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04:52 AM on 03/18/2011
I do understand the geo-political hypocrisy towards Jews and Israel.... Be assured there is an army who support you and your endeavor. out of the millions I'm one of them......
02:10 PM on 03/18/2011
Wrong board.
Nancy Cronk
President, Progressive Women of Colorado
12:08 AM on 03/18/2011
This sounds like blame-the-women, since the majority of teachers are women. Here's my take: Wolves Want To Eat Your Children: Education Reform Made Simple
10:47 PM on 03/17/2011
March 17, 2014, Washington , D.C.). There is a new policy plan afoot in the US. The Secretary of Education will be scored weekly on the country's poverty rate and if it goes up, he will be held accountabl e. In fact, if there is a sustained trend and inadequate yearly progress (IYP) on poverty rates, he will be labelled "ineffecti ve." Depending on future legislatio n being voted on by the people, he may actually be replaced.

Around the country, and on Sunday talk shows, there was talk that the complete dismantlin g of unions and increase in charter schools was not as effective as the Secretary Duncan believed it would be. In the "race to the top," a strange thing started happening. Teachers in the US who kept their jobs, had to swear to ignore their personal judgment and expertise in order to teach "basic" education; even with non-educat ors brilliantl y managing US schools in all 50 states, the US slipped farther and farther behind a group of 3rd world countries in its peer group.

No one would have predicted this only three years ago when the Secretary Duncan was writing to invite anyone who wasn't a teacher to the first-ever internatio nal summit on the teaching profession .
Stony Creek News Service EP & Reagan Democrat
03:07 PM on 03/17/2011
Mr. Secretary, I agree. Merit pay for teachers is the way to go. Teachers must be held responsbile for the improvement, or lack thereof, of their students.
02:12 PM on 03/18/2011
Not what he was saying, not at all!
05:52 PM on 03/20/2011
You obviously don't work in a school. It would take 1,000 tests generated to cover all the teachers and subject areas. If you think your kid is overtested now, just wait. It is a simplistic, moronic statement to tie teacher pay to a test.
11:07 AM on 03/17/2011
"The quality of the teacher in the classroom is the single biggest in-school influence on student learning" - Agree a 100%.
How many students' favourite subjects are associated with the teachers they adore. The criterea for identification of "quality" teachers is what needs to be examined carefully. These are not to be limited to credentials, but include emphasis on "softer" skills as a) ability to nurture & inspire learning in students b) relationship (trust, transparency) & people skills and c) adaptability to include students individual needs (i.e the student akin the famous parable of teaching a fish to climb trees & grading them as equal to squirrels). Developing a mechanism to determine these "qualities" and administering them on teacher recruitment will remain a challenge...
Pres. Sarcasm Society. Like we need your approval.
04:50 AM on 03/19/2011
How many kids rate teachers who assign homework and hold them accountable as bad or mean and rate the teacher that's easy, assigns no homework or teaches something they like like music or art as the best teacher ever?

How are you going to evaluate all of those qualities and who is going to do the evaluation?
09:17 AM on 03/19/2011
I infer that you agree that a teacher's soft-skills are important & that administering such evaluation remains a challenge - Agreed.
English and ESL teacher
10:56 AM on 03/17/2011
All Duncan wants to talk about is "teacher quality" and "reform," specifically reform that is centered on forcing "improvements" in teachers. His is careful to write that the teacher is the biggest IN-SCHOOL influence on student learning (since he knows, like all of us, that out-of-school differences, particularly the results of poverty, exert FAR greater influence), but is happy to support "reforms" that ignore that, and that blame and punish teachers anyway for conditions out of their control.

The teacher quality trope is merely a red herring--and here I am discussing it! Argh!
10:37 AM on 03/17/2011
This is mostly rubbish. The most pressing problem is that teachers are in general very poorly educated - trained rather than educated; the remote cause is that departments of education consitute a cult of ignorance.
01:17 PM on 03/17/2011
The most pressing problem is poverty. Solve that (admittedly very difficult), and we wouldn't even be talking about teacher quality. The teachers we have are more than competent to teach. We see proof of that when we look at schools that don't have to try to counteract poverty. They're just not sufficient to overcome the total effects of poverty.
02:17 PM on 03/18/2011
Hit the nail on the head!
10:41 PM on 03/18/2011
"The most pressing problem is poverty"

Actually, the only real problem is povery. It is like an inverted pyramid...everything else resting on that one point. FDR had some thoughts that apply to this.

