A Model T Education: Public Schooling on the Assembly Line

“Mass production is a problem the auto industry solved over 100 years ago,” veteran education reporter Jonn Merrow narrates over grainy images of Model Ts being rolled out of a factory in his most recent PBS NewsHour report. He observes that with the Model T, Henry Ford’s innovation was not in creating a quality car, […]

The Education Games: Reform as Doublespeak

Although we currently live in a world informed by George Orwell’s dystopian unmasking-as-novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, we seem unable to acknowledge that the Ministry of Peace is actually waging war. In our current education reform debate, educators must come to terms with Orwell’s recognition of the essential nature of political speech: “I have not here been […]

#sixwordessay Helps Teachers Reclaim Education Debate

In the last year, the national education debate has been occupied by economists, billionaires, hedge-fund managers, corporate columnists and party-politicians –indeed, it seems like the further a person is from the classroom, the more weight his opinion carries. Call it the Gates Paradox – the power of your voice in the “education reform” debate is […]

Accountability without Autonomy Is Tyranny

When educational research reaches the public through the corporate media, the consequences are often dire. Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff released “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood” and immediately The New York Times pronounced in “Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gains”: “Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise […]

Poverty Matters!: A Christmas Miracle pt. 1

Something profound appears to have occurred—a cosmic shift in the education reform debate that reflects our larger social debates in the U.S. After Ladd and Fiske published a commentary in The New York Times, “Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?,” and Diane Ravitch blogged “Scrooge and School Reform,” several commentators quickly chimed in about […]

Misrepresenting Finland: Seeing What We Want to See, Saying What We Want to Say

With the publication of Pasi Sahlberg’s Finnish Lessons, the education reform debate in the U.S. is moving into a second round of Finnish envy—the first being the corporate reformers’ distorted claims about international comparisons and the new being calls to examine the full and complex picture of why Finland has achieved both social and education […]

Idealism that Blinds: Facing Social and Educational Inequity

One aspect of the education reform debate that persistently gives me pause is the claim that the top students are being short-changed in U.S. public education—specifically due to disproportionate time and money being spent on struggling students. I have attempted to address this argument both seriously and satirically, but each approach has brought primarily defense […]

Meritocracy Myth v. the Advantages of Privilege (A Tale of Hubris)

In January 2010, I emailed Diane Ravitch after viewing a video of one of her talks preceding the release of her now often mentioned book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, that signaled some significant changes in her views on education and education reform. […]

Celebrity "Common Sense" Reform for Education-Legend of the Fall pt. VI

What’s wrong with universal public education in the U.S.? If we are to believe the new reformers and the growing list of celebrity commentators and education hobbyists, the failures include the corrosive influence of teachers unions, “bad” teachers, and an entrenched status quo that those unions and teachers cling to for personal gain. And where […]