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inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #51 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 23 Dec 15 06:44
    
So, how do we change that dialogue?
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #52 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 23 Dec 15 13:42
    
The key to changing the dialogue, in my opinion, is education. The
more people know, the more they are willing to change. Most voters
don't realize how their property taxes effect their local schools.
Most voters don't know how their state legislators and federal
congress-folk tie the hands of the local school boards. Most voters
would trust their local school boards and principals MUCH more than
they would the state and federal lawmakers. However, MOST voters are
uneducated to the process. 

Why? you will inevitably ask. Well, the cynic in me says that the
decision-makers have it in their best interest to keep the
electorate uneducated. So if they don't fund education properly, and
they put too much emphasis on educational reform that does nothing
to actually educate anyone, then the electorate stays uneducated and
the decision makers keep their jobs (with great health benefits,
retirement benefits, days off benefits, etc.).
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #53 of 74: Bruce (bumbaugh) Wed 23 Dec 15 13:49
    
Hear, hear, Lisa!
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #54 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 23 Dec 15 13:52
    
When I look at research on how people make decisions (starting from
the now-common knowledge that when faced with facts that conflict
with beliefs, the usual response is stronger belief), I am no longer
convinced that this is a matter of disseminating "better," more
"truthy" facts.

I'm also uncomfortable with the "50 Myths" book, which I read as
frequently ill-tempered, sarcastic, and stating as black and white
things that (from my perspective) are grey. That makes it a good
promoter of "my facts vs your facts," perhaps, but not an effective
teaching, learning, or organizing tool (imnho).

This is too important an issue to settle for polarization on.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #55 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Wed 23 Dec 15 20:33
    
One of the things I really like about this book is the research
cited at the end of each chapter. There is overwhelming research
that shows that these myths are in fact, myths. There is little
research to show otherwise. However, if you find any, I'd be glad to
read that, too. I read a lot of educational research (it's part of
my continuing education as an educator). 

Were the authors snarky, sarcastic, ill-tempered? Maybe. I am, too.
Those of us who work day in and day out knowing these things to be
true, yet having mandates directing us to work in a different way,
are fed up. If it comes through in the writing, I say, "It's about
time."

Polarization is what happens when people stick their heels in the
ground and refuse to budge. I am proud of the fact that I have been
able to listen with clarity to the pros and cons of such reform as
the Common Core State Standards. And truth be told, I think they are
fine standards to set. If you're English speaking and middle class
and without special education needs. They are fine standards to set
on a sliding timeline for children in different kinds of homes and
with different learning abilities. Anyone and everyone who has ever
worked closely with or done research on at-risk populations will
tell you that it's about TIME more so than ability. Anyone with any
common sense can see that to be so. However, our decision makers
still refuse to make accommodations for what we know is so. 

There shouldn't be polarization. The research, in fact, is clear.
English language learners need 4-7 YEARS minimum of GOOD English
education to begin to speak, read, and write fluently. They can (and
should) learn the subject level content. However, the language
aspect of the subject has to be specially addressed. (I have
recently finished my 5th course in teaching ELL students, and how to
make accommodations in language so as not to hinder the attainment
of subject matter learning). Children with language processing
disorders (including most kids on the autism spectrum) can not
process and use language in the ways the CCSS requires of them. It
doesn't mean they can't do the math or understand the book, it just
means they have a different (not standardized-testable) way of
thinking and processing which can't be communicated in typical ways.


The polarization has occurred because people who don't know about
education are making decisions about education. They have created
polarization through what they want to believe, rather than what the
experts know. Think about the polarization with regards to global
warming. The experts know there should be no question.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #56 of 74: jelly fish challenged (reet) Wed 23 Dec 15 20:38
    
Hear, hear.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #57 of 74: Cliff Dweller (robinsline) Wed 23 Dec 15 21:21
    
You are very eloquent on this subject, Lisa. Do you do any lobbying
or other advocacy (in your spare time, ; )?
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #58 of 74: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 24 Dec 15 04:22
    
How do you solve the dilemma of so many teachers nearing retirement
and pensions, burned out by the politics of public education,
already have their lesson plans in place...and along comes digital
and Open Source Learning...and no matter how you try to teach these
dogs new tricks they are just simply too old, too tired, and just
plain resistant?

Just blow them off and work with the new kids on the block? What are
the age demographics of those teaching in education now? Not their
ages, but a spread of how many years they have been teaching.

Is this going to have to be one of those long term strategies? Wait
for the current 'pack' to retire while grooming the young and
amenable?

These are all just strategy questions aimed at those trying to
"teach". Don't know how we're going to solve the Administrative,
Political, State and Federal directive and money problems.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #59 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Thu 24 Dec 15 06:01
    
You talk about two different issues here: Teacher shortage and
teaching teachers to teach coding and other things deemed necessary
in the digital age. I;m going to answer the second first and the
teacher shortage next. 

