Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 20, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “We Should Be Obsessed With Racial Equity”

This summer, I will be taking a break now-and-then from blogging to both take some R & R and to also finish-up our next book on teaching English Language Learners.

During those short breaks, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts of 2017 so far.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2016’s Best Posts From This Blog

I have often shared links to Education Week posts by Walt Gardner in this blog.  His pieces are short, to-the-point, and often, in my opinion, right on target.

However, I have to say that I was shocked and appalled by his latest post, The ‘Racial Equity’ Obsession.  In it, he begins by writing a misleading characterization of events at the St. Paul public schools based on an opinion article headlined, incredibly, “No Thug Left Behind” (see this NPR piece about the racial overtones of the word “thug”).  The article, and Gardner’s summary, paints a picture of school mayhem and “destroyed teacher morale” because of efforts to reduce racial disparity in discipline. He then uses that inaccurate description to condemn efforts in schools that are responding to racial disparities in school discipline that are often based in teacher bias.  His evidence is the “thug” article and the memory of his personal teaching experience, and cites no other evidence.  Of course, he omits the countless studies that have, indeed, connected a large percentage of racial discipline differences to teacher bias (links to that research can be found later in this post).

How do I know that Gardner’s description of the events in Minnesota are wildly inaccurate?  Well,  I actually asked teachers in Minnesota about what happened.

I learned that St. Paul teachers were, and continue to be, very concerned about racial equity in their schools.  I also learned that professional development on bias were incomplete, and that a past contract with administrators included a merit pay clause based on suspension reduction.  As Jim Peterson, the principal at our school, has told me, “If you want us to reduce suspensions, I can do that easily.  But that does nothing to get to the root causes behind suspensions.”

I asked Mary Cathryn Rucker, a teacher on leave from St. Paul public schools currently serving as Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Teacher, her perspective on Gardner’s post.  She replied, ” His characterization is incredibly inaccurate .  It does not recognize the complexity of the work teachers and students are trying to do. In his post, he is promoting the very racist tropes we are trying to destroy.”

The evidence that teacher bias exists is overwhelming.  We cannot wish it away with “alternative facts.”  I have been and, I’m sure, continue to be guilty of it.  Trust me, if you believe you are free of bias, just ask your students of color, as I have done.  They have not been afraid to answer my question with specific examples.

Change is hard.  Our high school has been working hard for two years moving towards restorative practices, and it has not been easy.  But claiming that we teachers should live in a “color-blind” world, as Gardner suggests,  is a picture not rooted in the reality of our world today (see “Colorblind Education Is The Wrong Response,” Ed Week).

Education Week, the publication that published his post, is an extraordinary publication, and one where I have published a weekly teacher advice column for many years.  I was surprised that such a admirable journal would allow the piece to be published.  In response to my concerns, editors pointed me to the disclaimer Mr. Gardner’s blog has (mine has a similar one):

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Yes, I understand that we bloggers have our own opinions.  However, it seems to me that having an opinion based on facts would be a reasonable bar to have to reach in order to publish a piece. I don’t think Gardner’s piece reaches that bar.

Here are links to articles and studies (many of the articles contain direct links to the research) about the role of teacher bias:

Understanding Implicit Bias appeared in The American Educator.

Want To Address Teachers’ Biases? First, Talk About Race is from NPR (here’s a longer version).

How you can eliminate bias in your own classroom is from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

When Implicit Bias Shapes Teacher Expectations is from NEA Today.

Tackling Implicit Bias is from Teaching Tolerance.

Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers? is from Mother Jones.

5 Keys to Challenging Implicit Bias is by Shane Shafir and appeared in Edutopia.

Four Ways Teachers Can Reduce Implicit Bias appeared in The Huffington Post.

Biased Discipline at My School is by Kelly Wickham Hurst and appeared in Edutopia.

Teachers Undo Personal Biases To Help Students Of Color Engage is from Colorado Public Radio.

More related resources can be found at:

The Best Resources For Learning About Restorative Practices – Help Me Find More

A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section..

February 18, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

We Should Be Obsessed With Racial Equity

I have often shared links to Education Week posts by Walt Gardner in this blog.  His pieces are short, to-the-point, and often, in my opinion, right on target.

However, I have to say that I was shocked and appalled by his latest post, The ‘Racial Equity’ Obsession.  In it, he begins by writing a misleading characterization of events at the St. Paul public schools based on an opinion article headlined, incredibly, “No Thug Left Behind” (see this NPR piece about the racial overtones of the word “thug”).  The article, and Gardner’s summary, paints a picture of school mayhem and “destroyed teacher morale” because of efforts to reduce racial disparity in discipline. He then uses that inaccurate description to condemn efforts in schools that are responding to racial disparities in school discipline that are often based in teacher bias.  His evidence is the “thug” article and the memory of his personal teaching experience, and cites no other evidence.  Of course, he omits the countless studies that have, indeed, connected a large percentage of racial discipline differences to teacher bias (links to that research can be found later in this post).

