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The Answer Sheet: February 27, 2011 - March 5, 2011

Why Bill Gates is wrong on class size

A veteran teacher explains why a proposal by Bill Gates to selectively increase class size doesn't make any educational or financial sense.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 5, 2011; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (55)
Categories:  Anthony Cody, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  anthony cody, bill gates, class size, school reform  
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Pearls of wisdom from the Education Department

In the “D-for duh” category, here is some of the advice that the Education Department spent time putting together as guidance just issued to governors on how to wisely spend federal money during these financially troubled times.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 5, 2011; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Educational leadership  | Tags:  arne duncan, ed department guidance, education budgets, education department, education secretary duncan, educational investments, educational productivity, guidance for governors, student outcomes  
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Why homework is counterproductive

Here are four reasons from Alfie Kohn about why homework is a losing enterprise for teachers, parents and students.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 4, 2011; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Alfie Kohn, Guest Bloggers, Homework  | Tags:  alfie kohn, disadvantages of homework, homework, homework research, how much homework  
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DFER’s achievement gap ‘bull’

There’s nothing like having a little fun with the achievement gap when you can make some money out of it.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 4, 2011; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Achievement gap  | Tags:  achievement gap, democrats for education reform, dfer, school reform  
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Value-added assessment: Theory vs practice

Conflating the importance of teacher quality with the ability to measure it carries big risks, and can lead states, districts and the media to miss the trees for the forest.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 3, 2011; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Matthew Di Carlo, Teachers  | Tags:  la times, la times teacher, los angeles times, los angeles times teachers, los angeles times teachers series, teacher assessment, teacher evaluation, teachers, teachers and value-added, teachers database, value added  
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The Diane Ravitch myth

Anybody reading much of the commentary written on education policy could be forgiven for thinking that education historian Diane Ravitch is somehow the Wizardess of Ed, the woman behind the curtain secretly pulling the strings.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 3, 2011; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
Categories:  Diane Ravitch  | Tags:  arne duncan, bill gates, charter schools, colbert report, diane ravitch, jon stewart, president obama, school reform, whitney tilson  
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School reform through confrontation

Increasingly in state after state, battles over school reform have become confrontational: Wisconsin, Indiana, etc. What are the consequences?

By Valerie Strauss  | March 2, 2011; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  collective bargaining rights, indiana, indiana collective bargaining, labor movement, no child left behind, teachers, wisconsin protests, wisconsin senators, wisconsin teachers  
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March Madness: 'My name is Luke and I refuse to take your test'

A father writes that his 11-year-old has spent this year in school getting ready for this month's Pennsylvania standardized assessment tests rather than pursuing intellectually stimulating classroom experiences. Now he wonders if he should ask his son to boycott the tests.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 2, 2011; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  bartleby project, penn state, pennsylvania assessments, rube goldberg, standardized tests  
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The Bill Gates problem in school reform

How our celebrity-obsessed culture affects school reform: If Bill Gates had no money, would anybody care what he has to say about how to fix public schools (especially since he lacks strong evidence to back his positions)?

By Valerie Strauss  | March 2, 2011; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (77)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  bill gates, gates foundation, gates interview, school reform, teacher evaluation teacher effectiveness  
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Obama's mistimed Miami school visit -- with Jeb Bush

What a tag team. At a time when Wisconsin teachers are protesting to keep their collective bargaining rights, President Obama is traveling to Florida to share a stage with the anti-union Jeb Bush, the former governor who led corporate-driven, standardized test-obsessed school reform and tried to reduce teachers union influence.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 2, 2011; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  School turnarounds/reform, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  arne duncan, president obama, president obama and teachers, rick scott, scott walker, wisconsin protests, wisconsin teachers  
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Jon Stewart's hysterical defense of teachers

Jon Stewart (finally) does a hysterical bit about the preposterous attacks on the nation’s public school teachers, who have been accused by school “reformers” of being lazy, greedy and lousy at their jobs.

By Valerie Strauss  | March 1, 2011; 12:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (93)
Categories:  Laugh and cry, Teachers  | Tags:  diane ravitch, jon stewart, school reform, the daily show, wisconsin protests, wisconsin teachers  
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The fight over teaching evolution, climate change

A survey shows many biology teachers are afraid to teach evolution. A proposed law in Tennessee would require science educators to "teach the controversies" regarding evolution and climate change -- even though scientists don't think there is much controversy. What's going on in the world of science instruction?

By Valerie Strauss  | March 1, 2011; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Anthony Cody, Guest Bloggers, Science  | Tags:  climate change, evolution, global warming, intelligent design, science class, scopes trial, teaching climate change, teaching evolution, theory of evolution  
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Ravitch: 'A moment of national insanity'

Education historian Diane Ravitch writes: "The reality on the ground suggests that the corporate reform movement ... will set American education back, by how many years or decades is anyone's guess."

By Valerie Strauss  | March 1, 2011; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
Categories:  Diane Ravitch, Education Secretary Duncan, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  arne duncan, diane ravitch, gates foundation, president obama, president obama and school reform, race to the top, school reform, teachers  
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Debating Michelle Rhee

Here's a look at the two central questions posed by "The Bee Keeper," the new book about Michelle Rhee: Why do D.C. schools perform so much worse than many other big city school districts? Was Rhee’s the right approach to improving the schools?

By Valerie Strauss  | February 28, 2011; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (103)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Michelle Rhee, Richard Kahlenberg  | Tags:  michelle rhee, richard whitmire, school reform, slate magazine, studentsfirst, teacher assessment, the bee eater  
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'Brain-based' education: Run from it

A veteran educator explains why teachers should run from any curriculum that says it is "brain-based."

By Valerie Strauss  | February 28, 2011; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Larry Cuban, Learning, Research  | Tags:  brain research, brain-based education, daniel willingham, education and brain, larry cuban  
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How PS 22 chorus got to sing at Oscars

If you'd never heard of the fifth grade chorus of Public Schoo 22 in Staten Island, New York, you will now. The kids performed at the conclusion of the Academy Awards.

By Valerie Strauss  | February 28, 2011; 1:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anthony Cody  | Tags:  academy awards, anne hathaway, glee club, ps 22, ps 22 academy awards, ps 22 chorus, somewhere over the rainbow  
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How 'Inside Job" explains school reform

Here, in a repeat performance, is a piece explaining why Academy Award winning documentary "Inside Job," does a great job explaining school reform even though it is about the financial crisis.

By Valerie Strauss  | February 27, 2011; 10:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Kevin Welner  | Tags:  academy award, inside job, waiting for superman  
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James Franco’s unusual education

James Franco, actor and co-host of The Academy Awards tonight, likes going to school. In fact, he still is, studying for his doctorate in English at Yale University, while fitting in movie and television appearances when he isn’t studying.

By Valerie Strauss  | February 27, 2011; 12:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  anne hathaway, columbia university, james franco, the academy awards, the oscars, yale university  
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2 false claims that drive school reform

"Accountability" and "merit" are compelling concepts, especially when we are talking about adults who are charged with educating our children. But the concepts have been misused in school reform, writes an educator.

By Valerie Strauss  | February 27, 2011; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (71)
Categories:  Accountability, Charter schools, Guest Bloggers, Performance pay, Teacher assessment  | Tags:  accountability movement, charter schools, geoffrey canada, merit pay, michelle rhee, performance pay, school choice, teacher pay, teachers, waiting for superman  
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