Education reform advocate John White: We’re in danger of becoming the enemy

Advocates for charter schools, teacher evaluations and other changes to public education that have become mainstream in recent years are at risk of turning into the establishment they once railed against, warned the man at the center of Louisiana’s schools upheaval, the Washington Post reports. Louisiana State Education Superintendent John White told a crowd Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute that he and others pushing for new ways of educating children have grown in stature and impact. “We went from small-time advocacy to seeing our ideas through the halls of Congress,” White said. “We now oversee not just classrooms but entire state education systems. Charitable foundations back our efforts. Federal programs bear our slogans.”

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Veteran teacher: The key failing of school reform over decades

The tug of war over standardized tests is just the latest round of a struggle I’ve watched many times before, The Washington Post reports. In the four decades between when I started teaching English at T.C. in 1970 and my retirement this year, I saw countless reforms come and go; some even returned years later disguised in new education lingo. Some that were touted as “best practices” couldn’t work, given Alexandria’s demographics. Others were nothing but common-sense bromides hyped as revolutionary epiphanies. All of them failed to do what I believe to be key to teaching: to make students care about what they’re studying and understand how it’s relevant to their lives…

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Video-based modeling enhances online training for Minn. Teachers

Like many states across the country, Minnesota has implemented strategies to improve mathematics education that include higher standards, greater accountability, and increased access to challenging curricula. Still, the teacher’s role remains central to mathematics reform, particularly for elementary teachers who set the stage for students’ future success in math. Content-specific, practical professional development for these teachers is therefore crucial to the success of these reforms.

Unfortunately, as financial resources shrink, providing professional development to these teachers has become alarmingly cost-prohibitive. Time, funding, and logistics pose significant barriers to all schools, but particularly to those in rural areas where wide disbursement of faculty makes regular face-to-face meetings expensive and inefficient. Even if financial and technical resources were available, often there simply are not enough qualified trainers to reach every teacher in need.

In 2002, Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) brought its digital video expertise into partnership with the Rational Numbers Project (RNP) in an effort to provide teachers and districts with wider, easier, and more cost-effective access to high-quality professional development. The RNP had in its repertory a five-day, face-to-face workshop for mathematics teachers that gave our collaborative project ideal source material on several levels: the workshop’s effectiveness was backed by 20 years of research; its content (focused on increasing student understanding of fractions through the use of hands-on manipulatives) lent itself to online adaptation; and the RNP staff people trained to lead the workshop were few in number but high in demand. …Read More