In no particular order other than when I remembered them:
1. “Competency-Based Education in Iowa, Down the Pike it Comes” by Shawn Cornally at ThinkThankThunk. Lest you believe that education reform means endless standardized testing to determine teacher pay, here’s an actual idea for education reform that is mind-blowing. I read this in the morning last week and it was the same feeling you get when you buy a lottery ticket because you know in your logical mind that you won’t win the prize but the prospect alone fills your heart with excitement at the possibilities. I don’t think I can pithily summarize Mr. Cornally’s idea, so I urge you to read it at once.
The numbers vary but, on average, suggest that about 35-40% of students in state colleges and universities are held for one or more basic skills courses. The numbers increase in the community college, typically 60% and higher. So roughly half of post-secondary students in the United States need some assistance in order to do college-level work.
These numbers are alarming; however, some form of remediation has existed in American higher education for a very long time, and, by some estimates, the numbers have remained modestly stable. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, more than 40% of entering students were involved in a preparatory program. In the 1970s, Berkeley was holding about 50% of its students for remedial English. On some campuses, the numbers are going up, and that increase can be accounted for by the declining conditions of some K-12 districts, but, also, by an increase in the number of people attending college: people who, a generation or two ago, would not have thought college possible or economically necessary.
There is a lot more and it is all great.
3. “Learning the Wrong Lessons” by Elementary Rat. A great post about the lessons the two years-and-done crowd picks up and how they ignorantly wield that “knowledge” like a mace. Pith:
So what the CMs assume is that veterans are lazy. They don’t have the understanding or experience to know what they don’t know. And when they take their incorrect understanding to leadership roles, they make teaching harder for everyone.
She is a former TFA teacher herself, if I am not mistaken. Her blog is always a good read, but I put a gold star next to this one.
4. “Won’t Step Up: Idealism, Evidence, and Entertainment” by Christopher Lubienski. An interesting post on how media narratives about teachers have morphed from the tireless rescuers of urban schoolkids (Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds) into the dangerously lazy malcontents of contemporary fare (Won’t Back Down, Bad Teacher):
Recent Hollywood movies such as Won’t Back Down and Bad Teacher are buttressed by documentaries like Waiting for Superman, The Lottery and The Cartel in promoting the notion that education failure is due primarily to bad schools and, more specifically, to those who teach in them.
Phans of charter schools and other achievement-gap closing necessities are fond of saying that they have figured out how to “crack the code” about the best way to reach the minority kids that our union-stifled public schools and their LIFO lifer teachers have failed. What they don’t say, though, is that their secret rephormer decoder rings activate hyper-segregated schools where students who are overwhelmingly minority are taught almost exclusively by young white teachers. Allow me to represent said cracking of code with a helpful mathematical equation—let’s call it the Education Rephormula 4 Success:
X (minority urban students) + Y (young, fresh white teachers) + H (high expectations) – L (low excuses) + T (test prep) + T (test prep) + T (test prep) + G (good posture) – A (attrition) – S (suspensions) = ⇈(rising test scores) + P (phawning press coverage) + N (infinite opportunities for expansion of excellence) which = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
If alternate spellings bother you, skip this one. However, it is pretty essential to the experience in my estimation.