I’m Going Home

Last week, over on Fordham Institute’s Common Core Watch blog, Robert Pondiscio wrote on the importance of shifting our thinking from one of teacher quality to one of quality teaching.

This is an idea to which I have long subscribed. Working in the education reform field, I grew amazed (and frustrated) by those who thought we could raise up all schools without working in partnership with educators. Surprised by those who believed that harsher teacher evaluation would result in improved teacher quality. And completely disenchanted with those who subscribed to the notion that educators were the problem causing all that wrong with the schools, instead of the central, necessary actor in improvement efforts.

So what does one do with all of this? Much reflection of the past two years has helped me better understand what is needed to provide every child — regardless of race, family income, or zip code — with a high-quality public education. I had to remember all the great lessons I learned about instruction as chief of staff at the National Reading Panel. About engagement as executive director of the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative. About research during my tenure at American Institutes for Research. And even about why I started Eduflack in the first place.

With all of that in mind, I am proud to announce that this month I am officially joining the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Some may know Woodrow Wilson for its longstanding work in foreign affairs through its Pickering Fellowships. Others may know of the number of doctoral dissertation fellowships it has awarded through its Newcombe and Women’s Studies programs. All of these are enormously important to the tapestry of elevating scholarship and learning in higher education today.

I am particularly proud to now be a part of the foundation’s work with its Teaching Fellows efforts. Under the leadership of foundation president Arthur Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Woodrow Wilson has sought to redefine how we prepare teachers and teacher leaders for the 21st century.

Woodrow Wilson is currently working in five states — Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio — to train the next generation of STEM educators. Working in collaboration with the Governor’s offices and a number of IHEs in each state, Woodrow Wilson “recruits and trains the nation’s best and brightest recent graduates and career changers with STEM backgrounds to teach in middle and high school science and math classrooms.”

And this work is now being further enhanced by the foundation’s MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership which “recruits and prepares outstanding leaders for schools and districts in participating states, with an integrated business and education curriculum, a focus on intensive in-school experience, and ongoing mentoring.”

I’m enormously excited to be part of the terrific team that is the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and to work with Dr. Levine and company to further elevate the teaching profession and further the necessary shift from rhetoric on teacher quality to action on quality teaching.

In addition to going home rhetorically, it also means that Eduflack is also physically returning home. This Jersey boy is off to Princeton, NJ, where I actually did my pre-k studies. And the whole edufamily will now be living just a town over from my dear edu-parents.

I’ll continue to write on the Eduflack blog (as well as my new Dadprovement blog), and will still be posting on a Twitter at @Eduflack. So keep reading!

Dadprovement Book, the E-Version!

Wahoowah! After more than a week of having the hard copy of my Dadprovement book available for sale, the release heads into the 21st century today. This morning, Amazon officially made the book available for Kindle. You can get it now, and have it for some of those last summer beach reads before the start of the school year!

I am enormously grateful for all of the folks who have read this Eduflack blog over the past nearly eight years. What started out as a cathartic exercise has really become something, something I am proud of and something that has allowed me to meet and engage with a wonderful group of people.

So for those Eduflack readers, I am going to make 15 e-versions of Dadprovement available for free. The first 15 people to DM message me at eduflack@eduflack.com or to comment on this blog post will be sent a free Kindle version of my new book. 

All I ask is that, after you’ve read it, you post a (hopefully positive) review of Dadprovement on Amazon. Calling it “life changing” or “inspirational” or “the best book on fathers and Guatemalan adoption I have ever read or ever thought of reading” is optional, but encouraged.

Happy reading!



Last week, the Learning First Alliance hosted an important Twitter Town Hall. Those of us in the Twitterverse recognize there is a great deal of negativity floating around on the Common Core State Standards. This is particularly true of the testing and high-stakes consequences attached to the coming school year.

Back in the spring, LFA issued a rare public statement urging states to take the proper time in implementing CCSS, making sure that we get it right. In its statement, LFA noted that there is only one chance to get implementation right. There are no do overs in this.

Following the LFA recommendations, several states took note. Places like New York and Washington, DC called for a pause in high-stakes consequences for at least another year so they could focus on proper implementation. Just recently, New Jersey followed suit, asking for more time before CCSS student assessment scores counted in teacher evaluation.

Even the Gates Foundation recently called for implementation and the consequences to be separated, offering a statement quite similar to the original LFA call.

To help focus the education community’s attention further, LFA set out to focus on the success stories regarding Implementation. With so many focused on the challenges and road bumps, it was important to begin talking about those states and districts that were getting it right. The LFA Get It Right podcast series now serves as that venue, spotlighting the best and promising practice in implementation.

LFA took this discussion to a new level last week with this Twitter chat, using the opportunity to talk about what states like NJ, NY, and DC should do with the extra time they have now called for. Hundreds discussed better ways to involve parents and educators. They talked about how to unpack the standards to make them easier to apply to the classroom. They spoke of the importance of real materials aligned to the standards, rather than those bearing a phony seal of approval.

It was the beginning of a very important discussion, all of which can be found at #CCSStime. Why was it so important? Mainly because it was a productive talk on how to get it right, not on urban legends or dreaming ways to short circuit standards that are not going away.

And it is one the public cares about. By early counts, it seems the #CCSStime hour-long discussion, a trending topic on Twitter that evening, included in nearly 2,000 tweets, resulting in more than 15 million impressions. That’s a lot of people giving up a summer evening to ensure we get CCSS implementation right. And a lot of concerned educators committed to improving teaching and learning for their students.

(Full disclosure, Eduflack has worked with LFA and many of its member organizations over the years.)