TFA has become entrenched as a powerful force in education, shaping classrooms through its teachers and influencing, to some degree, how our society thinks about teachers as levers to address educational injustice. This commentary focuses on one of the means by which TFA influences society’s conceptualization of teaching- the message that TFA broadcasts via its official statements on its organization’s web site. While TFA’s website is comprehensive, and the totality of text is lengthy, this paper limits its discussion to the mission, vision, and core values statements as content for review. The purpose is to uncover the implicit, and sometimes explicit, model that TFA puts forth as descriptive of how teachers work to address the inequity and inequality in education. To fulfill this purpose, the discussion is developed in the following order: the limitations and affordances of reviewing organizations’ official statements are considered; the TFA framework is summarized in order to uncover its model of teaching as a lever to address inequity and inequality; TFA’s framework and model are critiqued using selected perspectives from the literature; and, a few conclusions and implications are put forth.
High-stakes tests and testing policies are now being reinforced with value-added teacher assessment. But gains in tests scores from one year to the next are not the only value that teachers add. Forty years of data from the National Opinion Research Center suggests that teachers' own values may help stabilize our increasingly unsteady democracy.
The "flipped classroom" is indicative of the American penchant for turning to technology to solve the problems of k-12 public education. The essay addresses the extent to which expenditures on technology provide viable solutions.
This commentary offers a classification of twelve different approaches that charter schools use to structure their student enrollment. These practices impact the likelihood of students enrolling with a given set of characteristics, be it higher (or lower) test scores, students with ‘expensive’ disabilities, English learners, students of color, or students in poverty.
This is a response to a recent commentary that critiqued the use of data in education was leading to an obsession with quantitative reasoning and undermining core educational values. The author agrees with many of the concerns and presents an alternative argument drawing off of a new book titled “Assessing the Educational Data Movement” that frames the use of data in sociotechnical terms. He issues a call for inclusive dialog where the important perspectives of practitioners can be considered systemically alongside other values for educational data.
The continued negative influence of standardized testing as the primary mechanism of accountability authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act is having a disastrous impact on teaching and learning in schools. I suggest focusing teacher preparation work more explicitly on helping prospective teachers understand these impacts so they may be empowered to address them effectively.
This commentary highlights findings from a study recently completed comparing minority graduation rates of NYC-area Catholic colleges and public universities. The authors argue that the reason why the Catholic colleges are doing better than the CUNY schools is because of a difference in college cultures, and, in particular, an emphasis on career development. Their surveys and interviews provide evidence that the NYC-area Catholic colleges offer a model to schools wishing to improve graduation rates among minority and first-generation populations.
Protecting the Legal Rights of LGBT Students to Attend the Prom
This commentary argues that the sociocultural learning theory underpinning practice-centered teacher preparation programs necessitates social foundations coursework. Thus, the issue of social foundations in practice-centered programs is not if social foundations is necessary; rather, the issue is what foundations will look like in our teacher preparation programs.
Have the tragic events in Newtown, CT changed our priorities for schools?
Statewide longitudinal databases are becoming sources for decision-making by policymakers, administrators, and teachers. These databases are tracking children and teachers, reducing the performance of children and the work of teachers to numbers. We call for an end to the obsession with the quantitative and hope for a rethinking of assessment and teaching practices that trust children and teachers as capable and critical to learning, teaching, and assessment.
Discussions about professionalism and obligation are rife within academia. However, conversations examining the intersections of politics in academia and the duty owed to the profession are less prevalent. This article seeks to raise questions about the contours of professionalism relative to the politics of tenure and promotion. Such considerations are framed within organizational hegemony, and the social constructions of professional identity.
Testing scandals to date have raised questions about the pressures struggling schools face. Yet there is a related factor that allows corruption to flourish and that few discuss: the near-constant partnering of the nation’s most vulnerable students with the nation’s most vulnerable teachers. This piece reveals how the concentration of impoverished ELL students and novice teachers in several schools in El Paso, Texas contributed to the nation’s latest and most tragic testing scandal, and it outlines what reforms are required nationally.
