Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Rethinking Retention (TFA)

by necs2010

Meaningful change is happening right there.

**Also, sorry if this is disjointed. I wrote it on the car ride home.**

One of the biggest complaints thrown at Teach For America is that the two year commitment and retention rate (debated by TFA and anti-TFAers) hurts education and wholly devalues the education profession. Wading into this argument is EducationNext, a Harvard education think tank, that just released a study investigating the impact TFA corps members have on the broader movement of bettering public education in America.

What EducationNext found was that in the work histories of founders, co-founders, and top management team (TMT) employees of 49 influential and entrepreneurial educations organizations (like KIPP, New Leaders for New Schools, and Uncommon Schools)  TFA lead the pack in being listed across biographies and resumes.

What I found significant and illuminating was the conclusion that the authors’ established: “Finally, our research suggests the value of rethinking how TFA and its alumni have been studied in education and also how we think about retention.” The authors’ argue that the debate around Teach For America’s retention rate should not be seen through the lens of “Teacher-in-the-Classroom,” rather what impact TFA Corps Members have in the field of education after their 2 years are up.

The authors’ wrap up their findings by posing a series of questions meant to challenge our traditional views of retention. These are questions I would like to pose to any of my 50 or so page viewers that feel the desire to chime in.

Another intriguing question is how to weigh the impact of a single Mike Feinberg, Mike Johnston, or Michelle Rhee. Is their impact equal to that of having 100 teachers stay another year? Of 1,000 teachers staying another five years? Is it worth having thousands frequently depart classrooms if it increases the likelihood that a single game-changing entrepreneur—a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates—will emerge? Conventional debates about retention and TFA teacher effects may start to seem trivial when we compare the potentially enormous impact of a few such individuals.

Michigan is the New New Orleans

I don’t like Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder. Since entering office earlier this year he has proposed radically draconian budget reforms while instituting an Emergency Financial Manager program that effectively disenfranchises cities declared “failed.” Snyder fashions himself a benevolent overlord, but in reality he is just a less brazen WI Governor Scott Walker.

This week Snyder unveiled his plan to revolutionize education in the state of Michigan. I have some thoughts…

* One note. Read his plan in whole or read a summary… my incoherent thoughts might not help you come to your own conclusion on the merits of this plan.*

The Good 

What Snyder proposes puts Michigan on a serious path to putting children first in terms of education policy. His proposal consolidates early childhood education under one office which will help cement together fragmented programs with fragmented funding. He looks to pass anti-bullying legislation that has been stalled due to lack of Republican cooperation. Finally, he wants to expand and emphasize opportunities for college-bound students. Each one of these proposals put students back into the education discussion.

The Ambitious 

The Snyder proposal also works to end the monopoly of geography-based school districts in the State of Michigan. Through a combination of lifting charter school caps and forcing district to take students from other districts if they have room students will be given a choice and agency in their education. He also includes several systems to grade, evaluate, and reward schools that make significant progress with their students. All in order to provide parents and students more information to make crucial educational decisions.

This would essentially start turning some districts in Michigan into education systems that look like New Orleans. The benefit here is that independent schools led by independent school leaders will be able to innovate and offer unique educational opportunities to students who were previously denied a choice in education.

The Ballsy  Continue reading

Websites I’ve Used This Year (Teacher Resources!)

by  necs2010

Not the same TFA…

Since a new crop of 2011s is entering TFA I thought I would put together an index of the resources I’ve used so far this year. This is by no means complete… the internet has been amazing to me this year.

Current TFAers… if you want to add anything (especially in the math and science categories)  comment below!

Essential Teacher Resources

http://www.tfanet.org/ – TFA’s answer to October of your first year.

http://betterlesson.org/ – A TFA Alumn’s attempt to make TFANet better. Sign up… some of the stuff is helpful.

http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3755565 – Scholastic has already done what I am doing right now… still you know me so therefore mine is better.

http://freeology.com/graphicorgs/ – Need to print off a graphic organizer right now for that class in 43 minutes? Freeology.

http://www.louisianaschools.net/ – helpful if you need a headache and heartburn at the same time.

Writing Resources

Continue reading

“The money is the motive!” (Budget Post via Wayne)

by  necs2010

Not the same person.

SHUT ER DOWN, SHUT ER DOWN, SHUT ER DOWN was the rallying cry of House Republicans this week and they might just get their way.  Additionally, boy wizard Rep. Paul Ryan released a budget that builds an America that is held aloft by poor people, old people, and the deregulation of the financial industry.

I decided to wrap up all of this through Lil’ Wayne quotes.  This may be a stretch… follow along for a little bit.

“The top gets higher the more that I climb.” or “Elevator in my crib ’cause it’s 5 floors. I’m not expectin’ you to have one in yours.”

”Paul Ryan’s budget (READ THIS THIS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS IN IT) essentially delivers astronomical cuts via trashing the elderly and the poor. Seriously 2/3 of the cuts from programs that help the poor in this country.  Within those cuts it explicitly roles back the Pell Grant program… one of the ways the poor in country actually are able to access the means to lift themselves up. This cynical budget cuts tax rates for the rich and prosperous and assumes that the poor will be able to deal…

Ezra Klein does a good job pointing out the risks of presenting a plan that so fundamentally sticks to CYNICAL, ABUSIVE, CONSERVATIVE principles instead of diversifying his plan.

