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  • The dominant regime for the past decade or more has been what is sometimes called accountability-based reform or, by many of its critics, "corporate education reform."
  • market-like competitive pressures (through the spread of charter schools and educational voucher programs) to provide public schools with incentives to improve.*
  • criticisms: the reforms have self-interest and profit motives, not educational improvement, as their basis; corporate interests are reaping huge benefits from these reform  initiatives and spending millions of dollars lobbying to keep those benefits flowing; three big foundations (Gates, Broad, and Walton Family) are funding much of the backing for the corporate reforms and are spending billions to market and sell reforms that don't work; ancillary goals of these reforms are to bust teacher unions, disempower educators, and reduce spending on public schools; standardized testing is enormously expensive in terms both of public expenditures and the diversion of instruction time to test prep; over a third of charter schools deliver "significantly worse" results for students than the traditional public schools from which they were diverted;

  • "the governor two years ago proposed a bill to eliminate the state minimum salary schedule and leave pay fully up to local school boards. [Then] Haslam pulled the bill after lawmakers, including leaders of the Republican majority, opposed the idea.  Huffman submitted the new plan as a rule change to the appointed State Board of Education in April as the legislature was adjourning for the year.
  • Commissioner Huffman, along with those who tell him that he's right, often believe that elected officials just won't make the hard education policy decisions because they might lose the next election.  That's not really a view that supports a democratic system of government, but that is the approach being taken here:  couldn't do it in the legislature, so let's still make it happen even though it couldn't happen in the legislature because Tennesseans don't want it

  • With so many ideas for education innovation and reform here at home, why should the United States pay attention to what school systems around the globe are doing? Veteran journalist Dan Rather recently posed that question to Linda Darling-Hammond, an expert in school redesign and teacher quality who was President Obama’s education adviser for his first presidential campaign.
  • In a democracy, "we all benefit or we all hurt," says Darling-Hammond, "depending on the education other people's kids get."

  • It cannot be a spirit of civic generosity that motivates for-profit corporations
  • I am troubled that Rhee thinks that teachers are the biggest problem facing American education
  • Rhee has turned this urban myth into a national crusade against teachers. If scores are low, she suggests, it is because the students have lazy, incompetent teachers who should be fired.

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  • this generation of students isn't waiting to be asked what they think.
  • These examples paint a picture of students that are certainly a far cry from the stereotype of the next generation as self-centered kids who spend all their time texting each other.
  • it's clear that there's an increased student consciousness about education issues, and they want to get involved—and when they do, they have good ideas.

  • using the term "performance pay" reinforces the dominant idea of tying teacher pay to student test results.
  • Semantics are important.
  • the all too prevalent either-or educational debates are a waste of time and creative energy.

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  • Why We Inflate Grades
      August 9, 2011 - 3:00am



    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made headlines recently by announcing a plan to fight grade inflation: all grades received will be contextualized on student transcripts, allowing graduate schools and potential employers to see grade distributions for each course and thus to determine just how much value to attach to those ever-prevalent As and Bs. This move is the latest in a series of attacks on what is perceived by many (rightly) to be an epidemic in higher education today, particularly among those institutions that seem to do well in the national rankings.

Oct 11, 10

"The more you rely on coercion and extrinsic inducements, as a matter of fact, the less interest students are likely to have in whatever they were induced to do."

  • How to Create Nonreaders
    Reflections on Motivation, Learning, and Sharing Power

    By Alfie Kohn


                                Autonomy-supportive teachers seek a student's initiative
                                 - whereas controlling teachers seek a student's compliance.
                                                                       -- J. Reeve, E. Bolt, & Y. Cai

    Not that you asked, but my favorite Spanish proverb, attributed to the poet Juan Ramón Jiménez, can be translated as follows:  "If they give you lined paper, write the other way."  In keeping with this general sentiment, I'd like to begin my contribution to an issue of this journal whose theme is "Motivating Students" by suggesting that it is impossible to motivate students

  • when reform is going strong it can become a closed ideological system, deaf to the cautionary tale.
  • his is not the way to foster the unified effort called for in the sentence
  • Reformers have been masterful at characterizing anyone who differs from their approach as “traditionalists” who want to maintain the status quo, putting their own retrograde professional interests ahead of the good of children.

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Oct 19, 10

"memorizing. You have to find out who you are by experience and by risk-­taking, then pursue your own nature intensely. School routines are set up to discourage you from self-discovery. People who know who they are make trouble for schools."

Oct 14, 10

"Instead, we’re building automatons, robots, and people frustrated with the constant barrage of big tests (ask Nicholas Lemann). I don’t hate you, Barack, and I hope that’s evident. With all these teabaggers, that’s not as present. I just totally disagree with your policies, capiche?"

Oct 13, 10

"Although I live in Pennsylvania, I have worked in the New Jersey public school system my entire professional career, first as an English teacher, and currently as a school psychologist. If you follow politics in NJ, you know that much of the new governor’s platform rhetoric is built around getting rid of “bad teachers”.

This, unfortunately, is a microcosm of the larger “debate” (is it really a debate? Really?) happening in the US surrounding education. Politicians, celebrities, filmmakers, and everyone who has ever attended school (and is therefore an expert in education) are calling for the heads of bad teachers."

Oct 12, 10

"The "reform" line of thinking goes like this: The main problem with the schools is that the teachers have no incentive to work hard, and they are protected by a union; if we remove the union, teachers can respond to individual financial incentives and great things will become possible. That, wrapped in a powerful emotional package, with clever cartoons and brilliant editing, is the message delivered succinctly to the general public in the new film, "Waiting for 'Superman' "."

Oct 12, 10

""The Gates, Walton, and Broad foundations came to exercise vast influence over American education," Ravitch reported, "because of their strategic investment in school reform. "... These foundations set the policy agenda not only for school districts, but also for states and even the U.S. Department of Education." "

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