How reliable are tests in measuring what really matters for 21st-century learning? And should high-stakes tests really be used as a punitive evaluation of teacher quality? With all the controversy surrounding standardized tests and cheating, it’s time for teachers, parents, districts and policymakers to consider alternatives.
I finally had a face-to-face chat with Christopher Paslay at an end-of-the-school-year celebration with the Teacher Leadership Professional Learning Community (PLC). We agreed to put some padded gloves on and have a sparring match on education reform.
Christopher Paslay: Schools and education do not exist in a vacuum.
Everyone is part of schools and education — teachers, students, parents, administrators, community members, business leaders, clergy, lawmakers, etc. Yet somehow our society seems to think schools are cut off from all this, that they are some free-floating entity that operates independent of all these factors.
To match the broad perspectives presented in the anthology Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, this review was collaboratively authored by three diverse educators: Eoin Dempsey writer, media and computer technology teacher; Amanda Wesolek, media-savvy first-year English teacher; and blogger Samuel Reed.
And we thought we had our work cut out for us as teachers of pre-pubescent tweens and teens.
After reading Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, we discovered just how much media saturation and corporate influences have stacked the cards against us. This anthology co-edited by media literacy scholars Elizabeth Marshall and Özlem Sensoy includes over 40 articles divided into six sections written by elementary and secondary public school teachers, scholars, and activists who examine how and what popular toys, books, films, music, and other media “teach”.
Imagine us, the folk on Dauphin Street in North Philly, devoid of fancy degrees and titles. No Ed.D., Ph.D., M.A., or even a high school degree in many cases.
Yet, under proposed new legislation, there is a chance we may get more power to speak out on books in the curriculum or weigh in on effective classroom management. And supervise the principal, as if we were the board of directors (and theoretically we are). And work to boost the morale of a dispirited teaching staff that often feels taken for granted.
Or if none of that works, demand the school turn into a charter.
Far-out future or reality?
Instead of writing this review myself, I wanted experts on the subject of being new teachers to respond to the "New Teacher Book." John Pickersgill and Lauren Goldberg, teachers at Beeber Middle School, wrote this collaborative review of the book, which is published by Rethinking Schools.
Lauren is in her first full year of teaching, while John is in his second year. Feel free to respond to John and Lauren with other suggestions or tips for preparing and supporting new teachers.
Recently Youth United for Change released a report on zero tolerance that concluded this policy was ineffective in creating safe schools that nurture learning. It also argues that zero tolerance criminalizes youth and disproportionately punishes students of color.
Chris Paslay, a teacher, blogger, and frequent contributor to the Inquirer op-ed page, has been a vocal critic of the report. Writing in the January 28 Inquirer, Paslay suggests that District policies are “quite tolerant” and a choice must be made between making schools “shelters for troubled children”, or “institutions of learning where hardworking children can get an education.”
It’s been a couple of nail-biting days for the DREAM Act. Just after a prolonged session yesterday in the House of Representatives, the bill survived, passed, and was sent to the Senate where it remains right now despite several media reports that earlier indicated the DREAM Act was “likely dead.”
Davis Guggenheim’s "Waiting for 'Superman'" documentary has quickly become the media narrative about what’s wrong with public education and how to fix it. It boils down to the argument that bad teachers and their unions are the culprits and charter schools are the solution.
The documentary “A Community Concern” tells a different story and points us in a different direction when it comes to solutions.
The defeat of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and the subsequent resignation of his schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is full of irony.
While Rhee is celebrated on Oprah's show and in the movie theatres as the poster child for fixing public education, the alleged beneficiaries of her reforms, low-income African Americans, repudiated her sponsor Fenty at the polls. A Washington Post poll taken right before the primary indicated that Fenty trailed his opponent among Black Democrats by a 64 to 19 percent margin while leading among Whites by a better than two-to-one ratio.