Campaigning is the Easy Part …

It’s very easy to focus civic engagement and civic education on voting. As such, we could take real satisfaction that the hard work is over, what with the 2020 elections behind us.

But the real work is must beginning. Now educators must focus on what comes next and who best to keep students engaged.

We explore the topic on TrumpEd for the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/the-election-is-the-easy-part-the-challenge-is-what-comes-next/

Casting a Wide Net for EdSec

“Safe choices like Eskelsen Garcia, Hrabowski, or even U.S. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott of Virginia would all be solid nominees and cabinet secretaries in the Biden Administration. But what if we tabled the safe, solid considerations for a moment and began to consider the bold, the innovative, and the atypical. At such a time of change and uncertainty in both our nation and our educational systems, considering the alternatives may be just what our schools, our educators, and our learners need.”

From Eduflack’s latest on Medium (and also published on Project Forever Free and The Education Post)

Voting Is The Easy Part …

Election Day 2020 is officially over. Now, all that is left is the counting and the waiting. We are doing, barring the unforeseen, with the speeches, the commercials, the emails, the texts, the fundraising, and the angst that comes with an election year.

So as we wait for the remainder of ballots to be counted, it is essential that we teach that voting is the bare minimum we should expect from our citizenry. True civic education only began yesterday. Now the hard work must continue.

I discuss it further on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen!  

What We Have Is a Failure to Communicate Civics

In recent years, we’ve seen that “civic education” is the new hot topic in public ed. With politically diverse states from Massachusetts to Florida now requiring civics instruction, many are seeing civics as the new STEM.

But with all of the talk about civics, and all of the dollars spent by philanthropy on civic education, we are seeing very little when it comes to concrete actions and measurable outcomes. Not only do we not know how to measure progress, but we likely see funder interest in the subject shrinking if the 2020 elections turn out a certain way. After all, then the voters may have addressed the need themselves.

Why are we struggling so with this supposedly important topic? One major reason may be our collective inability to define what civic education actually is. To some, it is government and politics. To others, civic activism. And to others, a watered-down version of history light.

Over on the BAM! Radio Network, we discuss the topic and how we need a common understanding if we are to take the subject seriously. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/are-we-paying-enough-attention-to-civic-education-should-we-care/.

Rethinking Teacher PD

“No, this isn’t rocket science. We all know that a well-prepared, well-supported, empowered teacher will be more effective. We know that ongoing, content-based PD can have a direct impact on teacher quality and student achievement. We know teaching can’t improve through a drive-by workshop at the start of the school year or a half-day seminar offered twice a year following a half-day of teaching. We know we can do it, we know some are already doing it, we just need to figure out how to package it and deliver it to all.”

From Eduflack’s latest with The Faculty, Improving Teachers Through Improved Teacher Development

It’s Patriotic

This fall, President Donald J. Trump callee for a return to “patriotic” education when it comes to teaching history, civics, and government.

While many were quick to attack POTUS for it, he isn’t entirely wrong. Particularly if we truly consider what it means to be “patriotic.” Over on the BAM! Radio Network, I explore how patriotism can be found in much historic learning, including those instances we often don’t teach in the classroom.

Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/patriotic-education-accurately-teaching-what-america-was-is-and-can-be/

No, “Balanced Literacy” Doesn’t Work

“No, we don’t need to rebalance balanced literacy. Whole language was discredited because it didn’t work. It was a philosophy, an approach, to literacy that lacked a proven curriculum that actually taught kids to read. Rebranding it as balanced literacy may have ensured sales and boosted the number of school districts enrolling their teachers in workshops, but it has similarly done nothing to teach kids to read. Balanced literacy needs to be cast aside, not rebalanced.

“With all we know about research and cognitive science, with all of the data we now hold on effective teaching and learning, with what we know about learning disabilities and English language learning, it borders on educational malpractice if we are focusing classroom instruction on approaches that lack evidence. Too much is at stake – for both our learners and our society – to waste our time and instructional dollars on snake oil and well-intentioned, yet unsuccessful, philosophies or beliefs.”

From Eduflack’s latest for Project Forever Free, Lucy, We Told You So

A Dad For Change

“Untold” offers a unique take on American history. From talking about gun control and how the census has changed over the years, to DJ Kool Herc and the history of hip hop – the videos seek to engage and educate young people.”

From Patch, reporting on dear ol’ Eduflack’s work to make history learning more interesting, relevant for today’s young people.

https://patch.com/new-jersey/princeton/princeton-dad-wants-change-way-history-taught-school

Train Wreck as Teachable Moment

After a week, are we ready to accept that the first presidential debate can indeed be a teachable moment in our classrooms?

On the latest for BAM Radio Network, I explain how the performance was both the personification of our social media world AND a chance to teach how our society just doesn’t agree on basic issues (and that that is OK).

Give it a listen!

https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/time-to-teach-students-and-ourselves-to-accept-that-everyone-doesnt-agree-with-us/

Don’t Call It a Gap Year

In dear ol’ Eduflack’s community, too many parents are willing to write off the 2020-21 school year already, wanting to dub it a gap year and pleading with parents and educators not to expect too much from our learners in such uncertain times.

Writing of the year a few weeks in is essentially educational malpractice. And it reeks of privilege. For every student who is struggling to read, for every ELL student, for every special education learner, a gap year is a lost year … and a year that will never be made up later.

We can’t, and shouldn’t, write off any school year or any school children. I explain why on the latest episode of TrumpEd over at the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.