Common Core

AstroTurf Alert: National Parents Union is Thinly Veiled Union Busting Backed by Billionaire Cash – Education Article

 How do you do something disgusting without hurting your image?     If you’re the Walton Family, you hide behind a mask.     That’s what their latest AstroTurf front group is – the so-called National Parents Union (NPU).     It’s a way to bust teachers unions, destroy public schools and profit off of students behind the guise of a friendly parents organization.     Oh, it’s all funded with oodles of cash from the Walton family and other…

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Public School Teacher Questions for 2020 Dem Presidential Candidates – Education Article

      What happens when you give a microphone to a public school teacher?     That’s not a rhetorical question. I really want to know, because we so rarely let educators speak in any context other than the classroom.     Maybe that’s why it’s so refreshing that MSNBC is hosting “Public Education Forum 2020: Equity and Justice for All”on Saturday, Dec. 14, in my hometown of Pittsburgh.     Public policy is usually made by billionaires who…

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Teachers Are Not Responsible for Student Growth or Achievement – Education Article

 Earlier this week, I was rushed to another urgent early morning staff meeting at my school.   I had my laptop with me and was frantically trying to get everything ready that I’d need for the day.   Text dependent analysis question? Check.   Discussion guide to introduce the concept of science fiction? Check.   Questions on literacy, analogy, vocabulary and sentence structure suitable for 7th grade? Check.   The same suitable for 8th grade? Check.   And as I…

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Are Teachers Allowed to Think for Themselves? – Education Article

 As a public school teacher, I am often told what to do and how to do it.   Go teach this class.   Report to lunch duty at this time.   Monitor this student’s progress in this way, that student’s progress in another way, differentiate the following, document this medical condition, write up this behavior, check for that kind of hall pass, post and teach these academic standards, etc., etc., etc.   Some of these directives I agree with and…

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Eight Things I Love About Elizabeth Warren’s Education Plan – And One I Don’t – Education Article

 My daughter had bad news for me yesterday at dinner.   She turned to me with all the seriousness her 10-year-old self could muster and said, “Daddy, I know you love Bernie but I’m voting for Elizabeth.”  “Elizabeth Warren?” I said choking back a laugh.   Her pronouncement had come out of nowhere. We had just been discussing how disgusting the pierogies were in the cafeteria for lunch.  And she nodded with the kind of earnestness you can only have…

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In Defense of Fairy Tales in High School – Education Article

Last year, I taught The Princess Bride in my classroom, which is a fairy tale satire. To make sure my students understood what, exactly, William Golding was making fun of, we spent about six days taking a deep look at fairy tales. I was amazed at the conversations we had. Students were struck by how the place a fairy was set changed the tale. They marveled at how fairy tales were used to share some sort of wisdom for children. Most of…

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Opinion: Why Teachers Shouldn’t Write Curriculum – Education Article

The word “curriculum,” as it pertains to education, can include everything from the materials used to teach our students to the planned learning experiences. If we think of the Common Core standards as the academic destination for our students (the “what” we want them to know and be able to do), our curriculum is the vehicle for getting them there. However, teachers are often asked to do too much when it comes to curriculum design and planning. However, teachers are…

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The Absurdity of Standardized Testing: Caught Between Prediction and Assessment – Education Article

 Standardized testing is truly absurd.  It’s both a prediction and an assessment.   You take a test to determine what you’ve learned and that will in turn predict what you will be able to learn in the future.   We hardly ever do this anywhere else in life.   We don’t measure babies’ leg muscles to predict whether they’re ready to walk. We let them do what they do, possibly with some encouragement and positive models of locomotion, and they…

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Inside Bill Gates’ Hubris: Propaganda to Make America Neoliberal Again – Education Article

 Once upon a time, the world was run by rich men.   And all was good.   But then the world was conquered by other rich men.   And that is something the first group of rich men could not allow.   That is the reason behind Netflix’s new film “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates.”   The three-part documentary goes live on Sept. 20. But the film’s aims are clear from the trailer.   It’s a vanity project about…

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Busing and School Segregation Used for Politics not Policy – Education Article

 If children of all races went to the same schools with each other, it would be harder to treat them unequally.   Moreover, it would be harder for them to grow up prejudiced because they would have learned what it’s like to have classmates who are different from them.   And though most people agree with these premises in principle, our laws still refuse to make them a reality in fact.   Perhaps that’s why it was so astounding when…

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Top 10 Reasons Bernie Sanders’ Education Policies Are Light Years Ahead of Everyone Else’s – Education Article

    For most of my life, the United States has been neglecting its public school children – especially the black and brown ones.   Since the mid 1970s, instead of integrating our schools, we’ve been slowly resegregating them on the basis of race and social class.   Since the 1980s, instead of measuring academic success by the satisfaction of an individuals curiosity and authentic learning, we’ve been slowly redefining it to mean nothing but achievement on standardized tests.  …

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Standardized Tests Are Not Objective Measures of Anything – Education Article

 When it comes to standardized tests, most people are blinded by science.   Or at least the appearance of science.   Because there is little about these assessments that is scientific, factual or unbiased.   And that has real world implications when it comes to education policy.   First of all, the federal government requires that all public school children take these assessments in 3-8th grade and once in high school. Second, many states require teachers be evaluated by their…

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My New Book Was Just Announced! – Education Article

I am very excited! My new book was just announced! The title is: SLAYING GOLIATH: The Impassioned Fight to Defeat the Privatization Movement and to Save America’s Public Schools.  It will be published on January 14, 2020, by Knopf, the most prestigious publisher in America. The editor is the brilliant Victoria Wilson, who is also an author, having written the definitive biography of Barbara Stanwyck. In Slaying Goliath, you will read about the heroes of the Resistance, those who stood up to…

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SAT Adversity Score is an Antidote to Poison None of Us Need Take – Education Article

  Let’s say someone gave you a vial of poison.   Would you drink it? Of course not.   What if he gave you the antidote, too. Would you take the poison then?   Heck no!   Why would anyone knowingly ingest poison even if they knew they could counteract its effects?   But that’s pretty much the situation high school students across the country are in today with the SAT test.   The College Board has admitted that the…

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Bringing Climate Change into the E/LA Classroom – Education Article

English/language arts students have the privilege of being “transported across the globe, back in time or into the future” as they read poems, plays, novels, and articles because classrooms are “spaces of discovery, possibility, and participation where students learn to empathize with experiences of people like and unlike themselves” (Beach et al, 2017). These students grapple with big topics, universal themes, and matters of morality. They also learn to think critically and use their voice in writing. The structure and…

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Diane Ravitch’s New Book is a Fun and Breezy Romp Through the Maze of School Policy – Education Article

Imagine you could talk with Diane Ravitch for 10 to 15 minutes everyday.  That’s kind of what reading her new book, “The Wisdom and the Witt of Diane Ravitch”, is like.  You’ve probably heard of Ravitch before.   She’s the kindly grandmother you see on the news who used to think standardized tests and school privatization were the way to go but actually had the courage to pull an about face.   She’s that rare thing in public policy –…

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