What to Do Next With Teacher Evaluations

  Teacher evaluation is a contentious issue. It tends to be more so when evaluation systems must show evidence of a teacher’s contribution to student learning, as federal initiatives have recently required. The stakes are high, since how a teacher is rated affects his or her continued employment, advancement, and even compensation. In the wake … Read more »

“Why can’t the Feds just leave us alone and let us do our jobs?!”

All indications are that when ESEA is finally reauthorized states and local district leaders will get what they say they want: significantly more flexibility. But to these happy folks I say, be careful what you wish for! As a former state education official I longed for flexibility with federal mandates. But I would be less … Read more »

An Educational “Bucket List” for Parents

  For many parents the political tug of war over “transformational changes” to fix our schools is bewildering. Suppose you have a child starting school – 1st grade to be exact. Concerned that she gets the best education possible, you do your research on schools. You may even go so far as to move to … Read more »

Long Overdue: A New Discourse on School Reform

Photo by Martin Fernandez (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dodeacommunications/9457988689/) CC-BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

  Remember the last time you were part of a conversation about school reform that was balanced, respectful of different perspectives and focused on finding common ground? Didn’t think so. Such exchanges are becoming an endangered species–largely due to the interwoven influences of ideology, money and power. And the result is that we’ve handicapped our … Read more »

No Tenure for Teachers: The New Education Reform?

  Eliminating tenure for teachers is the new education reform. Last spring, Vergara v. California found that the state’s tenure statutes protected teacher incompetence, disproportionately impacting students in less affluent school districts and denying them access to an equal education. Subsequently, other states are looking at what they can do to neuter tenure laws through … Read more »

An Open Letter to the New Congressional Leadership, Part 2

  Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner, In December I wrote to you about the opportunities and challenges you now face in crafting an educational agenda to meet the needs of all our citizens. I posed the following points for your consideration: Emphasize consistency of educational opportunity; Focus on evidence-based reform; Promote the teaching … Read more »

Strengthening the College Pipeline

  Today there is a college for everybody irrespective of your academic ability. If you have the money or are eligible for financial aid, you can find a seat in a classroom or an on-line course with the promise of a bright and financially rewarding future. You don’t even have to finish high school. By … Read more »

Teacher Trust Matters

Headlines about teacher and teacher union concerns over efforts to link teacher performance evaluations to student achievement scores leave one with the impression that teachers are either unwilling to be accountable for student achievement or that they are just resistant to changing their ways. Yet, those of us working in schools and districts know that … Read more »