How do I know that Gardner’s description of the events in Minnesota are wildly inaccurate?  Well,  I actually asked teachers in Minnesota about what happened.

I learned that St. Paul teachers were, and continue to be, very concerned about racial equity in their schools.  I also learned that professional development on bias were incomplete, and that a past contract with administrators included a merit pay clause based on suspension reduction.  As Jim Peterson, the principal at our school, has told me, “If you want us to reduce suspensions, I can do that easily.  But that does nothing to get to the root causes behind suspensions.”

I asked Mary Cathryn Rucker, a teacher on leave from St. Paul public schools currently serving as Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Teacher, her perspective on Gardner’s post.  She replied, ” His characterization is incredibly inaccurate .  It does not recognize the complexity of the work teachers and students are trying to do. In his post, he is promoting the very racist tropes we are trying to destroy.”

The evidence that teacher bias exists is overwhelming.  We cannot wish it away with “alternative facts.”  I have been and, I’m sure, continue to be guilty of it.  Trust me, if you believe you are free of bias, just ask your students of color, as I have done.  They have not been afraid to answer my question with specific examples.

Change is hard.  Our high school has been working hard for two years moving towards restorative practices, and it has not been easy.  But claiming that we teachers should live in a “color-blind” world, as Gardner suggests,  is a picture not rooted in the reality of our world today (see “Colorblind Education Is The Wrong Response,” Ed Week).

Education Week, the publication that published his post, is an extraordinary publication, and one where I have published a weekly teacher advice column for many years.  I was surprised that such a admirable journal would allow the piece to be published.  In response to my concerns, editors pointed me to the disclaimer Mr. Gardner’s blog has (mine has a similar one):

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Yes, I understand that we bloggers have our own opinions.  However, it seems to me that having an opinion based on facts would be a reasonable bar to have to reach in order to publish a piece. I don’t think Gardner’s piece reaches that bar.

Here are links to articles and studies (many of the articles contain direct links to the research) about the role of teacher bias:

Understanding Implicit Bias appeared in The American Educator.

Want To Address Teachers’ Biases? First, Talk About Race is from NPR (here’s a longer version).

How you can eliminate bias in your own classroom is from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

When Implicit Bias Shapes Teacher Expectations is from NEA Today.

Tackling Implicit Bias is from Teaching Tolerance.

Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers? is from Mother Jones.

5 Keys to Challenging Implicit Bias is by Shane Shafir and appeared in Edutopia.

Four Ways Teachers Can Reduce Implicit Bias appeared in The Huffington Post.

Biased Discipline at My School is by Kelly Wickham Hurst and appeared in Edutopia.

Teachers Undo Personal Biases To Help Students Of Color Engage is from Colorado Public Radio.

More related resources can be found at:

The Best Resources For Learning About Restorative Practices – Help Me Find More

A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More

A Collection Of Advice On Talking To Students About Race, Police & Racism

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section…

October 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy Issues

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2016 – So Far):

High School Graduation Rates Are Soaring: How much credit should we give to President Obama’s education policies? is by Dana Goldstein at Slate.

The High School Graduation Rate Reaches A Record High — Again is from NPR.

Pruning Teacher Education is by John Merrow, and is commentary on the new fed regs on teacher prep programs.

Here’s How Schools Can Soften The Blow Of Sixth Grade is from NPR.

Once in place, will school accountability system really work? (in California) is from Ed Source.

Questioning Charter School Superiority is from Walt Gardner at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

Five myths about charter schools is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to the same list.

The NAACP Takes A Major Stand Against The Growth Of Charter Schools is from The Huffington Post. It’s going on that list, too.

Here are two recent pieces by Bill Honig, former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction:

Why Conventional School “Reforms” Have Failed Teacher and School Evaluations Are Based on Test Scores

Why Conventional School “Reforms” Have Failed The Reformers Target the Wrong Levers of Improvement

June 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Resources For Organizing & Maximizing Field Trips – Both “Real” & “Virtual”

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‘Great Field Trips Expand the Mind’ is the headline of the third-and-last post in my Education Week Teacher series.

I’m a big fan of field trips — the “real” kind, where we take students out of the classroom. I also believe, though, that “virtual” trips can be useful.

Here are resources, including past posts, about how to organize and maximize both types of field trips (and why they’re important):

Fewer field trips mean some students miss more than a day at the museum is from Brookings.

Field Trips Leave Indelible Memories is by Walt Gardner.

Google Expands Its “Expeditions” Virtual Field Trips For Schools (that post includes links to several other pieces I’ve written about Google’s Expeditions program)

The Best Resources For Finding And Creating Virtual Field Trips

The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips

Why the much-maligned field trip really matters is from The Washington Post.

