Private School Student, Public School Reformer

Many of the most prominent names in education reform attended private schools as children, observes Michael Winerip of the New York Times.  Does their background “give them a much-needed distance and fresh perspective to better critique and remake traditional public schools?” he asks.  “Does it make them distrust public schools — or even worse — poison their perception of them? Or does it

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Cheating? What cheating?

My colleague Bill Turque had an intriguing story recently about an attempt by Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in the District to raise achievement through the popular Singapore math program.

It hasn’t worked so far, Turque reported. The math proficiency rate at the school declined from 49 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2010. Reading proficiency at Bruce-Monroe also dropped from 39 to 24 percent.

The educators and experts Turque consulted gave many possible reasons for this. There was too much staff turnover. The school lacked enough funds for teacher training. The school was distracted by a merger with Park View Elementary School.

Nobody offered the reason that first came to my mind. I wonder whether the school’s test security suddenly improved.

A series on cheating nationally by USA Today earlier this year (conceived and edited by my wife, Linda Mathews) revealed widespread wrong-to-right erasures on D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System tests. Tho

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Rachel was at SF Pride

Hundreds of Facebookers united behind one banner and under several signs last Sunday, coming out to downtown San Francisco to support the annual Pride Parade! We weren’t the only techies out there this weekend — on the bus there, I ran into a flock of Google interns wearing this super adorable shirt:

But for the most part, our view of the rest of the parade was shadowed by the giant rainbow poop being towed along on the Whole Foods float.

Much, much later, we got a closer look and realized it was actually a cupcake.

Practically all of the interns managed to roll out of bed early enough for the parade, which when you think about it is really impressive.

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Why I will miss Nancy Grasmick

I don’t think state school superintendents, as a rule, do much good. They are too far from the classroom. I try to stay away from them and focus on teachers. But I have to confess that Nancy S. Grasmick, about to retire after 20 years as Maryland state school chief, has proven me wrong, at least in her case.

The latest Maryland School Assessment results show the state with few equals nationally in moving kids up to grade level. It is also at or near the top in Advanced Placement participation and success, and has become a mecca for teachers and principals who want to make a difference, particularly with disadvantaged children.

Grasmick has an unusual advantage in that few state school chiefs want to, or are allowed to, keep their jobs that long. But the former school teacher proved to have not only good ideas on how to improve Maryland schools, but an iron will when it came to dealing with state politicians–including governors–who wanted her gone. <

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Google Adopts User Interface Design from Sakai 2.9!

What is next? Rounded corners and a pool of water background for Google?

I would say that Gonzalos glowing blue for the selected item and our speedy-drop-down nav and expando-matic still puts Neo well ahead of Google in terms of UI goodness. I would say that it is good for Google to continue to aspire to UI greatness, using Sakai Neo as its roadmap.

(To be fair) Neo took its look and feel cues from Sakai OAE, and Sakai OAE ripped a lot of its look and feel from Twitter, I think or perhaps Twitter took its latest look and feel from early OAE work. It is so confusing to keep track of who borrowed ideas from whom.

P.S. But seriously, it is nice to see a bit of convergence in these UIs serving common purposes. It is all good for the users IMHO.

Road Trip With Alfie Kohn

OK, teachers.  Raise your hand if Alfie Kohn has ever set foot in your classroom and witnessed you drilling your students with rote memorization or handing out worksheets all day. 

Anyone?  <

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Reader raises vital issue: classroom misbehavior

Readers of this blog ask great questions. I am not saying the other blogs don’t have similarly curious and adept commenters, although on the sports and politics pages the inquiries seem to dwell more on the circumstances of the bloggers’ birth than I would be comfortable with myself..

Some of the best recent questions were posted June 25 by a commenter signing on as LaborLawyer. The questioner was raising an issue of vital importance–classroom behavior. I didn’t find his post until after the deadline for comments had passed. I don’t like the three-day rule any more than you do, since I post a lot of comments here myself. But I guess the Web site would implode if we didn’t have something like that. If you yearn to comment after comments have closed, just post your thoughts on whatever inane column I have just posted, even if the topic is different. We will figure it out.

I am going to do something like that right now–devote this post LaborLawyers’ questions, and let you weigh in if you feel like it. If the dead

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