The panel where Linda Darling-Hammond spoke yesterday. Linda Darling-Hammond may be feared and loathed by the younger reform set, but among the people who sat with me last night on the Upper East Side to watch her talk, she is such a star! Before the start of the panel, put on by Bank Street College of Education, all I could hear was the simultaneous sound of my Blackberry buzzing with eager e-mails about her and audience members asking their neighbors, "Has Linda arrived yet?" She finally did, apparently via the very last available train to New York from Washington, D.C., where she had been for Barack Obama's inauguration. At the panel, she quickly made it clear how dramatically accountability regimes would change if she is given a major role in the Obama administration. (Of course, that's a big if: Though Darling-Hammond chaired the education policy team for Obama's transition, it's looking like those who have the ear of new Education Secretary Arne Duncan come from a different set. She didn't comment on this yesterday.) Darling-Hammond laid out a dramatic picture of how she hopes Obama will change American schools, one that (for the most part) differed substantially from the vision currently in vogue, the "idealocrat" program Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has pushed. Darling-Hammond's big idea is to move America away from a factory model of education, where teachers are seen as trade workers, and toward a model that treats teachers as just as important as doctors or lawyers. The change, as she sees it, requires that teachers are given better and more extensive training, and that the federal government change the way it evaluates their work, moving from No Child Left Behind's standardized test-based system into one based on sensitive open-ended assessments that schools might create themselves. She hinted that the last part might be the biggest challenge — to "get the measuring right."
On Tuesday morning, the 98 students at NYCiSchool gathered in their school's common room to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama. This is a report about that experience from Raquel and Angelica, two students who are writing occasional columns for GothamSchools on their experiences attending a New York City public school. Raquel: Returning to school after a 3-day weekend to sit in front of two flatscreen televisions and watch Obama's inauguration was nothing short of amazing, because we were glued to something more than a television screen. We were glued into history. We also created historical artifacts of our own. A school-wide assignment required each student to write a list of the topics we wanted to hear Obama address in his speech. As the speech progressed, we recorded what topics he actually covered. This way, we were able to document not only what we heard, but what it meant to us. I predict that unlike many school assignments, we'll remember this one as not just one more piece of paper. Instead, we will be able to use this assignment as a tool to evaluate whether Obama has kept his word to America, and to us. Angelica: We are teenagers, a rowdy group to tame, especially when concentrated all in one room — and yet the sound of Barack Obama's even voice, fierce and calm, muted us.
Garth Harries The top Department of Education official who is set to review the city's special education system is adding another job to his plate: He's joining a national program designed to produce top-notch urban superintendents. Garth Harries, who until the end of this month is the chief executive of the DOE's portfolio department, is one of 12 people accepted into this year's Broad Superintendents Academy class. The academy, which is based on business executive training programs, is run by the Broad Foundation, which also gives out the annual Broad Prize for Urban Education. New York City won the Broad Prize in 2007. As a Broad fellow, Harries will stay on at the DOE but will leave the city for six multi-day retreats throughout the year. He'll also have regular homework assignments. (Already, Helen Zelon at Insideschools has chimed in with concern about just how much Harries can cram into his calendar.) We asked Harries for a statement, and got this response from Chancellor Joel Klein instead: Garth's selection reflects the extraordinary work he's done in New York and his potential to be a great superintendent in the future. The Broad Academy says it expects its graduates to seek superintendencies, but of the DOE officials who have gone through the program, most still work in the city.
I wish Franklin were around to comment on this: The Department of Education's director of food technology, a job I didn't know existed, but now seems important, is letting principals know that DOE peanut butter is good, despite the expanding recall. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are not yet confirmed safe. UPDATE: Peanut butter cookies have now been declared safe, school officials tell me. I think this counts as a good use of teacher e-mail/phone time, yes? Here's director Paul Uffer's note: Subject: Peanut Butter Update Importance: High Please be advised that SchoolFood has confirmed that the PB&J Cutouts and the #10 containers of Peanut Butter used for our program are not affected by the recent peanut butter recall by The Peanut Corporation of America. Listed below are the current peanut butter brands used in SchoolFood operations #10 containers – Sunny Boy or Sunshine PB&J Cutouts – Sunshine Peanut Butter Cookies Food Tech is still waiting on confirmation of the brand of peanut butter used in the Linden's Peanut Butter cookies. Until further notice, please put do not use the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. Please place any boxes aside and label "DO NOT USE". Further instructions will follow.
Here's an idea for the new president: Make people happy by giving them pennies. According to a story in triptych form by Miah Mansour, a kindergartner at PS 130 (not sure which borough), that's what it would take to stave off the foreclosure crisis. Miah sent the story, which you can view in full below the jump, to the state teachers union, NYSUT, after it asked schoolchildren to offer advice to Barack Obama. Other letters suggest insulating schools against budget cuts, reducing class sizes, and providing bigger file cabinets for teachers. (Via Edwize)
Bored-looking students at yesterday's Harlem Armory celebration All over the city yesterday, teachers interrupted their lessons so they could watch the inauguration with their students. Last night, a number of them blogged about their experiences, which ranged from exhilarating to disappointing. At Is Our Children Learning?, elementary school teacher Ruben wrote that his kids didn't seem to understand why they were watching TV during the school day: There's nowhere else I'd rather have been, nor a more special location I can think of, than with my students. ... I wish I had more time last week to prepare my kids for today. While there was a palpable excitement throughout the school, it was clear that much of the real, historical significance was lost on the students. They clapped and cheered at pretty much all the appropriate moments, but when it was time for the important parts, they were just plain bored. As one student said to me when Barack began his inaugural address, "These words is for lawyers." I myself was pretty moved, but I can imagine how much of the language could be lost on 1,000 K-5 students, most of whom are a couple of grades behind in reading and writing. Below the jump, reactions from four more teacher-bloggers, whose students ranged from attentive to angry during the inauguration.
Ms. T. is blogging about her experience working in a Collaborative Team Teaching classroom. CTT classes have a mix of students in general education and special education, and each class has two teachers, one with special education certification. Ms. T is the general education teacher in her classroom. I made a mistake recently. Before I go on, I must go back. Meet my student: a young man, low tolerance to frustration, impatient when not given the attention he craves (which is more attention than a teacher can possibly give), funny, smart, an enjoyable student (despite all of the negatives), labeled special education for his emotional/behavioral disorder, and disruptive. His disruptions usually stem from the noises he is constantly making in our classroom. From the moment he walks in at the start of the day to the moment we send him off at the end of the day, he is talking. Sometimes he’s talking to others; most of the time, he’s talking to himself. Almost all the time, he is talking in a voice loud enough to disrupt and distract student learning. The first week back after the winter vacation was worse than usual for a child who doesn’t deal well with inconsistencies in schedules and is sure to take a few weeks to get back in the swing of things. He talked nonstop, offering a constant play-by-play or yelling out answers during class discussions. By Friday, my patience was running out. Something had to change.