Here are two good school reform posts/articles that I’ve read this week:

The Debate over Teacher Merit Pay: A Freakonomics Quorum has some very thoughtful responses. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

A strange deference to Gates at Education Nation is by Anthony Cody. He makes great points about Melinda Gates’ appearance today on NBC’s “Education Nation,” including this one:

Melinda Gates begins with the question “How do we know a teacher’s making a difference in a student’s life?” That is an excellent and complex question. However, when we look at her answer, we find she commits the logical fallacy known as “begging the question.” One begs the question when one assumes something is true, when that is actually a part of what must be proven.

The question she begs is “what defines great teaching?” This is not answered by finding teaching methods associated with higher test scores. This question remains hanging over the entire school reform enterprise. Until we answer that question, we are devising complex mechanisms to elevate test scores assuming this will improve students’ lives, when this is manifestly unproven.

This episode should remind us of the crucial need to teach critical thinking in our schools — and apply such thinking to the dilemmas we face.