes in question apply equivalently to low income and high income schools, it would be really hard to prove that they affect lower income and minority students differently than they do higher income students. I think that large part of the plaintiffs’ intention had less to do with winning than with waging a PR campaign against organized labor. The people who are driving this are generally wealthy interests that really dislike the concept that there are due process protections for any workers, not just teachers. They want all employment to be at will and they don’t want a collective voice. Continue reading
Is there anything Massachusetts can do to STEM the rising tide of mediocrity?
Once upon a time there was a little state with big dreams. We’ll call her Massachusetts as that is her name and, since 1993, she has been the standard bearer for educational standards. But the times they are a changin’ and the Massachusetts way of lifting all educational boats by making the school funding sea more equitable no longer seemed cool. Meanwhile a rising tide of mediocrity threatened her shores, a peril not covered by flood insurance. Fortunately a solution awaited on the other side of the pond: a raft of bold ideas for unleashing excellence. Continue reading