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)

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

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

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.

A New Ed Department

“Yes, our educational priorities and needs have shifted over the last decade. Despite these changes, though, we are still focused on important issues such as teacher development, 21st century and STEM skills, education technology, and the P-20 education continuum. How we address these issues and the outcomes we expect from them have changed dramatically, though. A new approach, with new foci, serves as a strong rhetorical tool to make clear that education, edu-investment, edu-transformation, and edu-innovation are central to the rebuilding of our nation. And such rhetoric is all the more important when current economic concerns make it difficult to fund new policy ideas straight out of the gate, a fact that is all too real today.”

From Eduflack’s latest over at Medium, exploring the need for a new structure and new foci at the US Education Department

Let’s Spend Our Edu-Virus Dollars Wisely

For most students, school will soon be back in session. Many big city districts have chosen to remain virtual for the start of the year. Some, like New York City, are insisting on going hybrid. But all can agree it is going to be an expensive school year.

Recently, Congress has debated the need for $175B or so in new federal education dollars to make whatever happens happen. But we aren’t debating how to make sure we use those dollars well.

Yes, $175B is a lot of dollars. But when we look at the long-term needs of students, is it best spent on hand sanitizer and disinfectants and plexiglass and nearly empty yellow buses, or is it better spent on teacher professional development and technology and high-speed internet?

We explore the topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

We Need to Change How We Teach History

“Educators are struggling to teach enough basic history for their students to survive a trivia night. But, we are also struggling to teach our students what happened, why it happened, and what resulted because of it.”

From dear ol’ Eduflack’s latest on the XQ Institute’s blog, focusing on the need to confront the messy, complicated, and dark sides of American history as we tell the full stories to the students seeking truth

When It Comes To Reopening Schools, There Is No One Answer

President Donald Trump and EdSec Betsy DeVos want brick-and-mortar schools open for business this fall. Teachers, their unions, parents, and many others want to keep them closed, with teaching happening virtually, until their are guarantees on health, safety, and vaccines.

If we know anything, it is that a one-size-fits-all approach to schools just doesn’t work. There are too many variables, too many issues, and too many reasons why we prefer to leave education decisions to states and localities.

On the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network, we explore for topic of reopening and why we shouldn’t look to the feds for all the answers. Give it a listen here.

A New, Old Approach to Teacher Prep

There is value to all educators demonstrating a broad range of writing skills, world literature knowledge, foreign language aptitude, elementary epistemology, and exposure to math, natural sciences, history and geography, and government and economics. This approach is critical to ensuring strong and nimble teachers, particularly if this background content is knitted together to provide a clear scope and sequence of the first two years of undergraduate courses for aspiring educators.

From dear ol’ Eduflack’s latest on Medium, looking at making a classically liberal education a foundation for teacher prep