Monthly Archives: July 2018

July Comments 7/16-7/28


Build and Support

What states are doing to beef up civics education and engagement.

Civics overhaul in Massachusetts nears completion.

Principals say they want coaching not compliance from the central office.

Learning Policy Institutes review of Bruce Baker’s research report on How Money Matters for public schools.

AFT chronicles a decade of massive underfunding of public schools.

Diane Ravitch on how a problem based curriculum increases performance more then test prep.

Fragmented curriculum shortchanges students.

Fordham’s report on the state of reading and writing instruction in the US.

Seven things research does and does not reveal about AP courses.


Charter, Voucher, and Privatization Issues

Charter schools in Massachusetts temper “no excuses” approach.

Mercedes Schneider on the slowdown of growth of charter schools due to increased charter school closures.

Diane Ravitch on an insider’s view of the hoax of school choice in North Carolina.

Diane Ravitch on how the head of Ohio’s ECOT virtual charter chain embezzled millions, paid off legislators, and escaped the punishment due him.

NYC’s Success Academy’s  tribulations—huge salary for Moscowitz and 70% of its high-school teachers left this year.

Thomas Ultican on how charters and vouchers ruined public education in Milwaukee.

Deutsch29 argues that the almost all-charter school district in New Orleans is not a better way to run schools. and See also and

Jeff Bryant warns progressives about the renewed push for charter schools.

After adjusting for income private school students do no better than their traditional public school counterparts.  Private schools’ enrollment is more affluent.

Tom Ultican on how privatization is invading the San Juaquin Valley

Larry Cuban on how definitions of success have change over time.


Technology and Personalized Learning

Larry Cuban on the strengths and weaknesses of personalized learning.

Summit spreads its personalized learning curriculum.


Reform Foibles

Marc Tucker on the testing tragedy in the US. and how negative narratives not facts harm schools.

NAACP now opposes high-stakes testing.

The sad story of the failure of the Tennessee Achievement School District.

Carol Burris on the fiasco of the Gates teacher evaluation project.

Rick Hess slams Arne Duncan’s tribute to “reforms” as lessons not learned.

Comments 5/20-6/1/18 (June/July below)


Larry Cuban reports on the Democracy Prep charter chain which is emphasizing civic education.

Public School Support

Democrats unveil plan to support teachers.

Eunice Han finds that teacher unions result in higher teacher quality.

What it’s like to teach in an underfunded school.

Marc Tucker on comprehensive school improvement.


Perils of Reforms

Low or negative results for students of closed schools while large increases in community damage.

It’s time to revamp teacher evaluation.

The result of closing 50 schools in Chicago in one day: No measurable outcome improvements but widespread sorrow.

Larry Cuban on reforms and technology: skeptic or cynic.

Curriculum and Instruction

England finds organized phonics instruction to be crucial for disadvantaged children.

Charter and Voucher Problems

Peter Greene on the differences between charter schools and traditional pubic schools.

Jeff Bryant on why a proposed NC charter school plan should alarm the nation.

A new federal evaluation of the DC voucher program finds that students who used vouchers lost ground in math.

Marc Tucker finds no evidence that charter management organizations are a laboratory for more effective school systems.

Who is to blame for Ohio’s 1 billion dollar ECOT virtual school boondoggle?

A parent education advocate on what is wrong with charter schools.

June/July Comments 6/1/18-7/15/18

Public School Support

The Center for American Progress makes the case for increasing teacher’s salaries.

Low teacher salaries and how we got there.


Curriculum, Instruction, and School Organization

From me. If you get a chance, take a look at Paul Cobb and his co-authors’ book, Systems for Instructional Improvement. This book is a must read for what it actually takes to improve instruction at the school and district level and where things go wrong. Even though the context is middle grade math using a more constructivist math program, the lessons learned apply to any proposed strategy for improvement or use of materials. According to the Math in Common folks (a large, foundation funded math improvement effort in California) the  Cobb findings are consistent with what they have witnessed.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

This is the best, most sophisticated, and specific book I have seen on what it takes to build comprehensive and coherent instructional improvement which works at the school level. Their report is highly specific on issues of translating theory into practice. The project distills all we have been discussing on school implementation of instructional improvement, team building, equity, and continuous improvement. This book should be read by all  of us who are interested in implementation 2.0.

The setting is a four year effort (MIST) in four districts, with an additional four years in two of the districts, focused on middle grades math using Connected Math in three districts and as a supplement in the fourth. (The lessons learned should apply to other materials, other grades, and other subjects).They go into detail on building a coherent strategy of teaching improvement resting on (1) effective and ineffective pull-out professional development on deep math understanding and practice, pedagogical understanding and practice, and beliefs that all students can master and learn from posed problems and how to facilitate that; (2) effective and ineffective coaching; (3) effective and ineffective collaborative team building; and (4) teacher advice networks all reinforcing each other. They examine what worked, what didn’t and why, and what got in the way of improvement efforts. They also delve into the districts role in supporting these efforts especially resources, time, principal (and teacher leader) leadership, and line/staff/departments coordination..

The book is also full of the latest relevant research and where new research needs to occur. It is consistent with the findings of the Math in Common folks (a large California math improvement effort).

