635641244772473303-fb040815optoutrally013I have been asked to appear on a Web based talk show called Shindig on http://www.edcircuit.com in early June. I will provide more information when I get it.

The hosts ask me to come up with a few quotes from my book so I thought I would share them with you in advance.

  • Barbara Tuchman, in her 1984 book, The March of Folly, from Troy to Vietnam, defines folly as the “pursuit of public policy contrary to self-interest, where people pursue the same failed policies and expect different results.” What better example of folly is there than current public education policy?

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  • Reformers live by the standard of industrial America developed a full century ago by Frederick W. Taylor. Captains of industry (robber barons) supported scientific management, as it was called, in order to make their employees more productive. Today’s policy makers want to turn teachers into industrial employees, churning students out like Ford workers churned out Model T’s.
  •  Students of all ages are not challenged. They are bored. They are being tested to death. The love of learning is instilled in far too few students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Policy makers do not listen to parents, teachers, and students.
  • Our nation’s media, conservative and liberal alike spread misinformation. They vilify the teaching profession, regardless of how successful many teachers are with children of all ages. Our politicians implement laws and plans based on that misinformation. Foundations give huge sums of money based on that misinformation. Corporations profit from that misinformation.
  • Instead of “getting rid of bad teachers,” more good and excellent teachers are leaving. Teaching colleagues, who three years ago said they loved their job and would stay until someone carried them out, are now saying they can’t wait until they are eligible for retirement.
  • Teaching must be more of a profession for our most creative and ambitious 20-somethings. We must market the opportunities to become an autonomous, creative professional with room for growth.
  • Teachers who offer working solutions have been ignored because they have been lumped into being part of “The Union,” and therefore positioned by politicians and the media as the enemy opposed to education reform. What the policy makers refuse to see is that many teachers don’t care about choosing sides. They are on the side of the kids and have successfully worked with them for years. In short, policy makers need to listen to teachers, and stop fighting with “The Union.”
  • The best kind of education is about distinctive and impassioned teaching, the kind that will engage and excite students. Often, it is the least orthodox that are the greatest teachers.
  • Well-trained classroom professionals can more than adequately decide what techniques and methods to use to reach a wide variety of students based on authentic and varied assessments.
  • We need wise teachers, not scripted robots. “A wise person knows when to improvise. And most important, a wise person does this improvising and rule-bending in the service of the right aims.” – Barry Schwartz, Practical Wisdom
  • To its credit, TFA has started to get more of our best and brightest to become teachers. But, how do we get them to stay?
  • As a result of all the powerful endorsements and huge sums of money TFA has been granted, as its collective organizational ego grows, its collective head becomes bigger than its collective brain.
  • “Temping” is a word I’ve been using to describe what school districts now seem to want to do, using budget crises and taxation issues as excuses, and then making the changes permanent.
  • A look at TFA’s website indicates how they distort the truth. TFA implies that 67 percent of Corp Members stay in education after two years.
  • TFA must be forced to provide schools with people who see teaching as a career, not just a stepping-stone or an altruistic act of community service.
  • My work allowed me to mentor Teach For Americans in a major urban area. I have seen their tears, fears, anxieties, and heartaches. I have seen their moments of joys, successes, and achievements. Unfortunately, the latter are far fewer. Too often, they are thrown into classrooms and “supervised” by people who cannot teach them how to teach, because they don’t know how.
  • Assessments of all types, not just fill-in-the-bubble, multiple-choice tests, must be analyzed to see how students progress with particular skills of various levels and content. Essays, projects, group projects, research, and class participation are all assessment, as well as teaching tools.
  • Who remembers their favorite test from school? You know, the one that inspired you to become who you are now, or saved you from the wrong part of yourself? Who remembers the test that made you want to come out of your shell? Which test gave you the courage to try new things and challenge yourself? For me, it was the 1966 Regents Comprehensive Examination in Social Studies.
  • One of the most consistent findings in the research is that over the past thirty years, schools have moved to teaching methods that favor how girls learn. Add this to the increasing data about how boys are faring less and less well in school, and you have an understanding about how much of a crisis this is within education, especially among minority males, our most failing demographic.
  • I am the seed she planted. Little did we know as seven-year-olds entering Rita Stafford’s class 2-1 in PS 66, Bronx, in September of 1956, that we were to become the happy guinea pigs for a life dedicated to helping children with all kinds of personalities and abilities. My life as a teacher was dedicated to her.
  • Great teaching is an art, not to be controlled and censored by scientific management. Teaching is to be cherished, not lost and mummified. Our students should not become guinea pigs in a Fahrenheit 451 world of mathematical schema and “data-driven” engineering.
  • What did you do your senior year of high school? I bet you barely remember.
  • In tomorrow’s world, we need adults to think like intelligent adults, not programmed children. Those with only the skills produced by today’s minimal Common standards and standardized assessments will not have the techniques and tools they need to escape poverty, even working-class poverty.
  • A Good teacher always self assesses. A great teacher asks great questions
  • The best teachers are communicators. They are listeners. They can figure out in a heartbeat how to help a student who is dumbfounded, misconstruing, or misspeaking.
  • We can’t fall in to the “Standards” trap. So many teachers say, I don’t teach to the test; yet don’t realize that they actually do out of habit.
  • Why are the voices of many of the best teachers ignored, or worse, chastened by non-teachers? What other profession does that happen in? Law? Medicine?
  • The best school atmospheres are supportive and self-directing and that develop a sense of professionalism and camaraderie among colleagues.
  • The most successful districts are not that way simply because they have the “best” students. They draw and hire the best teachers. These districts have common characteristics: supportive administrations, mentor-teacher programs, inter-visitation, collaboration, academic freedom, higher pay with good benefits, and mentoring by master teachers and supervisors in their areas of study.

My hope is to provoke thought and conversation. I hope you do both, and maybe, if you like the ideas, investigate more in the book.

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