The idea that children need to learn to code and learn how to use
open source (whatever that is) at a young age is false. It isn't
necessary. What is necessary at the elementary level is to focus on
elementary learning. That is what CCSS and the push to teach coding
is pushing against. 5-11 year olds need to learn how to speak,
listen, read, write, and compute on a basic level masterfully before
we teach them how to do anything else. That includes, by the way,
critical thinking. Without basic knowledge, critical thinking can
not exist. Also, developmentally, critical thinking does not exist
for most 5-7 year olds. 

Children have been educated in basics for centuries, and throughout
those centuries the children grew up into adults who created the
technologies and innovations we couldn't live without today. Just
because we have new technologies, however, doesn't change the fact
that we still need to focus on the basics before we move on to the
more advanced. In a million years no one would suggest that a first
year ballet student begin to learn to dance on pointe. First they
need to learn the basics masterfully before they can learn the more
advanced techniques. 

To give you a more concrete idea of what is happening in today's
schools, take a look at this diagram of Webb's Depth of Knowledge
chart <http://tinyurl.com/8j8ycwp> Here you will see four quadrants,
each requiring more intellectual rigor than the next.
Developmentally, with instruction, my 5 year olds can reliably
handle the tasks in Levels 1. And I mean reliably...all the
time...no problem.  I can teach them the basic skills they need to
be ready to learn the Level 2 skills in the 1-3 grades. However,
now, we are required to design lessons which touch on Level 3 and 4
DOK tasks IN PLACE of the DOK tasks in Levels 1 and 2. 

Our kids can't learn Level 4 (or coding) until they've mastered the
previous levels of learning. The idea that we will teach to all 4
levels simultaneously to improve rigor is absurd. Now, that said, it
is not absurd to require that kind of thinking and mastery at the
high school level. Projects and homework assignments at the high
school level should focus on Level 3 and 4 tasks. 
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #60 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Thu 24 Dec 15 06:23
    
Actually, I'm not going to talk about teacher shortage. There are
too many factors and I do not feel competent to address it.

Robin, both my sister and my aunt were on their local school boards.
I have considered a run for it myself, but I don't want to leave my
classroom. I love teaching the 5 year olds. The time it takes for me
to write these posts, I could spend recording the data I've
collected this week (or folding laundry). 

The truth as I see it about great teachers is this: we can't
advocate for ourselves or our profession because we're too
busy/caught up doing a great job teaching. 
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #61 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Thu 24 Dec 15 07:00
    
Lisa, I hear you. There is a whole mess of lack of funding and lack
of training and frankly, lack of respect, that makes me regard
anyone who stays in teaching with awe.

But, "50 Myths" doesn't address some of the big things that nag at
those who also see places where funding is misdirected and where
teaching doesn't seem to be what it should be. We all know why
teachers need tenure. But I am probably in a majority in having
experienced several teachers while in school who were terrible.
There seems to be no good way to remove them, and there has to be.
I'm not sure we would be coming up with so many punitive,
meaningless ways to rate teachers if this wasn't a common
experience. And the unions not only don't seem to have ways of
cleaning house, they seem to want to pretend that all accusations of
teacher incompetence relate to, say, teachers trying to teach stuff
that some loud and ignorant members of the community don't want kids
to know.

Then we have the money that is misspent. It used to be
incomprehensible that a for-profit school, paying teachers less than
public schools, and sucking up a tremendous amount of money as
profit, could out-perform public schools. Some charters consistently
do so. (Sure, many charters are mediocre, as well, but that isn't
always the point.) I was appalled by the story of what happened in
Newark, and have to wonder in how many places money is being drained
from public school system budgets not as capitalist profit, but to
enable the systems to featherbed. If we can't acknowledge that this
is sometimes a problem (an unscoped problem, because nobody who is
in favor of public education succeeding seems to want to know how
big it is), and if the union response is "oh, sure, there are some
bad apples, but this is irrelevant", than we get nowhere.

It isn't enough to act as though people who are in favor of charter
schools are just ignorant or beneficiaries of a different way to
skim money from the public. There are real problems that have to be
addressed, and nowhere in "50 Myths" did I find acknowledgement that
there was anything wrong with public schools beyond ignorance or the
greed of those who want to strip mine it for private gain. That
doesn't map to what I see here in Boston, or what I read about
elsewhere.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #62 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Thu 24 Dec 15 08:25
    
Yes, everyone has experienced a teacher who was sub par. My personal
experience was with Roseanne Ponchik.Roseanne was my 2nd grade
teacher. Every kid I know who was in that class with me would agree
that it was a wasted year of education. She sucked and we didn't
learn a thing. She was a first year teacher teaching in an Open
Classroom environment for which she had NO training. The following
year she was transferred to different school with a different
curriculum. It has been 43 years since that time. If you Google her
today you will find out that she had a truly illustrious career as
an influential educator and humanitarian. 

