There was no DC miracle. Browbeating students and teachers into raising scores on state tests only makes them better at taking state tests, and reforming our schools in hopes of replicating an illusion is a petty crime against humanity.
Regardless of whether learning is undermined by the legacies of poverty and trauma, or the digital distractions of an affluent society, our challenge should be clear.
When I started Teach For America, I wasn't trying to come up with an idea that would change the world. I was trying to solve a problem much closer to home: I was a senior in college and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life! I'm sure that doesn't sound at all familiar.
We leave together. You leave Yale College after four years; I leave the Yale Presidency after twenty. I find myself thinking about a Grateful Dead song written in 1970, the year I came to Yale as a graduate student. You know the words: "Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it's been." It's been a long trip, but, for us, more wonderful than strange.
It's easy to argue that the best teacher could teach with nothing but a chalkboard and a piece of chalk, but we're not all Michelle Pfeiffer. And, considering our country revolves around computers, it's nearly impossible to prepare teachers and students for the future without access to technology.
How do we expect our communities and economies to thrive when our young boys and girls are not receiving the education and training that is needed to enter the workforce?
It's just the kind of thinking, where video is about surveillance, that we get confused notions of why having classroom cameras can make a difference for teachers. First, let's get clear on why these aren't "surveillance" cameras in either the literal or figurative sense.
More enlightened awareness of what is required in training and preparing school leaders and less simplistic rhetoric would go a long way toward getting education policy out of the dark and on the path of improving how schools are run.
After we waited patiently in line for a couple hours with a jovial crowd of space enthusiasts, Buzz signed his book for us and we asked if he had any advice for my son if he wanted to be an astronaut. Buzz looked slightly puzzled at first, then stared deep into my boy's eyes: "Finish school."
Arithmetic and higher math skills are embedded in school goals, but not necessarily persistence and grit. As a result, an "either/or" dynamic has been established that prioritizes academic skills, at the expense of "social and emotional" learning.
When I went to Great Valley High, the world was not perfect but at least teachers and school administrators, and even most parents, had a shred of common sense.
What does the research show? Is there value to the Advanced Placement Program or does it do more harm than good?
Most of our children are not focused on becoming creators of technology. They spend countless hours playing games, with little interest in what's powering them. They're incredibly interested in and inspired by their devices -- why can't we connect the dots and turn that into a huge learning opportunity?
It's easy to criticize tests but they represent this country's commitment to improving education for all students -- particularly the least well served. The Common Core is a big step forward and so are the tests that come with it.
The Time to Succeed Coalition launched a year ago with a simple mission: to ensure all children in our nation's communities have more and better learn...
If you're trapped inside a school that doesn't engage you and you're willing to make a change, then I have good news for you: You can leave school tomorrow and never look back. All you have to do is become a homeschooler.