Successful Field Trips with English Language Learners is from Colorin Colorado.

Skype Connects Classrooms With Field Trips Around the World is from Ed Tech Magazine. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Find Other Classes For Joint Online Projects.

Smithsonian’s “Our Story” Is A Valuable Resource For Teachers & Parents (nice forms to use on field trips to any museum)

Learning from Live Theater is from Education Next and reviews research on the value of taking students on field trips.

English Language Learners Design Their Own “Ideal” Neighborhoods discusses a field trip I do every year.

How Field Trips Build Critical Thinking Skills is a post from MindShift about a recent study.

Here’s What Students Did On Our Field Trip To The Zoo

The Best Web Applications That Lets Multiple People Upload Their Photos To One Place

The Fabulous Field Trip Guide: Mobile Learning and QR Codes is from Shelly Terrell.

Google Unveils Lots Of New Ed Projects, Including Opening “Expeditions” To Everybody

ESOL Community Scavenger Hunts is from TESOL.

What am I missing?

January 1, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy Issues

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2015 – Part Two):

Selection Bias in Charter School Success is from Ed Week, and is by Walt Gardner. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

As Graduation Rates Rise, Experts Fear Diplomas Come Up Short is from The New York Times.

“Good” and “Successful” Teaching: Where Does the Student Enter the Picture? is by Larry Cuban.

Unexpected Honey Study Shows Woes of Nutrition Research
is from The New York Times and has obvious connections to ed research. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

I’m adding this tweet to The Best Education Articles From “The Onion”:

August 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy Issues

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2015 – So Far):

This is the most important article, and the most scary one, from this week: Major charter school expansion in the works for L.A. Unified students is from the L.A. Times. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

Student Protests Around the World is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

Teachers as learners and leaders: To dos for American decision makers is by Barnett Berry. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Professional Development For Teachers — Help Me Find More.

Two Weeks to Admit Teaching Is Hard is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week.

Master teacher suing New York state over ‘ineffective’ rating is going to court is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

New Tests Push Schools To Redefine ‘Good Enough’ is from NPR. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional) is from The New York Times. Peter Greene has a related post that worth’s a read, too.

Education Week had a big announcement this week when they announced they had acquired Learning Matters, which does a lot of video education journalism, including producing segments for the PBS News Hour. You can read their announcement here and an Alexander Russo column on it here.

20 years later, Dangerous Minds is still pretty silly—and ugly is from Slate. After I tweeted out the link, Adeyemi Stembridge shared this hilarious parody clip:

I’m adding them both to The Best Places To Learn About (And View Video Clips Of) Teachers In The Movies.

I’m also adding The Moments In Between: What They Never Show in Teacher Movies is by Liz Prather to the same list.

2nd “This American Life” Report on School Integration Just As Great is by John Thompson.

Teach For America Sees Another Big Drop In Accepted Corps Members is from The Huffington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Raising Concerns About Teach For America.

June 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy Issues

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles, Posts & Videos On Education Policy In 2014 – Part Two):

Boosting Educational Attainment and Adult Earnings is from Education Next. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning That Money Does Matter For Schools.

The hard ethical challenges that confront teachers today is by Richard Rothstein. I’m adding it to The Best Commentaries On The Atlanta Test-Cheating Verdict.

‘We now know students cannot be tested out of poverty’ appeared in The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On The New NCLB Reauthorization Bill.

Chicago Schools Chief Resigns Amid Federal Investigation is from The New York Times.

What teachers really need to stay, improve and succeed appeared in The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

Education Studies Warrant Skepticism is by Walt Gardner. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

Myth: You can do more with less is by Pasi Sahlberg. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Providing An “Overall” Perspective On Education Policy.

The states that spend the most (and the least) on education, in one map is from The Washington Post.

How Do You Measure a Teacher’s Worth? appeared in TIME. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

April 26, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy Issues

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles, Posts & Videos On Education Policy In 2014 – Part Two):

Grading Teachers Is Counterproductive is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

California Teachers Association Pres. Looks to the Future is also from Education Week.

Teachers’ Unions Fight Standardized Testing, and Find Diverse Allies is from The New York Times.

Push to overhaul teacher evaluations gives the latest news about what’s happening here in California.

The Paradox of Success at a No-Excuses School is a new study by Joanne W. Golann. I have previously posted about her work. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

The Invented History of ‘The Factory Model of Education’ is by Audrey Watters. You might be interested in other resources about the history of education I have at The Best Resources To Learn About World Teachers Day.

Sen. Jon Tester seeks to end annual standardized testing is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The No Child Left Behind Reauthorization Process.

Can Value Added Add Value to Teacher Evaluation? is by Linda Darling-Hammond. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

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