Ferlazzo had the wisdom to write this week, the best and worst news education on this year. An article worth reading in its entirety. We are republishing only the positive of 2012.
- The courage and success of the Chicago Teachers Union in their seven-day strike. As union President Karen Lewis said, "The key is that we are trying to have people understand that when people come together to deal with problems of education, the people that are actually working in the schools need to be heard. And I think that this has been an opportunity for people across the nation to have their voices heard. And I think we're moving in the right direction."
- Many of the November election results. Idaho voters overturned several measures harmful to students and teachers, the pro-voucher "school reformer" Indiana superintendent of schools was defeated by a teacher, and San Antonio voters approved a tax increase to support an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs. A California Proposition was approved to increase taxes to support schools, and Democrats there gained a "supermajority" in the state legislature. They are already discussing plans to make it easier for local communities themselves to approve taxes for school programs. And, of course, President Obama was reelected. Despite concerns many of us teachers have about his education policies, he was a far better choice than Mitt Romney with his plan for school privatization.
- The State of California released far-reaching recommendations on educator preparation, professional development and evaluation. The California Educator Excellence Task Force Report, called Greatness by Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State, provides progressive guidelines for many of the major challenges facing schools today and in the future. It was co-chaired by Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond (Disclosure: I was a member of the Task Force's teacher evaluation subcommittee).
- Diane Ravitch starts a blog. Ravitch, the most well-known critic of the so-called "school reform" agenda, documents key developments in education several times a day, and her blog has already received nearly two million visits this year.
- The Mystery Teacher Theater 2000 competition which opened-up a vibrant discussion of the role of Khan Academy in education. Teachers throughout the United States created videos that offered a "critical eye" to Khan's work, and the contest provided an opportunity for widespread and respectful dialogue about the use of Khan videos in schools.
- Major school districts withdrew from federal program to fund merit pay for teachers. Despite the very strong evidence that "pay for performance" is ineffective, the federal government has continued spending money encouraging Districts to initiate this type of compensation plan. Three school districts -- New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee -- had to return their grants because they couldn't reach agreement with the teachers on implementing the program. Umm, you think District officials might want to consult with teachers beforehand?
- Research finds that bribing people can motivate them, but not in the way you think it might. Plenty of research finds that extrinsic motivation generally is not effective over the long-term and for tasks requiring higher-thinking skills. Prof. Armin Falk, however, has now found that if people feel they are not treated fairly, they do get motivated -- to do worse. With luck, educators and education policy-makers will keep this in mind in the classroom and in bureaucratic offices.
- New research finds big problems with use of Value Added Measurement in secondary schools. Two studies find that VAM, a growing tool used to evaluated teacher performance despite much evidence about its inaccuracies, is especially inaccurate in evaluating secondary school teachers.
- The millions of students who had great learning experiences in their schools this year.
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