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The Answer Sheet: October 17, 2010 - October 23, 2010

Building teacher accountability from the ground up

Educator Anthony Cody spells out the practices that help improve instruction and that build teacher accountability into schools.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 23, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  accountability, anthony cody, national certified teacher, school reform, teacher assessment, teacher magazine, teachers  
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Economic school integration: A response to Valerie Strauss and Jerry Weast

Richard D. Kahlenberg makes strong arguments as he responds to separate criticism that Montgomery County Public Schools Supt. Jerry Weast and I raised about a Century Foundation report about economic school integration in Montgomery County.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 22, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Equity, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  century foundation, economic integration, economic school integration, jerry weast, mcps, montgomery county, montgomery county public schools, richard kahlenberg, school choice, socioeconomic integregation, the answer sheet, valerie strauss  
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Kohn: The pretend reformers

Alfie Kohn writes: " Real education reform would require us to consider the elimination of many features that we’ve come to associate with school, so perhaps the reluctance to take such suggestions seriously is just a specific instance of the 'whatever is, is right' bias that psychologists keep documenting."

By Valerie Strauss  | October 22, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Alfie Kohn, Guest Bloggers, No Child Left Behind, Standardized Tests, Teachers  | Tags:  alfie kohn, davis guggenheim, duncan, george bush, george w. bush, joel k lein, obama, school reform, seymour papert, waiting for superman  
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Court: Cheerleader had no 1st Amendment right to refuse to cheer for alleged assailant

This really happened: A federal appeals court ruled that a former Silsbee, Texas, high school cheerleader did not have a First Amendment right to refuse to cheer for a basketball player who she had accused of sexually assaulting her and who later pleaded guilty to simple assault.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 22, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  cheerleader, dismissed from team, first amendment rights, sexual assault, texas cheerleader, texas court  
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Afterschool programs in funding jeopardy

Thousands of afterschool programs are in danger of losing their funding because of a proposal that would allow federal money now used to support these programs to instead pay for longer school days. That may sound like it makes sense, but it doesn't.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 21, 2010; 1:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Learning  | Tags:  afterschool alliance, afterschool funds, afterschool programs, arne duncan, extending school day, lights on afterschool, longer school day, president obama, quality afterschool, school reform, student achievement  
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On school reform, by Philadelphia's mayor and superintendent

Philadelphia's mayor and schools superintendent write: "To read the news coming out of Washington, D.C., you’d think the only way to reform public schools is by firing teachers, closing schools, and battling it out in the media. Not so."

By Valerie Strauss  | October 21, 2010; 12:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform, Teachers  | Tags:  arlene ackerman, engagement, michael nutter, parent involvement, philadelphia schools, school reform, teachers, teachers union  
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Kudos for D.C. school meal program but hold applause for Congress

D.C. public schools officials deserve an ovation for a new program to feed dinner to about 10,000 students in an effort to help improve childhood nutrition and ensure that kids don’t go hungry. But let's hold the applause for Congress.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 21, 2010; 10:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Health  | Tags:  d.c. schools, dinners at school, food stamps, healthy meals, hunger, michelle rhee, nutrition, obama administration, school breakfast, school dinners, school lunch, school meals, school nutrition act  
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English teacher: Data can drive us down wrong road

An English teacher writes: "Strict adherence to data-driven instruction can lead schools to push aside science and social studies to drill students on isolated reading benchmarks.... It is difficult to teach kids to read well if they don’t learn to enjoy reading. It is impossible to teach kids to read well while denying them the knowledge they need to make sense of complex material. Following the data often forces teachers to do just that."

By Valerie Strauss  | October 21, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Learning, Standardized Tests, Teachers  | Tags:  compare and contrast, fcat, florida comprehensive assessment test, standardized tests, teachers, teaching, test questions  
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New data on bullying: 17% report regular abuse

New data on bullying show that 17 percent of American students report being bullied two to three times a month or more within a school semester, with girls and boys having similar rates. The study's release follows a series of suicides by young gays who were bullied. Bullying isn't a topic we hear education leaders talk much about, except when someone dies.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 20, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
Categories:  Bullying, Research  | Tags:  bullying, bullying and suicide, bullying rates, bullying victims, dan olweus, gay suicide, intervention, suicides  
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Threats to school reform ... are within school reform

Educator Mike Rose writes: "There is a crisis in American education, and it involves mostly poor children, and thus it is a moral as well as educational outrage. But it is just not accurate to characterize public education itself as being in a 30-year crisis."

