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Teacher Trifecta

CER’s recent monograph, Mandate for Change, pinpoints teacher quality as one in a five-part prescription for what ails public education in America today. Richard Whitmire’s essay lays out a compelling argument for addressing the way teachers are evaluated, cautioning “Effective teachers make a difference and the current system does next to nothing to reward effective teaching.”

Here are three examples of teaching/teachers at work for students:

sweating_the_small_stuff_cover1) The new paternalism

David Whitman spoke last Thursday at a CER event about his book Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. Whitman dedicated a section of both his talk and the book to a discussion focused on the aspects of a paternalistic teaching/learning environment. Here are but three examples:

  • Provide teachers with more on-site training and new opportunities to review student progress and discipline problems, and to observe other teachers’ classrooms.
  • Principals, with assistance from teachers, need to create a sense of mission and concern for student character. They should enlist all staff in attaining their goals, including the secretaries and janitors.

Finally, hire principals and teachers who like — and celebrate — their students. (more…)

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How to help Arne Duncan spend his new $5 billion innovation fund

showusthemoney1District superintendents around the country – who will be the first port of call for the education stimulus funds – seem to want more than what is already a pretty substantial influx of money.

They have their eyes set on the Education Secretary’s discretionary fund (his “Race to the Top Fund”), money that is supposed to be about innovation.

A D.C.-area superintendent is quoted in the Washington Post today as saying he might ask for money to boost AP placement among Latino kids. That of course, is a good idea, but one that doesn’t need money – it needs great educators pushing kids to succeed.

We’ll be watching for what qualifies as innovation, but for now, we’d humbly suggest a quick read of at least five big ideas that could transform education – ones that might be worthy of some of Duncan’s prize funds…

Mandate for Changea bold agenda for the incoming government

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Viva Viagra! Rambo’s in Town!

headbandAll stimulus—all the time. There is nothing like a raucous action film filled with exploding cars and high-powered weaponry to distract you from your troubles and take your mind off your real obligations back home. Like it or not, this is the net effect of the Stimulus package now furiously hurdling through Congress like some action hero implausibly decimating everything in his way while the world around watches in awe—numb, but invigorated by the spectacle—waiting to be rescued.

Has Obama gone Rambo? Or has Washington become a Hollywood set—a gleaming fasçade, supported by nothing, but intentionally built to allow our superhero to shine?

For those in need of a tonic from so much stimulus—still reeling from the whiplash of the high-speed chase with stolen dollars flying everywhere—read Michael Gerson’s magisterial treatment of how real education reform signaled by the Obama campaign has already been abandoned in exchange for Obama’s empty pragmatism.

No purple pill or action hero bravado for him. Gerson is a real man, a man of principle, who reminds us what is required to effect fundamental reform. Among the remedies are test-based accountability and merit pay to drive improved teacher quality—not payola stolen from children yet born to buy off one’s political supporters.

Gerson writes, “It is still early in the Obama era. But it is already evident that pragmatism without a guiding vision or a fighting faith can become little more than the service of insistent political interests.” It is precisely for this reason that Mandate for Change was recently sent to every state and federal legislator in the land.

Got Mandate?

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