Do We Want Schools Monitoring Student Speech Outside the Classroom?

We regularly hear about how school districts are closely monitoring what their students say and what they do. It makes sense, after all, as our schools want to make sure they are providing a safe, open learning environment for all.

But does such responsibility extend beyond the classroom? A new SCOTUS case will soon examine that very question, as the court looks at whether a school can punish a student for what she says on social media from her own bedroom.

We discuss the topic over on the Soul of Education program for the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here!

American Families Plan Is Lacking, Education Wise

In looking at the American Families proposal offered by President Joe Biden last week, there is much to be happy about. Even when it comes to education, one can get excited by major investments in PreK and free community college.

And yes, there is value to extending the 13-year public education continuum to 17 years, ensuring early childhood education and post secondary to all learners.

But what message are we sending when we don’t add any additional dollars to k12? Sure, we have pumped hundreds of billions in recent months for HVAC and Covid testing and other immediate, tactical needs to reopen our classrooms. We are falling short, though, in investing in improved teaching and learning in those same classrooms.

One has to ask, for instance, if PreK is truly the secret sauce when two-thirds of fourth graders are reading at below proficient levels AND we have school districts fighting in federal courts that literacy isn’t a civil or constitutional right.

We explore this issue over at the Soul of Education on the BAM! Radio Network this week. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/i-dont-want-to-sound-ungrateful-but-public-education-needs-more/.

Why Won’t NJ Congressional Leaders Prioritize Ed?

There once was a time when education policy could rise above identity politics and the red-blue divide. A time when, despite our differences, we could all agree that all learners – regardless of race, income, or zip code – were entitled to a high-quality public education. That time, though, seems to have passed us by.

Today, we are demanding that all public schools be fully reopened for physical instruction without addressing the hundreds of operational, logistical, instructional, and strategic questions those leading our school districts have asked. Today, we are pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into K-12 relief and support, without any real guidance to ensure those dollars are being used for little more than to pay off the past-due bills payable to Covid. And today, we are calling for trillions of new dollars to build our communities back better, but leaders in our New Jersey congressional delegation are promoting priorities that don’t even mention the words K-12 education.

From Eduflack’s latest for the NJ Education Report, asking why the Congressional Progressive Caucus fails to emphasize – or even discuss – education as part of a massive investment with the American Jobs plan.

Investing in the Future – or Past – of Education?

With President Biden’s Build Back Better initiative, we are looking at more than $100 billion in investments in k-12 education. And that’s in addition to the dollars the Feds typically send to schools in a annual basis.

For many decision makers, that means buckets of money to make up for the unplanned expenses of a Covid school year. For cleaning classrooms and new HVAC and learning devices and expanded wifi hookups. All dollars designed to ease the way back to school as we once knew it.

But what if, instead, we used those dollars to begin to build k-13 for the future. What if we looked to public education as it can be in 2050, and not as it was delivered in the 1950s?

We explore the topic over on the Soul of Education program on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/129-billion-dollars-for-education-will-we-spend-this-money-on-the-future-or-the-past/.

Let’s Put Reading First Again!

We need to make sure we are investing in all five of the core components of the science of reading, particularly vocabulary and comprehension. We need to invest in our teachers, ensuring they have the data, knowledge, and skills to be effective literacy instructors to all students, regardless of age or current reading level. And we need to hold our K-12 schools accountable for reading proficiency.

Literacy is not mastered in the fourth grade. Those who are proficient at that stage still have a lot of work to do. Those who do need extra work, extra attention, and extra intervention. The science of reading has a lifetime of application. It has been proven effective. And we have waited far, far too long to make it a priority. The science of reading needs to be our new national literacy plan.

From Eduflack’s inaugural essay for Educate

Did We Learn? Do We Care?

The last year of public school has been an exercise on crisis learning. Yes, it made sense not to administer state tests last spring, as so many learners moved into a virtual setting for the first time. But this spring, our states, districts, schools, and educators need real data to understand the impact of our Covid year.

In the latest episode of Soul of Education on the BAM! Radio Network, dear ol’ Eduflack opines on why it was so important for the Biden Administration to declare testing will resume this spring, virus be damned.

Give it a listen here: https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/what-did-your-students-learn-this-year-how-do-we-know/

Teaching The Capitol Riot

I was honored to be a part of this important panel discussion on the BAM Radio Network, as we discussed how educators can, should, must discuss the Capitol riot in their classrooms.

Dear ol’ Eduflack gets that many parents want to keep politics out of the classroom. And I understand that many teachers worry their administrators won’t have their backs on such controversial issues. But our kids don’t live in a bubble. They will learn of such ugly issues, whether we teach them or not.

Case in point. On the day of the siege, my 13-year-old daughter came into my office late in the afternoon, wanting me to explain what was happening. When I asked how she knew, she simply said the issue was blowing up her TikTok feed. Our kids know.

So give it a listen here. It’ll be worth the time — https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/special-report-eight-educators-share-thoughts-on-discussing-sedition-in-the-classroom/

Embracing the Science of Reading

These approaches work. They have worked in schools and classrooms throughout the nation for generations. They can produce the most extraordinary results in student learning and make those results ordinary, expected, and predictable. The evidence about how students learn to read bears this out. Our struggle remains in that far too few classrooms are using these approaches and far too few education schools are preparing teacher candidates in science. This research only needs to be put to work to provide every child with a good start in reading.

From Eduflack’s latest from The Faculty, Using the Science of Reading as a Roadmap to Student Success

Come Back, NAEP, Come Back!

As learning gaps grow and we wonder about those students who are being denied a qualify education (whether because of Covid or other reasons), we should be doing all we can to measure learning and understand where we fall short. That means measuring student progress, no matter how ugly.

We discuss the issue and how eliminating another year of student assessment is the the wrong answer over at BAM Radio Network.

Two Years Without Standardized Testing? Why It Matters

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