By Valerie Strauss  | October 20, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Mike Rose, No Child Left Behind, Performance pay, Race to the Top, School turnarounds/reform, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  Harlem children's zone, KPP, Teach for America, a nation at risk, curriculum, deborah meier, how to fix our schools, joel klein, manifesto, mike rose, narrowing of curriculum, no child left behind, poverty and schools, race to the top, reform manifesto, school reform, stephen j. gould  
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The rich irony in Virginia’s history textbook error

There is rich historic irony in the news that a textbook given to Virginia’s fourth graders wrongly claims that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War: The process by which textbooks are adopted by states began because Southern states after the war did not want their children to read the North’s version of the conflict.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 20, 2010; 10:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Curriculum, History, Textbooks  | Tags:  black confederates, civil war, confederate soldiers, diane ravitch, did blacks fight for the south, history textbooks, jay mathews, textbook adoption, textbooks, the confederacy, virginia textbook, virginia textbooks  
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The Chamber of Commerce's flawed 'Superman' school reform guide

In a shameless act of movie flacking, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just published a guide for business leaders on school reform that is linked to and reinforces the skewed vision of public education portrayed in the movie “Waiting for Superman.”

By Valerie Strauss  | October 20, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  batman, business leaders, business leaders and school reform, chamber of commerce, charter schools, clark kent, davis guggenheim, effective teachers, finland and teachers, reform guide, school reform, superman, superman and clark kent, teach for america, waiting for superman, what superman would do  
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Missing from reform debate: The power of caring

The founder of YouthBuild programs writes: "We are woefully off the mark when the conversation is all about superintendents and principals needing power to fire inept teachers and not about using their power to create a caring, learning community."

By Valerie Strauss  | October 19, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform, Student Life  | Tags:  curriculum, harlem schools, learning process, parent involvement, school reform, teachers development, youthbuild  
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Reduce standardized testing to improve accountability, school quality

FairTest's Monty Neill writes that reducing the amount of standardized testing, and lowering the stakes connected to the result will result in more accountability and school quality.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 19, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Standardized Tests, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  arne duncan, quality reviews, race to the top, school-based assessments, standardized tests, teacher assessment, teacher evaluation, testing  
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How billionaire donors harm public education

Today the foundation set up by billionaires Eli and Edythe Broad is giving $2 million to an urban school district that has pursued education reform that they like. On Friday a Florida teacher is going to run 50 miles to raise money so that he and his fellow teachers don’t have to spend their own money to buy paper and pencils, binders (1- and 2-inch), spiral notebooks, composition books, printer ink. Together the two events show the perverted way schools are funded.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Equity, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  bill gates, broad prize, charter schools, eli broad, facebook, mark zuckerberg, newark schools, school reform  
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Top 10 teen books chosen -- by teens

Here are the top 10 books that thousands of teenagers in school book clubs around the country picked as their favorites for 2010, released today as part of Teen Read Week.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 18, 2010; 2:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Reading  | Tags:  Laurie Halse Anderson, ala, catching fire, favorite teen books, reading, sarah desson, suzanne collins, teen reading, top teen books  
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Willingham: Should teachers be so important?

Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham writes: "Teacher quality is the most important in-school factor that influences kids’ schooling. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing."

By Valerie Strauss  | October 18, 2010; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Teachers  | Tags:  daniel willingham, education, school reform, schools, student achievement, teachers  
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Why 'Superman' film should be 'Waiting for Batman'

A veteran teacher writes that Davis Guggenheim mixed up his superheroes and should have named his film "Waiting for Superman" after Batman.

By Valerie Strauss  | October 18, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  batman, davis guggenheim, heroes, superheroes, superman, susan graham, teacher leaders network  
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Rothstein: Why teacher quality can't be only centerpiece of reform

Richard Rothstein on the Klein/Rhee manifesto: "Making teacher quality the only centerpiece of a reform campaign distracts our attention from other equally and perhaps more important school areas needing improvement, areas such as leadership, curriculum, and practices of collaboration.... ut most important, making teacher quality the focus distracts us from the biggest threat to student achievement in the current age: our unprecedented economic catastrophe and its effect on parents and their children’s ability to gain from higher-quality schools."

By Valerie Strauss  | October 17, 2010; 9:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  School turnarounds/reform, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  achievement gap, joel klein, manifesto, michelle rhee, poverty, richard rothstein, school manifesto, school reform, teacher quality  
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