The Second Bill of Rights was a list of rights proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the then President of the United States, during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944. In his address Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement, a second "bill of rights". Roosevelt's argument was that the "political rights" guaranteed by the constitution and the Bill of Rights had "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness." Roosevelt's remedy was to declare an "economic bill of rights" which would guarantee:

Employment, with a living wage,
Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies,
Medical care,
Education, and,
Social security
Progressive educator, activist for good government
03:41 PM on 03/17/2011
Many studies show that students learn more
from teachers with strong academic skills than
they do from teachers with weak academic
skills (Ballou 1996; Ehrenberg and Brewer 1994,
1995; Ferguson and Ladd 1996). However, studies
of teachers’ academic qualifications reveal
that college graduates with the lowest college
entrance examination (i.e., SAT or ACT) scores
are more inclined to become K–12 teachers than
those with the highest scores (NCES 2001–030).
Using SAT or ACT scores as a proxy for academic
caliber, this indicator compares academically
weak and strong 1992–93 college
graduates with regard to selected features of
their teaching careers.

Source: (p 91)
Pres. Sarcasm Society. Like we need your approval.
04:52 AM on 03/19/2011
And what would entice the top university students to waste their professional careers as teachers? Especially now that they'll get lousy pay, lousy benefits and no pensions, plus decades of attack and grief.
10:31 AM on 03/17/2011
I tried posting a comment yesterday but the moderators deemed it unworthy. Here it is again (without some words of course): I consider any article regarding problems in education invalid if it doesn't talk about THE problem in American education: students. I starting high school in US in 10th grade and found myself confounded by the attitude of American students. In other countries, kids grow up thinking about how much work they must do to realize their dreams. In US, kids grow up with a sense of entitlement. The attitude of the students is what is wrong with our education system, not the teachers. Yes, there are some teachers who are worth nothing, but most of them are good. Whenever I've had a bad teacher or professor, I have taken it upon myself to do what must be done in order to achieve what I want to achieve. If a person has the drive, nothing is impossible. From all my teaching experience, American students just want the answer to the problem so that they can pass the exam. They have no ambition or love of learning. The problem may be that intellect is looked down upon in our society now and moronic behavior is praised (see Palin, Rand Paul, Bachmann, Glen Beck, most of hollywood, etc).
Without knowledge action is useless
10:48 AM on 03/17/2011
Excellent post. Add to your thesis the lack of post high school opportunity. When kids hear endlessly that they have no future without a college education and then realize the possibility of going to college in their economic situation is 0 the result is obvious. With no future in education, what's the purpose of high school?
10:49 AM on 03/17/2011
I meant "started high school in US" Grammatical errors in a post regarding education are rather ironic, don't you think?
outside the box
05:30 PM on 03/17/2011
Ah, don't worry about it! Consider blog comments as rough drafts. It's taken me awhile, but I've gotten over it, well, mostly. My brain works faster than my typing and I'm a very fast typist. :)
10:48 PM on 03/18/2011
Don't worry about it. I've been trying to get our local IT directors as well as the Superintendent of schools here to fix a little problem with our new multi-million dollar student management software. It keeps telling me that certain students are are on "suspenion". Can't seem to get that little glitch fixed. You'd think a school system would like to get things spelled correctly. Oh well.
Common sense cant be bought
09:18 AM on 03/17/2011
We could get rid of all the wasted money in DC and eliminate the Dept of Education. While billions go to fund it, our scores have gone down. Public schools have a monopoly on all this money and we get nothing in return.
10:33 AM on 03/17/2011
Excuse me, but do you not think that there are two sides to this story? i.e. what about the attitude of the students? When I was a senior high school, my school didn't have AP physics. I studied myself and took the exam and got a 4/5. American students really have no ambition when it comes to academics. Don't you think this problem is bigger than money?
Without knowledge action is useless
10:38 AM on 03/17/2011
Didn't read the article did you. Instead you post trite talking points that have no solutions or meaning. Thanks for continuing to present the Conservative point of view.
08:43 AM on 03/17/2011
If you do not address income disparity you will never solve the problem. When comparing us to other countries why not note that we are the only country that finances education with property taxes. Let us not forget that as CEO of public schools in Chicago, Secretary Duncan pushed a pro-privatization agenda. Keep our schools public! "Reform" is nothing more than corporate speak for "privatization"
09:35 AM on 03/17/2011
exactly .. I would love to see a graph of say socioeconomic trends in Singapore since the 1970s
Mark from atlanta
Unity through Diversity.
08:23 AM on 03/17/2011
The current trend is toward tying teacher evaluation to their students performance on stanardized tests. Finland, which tends to be held in higher regard in terms of turning out students with critical thinking skills does not inflict high stakes, standardized tests on their students. Yet, the article conveniently left them out.

