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You are invited to add your unique voice and perspective to a vibrant, forward thinking conversation around some of the most timely topics in the education sector.   We welcome sophisticated commentary, similar to that found in the world’s leading publications, that covers a wide range of education related topics and draws fresh connections to contemporary issues.  As a contributor you will both be invited to discuss topics of our choosing and have the exciting opportunity to create content of your choice around subjects that interest you as both a scholar and practitioner.  Let’s work together to move the conversation around education further into the future while reframing and evaluating scholarship of the past.

by Daniel Willingham & Gail Lovette — 2014
In this commentary we suggest that reading comprehension strategy instruction does not actually improve a general-purpose comprehension skill. Rather, these strategies represent a bag of tricks that are useful and worth teaching, but that that are quickly learned and require minimal practice.

by Richard Fossey, Suzanne Eckes & Todd DeMitchell — 2014
An Illinois school board fired a tenured guidance counselor because he self-published a sexually explicit advice book on adult relationships. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school board's decision on the grounds that the board reasonably believed that the book could undermine the integrity of the school counseling program.

by Deborah Bieler — 2014
This essay provides a metaphorical reading of The LEGO Movie, suggesting that the movie itself can serve as an instruction manual, the kind for which LEGO is well known. In this reading, the movie offers step-by-step instructions about how Americans can win the fight against privatizing, corporatizing forces that are attacking our public education system. The author shares these instructions and urges readers to follow them – even though they are, ironically, from a kind of instruction manual – as a way to commit ourselves anew to building and continually re-creating schools that help American youth change the world, not serve corporations’ self-interest.

by Ted Purinton — 2014
Recent debates about the demise of cursive instruction demonstrate the disconnect between the educational policy and the profession of teaching.

by Richard Fossey & Robert Cloud — 2014
Recently, there have been signs that the bankruptcy courts are becoming more compassionate toward people who enter the bankruptcy process burdened by student loans. Perhaps the most dramatic of these recent cases is Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, involving a quadriplegic man who filed for bankruptcy seeking to discharge $14,000 in student loans.

by Amanda Bozack & Amy Thompson — 2014
Recently Nicole Kersting wrote a commentary suggesting that teacher evaluation design could benefit from being modeled after engineering design principles. She indicated that a systematic approach to design, coupled with continuous improvements, could make systems stronger and less political. This response addresses several of her assumptions and argues that an engineering approach to improving teacher evaluation systems may not produce desired or expected results.

by Carl Kaestle — 2014
This essay expresses appreciation for the work of the Gordon Commission by a long-time friend and admirer of Professor Gordon. Professor Kaestle, who also served as a consultant to the commission, attempts to locate the work of the commission in the history of educational assessment and assess its potential for future policy reform.

by Alyssa Dunn & Samantha Durrance — 2014
This essay presents a dialogue between a new teacher and a former professor, generated when the teacher decided to leave the classroom after two years. Contextualized within the literature of teacher attrition and offering implications for teacher education, the essay explores what it means to be (a) a novice educator in the era of accountability and (b) a teacher educator tasked with preparing new teachers for this challenging climate. The authors share their perspectives in the hopes of starting a discussion about an important issue that remains relatively unexplored in the research literature: the stories of teachers who leave and their former professors who watch them go.

by Rae Mancilla — 2014
This commentary questions whether the implementation of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in American schools is a way of bridging or deepening the digital divide amongst students of differing socioeconomic backgrounds. It argues that that digital equity with mobile devices cannot be achieved without individual ownership of mobile technologies and concludes by posing a series of potential means of working toward the goal of ownership in schools.

by Margarita Pivovarova, Jennifer Broatch & Audrey Amrein-Beardsley — 2014
Over the last decade, teacher evaluation based on value-added models (VAMs) has become central to the public debate over education policy. In this commentary, we critique and deconstruct the arguments proposed by the authors of a highly publicized study that linked teacher value-added models to students’ long-run outcomes, Chetty et al. (2014, forthcoming), in their response to the American Statistical Association statement on VAMs. We draw on recent academic literature to support our counter-arguments along main points of contention: causality of VAM estimates, transparency of VAMs, effect of non-random sorting of students on VAM estimates and sensitivity of VAMs to model specification.

by Diana D'Amico — 2014
In the stories of exorbitant costs and incompetence, teacher tenure laws have achieved mythic proportions. Judge Rolf Treu’s tentative decision in Vergara v. California may be the death knell for teacher tenure. But what will change as a result? A look to the past reveals that teacher tenure never really protected teachers and nor was it supposed to. Using history as a lens, this commentary explores the origination of tenure policies and the debates that surrounded them. This commentary argues that embedded in the tenure debates is a much larger problem that should concern us all.

by Daniel Friedrich — 2014
In this brief reflection I seek to propose an alternative way of thinking about international rankings for universities, decoupling them from the logic of the market and instead linking them to the university’s mission as a space concerned with educating the public and producing knowledge for the common good. For this purpose, I draw from the example of the Universidad de Buenos Aires.

