News and Notes, Classroom Edition

It’s been a crazy semester so far, full of school projects, work, and much thesis writing still left to do. I’ll also be doing a bit of traveling this weekend. I’ve been following a lot of ongoing discussions within the world of education, and it’s been a while since I blogged about these discussions. Let’s take a look at some noteworthy articles that have been circulating the news as late:

  • Diane Ravitch–an Education historian, NYU Professor, former aide to President George W. Bush, and former supporter of charter schools and education privatization–has now come out swinging against charter schools, calling them “scams.” She disagrees with the notion that public schools (and teachers unions) are failing students and that more “competition” in public education leads to better outcomes for students. She argues that schools are relying too much on testing and that socio-economic factors like segregation and poverty are bigger issues than test scores. This article is an important read, and I highly recommend it.
  • Former Congressman Ron Paul has a new book on education coming out called The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System. The book advocates for home schooling (which is not really a new answer) and “free market” schooling options. In an argument completely antithetical to the one made by Ravitch, Paul argues on page 12 that “[Modern Educators] want control over the thinking of children, and they want to reduce the influence of parents. They are thoroughly convinced that there are better ways to educate a child than the traditional way (home schooling), and they are determined to be placed in authority over the education of every nation’s children. It is now a matter of political power, and the professional educators have succeeded in gaining a near-monopolistic control over the structure and content of education during the first dozen years of school.”
  • Karen Young writes a thoughtful piece on Hybrid Pedagogy, the need to foster more interdisciplinary studies in schools, and actively questions the current system of testing, which reflects learning theories that consider students as “subjects” who are empty vessels of knowledge, not active learners who construct their own meanings from education content.
  • What would a school with no grades look like? I’m not sure, but I like the ideas posed here.
  • Far too often we Americans underestimate the value of a good teacher.
  • Jay Saper was kicked out of Teach for America for what apparently looks like…teaching.
  • An adjunct professor of French at Duquesne University died of a heart attack at the age of 83. She had taught at the university for 25 years, yet she died without a severance package, retirement benefits, or health insurance. A sad story that tells us much about the value we put on those who work in our higher education institutions in this country.