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The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2012 — Part Two

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My annual list postings continue….

You might also be interested in:

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2012 — Part One

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2011 — Part Two

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Polcy In 2011 — Part One

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy — 2010

The “Best” Articles (And Blog Posts) About Education Policy — 2009

The “Best” Articles About Education — 2008

The “Best” Articles About Education — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2012 — Part Two (not listed in order of preference):

The “New Yorker” published a terrific profile of Diane Ravitch that also chronicles the struggle for what I would call the “soul” of our schools. It’s called Public Defender: Diane Ravitch takes on a movement and it’s written by David Denby.  Unfortunately, most of it is behind a paywall (which is a reason why The New Yorker is one of the few magazines I subscribe to…), and the only way you can read the whole thing is to subscribe (though you might be able just to purchase that one issue). Also check out Diane’s commentary on the article.

You just have to check out A Sampling Of The Best Tweets With The #SaidNoTeacherEver Hashtag.

I was a member of the State Of California’s Educator Excellence Task Force, co-chaired by Linda Darling Hammond. Its recommendations on teacher preparation, professional development, and teacher evaluation are having a wide effect in California. You can read about it at The Best Resources On The Newly-Released California Educator Excellence Task Force Report.

As regular readers know, I’ve been very outspoken in my support and use of student evaluations of teachers as formative assessments and outspoken in my criticism of efforts by the Gates Foundation to incorporate them in formal summative evaluations of teachers (you can see many of my posts on this topic at The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers) ).

Amanda Ripley wrote a feature titled Why Kids Should Grade Teachers, which parrots the typical school reformer line.

Felix Salmon at Reuters wrote a devastating critique of her article and the whole idea in What education reformers did with student surveys.

It’s clearly a candidate for best educational policy post of the year. Here are some excerpts, but the whole piece is a “must-read”:

….along comes the Gates Foundation with a 36-question survey, severely chopped from a much longer one developed by Ronald Ferguson. Since there are 36 questions, the survey essentially measures teachers along 36 different axes, all of which are aligned with each other to differing degrees. In and of itself, that’s more useful than just measuring test scores, which are much less teacher-specific and which only provide one axis of educational quality.

But then what do the reformers do? They regress the survey answers against test scores, look at which survey questions align most closely with that test-score axis, and declare that those axes — the ones which test scores, by definition, are already measuring — must be the “most important”. Did you think that caring about kids was of paramount importance? Silly you! It turns out that caring about kids isn’t as correlated with test-score results as, say, whether the class learns to correct its mistakes. And therefore, we shouldn’t be worrying as much about whether teachers care about their kids; we should be worrying more about other things, instead. That’s what the test-score regressions tell us, so it must be true!…..

No! Stop! Do none of these people get it? What everybody wants, here, is better teachers. These surveys could be instrumental in helping to improve teaching. Teachers would be able to see where they score well and where they score badly, and ask themselves how to improve their scores in areas where they are weak. Principals could see which teachers were good on which axes, and set classes up so that students ended up with a balanced range of teachers. And generally, everybody could treat this data as an interesting and very rich way of improving educational outcomes.

Instead, reformers are rushing to use this data as a quantitative performance-review tool, something which can get you a raise or which can even get you fired. And by so doing, they’re turning it from something potentially extremely useful, into a bone of contention between teachers and managers, and a metric to be gamed and maximized.

David B. Cohen from Accomplished California Teachers has written an excellent, must-read, analysis of awardees in the District Race To The Top program. Check out Race to the Top: Mixed Reactions in the Bay Area.

Thousands of teachers rallied in Chicago on a Saturday during their strike. One of the speeches was from Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, and it is not-to-be-missed. Fortunately, Mike Klonsky has a video of it posted on his blog, and I would strongly urge you to watch and listen to it now…
You can also listen to it here:

Here’s another speech Karen Lewis recently gave at the City Club of Chicago (if you’re reading this on a RSS Reader, you may have to click through to see it):

I wouldn’t say this “round-up” post I wrote is one of the “best” of the year, but I would suggest it’s a good summary: The best — and worst — education news of 2012 is my  piece at The Washington Post.

I also wouldn’t necessarily call this next post one of the best of the year, but I think our local being the first in California to reject participating in the District Race To The Top had some influence throughout the state: “Sacramento City Teachers Association declines to participate in Race to the Top “

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 1000 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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