by Nicole Kersting — 2014
New teacher evaluation systems are being designed, implemented and piloted in many states. The goal of these new systems is to provide more accurate and objective information on teacher performance than current systems do. Ideally, these new systems provide information for accountability purposes but also for helping teachers improve their performance. Achieving these goals is not likely unless we change our approach to designing such systems from a political process and adopt an engineering perspective. Taking an engineering design approach can lead to solid designs for teacher evaluation systems, provide opportunities for improvement through monitoring and feedback, and create accountability for the design process because the information on teacher performance these systems do provide can be evaluated against the goals and intended uses that were specified.

by Peshe Kuriloff — 2014
Policy makers have recently proposed to evaluate teacher preparation programs in order to hold them accountable for the quality of the teachers they prepare. Although definitions of teacher quality vary depending on the stakeholder’s perspective, there is a growing consensus among policy makers that high quality teaching should have a positive impact on student achievement, but other factors matter as well. This article argues that teacher preparation programs are only one of several critical factors that contribute to teacher quality. Because programs must conform to state accreditation mandates and must also cooperate with surrounding school districts to provide high quality field placement settings, accountability for teacher quality should be shared by the universities, the state board of education and the schools. To effectively strengthen teacher quality, all institutions involved must develop a shared vision of high quality teaching and work collaboratively to achieve that goal.

by Jamy Stillman & Lauren Anderson — 2014
Despite the relative prevalence of teacher education positions in university Education departments, relatively few doctoral programs prepare graduate students for teacher education work, specifically. As a result, new teacher educators often expend significant energy ‘on the job’ learning how to do the complex work involved in educating teachers. Increasingly, the creation of teacher-education focused doctoral programs has been held up as a promising approach for helping to regenerate teacher education. This commentary aims to share some of that promise, while also highlighting various factors that make creating and sustaining such programs so challenging.

by Brian Fortney — 2014
Online teacher education coursework provides many advantages; however, online coursework has limitations for certain courses, mainly pertaining to safe selection, use, and disposal of chemicals. For example, science methods and science methods-like courses that teach inquiry methods require the use of chemicals for middle and secondary certification levels. One limitation, the development of understanding of safe and ethical practice and disposal of chemicals during inquiry instruction crosses into the grey area of nonfeasance or misfeasance, if chemicals are omitted. Avoiding the use and discussion of safe and ethical practice for any reason, while lawful, is an inappropriate omission that may place a university and university instructors in legal risk. Further, K-12 schools that hire certified teachers fresh out of a certification program expect a certain level of understanding of professional standards which are consistent with state and national standards and guidelines. The question, How might instructors of online science methods courses implement safe and ethical practice using chemicals when many students connect asynchronously, or via videoconferencing software from remote locations, is a troubling question.

by Gustavo Fischman & Adai Tefera — 2014
The purpose of this commentary is to argue that a better way of addressing the centuries old criticisms about the ivory toweresque model is to stop complaining and engage with knowledge mobilization strategies (KM). Scholars engaging in knowledge mobilization seek to understand and increase the impact and usability of research by means of multi-dimensional, interactive strategies that target a wide range of stakeholders as an approach to meet the ethical obligation scholars have to ensuring the research produced in education is more accessible and ultimately impactful. We recognize, as well, the evolving tensions that this process will likely evoke in the quest to improving scholarly impact by making research more accessible and usable for the public.

by Robin Hughes — 2014
In this commentary I argue that racism in sporting organizations and others is not only institutionalized, but has become the new normal that is now upheld through the newest anti affirmative action legislation.

by Noelle Paufler & Audrey Amrein-Beardsley — 2014
Dr. Maxine Greene, distinguished philosopher, scholar, and professor emerita at Teachers College, Columbia University, passed away recently on May 29, 2014 at the age of 96. As a self-proclaimed existentialist, Greene served as an advocate for aesthetic education in American public schools for well more than half a century and remained committed to expanding creativity among children by encouraging them to imagine possibilities both within and beyond the classroom.

by Ansley Erickson — 2014
Powerful new historical scholarship documents the many connections between American higher education and the institution of slavery. This commentary argues that this new historical knowledge should be brought to bear on discussions of contemporary inequality and should prompt a reexamination of how schooling and labor and wage structures interact today.

by Iris Rotberg — 2014
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” –Albert Einstein

Methodological problems have plagued international test-score comparisons from the time they began 50 years ago. Since then the number and type of countries and other jurisdictions participating in the comparisons have increased, as have the methodological problems. At the same time, the results of the international comparisons have had an increasing impact on education policies throughout the world, despite the fact that the policy implications drawn from the comparisons are based on seriously flawed data. The commentary describes the intractable problems inherent in making valid comparisons of student achievement across countries and recommends an approach to reformulating the research.

