Strong American Schools

Observant visitors to TeacherJay’s blog may have noticed a new button (down towards the bottom of the left-side column). It is to the ED in ’08 site and their campaign sponsored by the group, Strong American Schools. Today’s post gives an overview of the organization and their primary goals. Read the rest of this entry »

Miss-Spellings

As an update to a previous post, TeacherJay wanted to take a moment to point out Thursday’s NY Times article in which Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings seems less than enthusiastic about the drafts of the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act being passed around in the House of Representatives. Ms. Spellings is quite a fan of “increased accountability”. TeacherJay still thinks it is a bad idea to punish, or penalize, schools for not making “sufficient progress” when that progress is ill-defined in the first place. Today’s post looks briefly at how the head of all education systems in the country might spell disaster for immigrant students. Read the rest of this entry »

Spellings Test

While searching for some funny clips of politicians, TeacherJay found something a bit unexpected… to date, the only (active) member of the Bush administration to appear on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart was Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, on May 22, 2007 (Wikipedia). Although she is one of the evil architects authors of the No Child Left Behind Act, TeacherJay was interested in the interview and in today’s post gives his reactions to the clip. Read the rest of this entry »

School Breakfast

Coming to school and sitting in class with an empty stomach makes learning difficult. Many school districts around the country serve breakfast, and often it is free or at a reduced price for students who already receive free or reduced lunch. So why are many students not partaking of this offer and still going hungry in class? Notoriously bad cafeteria food may have something to do with it, but some recent reports and this recent NY Times article may also shed some light on the issue. Today’s post looks at some of the reasons this may be happening and also introduces the beginnings of a plan to correct the problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Paying for An Education

Don’t be confused, this post is not about the differences between private and public schooling… TeacherJay has already put forth his opinions on that over at Karl Frank Jr.’s blog. This post is however about pilot programs that are paying students for good grades and test scores, as well as the high test scores on economics that are showing up nationwide. In a school near you, students may soon be paid actual cash just for coming to school and doing what they are supposed to be doing… learning. Is this an innovative method of getting kids interested in going to school or just a ploy to turn them into capitalist drones? Read the rest of this entry »

Failing Schools Pass Students

A recent NY Times article, shows the conflict that exists in the NYC public school system between what a good education should be and the desire to raise graduation rates. The unfortunate consequence is that although many students are receiving diplomas, they are not prepared for college or any world outside of high school. What was, perhaps, designed to be a benefit to students is actually a great disservice. Today’s post looks at some of the effects of such policies and makes some recommendations about what should be done in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

Center on Education Policy

In a recent New York Times article, a recent study by the Center on Education Policy would appear to show that a fewer number of schools have increased time in Reading and Math, the two subjects that the No Child Left Behind Act focuses on, than previously thought. Today’s post contains some of TeacherJay’s opinions on the CEP and NCLB.

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You Can Bring a Student to the School…

…but can you give him equal access to education? Instead of fixing schools in poor neighborhoods former North Carolina Senator and 2008 Presidential Candidate John Edwards’ idea to increase the level of economic diversity in schools is to help families move elsewhere, along with busing inner-city students to the suburbs and creating inner-city magnet schools to attract suburban students into the city. The Supreme Court has repeatedly shot down districts who try to use race as the only factor in integrating schools. Due to the economic climate of the nation, they are now able to use economic status in its place and accomplish the same goal – but what does that mean for education system? Today’s post looks at some “solutions” to the lack of diversity in America’s schools and whether or not they are being fair to give all students equal access to education.

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History Lessons

History is written by the victors. Ten people could witness the same event, and if you asked them all afterwards what happened, you would probably get eleven different versions. Much of what we read in history books is from the American perspective, and over the years the text has been trimmed to include only the most favorable parts. Today’s post looks first at the book, History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History, and then points out some of the problems plaguing the teaching of history and current events in the American school system and introduces the non-profit, Americans for Informed Democracy, that is aimed at reversing the trend of American isolationism. Read the rest of this entry »

On Becoming a Leader (in Education)

Warren Bennis‘ 1989 book, On Becoming a Leader, was revised and expanded for a 2003 edition. In this classic, Bennis outlines some of the key characteristics that are common to leaders in all fields. He draws these conclusions from many interviews and biographies of past and present leaders, such as former presidents, business CEOs and college presidents. In explaining these concepts, Bennis often turns to the U.S. school system to point out how it is not conducive to producing future leaders as it has a tendency to train rather than to educate. His overall message is that it is vital for a leader to have a vision that can be clearly articulated to followers. That vision may need to evolve over time as it needs to fit in the context of the lives of the followers. Read the rest of this entry »

How Hard Can It Be?

David Herszenhorn has been covering the Education beat for the New York Times for over four years. He has spoken to many veteran teachers, and many administrators that can all attest to the fact that teaching is difficult work. In an article appearing on July 11, Herszenhorn recounts an event in which mayor Bloomberg gave a group of 7-year-olds a set of four directions all at once, and out of sequence. TeacherJay chuckled at the way a man who built himself a multi-billionaire dollar empire and speaks about how important education is to our children did not recognize how to give age-appropriate directions. The reason for the story was not to embarrass the mayor, but rather to point out that a teacher’s job is more than just going through the motions of a lesson and keeping a classroom orderly. Read the rest of this entry »

Is NCLB Helping or Hijacking?

Following TeacherJay’s comments that while the No Child Left Behind Act is certainly not the magic cure for America’s ailing schools, from a previous post, some of his comments appeared on fellow blogger Rick Branscomb’s site. Branscomb is the author of Deducation and seems to believe that a major goal of NCLB legislation is to prove that the public schools in this country are failing in order to turn school funding over to private enterprise. An excerpt from an earlier entry includes, “Our educational system is being killed: it’s almost dead. Deducation, I call it. Mind-numbing, teaching to invalid tests, memorization of facts that won’t be facts tomorrow, stifling all ability to think critically, taking all teaching decisions out of the hands of teachers” in his plea to have NCLB repealed. Read the rest of this entry »

The Shame of the Nation

Jonathan Kozol‘s 2005 book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, looks at the issue of racial integration in the nation’s schools. Over 50 years after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and forcing the immediate integration of America’s schools, we have not yet achieved that goal. Kozol uses the passionate voices of teachers and students, mostly from urban New York City schools and the suburban areas of Long Island, to tell how the nation has been failing a large portion of its children and, in fact, creating a system of apartheid by withholding a proper education from so many children. Read the rest of this entry »

NCLB Not So Horrific…?

Andrew Rotherham’s Eduwonk brought up an interesting point yesterday… is No Child Left Behind really as “horrific as it is made out to be”? When you get right down to it though isn’t NCLB’s goal to help children and reform schools? Okay, the rhetoric that went into may have been flawed and it’s implementation certainly needs some work, but should we, as educators who see a need to improve America’s schools, be so negative against a piece of legislation designed to do that just because it is not perfect… NCLB needs to be reauthorized every few years and that provides an opportunity to update it and refine it. TeacherJay was tempted to jump on the bandwagon here and become an NCLB-basher, too, but he does feel that the effort, at least, is a step in the right direction.

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