When my son was in kindergarten he was assigned a teacher who I knew
from my experience at the school was less than what I wanted for him
(her classroom management was so horrendous, the kids were in actual
danger). I requested, and received, a class transfer. The next year
she was transferred to a different school where her principal
(apparently) worked with her and she is now a beloved kindergarten
teacher in her new school.

Each of our individual anecdotes do not tell us the whole story of a
teacher. A single walk through for 5-20 minutes by a principal
doesn't tell the whole story either. 

Now don't get me wrong, there are perpetually bad teachers out
there. I work with one who seriously needs to be retrained or
removed. The process is slow, as it should be, because sub-par
teachers can become amazing teachers. 

Charter Schools are not the same as public schools. They do not have
to keep students that do not perform well or behave a certain way.
That is not the case with public schools. We are required to take
and educate everyone, and we are judged by the success of the
children. 

The fact is, there isn't a problem with public schools. We educate
our students better, with more rigor, and better research than ever
before. The problem, if you read between the lines, is with wealth
distribution (not to the schools, but the socioeconomic levels of
students) and the influx of foreign born students being held to a
standard that their predecessors in previous generations were not
held to. These are not problems schools can fix. These are problems
society has to fix. 

By blaming the schools and teachers, reformers throw a red-herring
at the real problem while destroying what is good in our schools. 
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #63 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Thu 24 Dec 15 09:07
    
>By blaming the schools and teachers, reformers throw a red-herring
>at the real problem while destroying what is good in our schools. 

I think that's the red herring. At least in this discussion, nobody
is doing so. But there =are= problems with some specific public
schools and public school districts, and airing that, much less
discussing and addressing that, seem beyond the pale.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #64 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Thu 24 Dec 15 12:21
    
Ari, I am open to anything specific you have to cite. Please, tell
me which district has problems, what they are, how they've been
ignored or handled. 

It seems that you disagree with the premise of the book. That is,
that the myths de-myth-defied in this book are not a cause for the
troubles in our public schools. That our public schools are failing
and Charter schools, better teacher evaluations, and controlling
misspent money will improve what ails them. That is fine. 

All I was wondering, in good faith, is what evidence beyond your
personal beliefs and anecdotes to support your views? If you don't
have any specific evidence, please say so. 

David Berliner and Gene Glass did, in fact, cite a lot of reliable
evidence. I tend to follow the data. If you have real data to back
up what you say, I will read it with the same openness I read "50
Myths." 
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #65 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Fri 25 Dec 15 16:28
    
Lisa, I started off citing the book about what happened in Newark 
following Mark Zuckerberg's big gift of money for consultants. I feel 
like I've mentioned it a couple of times. There's a reasonable place to 
start: The Prize, by Dale Russakoff

I could also dig into fairly well-known issues in the city near where I 
live, Boston. I'll do that next if mentioning Newark continues to create 
a void of non-response.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #66 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Fri 25 Dec 15 17:29
    
Okay. You're right. You mentioned that up thread and I missed it. I
just read an article in Business Insider about it. I haven't had
time to read the book. It sounds like Zuckerberg wanted to help, was
convinced that his money would solve the problem, and lo and behold
it didn't. 

I promise I will read the book. It sounds interesting. 

I'm not surprised it failed. Lots of money to the school district
will not solve the problems of poverty in the community. I don't
know a lot about Newarks schools, but I do know this: all failing
school districts in America are in poor communities. The problem
isn't the schools or teachers. The problem is poverty. 

I would guess that the schools in Boston which concern you also have
the problems all inner city schools have: white flight couples with
poverty equals schools populated by students who are learning a lot,
just not enough to catch up on the year or more they were behind
when they entered kindergarten. 
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #67 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Sun 27 Dec 15 08:28
    
Well, all the problems start with money. I'm not sure it's even fair to 
start talking about teacher pay if the actual infrastructure sucks--if 
you're teaching in leaky, drafty schools with water-damaged texts (that 
was the situation here in Boston not too long ago in several schools--I 
have no clear sense if it has been sufficiently addressed two 
superintendents later).

But, Newark was an illumination of fuck up on all sides. It wasn't just 
that Zuckerberg's money went to lots of consultants and other places 
people tend to put mney when they aren't actually talking to people, it 
was that the school system had been the source of employment in a city 
where unemployment goes out the roof. So, you have a union and a system 
that are determined to keep people on the payroll who have never had a 
function, much less competence, trying to look good against charters that 
have none of that baggage.

