Ignoring the New Majority: Education Reform behind Blinders

radical eyes for equity

Consider three maps—one using data from the 1860 Census, one focusing on public schools in 2011, and one detailing the remaining states allowing corporal punishment in schools:


[1860; click to enlarge]

Perc of low income students public schools copy

[2011; click to enlarge]

[2005-2006; click to enlarge]

“A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country,” explains Lyndsey Layton, based on the report from the Southern Education Foundation (SEF).

The data in the SEF report parallel in many ways the documenting of in-school segregation lingering in the South as portrayed in the HBO film Little Rock Central: Fifty Years Later and reported by Felicia Lee:

On a recent visit to Central High, Ms. Trickey spoke to a self-segregated classroom: whites on one side, blacks on the other. An…

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On Public Education

Welcome to Family Life

I wonder what the educational system would look like in our country if everyone sent their child to a public school.  I wonder if there were no choices outside of public education if the state of education in the United States would be in a very different place.

Let me start off by saying that I believe in good schools–good private/independent schools, good parochial or religiously affiliated schools, good public schools and good public charter schools.  I am a total school geek and love researching schools of all types all over the country to discover best practices in education and to learn more about current educational trends like technology in the classroom, STEM (science, technology, engineering & math), blended learning and the Common Core.  I advocate for parent choice and love to help spread the word in my community in Los Angeles about the various options for schooling in our…

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Professional Involvement

My Island View

I am very frustrated after attending a huge professional development conference for educators this past weekend in New York City. The conference was sponsored by WNET and The National Education Association among others. It was called the Celebration of Teaching and Learning. The event was held at the New York Hilton Hotel, and was a sprawling extravaganza of technological sights and sounds covering three floors. There were signs, banners, booths, and even a live alligator amongst the beeps, blips and colors of computer driven screens everywhere.

There were Vendors galore on the exhibitors’ floors. The booths numbered over a thousand and represented most of the players in the field of Educational Technology. In full disclosure, I was a guest of my wife’s company Vizzle, a visual learning and networking application for teachers of children with Autism. There were thousands of attendees walking through the exhibitor’s halls, as well as…

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Ingredients of effective teaching


Effective teaching is often seen as increase in student learning.  I can understand the thought behind it, because after all teaching is futile if learning is not happening. But getting these two different phenomena -teaching and learning- productively intertwined in the classroom is a challenge all educators are facing, and correlations between the two should not be drawn in haste.

The old saying about leading the horse to the water but not being able to force it to drink is very descriptive for the differences between teaching and learning, and often also quoted as such. We attempt to measure the ways of presenting information for students to learn, and seem to think the score makes one teacher more effective than another -but I am not convinced that it makes such a big difference how we take the horse to the water: it will drink when it is thirsty.  Fortunately students…

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Rules for Life

Amplifying Minds

I believe the most important thing we can do in school is help kids navigate their own lives. That includes helping them be smart enough to do so, and that includes learning facts and how to maneuver in this world, but most of all it involves understanding oneself and others. Teachers have an amazing amount of power over how a child thinks, especially when they are young, and we absolutely can impact how a child approaches learning and life to at least some extent.

There’s been a lot of buzz in social media recently about Matt B. Gomez’ rule for his Kindergarten class, making his one classroom rule, “Be Brave!”  I like that and would definitely add it to the three I used with Kindergarten. In fact, as Betsy (my collab teacher) and I were talking to our fifth graders the other day, I cited those three from…

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