“We probably ain’t supposed to be together, but I wonder if my love of her could last forever.” or “Been to hell and back, I can show you vouchers.”

What gets me, and relates to the Wayne quote, is that Republican spent all fall decrying Democrats for putting their government in old people’s Medicare. Now, Paul Ryan proposes a change to Medicare that would, according to the CBO, fail to CAP costs and merely SHIFT them to the elderly. Essentially, health care would continue to increase in cost and the elderly will be given a static (indexed merely to GDP, which is far lower than health care inflation) amount of voucher money and told to stick it in their pacemakers.

“We are not the same. I’m a martian, this is Space Jam.”

I am a huge fan of how Ryan’s budget predicts 2.8% unemployment. First, the Fed and everyone would never allow this low of unemployment, not seen since the 50s to exist, to ever exist. Secondly, he bases this off of some funny numbers from the Heritage Foundation that assumes an Ayn Rand reality where economics bend to their will.  I don’t understand math so I’ll link to smarter people.

FireDogLake (I know…) compiles Krugman’s take down.

“Me and shawty go together like chemicals.”

Speaker Boehner is quoted as saying there is no sunlight between him and the Tea Party. This bonded association is now making it nearly impossible for Boehner to reach a consensus with Obama and the Democrats. Boehner, I legitimately believe, is a consensus figure in the mold of Harry Reid and maybe even Obama, but has now boxed him, and the future of his job, into the Tea Party corner. This may now be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t hell situation for Boehner.

“I don’t go around fire expectin’ not to sweat”

The House Republicans attached little hot button issues to their budget 1) neutering the EPA and 2) de-funding Planned Parenthood and some sort of Mythical United Nations Abortions funded by the United States. Unfortunately, these have ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT ON THE BUDGET. Therefore, we might get a shut down over…. Planned Parenthood. I think this will confuse and anger most Americans.

Additionally, PAUL RYAN included some of his own hot buttons into his plan that have no effect on the long-term fiscal health of the country. He repeals the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill – Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (something that reduces the deficit) – and adds some energy reform portion that focuses America on fossil fuels… for some reason. These are all issues that could hinder any serious consideration of this budget plan.

“I’m the cashier, I change girls.”

Seriously, this is all coming down to Planned Parenthood?

Note – this is all I have for right now. Let me drive home and think of some more / get angrier.

Gumbo, The Infographic

by  necs2010

I love gumbo. I love the stuff I get at Gott Gourmet, I love the stuff I get in the Quarter, and I love the rural St. James gumbo we get at school. I love gumbo. Yet, I did not understand exactly what constitutes “gumbo” until I saw this great infographic from GOOD.

Click to make BIG!


Wherein I Disagree with President Obama

I don’t like this either, but…

Amidst budget battles education reform has repeatedly come up as a solution to budget problems, a way to break up Unions, a way to save children, and a non-partisan way to solve our Union. Basically, it is the next big fight our political system will have.

President Obama has staked himself pretty squarely in the crowd of reformers. Many of these policies I vehemently agree with. Unfortunately, he goes and says something like this

“One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”

This is the kind of sloppy attack and argument that often obscures legitimate policy discussions around education reform. Should there be multiple ways to gauge effectiveness in the classroom? Absolutely yes. Yet, when we allow silly arguments like “Teachers spend all day, every day in the classroom teaching kids to fill out bubbles” to permeate the discourse we lose sight of real reform. You just whacking an already tattered pinata.

Obama advocates for strong national standards of educational excellence. I agree, but to make sure those measures are being hit a student must be measured and quantified. Whacking the test pinata doesn’t move us towards a better system… it just muddies the debate.

Note – I am writing this as a teacher who is administering a standardized test in T-7 days.

Things Learned From Mardi Gras

by  necs2010

Carnival season ended at Midnight on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. In the style of a proper TFA Corps Member I think it is time to look back and do a little bit of Mardi Gras reflection.

Reflection #10 – Getting hit in the face with a large set of beads, especially the giant white ones, always hurts – no matter your state of consciousness.

Reflection #9 – Having friends in town in great, but beware of the chance that you may lose your friends in the chaos. Just hope they don’t have AT&T and you can still get a hold of them.

Reflection #8 – Some neighbors can be finicky about noise. Even it is Mardi Gras and even if the party did shut down at 9:45pm.

Reflection #7 – The City of New Orleans funds Mardi Gras through parking fines. Can you get a fine for blocking a non-existent sidewalk? Yes, you most certainly can.

Reflection #6 – The experience of waking up early and moving with massive crowds evokes strong feelings of nostalgia for college football games.

Reflection #5 – Uptown > CBD, FQ

Reflection #4 – An exception to #5 is the Krewe of Barkus. Go to that… it is a must.

Reflection #3 – Old ladies with canes are extremely territorial. If you wish to have pain-free ankles you best not block the throw routes of any cane-weldings folks.

Reflection #2 – The St. Augustine Drum Majors high stepped more through Mardi Gras than the Michigan Marching Band does in an entire season.

Reflection #1 – Even though it is possible to be severely paraded out you must always remember that you are #winning* during Mardi Gras.

* Thank you  Charlie Sheen for conveniently creating a world of memes in time for Mardi Gras.