A comparison of key points around the current brand of K-12 education reform -- high-stakes testing and using this as the primary measure for teacher effectiveness -- and magnet schools as a major reform effort of the 1970s and 1980s. Reformers and educators simply have not taken any time to learn lessons from this earlier period of reform and have thus failed to apply those lessons to the current reform regime.
HOW Theodore R. Sizer (1932-2009) wrote the influential Horace’s Compromise (1984) should be one of his enduring legacies. We usually focus on WHAT he said in that landmark analysis of American high schools, but the way he created Horace deserves to be remembered on the 30th anniversary of its completion.
The purpose of this essay is to provide the knowledge and tools to become aware, then observe, and finally to engage, intellectually and morally, with civic and sacred sites and memorials as individuals and as communities, educationally and politically.
The time may be ripe for federal legislation that would banish paddles from American schools forever.
The Common Core State Standards have potential to improve student learning but are arriving with a questionable assumption: common standards plus increasing accountability pressures will translate into improved practice and achievement. Standards define where students need to be; accountability systems document where they are. Educators are supposed to discover ways to close the gap. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) could play a pivotal role in closing this gap, but not unless we re-conceptualize their structure and content to include meaningful reflection on instruction and provide teachers with a roadmap to productively guide collaborative work around the CCSS.
Well-meant attempts to differentiate education are akin to prison reform; they are helpful for people stuck in prison, but the assumptions underlying the basic structure of prison are not addressed. To compassionately meet the needs of all children, we must do away with the idea of grade levels, not just work in different ways to mold children to pre-determined grade levels.
Traditional teacher training programs fail to prepare new educators for the realities of the classroom, and alternative certification programs threaten to undermine teaching as a respected career. In this piece, a third year teacher and current M.A.T. student discusses how and why teacher preparation programs must be reformed.
This piece explores the use of rhetoric in educational policy making, particularly examining the influence of current reform rhetoric on public perception.
“Education Savings Accounts” (choice vouchers) are the latest iteration of school voucher proposals and are touted by free market advocates as the future of school choice policies and a vehicle for education reform. In Arizona, where the state legislature has passed choice vouchers on two occasions, the policy discussion has been framed as a conflict between parental choice and bureaucratic mandates and the courts have sided in favor of parental choice. More correctly, the public policy discussion should be framed as a matter of competing parental choices; the choice to divert public funds away from public schools and the “constitutionally-supported” choice to send students to public schools. In setting priorities to resolve this conflict in an environment of scarce resources, I argue that the next available public school dollar must go toward meeting the constitutional mandate to fully maintain public schools on behalf of those parents who have chosen for their students to attend them before allowing other parents to divert public funds away from public schools. Alternately, if the legislature wants to hold true to their commitment to provide parents with the option to divert public funds away from public schools, a policy option with some legal precedent, then it must first maintain its public schools on behalf of the parents who have chosen for their students to attend them. This latter solution has the potential side benefit of achieving the education reform that advocates covet - maybe in a properly maintained public school system, there will no longer be anymore failing schools or underserved students.
An interview with a young adolescent in jail for selling drugs, reveals the complex interactions among his background, the trauma of witnessing his father's murder, and how he came to "learn" just how unintelligent he was and how unsuccessful he was destined to become. He speaks about his country, culture, and family, and offers perspectives on justice, violence, and a failed educational history.
The Chicago Teachers Union strike has been alternately characterized as a long awaited stand by organized labor and a self-serving choice to place teachers’ needs above students’. As educators deeply invested in the success of Chicago’s schools, we view both of these takes as simplistic and biased. Because teachers mediate among individual students’ needs, educational policies, and the realities of schools, their knowledge and interests are central to education generally. As they have in the past and still do in the present, teachers unions must continue evolving to remain indispensible to the pursuit of excellent, equitable schooling for all children.
Although 13 Southern states permit school officials to paddle children in the public schools, research shows school boards are moving away from corporal punishment in Florida, North Carolina and Texas.