Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Baker's Dozen of My Favorite Posts

If you liked my post on attendance here are a few of my other favorite posts. I will say, I saved my best stories for my book, Two Legs Suffice: Lessons Learned by Teaching.

My book is now available on 

1) Sham Standards: Governor Kasich and the Standardized Testing Fetish: I first started this blog in 2011, concerned that standardized testing was doing real harm in education. 

In this post we consider what happens when Loveland Middle School brings in fourteen veterans from five different wars and lets them talk to 700 students? 

It’s not standardized education but it’s learning that truly matters. Joe Whitt talks about his experiences at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Ace Gilbert, a decorated Vietnam veteran, makes listeners cry, and Seth Judy talks about ten surgeries he endured after being wounded in Iraq in 2003.

(This selection is expanded into an entire chapter in my book, Two Legs Suffice: Lessons Learned by Teaching.)


2) How Many Reformers Does It Really Take to Fix a School? After almost fifteen years, why hasn’t school reform worked? “Perhaps we need to look at schools like automobiles to grasp why it is we’re not speeding down the intellectual Interstate like the reformers say we must. Imagine that there are three autos, all broken down alongside I-10, in the Arizona desert. The drivers are three real teachers. Each has been carrying five passengers, five students. One car is a new Lexus LX 570. The second is a 2006 Honda Civic. The third is a battered 1972 Chevrolet Impala.” 

What ideas will the reformers come up with to help real teachers and real students? Hint: none of them will actually help.


3) NFL Adopts Common Core Playbook—Copying Education Reforms: In an effort to fix failing franchises, the NFL decides to copy education reform. In a stunning news conference, Commissioner Roger Goodell explains to reporters: “We believe a Common Core Playbook will save our struggling teams. Beginning with the 2013 season every coach and every team will use the same playbook.”

What could possibly go wrong?


4) Why Teaching Matters—Part II: You can have an effect on students in many ways and may not know for years exactly what that effect was, or whether you did any good. Joey once racked up 38 zeroes in a row in my class. So we sat down and talked. 

A series of eight similar posts can be found by clicking on the year 2011 (December) and 2012 (January).


4) Sample Reviews for Two Legs Suffice: I’m proud to say, readers of my book have called it “inspirational” and said it “should be required reading for all teachers, students, administrators and citizens.” One reader had this to say: “Near the end I was in tears over one sad story about a boy and then a half hour later I was laughing so hard at the ending paragraph that I was in tears again. I think every parent of school age children should read this book.”


5) The Essence of Corporate Education: It turns out many corporations, both at the K-12 level and in higher education are in business to make money, whether students learn or not. When all is said and done, it turns out “‘corporate’ is to ‘education’ as ‘cigarette manufacturer’ is to ‘public health and well-being.’”


 6) Are Poor Public Schools Killing the U. S. Economy? When U. S. students finish fifteenth in reading (out of 65 countries tested), tied for thirty-first in math, and twenty-third in science, critics claim public schools are killing the economy.

Oddly enough, jobs are lost to Bangladesh, a nation not even rated, with an illiteracy rate of almost 50%, and Mexico, which finished #48 in reading and #50 in math and science.


 7) Does Arne Duncan Realize that Teachers and Students Are Dying? In one terrible week, Colleen Ritzer, a Massachusetts high school teacher, is raped and murdered by a 14-year-old student in a bathroom at her school. Two days later Michael Lansberry, a Nevada middle school teacher, is shot and killed by a 12-year-old as he tries to stop the boy from shooting classmates.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan insists kids drop out of high school mainly because teachers make it too easy.


8) Confessions of a Bad Teacher: I Loved Teaching like an Addict Loves Crack: “My name is John and I have a problem. For thirty-three years I was a bad teacher. And I thought was good.” 

I finally face up to reality after hearing all the 
school reformers say America’s teachers are no good.


9) The Scores Are In: School Reformers Earn F’s: Test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card, are out again this month. And now we know. Now we know what happens when arrogant reformers set out to improve the nation’s schools, contributing only hot air—their opinions—their plans—their pontificating—but not deeds. (These people don’t teach. They talk. They talk and talk and talk.)

It turns out that despite billions spent on standardized testing seniors scores for NAEP reading are down five points and math scores are up three. It makes you wonder if our leaders know what they’re doing at all.


10) ExxonMobil Announces Commitment to Fixing U. S. Education: ExxonMobil runs a slick commercial, explaining how it hopes to get involved with fixing America’s schools. “I know if you’re like me, your first reaction is probably, ‘Who better to understand the needs of children than oil executives?’” 


11) America’s Teachers: We’re Dumb and We Suck! This was my first really successful post, in which I apply the same kind of statistics used to prove America’s teachers are failing to prove that America’s doctors and nurses are failing even worse! 



12) Why is Being a Liberal so Hard: Romney and Ryan Bring Back the Fun: This was a political post, but it clearly resonated with tens of thousands of readers. “Sometimes,” I wrote, “it’s tough being a liberal. Rush and his legions of Dittoheads call you a ‘libertard’ and pretend they’re better Americans than you. As a liberal, you think this country and the world could be better and want to help make those twin ideals come true. Conservatives warn that you’re a communist and insist you and your type want to wipe your feet (or worse) on the U. S. Constitution.


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