Monday, August 30, 2010


*UPDATED 9/28/10: additional entries added* 

**UPDATED 12/5/10: I've decided to make this post my official Eduwonk link page, so I will continue to update this with relevant links to all debates I've encountered**

Exciting debates ensue on Eduwonk.  I've probably posted there this summer more than I've ever posted here, so I'll just go ahead and link to the notable debates and "debates" (in order, oldest first):

7/24/09: Education’s Moon Shot Or Race To The Annenberg? (standardized tests, ed schools)
8/7/09: If the Race to the Top were the Olympics... (Teach For America)
8/17/09: Do teacher need education degrees? (ed schools)
8/25/09: Reinventing Ed Courses 1: What courses? (ed schools)
8/29/09: Help Wanted (testing)
10/19/09: More DC (Rhee and DCPS)
10/29/09: Mad Members (irony)

1/22/10: Brown Out ("teacher bashing")
1/29/10: Stiff Cup of Joe ("teacher bashing", professional development)
1/30/10: LA Confidential ("teacher bashing")
2/2/10: Say Anything? ("teaching to the test")
3/9/10: Randi V. Rhee ("teacher bashing")
4/17/10: Cardinal Sin? ("teaching to the test")
7/26/10: Teach For America And The Problem Of Study Laundering (Teach For America)
8/5/10: Unmasking the “Blame the Teacher” Crowd ("teacher bashing", professional development)
8/6/10: DC-CAS Test Scores and Rhee (Rhee and DCPS)
8/10/10: KIPP and Catholic Schools (KIPP, charter schools, white supremacy!)
8/18/10: If Irony Were Bread... (unions)
8/19/10: LA Confidential? (standardized testing)
8/25/10: Good Reading – Now With More Polls! ("student bashing", Daily Howler)
8/27/10: Whole Lotta News! (Rhee and DCPS, reform)
8/30/10: Adding Value? (Rhee and DCPS, value added, Teach For America, UTeach)
9/7/10:  Expecting What Never Was And Never Will Be?   (Rhee and DCPS, racism!)
9/8/10:  Five Ideas, And A DC Round-up (Rhee and DCPS, evaluations)
9/15/10:  Eduimplications! (Rhee and DCPS, "teacher bashing", value added)
9/16/10:  Rhee-Assessing (Rhee and DCPS, evaluations, unions, Teach For America, teacher prep)
9/23/10:  The Value In Value Added (value added, evaluations, testing)
9/27/10: Candor ("teacher bashing")
10/7/10: Superman Is Here? I'm Not So Sure... (Rhee and DCPS)
10/8/10: Clipper Joint? (evaluations, "teacher bashing")
10/12/10: Show Them The Money (charter schools)
10/15/10: Two Sides Of The Dep’t Ed “Labor Summit” (unions, Rhee and DCPS)
10/21/10: Irony Alert (unions, evaluations, value added, "teacher bashing")
10/29/10: No! It's The Wrong Teacher Voice! (unions)
11/2/10: Good Reading (evaluations, value added, Rhee and DCPS, "teacher bashing")
11/9/10: Less of X... (standardized testing)
11/11/10: Paint It Black (NY schools)
11/17/10: A Clinic (accountability, reform)
11/17/10: Adding Value (value added, evaluations)
11/22/10: Chattering Confusion (charter schools, accountability, "teaching to the test")
11/24/10: Not Wired! (Valerie Strauss)
11/30/10: Dropping In On Dropouts (evaluations, accountability, "teacher bashing", reform)
12/4/10: More Teacher Voice (accountability, "teacher bashing", Stephanie Salter)
12/6/10: Rhee Invented! (Rhee and DCPS, GAO Report)
12/10/10: The Second Conversation (reform)
12/15/10: First Out On Seniority? (value added)
12/22/10: They’re Cuckoo For Cocoa Puffs! Plus An Edujob (common core standards)

