Thursday, December 30, 2010

Education reformers made bold strides in 2010, but what’s next for 2011? |

Although I think the movie Waiting for Superman was an example of special interest (charter schools), it did serve to spark more conversation and interest in the overall topic of education. That said, at this point, I am pleased to cosign the message from Michell Rhee. Click on the link below to view her comments.

Education reformers made bold strides in 2010, but what’s next for 2011? |

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Do You Get Black Kids to Learn? Teach!

When we argue for "Supportive Parents" and "Quality Teaching" as critical factors in achieving academic excellence, it is difficult to convey this message in a meaningful way. In addition, this site argues for "Building a Learning Culture" again, a difficult concept for many to visualize.

In the following interview with teacher Anitra Pinchback, it all comes together for me.
Note the following statements by Ms. Pinchback:

"We are always looking for outside accountability but as educators we should have inside accountability, too. You should do it because it works not because someone is looking"

"Each year, I meet with my parents during the first 2 weeks of school. I cover learning expectations and standards, and set the tone."

"I worked with parents on their (the child's) behavior and attitudes. I told them it's a lifestyle (culture) change for the family."

I hope these few excerpts have whet your appetite for more. Because there is much, much more.

Click on the link below for the full interview. If you have a passion in this area, you will not be disappointed.

How Do You Get Black Kids to Learn? Teach!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shanker Blog » Teachers Matter, But So Do Words

I have made the argument in using the Priority Impact Matrix (PIM)that of the five critical factors driving achievement, the teacher is number 3 on my list. That is behind a motivated student and supportive parents. These are followed by the principal and finally a rigorous curriculum.

Therefore, the post below makes good sense to me, and is one of the reasons I use the PIM. We must be careful with all the information coming forth and depending on the interest group, it can cause confusion in the public.

Again, this is a good post. Click and read.

Shanker Blog » Teachers Matter, But So Do Words

What I Learned in 2010 - Bridging Differences - Education Week

Diane Ravitch comments on her takeaways from 2010. I learn from her thinking and perspective on the current ed reform debate.

What I Learned in 2010 - Bridging Differences - Education Week

Monday, December 27, 2010

Schools Matter: To Starve the Beast, We Must Drown the Children

Could our public school system( with its billions in budget dollars) be a takeover target for wall street?

Could the Republican party be a part of sinister plot to weaken the Democratic party (and thus obtain more money and power) by moving to privatize our schools?

Read this post by Jim Horn. This is an analysis that should be kept in mind by all of us (like me) who support a strong public school system.

I will watch Students First closely, and Michelle Rhee, to be certain this is not her end game. One good place to watch from is inside the organization.

Schools Matter: To Starve the Beast, We Must Drown the Children: "Posted at Kenniwick School District Citizens: Waiting For SuperFraud By Michael T. Martin Public schools have to fail. There is no alternat..."

Why Finland's schools get the best results?

This is a good read. Note the comments on culture and how parents support their children. All while actually spending less time in the classroom.

BBC News - World News America - Why do Finland's schools get the best results?

Sunday, December 26, 2010


A motivated student is critical to academic success. Please consider this piece on Self-Efficacy. It makes sense.

V39N3_FT_Self-Efficacy.pdf (application/pdf Object)

There Are No Unmotivated Students | Dropout Nation: Coverage of the Reform of American Public Education Edited by RiShawn Biddle

I disagree with the assertion that "there are no unmotivated students".

I follow Dropout Nation. Usually the comments are strong and well reasoned. However, in this instance, I could not disagree more regarding the topic of motivated students.

In my view, there are five factors that drive academic excellence. They are: a motivated student, supportive parents, high quality teaching, high quality principal leadership, and a rigorous curriculum.

This is the recipe that represents the total shared responsibility for academic success.

You can not leave out any one of these factors and expect academic excellence.

I am not a "...lazy, shiftless adults in schools and communities." I am a parent of three adult children with a deep concern for the education of all children, but with an emphasis on the black community.

And I believe motivation matters. To demonize individuals as "lazy and shiftless" for holding an opinion on this topic appears somewhat extreme and unreasonable.

As well, not holding students and families accountable for a child's behavior is both demeaning and disrespectful.

Instead, we should make every effort to coach parents and make available to them key resources for assisting their children.

The obligation to educate the nation's children is an important trust. It should not be reduced to name calling, insults and blame.

Only a shared, healthy, and inclusive approach will work in the end.

Thanks to Dropout Nation for putting this topic in the conversation.

Your comments are always welcome. Please join in.

There Are No Unmotivated Students | Dropout Nation: Coverage of the Reform of American Public Education Edited by RiShawn Biddle

Friday, December 24, 2010

Class Struggle - Why Jay's classroom focus is wrong

I follow both Jay Matthews and Rishawn Biddle. Therefore, it was interesting to see the two of them exchange views as Jay presents on his blog.

I have personally adopted a view that five (5) factors are more important and have more impact on overall student achievement. They are in order of importance: A motivated student shows up to school, Supportive parents/guardians, High quality teaching, High quality principal leadership, and a Rigorous curriculum.

