Nineteen meaningful comments and quotes from 2019 from my blog and others…
Making Laws About Teaching
Perplexing but not surprising- people who are most judgmental & outspoken about the qualifications necessary to perform a job are typically those people who have never done the job.
Hey Kindergarten, Get Ready for the Children.
…it is not a five year old’s job to be ready for kindergarten– it is kindergarten’s job to be ready for the five year olds. If a test shows that the majority of littles are not “ready” for your kindergarten program, then the littles are not the problem– your kindergarten, or maybe your readiness test, is the problem. The solution is not to declare, “We had better lean on these little slackers a little harder and get them away from their families a little sooner.” Instead, try asking how your kindergarten program could be shifted to meet the needs that your students actually have.
Punishing third graders
Now we are witnessing the other consequences of the Third Grade Threat—pushing inappropriate instruction down to kindergarten, as anxious districts fear that students who are not reading at grade level (a murky goal, to begin with) will embarrass the district when letters go out to parents of third graders who are supposed to be retained. Because it’s the law.
Who’s to blame when students lag behind (arbitrary) literacy benchmarks, for whatever reason…
As a teacher who has been told to teach a program as it’s written, how the hell is it my fault if the assignments students get are not challenging enough? I’m not the one who designed the assignments.
If you’re requiring me to read from some stupid script written by publishers who’ve never met my students, then how can you fairly evaluate my instruction? It’s not my instruction.
Should we be surprised that students aren’t engaged during a lesson that’s delivered by a teacher who had no hand in creating it and who sees it as the contrived lump that it is? I’m not a terrible actor, but hand me a lemon and I’m going to have trouble convincing even the most eager-to-learn student that I’m giving them lemonade.
The Intent of Indiana’s Voucher Program
…that the real intention of voucher supporters was and is: 1) hurt teacher’s unions; 2) subsidize religious education; and 3) redirect public education money to friends and well-wishers of voucher supporters. Also, a reminder: vouchers do not improve educational outcomes. I get so worked up about this because the traditional public school is an important part of what ties a community together — part of what turns a collection of individuals into a community. And community feels a little tough to come by these days. We shouldn’t be actively eroding it.
Why is this even a thing?
Dan Holub, executive director of the ITSA
Our view is that no teacher, no educator should be put in a small room and shot at as part of a training process for active shooter training…
Retention-in-grade Doesn’t Work (Still)
Can we just stop flunking kids, and use the money we save from repeating a grade and foolish third-grade retention tests to give them the support they need in the years leading up to third grade?
Reading on Grade Level…
Children don’t “read on grade level” anymore than they “eat on grade level” or “care about their friends on grade level.” Anyone who has actually helped a child learn how to read, or play a music instrument, or ride a bike, knows that kids will accomplish these goals “when they are ready.” Not by “grade level.”
So, kids will read when they have a need to read, and when what they are reading is relevant to their lives. Not when they are supposed to read as measured by their grade level. Can we set our own goals as teachers for when we introduce various literacy concepts to our students? Sure. And teachers do that, every day in every public school in the nation.
The Relationship Between Teacher and Child
There is so much more to education than tests and standards. Children learn much more than can ever be put on a standardized test. Teachers – living, breathing, actual human beings – make the learning process part of life. One of the most important aspects of the education of our children is the relationship between teacher and child.
No test can ever measure that.
Reading Aloud Instead of Worksheets
Reading aloud is more beneficial than standardized tests or worksheets. It is more important than homework or flashcards. It is the single most important thing a parent can do to help their children become better readers. It is the single most important thing teachers can do to help their students become better readers.
Just say “NO!” to Online Preschool
Think about it: why are children sent to preschool in the first place? Isn’t it because they need human interaction? One of the most important skills children learn in preschool is how to make friends. Life is about human relationships after all. How do you learn about making friends, sorting out differences, and obeying the rules when you are staring at a screen, looking for the right color to click on?
Children learn through play, not screens
Science in the United States
This is the intellectual rot of the Trump era. It’s more than just an anti-big government ideology; it’s a systematic assault on science across the federal government. These actions will reverberate in our government for years to come, even after the Trump administration is gone, in the form of policy decisions we make without the benefit of the best evidence available. And worse, Americans may not even be aware of how they are being deceived and deprived.
That’s the true scandal of Trump’s war on scientists. No other group is so pervasively targeted and so thoroughly ignored. Yet it is their voices, more than any other, that our nation needs in this disturbing political moment.
Public Schools for the Common Good
As our nation’s young people return to public schools, there are things you can do to shore up the system. First, support your local public schools. It doesn’t matter if your children are grown or you never had children. The kids attending public schools in your town are your neighbors and fellow residents of your community. Someday, they will be the next generation of workers, teachers and leaders shaping our country. It’s in everyone’s best interest that today’s children receive the best education possible, and the first step to that is making sure their public schools are adequately funded.
Read Aloud to your Children
The best thing about this particular “keystone habit” for raising smart, kind kids is that it’s completely free, it takes just 10-15 minutes a day, and anyone can do it.
To get smart, kind kids, you don’t have to sign your kid up for expensive tutoring or have twice-daily screenings of the movie Wonder.
All you have to do is this: Read to your child. Even if they already know how to read to themselves.
Because research shows reading aloud is the powerful keystone habit that will raise smart, kind kids. (More on that in a minute.)
The widespread misuse of what should be a diagnostic tool is just one more example of our depressing American tendency to apply bumper sticker solutions to complex issues requiring more nuanced approaches.
The times they are a’ changin’.
We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.
The Teacher Exodus
When we have a shortage, say of nurses, pay goes up, conditions get better and enrollment in nursing programs skyrockets. So if we have a teacher shortage, pay would go up. It’s not. Conditions would get better. They’re not. And enrollment in teacher education would go up. It’s declining. That can’t be a shortage then.
When you talk about the fact that nobody wants to do this job, that parents are telling their kids right in front of me in my office that they don’t support their child becoming a teacher, this is a real issue that needs to be talked about quite differently and that’s why exodus is much better because you have to ask why are they leaving and why aren’t they coming.
The latest “criticize teachers for not teaching the ‘science’ of reading” can be found in “Schools Should Follow the ‘Science of Reading,’ say National Education Groups” in the Gates funded Education Week.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds most of the organizations in this report that criticize public schools and teachers for low NAEP scores. Yet they are behind the Common Core State Standards, which appear to be an abysmal failure.
Most individuals and groups never teach children themselves, but they create policies that affect how and what teachers are forced to teach. They have always been about privatizing public education.
What DeVos got wrong is that we as a country are not average. We actually do very well when one considers the very things that DeVos is blind to: income gaps, social inequality, and child poverty.