My only concern is how complex strategies need to be to produce results, how difficult it is to make these specific strategies effective, and how to develop the expertise and commitments to pull this off. This project, MIST, had top-level researchers and practitioners, a long time period, and continuity of district support and still a great many of the efforts were not that productive. Let’s get some of or group to read this before the presentation by the MIST people, and the set a time for more thorough discussion of how these ideas could be operationalized.


In the same vein an article arguing that investment in teacher professional development is the best way to improve math scores. and challenging myths about learning resulted in improved performance (as the Cobb book finds also).

Michael Petrilli argues for the importance of a strong curriculum and effective instructional materials as  key elements in improving schools.

State school chiefs advocate for a strong curriculum.

Morgan Polikoff agrees and argues for extensive use of quality instructional materials. The Challenges of Curriculum Materials as a Reform Lever.

States should collect more data on what curriculum districts and schools are using.

English learners excel after becoming proficient.

NPR: Let’s Stop Talking About the 30 Million Word Gap.

Pam Burdman’s new organization for effective alternative pathways for high/school mathematics.

Teach statistics not calculus.

How a school in Chicago boosted math scores by focusing early on math understanding and language.

Marc Tucker question’s the effectiveness of unrestricted school autonomy.

Marc Tucker reviews the new British Columbia curriculum and finds much to praise.

High-school grades are a better predictor of college performance than SAT or ACT scores.

Julian Heilig argues that community schools are a tried and true alternative to charter schools.

A great new site for free open education materials.   They are offering a very effective 6-8 math program from Illustrative Mathematics which was the highest rated math program ever reviewed by EdReports.



Democratic core values belong in schools.

A major report on civics in schools by the Brown Center.

The Democracy Project report: Overwhelming numbers of Americans believe that democracy is the best form of government but most believe it is getting weaker.

Parkland student’s activism traced to strong civics program.

MindShift on how social studies can help young kids make sense of the world.


Charters, Vouchers, Privatization and Defunding of Public Schools

A major new study published in Education Researcher finds that private school performance is no better than public school performance when adjusted for demographics.

Jeff Bryant reports on which states are abandoning public education.

Diane Ravitch’s op ed in the Washington Post on how charters are leading to an unhealthy divide in US education.

Jan Resseger reports on how charter schools deplete public school revenue in Ohio.

A similar article in the Washington Post on the decimation of public education in Indiana.

A similar report on how charters are eroding San Antonio’s public school system.

Jeremy Mohler: Charter Schools Are NOT Progressive, They Are a Way to Disinvest in Public Schools

Who is behind the movement to privatize our public schools?

Schneider on the myth of New Orleans educational renewal.

Anti-union forces are attempting to convince teachers to drop the union membership.

Lessons from the failure of vouchers in Chile.

Joanne Barken on death by a thousand cuts to public schools by the privatization movement.

The terrible effects of Mississippi’s failure to adequately fund its public schools.

Rob Levine argues that Minnesota charters are a costly failure after 25 years.

Jeff Brant warns of a disastrous charter plan in North Carolina.

Gary Rubenstein demolishes the NY city Kipp charter school’s claim of 96% graduation finding it to be more like 56% when you take into account attrition of students who were never replaced. He also finds that the highly touted Success Academy graduated only 16 students out of an original 73 students in 2006 (they don’t backfill) through attrition and being held back.

Also, Jeff Bryant comments on the unsuccessful massive financial support for Gavin Newsom’s opponent by wealthy charter supporters.

Diane Ravitch writes about how Michigan public schools were some of the best in the nation before the privatization and charter movement sunk them to the bottom.

An op ed supporting giving districts the right to refuse charters if they will cause substantial harm to the district.

The Hechinger Report finds that charter schools suffer from higher levels of segregation than nearby public schools.

Diane Ravitch reports on a the embezzlement by the headmaster of a  religious voucher school in North Carolina. She states: North Carolina gives out public money to private and religious schools with little or no oversight. Do not be surprised that some people take advantage of the open cash register and help themselves to taxpayers’ money that should have gone to public schools.


Failed reforms

States are moving away from flawed teacher evaluation systems.

Audrey-Amerein-Beardsley on why New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system based on test scores has been such a failure.

Chalkbeat reviews new Rand report that shows that the $575 million spent by the Gates foundation on teacher-evaluation was a bust. From the report Sites implemented new measures of teaching effectiveness and modified personnel policies accordingly but did not achieve their goals for students

Education Technology/Personalized Learning

Stephen Sawchuk argues that SF’s bold approach to detracking algebra shows promise.

Authors argue that we have an obligation to test educational technology before widespread adoption.

 Larry Cuban reviews a new School of the Future based on a technology first approach in Philadelphia which gradually shifted to using technology as a supplement to a regular academic program. At one point this school functioned very much through technology….Where our innovation is now is to get back to the fundamentals of what an educational academic program is supposed to be like, and how you get technology to mirror or augment that.

Dan Willingham’s critique of the bible of personalized learning “The End of Average”

Questions about the effectiveness of personalized learning in New Orleans.

Tom Ultican reviews the shabby story of IReady.






Designed and Developed by