One of the saddest, repeating tropes of the book is to compare the 
resources available to dedicated teachers in the Newark School district, 
many of whom were clearly as good or better than those in the charter 
schools--but unable to do nearly enough for students given the overhead 
of a corrupt and mismanaged system.

Newark was a failure on every level--Zuckerberg's money was mostly thrown 
away. The one measurable effect was getting Cory Booker from Mayor to the 
US Senate. School reform? Mostly didn't happen, and is unlikely to happen 
unless the overall economy in Newark changes.

I have to wonder how much what Russakoff highlights in the school system 
is true of Newark city jobs, overall--I have to assume a lot. Which 
brings me to another point that Diane Ravitch now seems to be emphasizing 
(I think it's her), which is that it is very hard to reform education 
when creating good schools is so dependent on so many things beyond the 
control of school districts--nutrition, healthcare, shelter, social 
services in general.

I wish the authors of "50 Myths" were more actively participating in this 
conversation. As disappointed as I was in the book's tone and what I 
perceived to be straw men, I remain worried about how little we are doing 
to improve education and how much we have done to stupidly politicize it. 
And I still don't understand how siphoning money out of education to pay 
for-profit charter school shareholders leads to better outcomes, in 
general, than reforming the school systems. I have come to suspect that, 
to many people, reforming the school system is a lost cause, and there is 
a Tea Party-ish, "we'll just tear things down and start over" tantrum 
that is increasing the damage without improving education for enough 
people. And that, in part, is what Russakoff's book is about.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #68 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Sun 27 Dec 15 14:41
    
Boston's problems have a little to do with white flight, but they are 
also exacerbated by bitterness over bussing. I think that's part of every 
community's story--there's more to it than white flight. The impact of 
white flight, however, gets exacerbated by the fact that we tend to use 
property taxes to fund education. In a few states (NH, I believe, being 
one) that is no longer considered equitable--there have to be 
distributive policies in place to ensure that districts that need the 
money get a fair share of what is there. (That doesn't necessarily mean 
that districts in need get all they need--we're still unwilling to fund 
schools well enough to succeed. We have to change that, but it will take 
rethinking how education is explained, not just barraging people with 
straw men and the "facts" that attack them.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #69 of 74: Kevin Wheeler (krome) Sat 2 Jan 16 17:26
    
I want to apologize for my absence here,especially to Lisa. Life
hasn't afforded me reading time of late. I've enjoyed the commentary
and wish I had more to add. 

My father's brother was a career educator in the Houston Independent
School District, retiring as Assistant Superintendent. Between him
and all his connections, I was able to hurdle technical fails,
solely for lack of attendance, in 7th, 8th and 9th grades, without
repeating. I dropped out in 11th grade.

I had plenty to say about methods of education before anyone cared.
It's good to see people caring, even if it's people like the Bushes
who end up getting to foist failed paradigms on others.

For all my connected hurdling , I graduated with a BS
Chemistry/minor Math and now I can't find a job which even
acknowledges that work.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #70 of 74: Lisa Harris (lrph) Sun 3 Jan 16 05:29
    
I'm glad to see you posting now that you can, Kevin.

I'd like to thank David for joining us. Now we turn to our annual
State of The World topic. 

Please feel free to continue discussing education here.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #71 of 74: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 3 Jan 16 05:30
    
SOTW link will be up early Tuesday morning. I'll post it here and
everywhere. Please push it on all your networks. Can hardly wait!
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #72 of 74: Tiffany Lee Brown's Moustache (magdalen) Tue 5 Jan 16 15:44
    

really interesting stuff. thanks to everyone who participated, especially
Lisa and the authors.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #73 of 74: Bruce (bumbaugh) Wed 6 Jan 16 09:50
    
I remain interested in these issues and this conversation. It seems
to me, for instance, that the Newark story is only tangentially a
"school story," when we get down to it. It's more a story of insider
politics, patronage, and smart people who think they and their money
can fix things up right quick.

That said, if <ari> thinks the book is worth my time, I'll add it to
the list.
  
inkwell.vue.486 : David Berliner & Gene Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten American Public Schools.
permalink #74 of 74: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 6 Jan 16 10:34
    
I thought that the book about what happened in Newark was worth
reading and reasonably well-written. It was also depressing--once
you get out of the classroom, kids seem to be an afterthought,
although their cause is evoked by everyone. I probably got most
useful to think about from a recent Diane Ravitch book, "Reign of
Error," and what I've gathered from efforts trying to improve
Boston's public schools, including one specific small campaign to
turn a broken down neighborhood school in a shitty part of town into
a rebuilt STEM magnet school (success!). I live in a nearby suburb,
Newton, where we have excellent public schools, and so far, have
been willing to pay for them. The contrast between what our kids
got, and what Boston kids get, is too great for comfort.
  



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