With that in mind, I enjoyed the following exchange. I hope you will as well. Click on the link to view.

Class Struggle - Why Jay's classroom focus is wrong

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Should Students Help to Assess Teacher Performance? |

Should Students Help to Assess Teacher Performance? |

In the work place, I often experienced what was called 360 degree feedback. That simply means your performance is rated not only by your supervisor, but also by peers, and subordinates. These ratings were combined and compared with self-evaluations.

Needless to say, this type of system can be quite revealing. My take away was that we all have blind spots and can usually improve. If done appropriately, the student input can indeed be a valuable part of the teacher evaluation process.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Atlanta Schools Face Scandal While Searching for Leader -

Atlanta Schools Face Scandal While Searching for Leader -

The Atlanta school system is certainly not a model at this point in time. Rocked by an alleged cheating scandal regarding standardized tests, it now faces a challenge to its accreditation.

On top of the cheating investigations, it appears the school board is aligned along "ideological and philosophical" factions which has caused it not to be able to govern effectively.

And of course while the adults fight over who controls the sandbox, the children languish.

Cheating is wrong. Nothing else to say if that is a true allegation. While I am no fan of high-stakes tests, I am equally no fan of cheating. Not only is it morally wrong, but what kind of lesson is that to teach our children.

My advocacy is for understanding the lay of the land, and working hard to compete within the boundaries of the rules and regulations. Otherwise a win- is no win at all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Michelle Rhee & StudentsFirst

It is great to see that former D.C. school leader, Michelle Rhee has launched a new and exciting initiative.

She recently announced the formation of The new organization is a nationwide effort to bring interested parties together to support education reform.

Her stated mission is to: build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that American has the best education system in the world.

The core beliefs of the organization are:

1. Great teachers can make a tremendous difference for students of every background; all children deserve outstanding teachers.

2. Attending a great school should be a matter of fact, not luck; every family should be able to choose an excellent school.

3 Public dollars belong where they make the biggest difference-on effective instructional programs; we must fight ineffective practices and bureaucracy.

4. Parent and family involvement is key to increased student achievement, but the entire community must be engaged in the effort to improve our schools.

These four beliefs make sense to me.

Nationally, Ms. Rhee has her critics. Some claim her only focus is high-stakes testing, merit pay, closing schools and opening charters. I do not buy that framing of this initiative, or her past work.

At any rate, I am pleased to have joined this new initiative. The stated mission and beliefs are consistent with this site, and what I believe is the right focus for improving learning for all students.


1. I have created a link to under the links section of Learn to Learn for your easy use.
2. We have established a group on the StudentsFirst site called "Black Americans for School Reform." Check us out and please consider joining our group.
3. For more information check out the new site at:

Congratulations to Ms. Rhee on the new initiative. I think it is right for the current time, and will no doubt help drive improved academic performance.

Friday, December 3, 2010

President Barack Obama, meet Derrick Bell

Slightly off the core subject of education, but nevertheless focused on educating, we are struck by the tone and tenor of the political climate of the nation. And some comment is in order.

The president is at once being attacked from all sides. A unified front of Republican opposition has resurrected a party, that following the 2008 election, was thought to be on life support.

From inside his own party, a steady drumbeat of criticism. The jabs have ranged from allegations of one testicle (James Carville) to simply having to prove he is not an idiot (Mother Jones).

Through it all the president has remained outwardly calm. He seems to display reliance on an inner power to control his disappointment while keeping focused on a previously charted course.

To borrow from Dr. Charles Stanley in describing a different situation, I believe his words apply to the president. "By showing peace instead of anxiety or practicing patience rather that speaking a sharp word, a Christian bears witness to the beauty of the gospel."

But there is also another reality that the president must have clearly and calmly faced. And that is the fact that he is a black man in the white house.

Here, we introduce the president to Derrick Bell.

Bell says "Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those herculean efforts we hail as successful (becoming president of the United States--my emphasis) will produce no more than temporary "peaks of progress," short-lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways to maintain white dominance (100% of Republican senators and some Democratic senators unite against the president--my emphasis). This is a hard-to-accept fact that all history verifies. We must acknowledge it and move on to adopt policies based on what I call: "Racial Realism." This mind-set or philosophy requires us to acknowledge the permanence of our subordinate status."

Bell goes on to say, "We call ourselves African Americans, but despite centuries of struggle, none of us-no matter our prestige or position-is more than a few steps away from a racially motivated exclusion, restriction or affront."

Now I would not expect that president Obama would be as direct in his assessment of his current situation. After all, he would be accused by that right wing machine of playing the race card.

However, I do not have such restrictions. And, I don't much care what anyone thinks or feels about what I'm saying. For I know, deep inside, it is factual and it is the truth.

This is not in any sense a call for blacks to surrender. It is simply a clear statement of our condition.

It also underscores the need for black folks to wake up to the necessity of an education and a competitive spirit for our survival.

Good luck and best wishes, Mr. President. I admire your courage.

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