The Launch of a Bold Néw Website for Teachers and Their Allies

Diane Ravitch's blog

When I heard from Randy Hoover about his new website called “The Teacher-Advocate.com,” I asked him to write a post explaining his hopes and goals. I knew that he could describe it better than I could. Hoover spent 46 years as an educator.

Randy Hoover writes:

A Project to Reanimate Teacher Advocacy
Randy L. Hoover, PhD
Emeritus Professor, Youngstown State University

I began teaching in the late 60s, a political science major who never took an education course nor wanted anything to do with teaching or public schools but who fell into a 6th grade social studies teaching job in Madison, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. I will omit the somewhat sordid details of how I got the job and simply say that within a few weeks of encountering my first middle school students, my life took a 180-degree turn for the better, and I never looked…

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If I Were a Potted Plant

David R. Taylor-Thoughts on Education


If I were a potted plant, then I would have one of two types of caretakers:

  1. Active Caretaker
  2. Passive Caretaker

An active caretaker would tend to me frequently by providing me with the needed water, nutrients and sunlight. When the time was right they would transplant me to a bigger pot that would allow me to grow to my greatest potential. They may have to move me to several larger and larger pots.



A passive caretaker would put me in the corner; water me once in a while and rarely set me where there is any sunlight. I would soon outgrow current pot but my passive caretaker would not move me to a bigger pot. Soon I will begin to turn brown and then eventually die.



I use this analogy to compare the relationship between employees /supervisor or teachers/principals.

What kind of caretaker do you have or what…

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North Carolina Teacher: “I Am Embarrassed to Confess: I Am a Teacher”

Diane Ravitch's blog

Sarah Wiles, a science teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools with six years experience and a master’s degree, sent an email to every member of the North Carolina General Assembly with the subject line: “I am embarrassed to confess: I am a teacher.”

This was her email:

“From: Sarah Wiles

“Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 6:47 PM

“Every year there is a debate on teacher compensation. This is only exacerbates during election years. However, nothing happens. As a sixth year teacher, I have only seen a pay increase once (and then again after plunging myself into debt by earning my Masters in Education). I have attended rallies, joined NCAE, petitioned, and worn red (or blue and white, or whatever color of the rainbow I was required to wear to “show my support’). Nothing ever changes, except my wardrobe. So, that brings me to this one request: leave me alone.

“I am…

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Autonomy Must Precede Accountability

Beautiful and to the point: Accountability without Autonomy is Tyranny. This summarizes the bulk of what is wrong with today’s attempts at educational reform.

the becoming radical

Nearly 2.5 years ago, I wrote directly about the essential flaw with the thirty-plus-years accountability movement in K-12 U.S. public education. That essential flaw is that accountability built on standards and high-stakes testing is a corruption of the concept of accountability—which may be better understood as “responsibility.”

The corrupted “accountability” imposed on students, teachers, and schools in this model fails to establish first some key conditions in which accountability proper can be valid, ethical, and effective:

  • Identify clearly and openly the conditions that are in need of reform as well as the causational roots of those conditions.
  • Insure and then honor the autonomy of those being held accountable.
  • Insure accountability does not include conditions over which those being held accountable have no real control.

As a teacher, and if I am allowed my professional autonomy, I cannot control the outcomes of my students since those outcomes are impacted significantly by…

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Doing Classroom Research

Small Data: What professional educators have been doing for years.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

At a time when Big Data rules, I look for small answers to big questions about how policies get translated into classroom practices. Big Data can be seen in massive surveys when thousands of teachers respond to questions that pollsters ask. And yes, there are huge data sets derived from major projects that video teacher lessons as well as from students who answer questions about their teachers when taking national and international tests.

But if you really want to know and understand teachers, teaching, learning, and students, one must spend time in classrooms listening and watching the key actors who create good-to-poor lessons. Big Data go for the generalization overlooking the particular that often matters to policymakers, researchers, and practitioners.

Classroom research is crucial to understanding how policymaker decisions aimed at improving instruction and curriculum (think Common Core Standards, 1:1 tablets for kindergartners, Judging teachers on the basis of student…

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Why the Common Core Standards for Grades K-3 Are Wrong

Diane Ravitch's blog

A group of early childhood educators explain here why the Common Core is inappropriate for children in grades K-3. This statement is an excerpt from their joint publication “Defending the Early Years.”

The first mistake of the Common Core is that it “maps backwards” from what is needed for high school graduation and ignores the kind of learning that is developmentally appropriate for young children. “An example of a developmentally inappropriate Common Core standard for kindergarten is one that requires children to “read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Many young children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten and there is no research to support teaching reading in kindergarten. There is no research showing long-term advantages to reading at 5 compared to reading at 6 or 7.”

The second mistake is that the CCSS assumes that all children learn at the same rate and in the…

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Another Report Finds VAM is Flawed

Diane Ravitch's blog

A new report prepared by Andy Porter, dean of the graduate school of education at University of Pennsylvania, and Morgan Polikoff of the University of Southern California caution about value-added-measurement, basing teacher evaluation on test scores, because this method has “a weak to nonexistent link with teacher performance.”

Why are at least 30 states using this flawed measure? Because Arne Duncan made it a requirement of eligibility for Race to the Top and for state waivers. Despite the lack of evidence or negative evidence, states have passed laws tying as much as 50% of a teachers’ evaluation on scores.

“Morgan Polikoff and Andrew Porter, two education experts, analyzed the relationships between “value-added model” (VAM) measures of teacher performance and the content or quality of teachers’ instruction by evaluating data from 327 fourth and eighth grade math and English teachers in six school districts. The weak relationships made them question whether…

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