What I learned in school

some observations from a public school classroom

Posts tagged policy

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Why you should pay for public schools even if you don’t have kids

The researchers believe it’s not simply the case that good schools happen to be located in good communities. Rather, public schools actually contribute to that satisfaction — and for everyone.

Wait, what? You mean good public schools reflect a sense of ownership by their communities? 

No criticism intended to the researchers, but it’s always interesting to note how often obvious truths have to be reintroduced into the discussion. 

In a followup on Twitter, I boiled it down to “social mobility starts in schools.” I really think this is true and if you look back to those who successfully introduced compulsory public education, social mobility and equality of opportunity were key goals. 

Filed under community values schools culture policy ownership whatilearnedinschool

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Improving Education: Getting to the Real Problems

How much of this should be just common sense? Points 5 and 6 are actually the highest priorities on here for me. 

Ed reform folks spend most of their time worrying about issues that are side shows.  Even if they got everything they wanted, we would still be in trouble. So what is really wrong with education and how do we fix it?  I will spend an entire blog on this, but some elements are:

1.  We need clear curricula that describe what students need to know when they graduate high school.  And such curricula should not be the product of ed school Ph.Ds, but disciplinary college/university experts and future employers, among others, with strong involvement by parents and other critically interested parties.  Discovery math curricula is an example of ed-school driven material that is undermining our kids education.

2.  We must insure teachers know the material they are teaching…in fact, they need to know it at a far deeper level than they are teaching.

3.   Ed Schools spend too much time talking about social change and too little on disciplinary knowledge and instruction on best teaching methods.  This has to change.

4.   Education research is a national embarrassment, with most “research” not meeting minimal standards for scientific research (the National Research Council said this, not me).  Randomized research should guide the development and selection of the best curriculum and teaching approaches…it does not now.  Education has to move away from unproven fads and use robust, rigorous research to guide teaching approaching and curriculum choices.

5.  The implications of student demographics needs to be accepted and dealt with.  One approach is to give high priority to early education (2-5 years).  You can’t wait until kindergarten to deal with impoverished learning backgrounds…it is to late for many students.

6.  Students should not move to the next grade unless they prove they have the requisite skills.  And grade inflation has made report cards nearly meaningless measures of performance.   

Filed under education policy reform charter schools early education whatilearnedinschool

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Washington State: Applying for Waiver Might 'Validate' NCLB

Such is politics: arguing against a law too strongly might confer legitimacy on it, so better to work within it and argue for repeal or modification. 


The Obama administration is going to loosen requirements from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Law for 10 states, according to an administration official. The states applied for a waiver that would let them substitute new, more flexible evaluation standards. Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee were all approved. New Mexico was denied, but they are working to get approval. No Child Left Behind required all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

Filed under schools education policy nclb washington whatilearnedinschool

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Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies — just to make a difference.
Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.

Transcript: President Obama delivers State of the Union speech - CNN.com

The teachers I know spend their own money on school supplies, even food when a kid needs it. I think it goes with the territory, a kind of unwritten pledge. 

I would have liked to hear the President talk about supporting parents and families to ensure their kids get the education they are going to need. I heard a lot about business owners and innovators, even about soldiers, but every one of those people was a young student who needed some guidance, maybe a kind word or a firm correction. We really can’t start too early. 

Filed under schools education families sotu Barack Obama values society policy whatilearnedinschool