Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Worth Reading....

...on teacher quality, the corporate model, pay for performance, NYC school governance, mayoral control, and commentary on Rotherham/Eduwonk tripe
These seem to be some of the push button policy issues facing educators, often promoted by pseudo educators looking to gain control of the public schools (for fun and profit.) Here are some selections and links for you to explore if you want to get a better sense of the debate.

The Offal Truth

On the recent Rotherham piece in the NY Times - look for a guest column at ednotes tomorrow. Meanwhile, Susan Ohanian came up with this comment:
Rich Gibson provides a valuable commentary on education offal offered up by the NY Times.

Teacher Quality Rears It's Ugly Head

I don't agree with the stress on "teacher quality" because there's no clear way to measure that factor. Some use SAT scores or how high in their class they finish or test scores of their kids or how nice they dress or just plain voodoo. Teacher quality is often reflected as a snapshot at a certain time, a certain day, a certain year, a certain class, a certain child in the class (have you seen how teacher quality improves when that one kid who has been tormenting you and the other kids moves?)

Sean Corcoran, guest blogging at Eduwonkette, seems to be on board with the TQ issue and sees higher pay as a way to attract higher quality teachers. It seems to make sense but I don't necessarily agree here too. We often see this point made by NYC Educator who often attributes the quality of his daughter's suburban education to paying teachers a high salary. Again I disagree. Offer those same teachers a 25% raise to go to one of the 10 most difficult schools in NYC to teach at and let's see how they do.

Seean Corcoran wrote on March 6

A large and growing body of research has demonstrated that teacher quality is one of the most (if not the most) important resources schools contribute to the academic success of their students. At the same time, the average quality of teachers has steadily fallen over time, and an increasingly smaller fraction of the most cognitively skilled graduates are choosing to teach (for more on this see here).

Vanderhoek believes that significantly higher salaries will bring these top graduates back to the classroom, and he may be right. Economists have linked this steady decline in teacher quality since 1960 to the rise in career opportunities for women and the sizable gap between teacher salaries and those of other professionals.

Read the full piece with all the interesting comments here.

Diane Ravitch on corporate models for schools
Diane Ravitch to Deborah Meier on their Edweek blog:
Who controls our schools? Should the schools adopt a model of operations based on "results" (test scores) and "incentives" (paying teachers, students, and principals for higher test scores)? Are test scores the "profits" of the school system? Who are the stockholders?
Full story here.

Ravitch references Eduwonkette's exploration of whether pay for performance creates success in the corporate world (can you spell E-N-R-O-N?)
Pay for Performance in the Corporate World

We often hear that education needs to operate more like the private sector. But few corporations tie their employee bonuses to quantifiable output in the same way that some performance pay plans tie teacher pay to scores. (See How Does Performance Pay Work in Other Sectors?)

For those who believe that corporate employees rise and fall based on the fates of their companies, here's a story ripped from the headlines: Washington Mutual is shielding executive performance pay from the housing crisis fallout. From the Wall Street Journal article:Read the full post here.

Eduwonkette references Richard Rothstein's paper:
Holding Accountability to Account: How Scholarship and Experience in Other Fields Inform Exploration of Performance Incentives in Education

Download a pdf of Rothstein's piece here.

Diane Ravitch on the History of Public School Governance in NYC
Download Diane's pdf here.
The mayoral control issue is going hot and here in NYC, with most critics still lining up for a continuance with checks. Ed Notes and ICE are moving more towards a very localized system for at least elementary and middle schools with real control residing in the hands of teachers and parents at the school level. We know this is pie in the sky but we think the ideas should be out there for the next time the system they install in 2009 fails and they have to come up with something else. I'm all ready for the battles in 2017.

The Worst Book of the 21st Century - a review

Susan Ohanian Notes:

Gary Stager offers a must read commentary on pop business book authors who claim to offer insight into learning.

by Gary Stager

New notes to accompany my review...

As I attend my second conference in as many weeks where the keynote speaker is Daniel Pink, I feel duty bound to share some of my thoughts on why his popular pop-business book, "A Whole New Mind," may be the worst book of the 21st Century.

The book certainly contains little if anything to offer school leaders.

Recently, a lot of edubloggers were excited about a magazine discussion between Tom Friedman and Daniel Pink. Their performance was self-congratulatory, self-serving and intended to sell more of their respective books. Their cross-promotional exercise was brilliantly executed my two masterful self-promoters.
Read Gary's (who as a young 'un was in the local LOGO Users group here in NYC back in the 80's) at Susan's place here.

Happy Reading - if you have the stomach!

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