College Is For Everyone… Except for Those It’s Not

Seeing as how I'm an education dinosaur, having taught for the past 32 years, I've seen many a fad, meme, phase and reform come and go during my career. Each of these aforesaid events was billed as the new reality and the change that would ignite the staid and conservative field into a dynamo that would catapult American students into the learning stratosphere, nay, outer space, when it came to classroom success and global competition. It turns out that all of that change resulted in a lot of change...

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The Swift Fall of Testing – What Comes Next?

I've been in the education business for 31 years and I've seen many a fad come and go, from Teacher-proof curricula to shared decision-making to Differentiation to Cooperative Learning, Curriculum Mapping, Goals 2000 and various reading programs that focus on inventive spelling, phonics, whole language and learning vocabulary in context. Many of my colleagues didn't believe me when I said that our present testing fetish would also shuffle off the educational stage at some point. What caught me by surprise...

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Mrs. MacDowell 1 Exxon 0: Why I Knew in 1970 What Big Oil Still Denies

OK, let's go back to the halcyon days of the 1969-70 school year when I was in fourth grade. My teacher was one of those cool, hip, young people who knew how to reach children, to excite them to learn, and to inject a bit of reality and responsibility into them as they began to navigate the world. She was the kind of teacher that every child has, I hope, at least once during their schooling. I was lucky enough to have her as a teacher twice. One of the great activities I clearly remember from...

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Education’s Dirty Little Secret

The week began with the president saying that there was too much emphasis on testing in schools.  In the middle of the week, the New York Times published a story about Success Academy Charter Schools that, among other things, noted the following: The network serves mostly black and Hispanic students and is known for exacting behavior rules. Even the youngest pupils are expected to sit with their backs straight, their hands clasped and their eyes on the teacher, a posture that the network believes...

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Great Teachers Make Great Schools

Another school year. It's my 32nd as a teacher and I can still say that I love what I'm doing and believe that I am contributing to the betterment of society. I just wish that at some point before I go to the Great Faculty Room in the Sky, you know, the one where the microwave works, the carpet doesn't smell and the walls aren't made of cinder block, I could feel that society's attitudes about my work would improve and that the United States would value education as much as it does entertainment,...

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Education Roars Back

It's August and the Back to School sales are ramping up in earnest, at least here in the nor'east. The sales started in July for the more southerly US climes, but that's because they're already back in the classrooms. In any event, it's time once again to be thinking about education, and the issue is now near the top in this presidential election. One of the more popular articles making its way around electronica is this one  that essentially summarizes the findings of John Hattie, an educational...

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Education By Dummies

Politicians can talk all they want about how changes to the American education system such as the Common Core, new testing rubrics and teacher evaluation systems will vault us into the top tiers of learned nations over the next few years, but, really, that's not going to happen if what's happening in Arizona and other states doesn't get fixed. Consider: At least 30 states spent less per student this school year than in the year before the economic downturn began, and 14 states, including Arizona,...

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