by Meilan Zhang — 2014
The 2011 results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) propelled some scholars to call for new educational reforms to improve U.S. students’ score rankings. However, few seem to have noticed that U.S. students indeed ranked first on one measure: Sleepiness. U.S. students were reported to have the highest percentage of sleepiness in classrooms among all participating countries in TIMSS and PIRLS. Surprisingly, the prevalent sleep deprivation in U.S. students has largely been overlooked by educational researchers and policy makers. Drawing upon relevant literature, I argue that heavy media use may be one of the main reasons for sleepiness and, in turn, poor academic performance. Therefore, perhaps the top priority for improving U.S. students’ academic performance is not new educational reforms, but awareness of and interventions to counter the detrimental impact of heavy media use on sleep. After all, schools, however reformed, if occupied by sleepy students, are not likely to be effective.

by Noelle Paufler, Jessica Holloway-Libell & Audrey Amrein-Beardsley — 2014
Inside the Academy, an online educational historiography, models the innovative use of technology to transmit educational research beyond academia. This is done by chronicling the personal and professional journeys of highly esteemed educational researchers and scholars through video interviews. In this study, researchers conducted an in-depth qualitative analysis of twelve honorees’ interview data. Analyses revealed that Inside the Academy has the potential to function as an accessible, relevant, research dissemination platform by providing policymakers, practitioners, pre-service teachers, graduate students, and others increased access to open source information and expert knowledge about foundational and contemporary educational philosophies, salient policy issues, and research-based practices of utmost prevalence in America’s public school system, and beyond.

by Jim Burns — 2014
Returning to David Berliner’s (2006) Our Impoverished View of Educational Research, this commentary reflects on what the author conceptualizes as an impoverished view of teacher education. Drawing on his experience working in teacher education and contextualized in Taubman’s (2000, 2009) analysis of educational audit culture, the author concludes that in the context of corporate reform discourses, teacher educators must reflect on the role of teacher education programs in the face of mounting threats to public education. Teacher education programs should serve as sites through which seemingly common sense discourses about education must be problematized. Further, both teacher educators and their students must critically reflect on their own assumptions and positionalities in order to clarify their values, which may not coincide with the values expressed in hegemonic education discourses.

by Richard Osguthorpe & Mathew Sanger — 2014
Teaching is an inherently moral endeavor with moral purpose, and it takes place in classrooms inhabited by teachers who choose to be there for moral reasons. However, most teacher candidates do not come to their teacher education programs with a well-developed understanding of the moral work of teaching, and most leave without any concerted effort to develop that understanding. This article discusses the concerns that arise from this lack of attention to the moral work of teaching in teacher education, and it identifies hopeful approaches to helping teacher candidates find moral meaning and value in their future lives as teachers.

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  • Dear Editorial Department, I hope you are doing well! My name is Syed S. Ahmed. I was interested in the opportunity to submit a piece on "Teaching The Diversity of Islam-A Non Arab Approach." I would be delighted if given the opportunity to contribute in any way. With regards, Professor Ahmed
  • To Whom It May Concern: I'm writing to see if Teachers College Record would be interested in an article on a very specific event. If so, I'll happily write the submission with any writing preferences or directions Teachers College Record desires. Positive psychology, happiness, and character education has been a very hot topic recently. David Levin, the founder of KIPP, is leading an online free class off coursera.org entitled, "Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms." I think this is a very significant event, because so much of the research and science on character development has: (1) remained mostly in academic journals and books away from lay audiences, and (2) has not really been able to offer suggestions for incorporation in the classroom with the science to back it up. I also think this is a very significant event because so much of this research is extremely controversial. Is developing Grit in-itself, without attention to context, anything but obedience? Can you track for character without having students become more dependent on praise? I plan to take this online course. Would TCR be interested in a submission that offers a reflective but possibly highly critical review of this course from someone who is both a student of psychology and a teacher? I'd detail some important research studies but also tie it into the narrative of my classroom as someone who became a teacher (like so many) to inspire and build character. If you think this would be an appropriate submission for TCR, I'd happily write it to be a specific length, with a particular writing style, or accommodate any other preferences the publication might have. The online course will last until the beginning of March, and I could have the article submission to you by the end of March. Thanks for your consideration. Dan Daniel.J.LaSalle@gmail.com
  • supervision and evaluation in schools Collective Bargaining and management prerogatives
  • I am historian of education and am currently working on a history of Germantown High School, a comprehensive high school in Philadelphia. On December 13, 2012, the School District of Philadelphia announced that Germantown was on the list of potential school closures. In my ethnographic work at the school and others like it in Philadelphia, high school youth have commented about their concerns about these school closures and the possibility of gang violence when they transfered to new schools. I would like to write a short commentary piece on this for TCR. I look forward to your response. Sincerely, Erika Kitzmiller
  • The rise of grit as an aspect of character and a trait to teach to students. This has been elaborated recently in Paul Tough's book: How children succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. Thank you.
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