The current trend in the U.S., backed by the Administration will have two probable outcomes: 1) Decrease teachers' ability to engender critical thinking by forcing them to teach to tests and 2) ensure our schools continue to turn out worker bees less capable of critical thinking.
08:44 AM on 03/17/2011
There is a LOT this article conveniently ignores, not the least of which is that public schools in Finland are not financed by property taxes and there is no real issue with income/resource disparity.
06:56 AM on 03/17/2011
So you want higher-order thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills, but you want to base teacher compensation upon multiple-choice tests?
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07:15 AM on 03/17/2011
It's win-win!
09:45 AM on 03/17/2011
Fanned and Faved .. comment of the week ..
05:52 AM on 03/17/2011
I'm a Florida teacher. Schools here are graded based on scores from the FCAT. If your school score rises, you get a bonus calculated from the school population. I received my bonus yesterday, a princely $550 after taxes. This is after working for my 22nd year in an inner-city school located in an area with the highest levels of drug use, crime, HIV infection, single-parent families, renters, and minimum-wage workers. It's also the area with the lowest aggregate achievement in school--most of the people here top out at a high school diploma, if they get that far. I'm teaching those children. This week alone, I've handed out money for bus fares, fed kids on raw almonds, carrots, and string cheese I keep in my own refrigerator for snacks, and worked an average of 10 hours a day. Not surprisingly, many of my students call me Mom. I'm professional, hard-working, smarter than the average bear, and a former state Teacher of the Year finalist. Yet teachers like me are left out of the conversation on how to improve education and told that only test scores can truly reveal who's deserving of "merit." How's that $550 looking now?
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03:26 PM on 03/17/2011
I am a teacher, too (25 years). Keep up the great work as long as you can!
01:32 AM on 03/17/2011
"Test scores almost identicall­­y follow the income level of the neighborho­­ods."

"That fact by itself disproves the thesis that teacher quality is the primary factor."

well stated steve.

teachers are a significant variable as is income levels and to use a merit pay system and hold teachers as the only significant variable is a crime. a crime this nation has accepted from its business schools after all they are the experts. ie unknown drips under pressure.

the capitalists want their hands on that tax money and they will get it because americans love their capitalism as it takes them to third world status. go figure.

end result: min wages for teachers and big bonuses for CEO's. of private corp's owning or managing the school systems.

michael moore hope your new movie does better than the last one on capitalism cause most americans did not get it. how about social democracy not capitalism, communism or socialism.

naw this capitalism thing is pretty popular, no use rocking the boat.
I will try again tomorrow.
10:53 PM on 03/17/2011
"Test scores almost identicall­­­y follow the income level of the neighborho­­­ods." This statement is true enough to stay with longer than to just argue a single point. Since they "almost identically follow," what does it mean when they don't? There are tests that do measure achievement rather than SES. They are the tests that employ constructed responses--writing, drawing, demonstrating, presenting--or thinking. These tests can be developed with valid and reliable results--nothing woo-woo. But they are expensive to develop and to score, and they pain greatly policy wonks who vehemently resist any two or three step analysis--or thinking. Then there are the 95-95-95 schools. 95% minority, 95% poor [as measured by the free hot lunch index], and 95th percentile on standardized tests. What they do differently with these disadvantaged students is astonishingly simple. It's not uniforms, it's not a bunch of posturing [a la KIPP]. It's facilitating reflection--or thinking. Look it up--95-95-95.
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10:45 PM on 03/16/2011
1. "Increasing teacher autonomy and participation in reform is vital not just to improving student outcomes but to elevating the teaching profession."...and yet they have this big "international summit" during the week, when teachers cannot attend. Now THAT is encouraging participation from working teachers.

2. "The quality of the teacher in the classroom is the single biggest in-school influence on student learning." I disagree. Children's brains are most impacted by learning (connecting those synapses) in the first five years of life, long before a teacher comes on the scene. I think Parents are much more important in a student's learning. This other statement is just propoganda to attack teachers....
12:26 AM on 03/17/2011
I think you did not read the sentence ""The quality of the teacher in the classroom is the single biggest in-school influence on student learning." or did not notice the phrase "in-school influence"!
05:43 PM on 03/17/2011
allegedly the students' BRAINS *are* in the school building, assuming the rest of their bodies are. Brains are shaped by events, environment, and DNA 24/7/365 from even BEFORE the moment of conception (the mother-to-be's eggs could be damaged by environmental effects before conception). The teacher's quality is also shaped by out-of-building life, including added stress and sleeplessness from being bullied by conservatives and fear of losing their jobs in the next wave of budget cuts.
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02:48 AM on 03/21/2011
You are right...but what other influence "in school" is there? The principal? The lunch lady? The custodian? What other person could possibly have more influence than a teacher. If they are good, that is better for the child. If they are bad, it is not good for the child. Just like parents.

That is a NO BRAINER!!!