1/6/11: 11 for 2011 (reform, Stephanie Salter)
1/7/11: State Of Play (DCPS, reform)
1/10/11: Housekeeping (Joel Klein, pensions)
1/10/11: *Except For Them!  Plus, What's Next? (reform, testing, international comparisons, achievement gaps, Robert J. Samuelson)
1/22/11: Tastes Great But Is It Less Filling? (Rhee and DCPS, GAO Report, reform)
1/26/11: In The Game... (Teach For America)
1/27/11: Too Good To Check, Part Deux! (WaPo, NCLB)
2/2/11: And More Live From Copley – Fairlawn Prison (Williams-Bolar, reform)
2/7/11: Double Option? (Teach For America, Valerie Strauss)
2/9/11: More Copley – Fairlawn Prison (Williams-Bolar, reform)
2/10/11: Why They Fight (Teach For America)
2/11/11: No Value-Added (Rhee, GAO Report, UMBC Report, WaPo)
2/23/11: Bears and Bulls (reform, accountability)
2/25/11: More LIFOsuction (value added, evaluations, seniority)
3/18/11: Must-Reads (reform, accountability, value added, DCPS, Rhee)
4/1/11: LIFO (Teach For America, merit pay, tenure)
4/4/11: Still Going... (KIPP, reform, accountability, school effects, peer effects)
4/14/11: The Big Lesson Of The Cathie Black Debacle? (Billionaires!)
4/22/11: Weekend Reading (Reform, motivation, Teach For America)
5/6/11: Appreciation ("teacher bashing", accountability, value added)
5/9/11: Political Maze (reform, teacher quality, poverty)
5/13/11: Duncan Dodges Cold Iron Shackles And A Ball And Chain? (Billionaires!)
5/17/11: Over Regulated? (charter schools)
5/26/11: STEM, Roots, And Strategy (STEM, teacher prep, alternative routes into teaching)
5/31/11: Good Reads (Jay Mathews, honors, expectations, student ability
6/6/11: Square This Circle (evaluations, observations, value added)
6/10/11: New TFA #s (Teach For America)
6/24/11: OK, I'll Bite! (Joel Kline, The Answer Sheet, education "debates")
6/30/11: Let's Be Careful Out There... (education "debates", "teacher bashing")
7/1/11: Clips ("teacher bashing")
7/5/11: A New Generation of Ed Reformers: What’s the Big Idea? (NYC, DCPS)
7/26/11: If dogs became kings And the Pope chewed gum  (reform, accountability, policy wishlists)
7/29/11: Going Corporate (Corporations!)
8/11/11: This Week’s TIME School Of Thought: The Renegade Upstarts (reform, unions, poverty)
8/30/11: Common Sense Last (Rhee, union-supported attack website)
9/1/11: Is The Pig F**ked? (tenure reform)
11/2/11: Ignoring Red Herrings (name calling!)
11/3/11: Second Response From Diane Ravitch (accountability, tenure, poverty, testing is racist!)
11/10/11: Too Much? Too Little? Just Right? Our Goldilocks Problem On Teacher Pay (teacher pay, reform, corporations)
11/11/11: CMOs – Are We There Yet? Guest Post By Lake & Hill (CMOs, charters, peer effects)
11/17/11: Occupy The Schools (poverty, achievement gaps, IQ and genetics, The Bell Curve, in-school factors, motivation, TFA, charters, peer effects, "teacher bashing")
11/28/11: Carey on Ravitch (amazingly astute policy proposals)
12/2/11: Edujobs (It's not a conspiracy but...)
12/21/11: Class Matters, Plus Nutmeg Action Just In Time For The Holidays! (Jaime Escalante, AP Calculus, achievement gaps, IQ and cognitive differences)
12/27/11: Resident Knowledge? (Boston Teacher Residency, STEP at UMASS, SATs, achievement gaps, IQ and cognitive differences)

1/6/12: Good Teachers Matter (value added, impacts of good teachers, poverty and policy, education reform, false dilemmas, Michael Winerip, sockpuppets)
1/19/12: Teacher Choice! (teacher quality, value added, peer effects)
1/20/12: Publish And Perish? (teacher quality, value added)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Several months later, I've not forgotten about this blog, and do come back to past essays on certain fact-finding missions. I just don't write much anymore, which one expects ought to be the primary motivation for an author to return.  I've been firmly entrenched in graduate serfdom, and just recently finished my coursework and chosen a lab to subsist in/on for the next few years.  This impromptu blog post may fool the reader into thinking that the posting frequency herein may well increase, but that likely shan't be the case.

I recently retook an online personality test I took 2.5 years ago, back when I was a relatively new teacher, to see how I've changed after 1.5 more years of teaching and a year of graduate school.  These most recent results and comparisons between the older data set are outlined below:

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Work ethic||||||||||||||||||||90%
Need to dominate||||||||||||||||70%
Change averse||||||30%
Peter pancomplex||||||30%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality test by 

Data Analysis:

Strong Growth (up +50%): Conflict Seeking (54)
Growth (up +20%): Intellectual (27), Materialism (37), Work Ethic (20)

Decline (down +20%): Mystical (33), Hedonism (46), Dependency (33), Histrionic (20), Vanity (40)
Strong Decline (down +50%): Narcissism (53)


After the last few years in the crossfire of students and research, I've not surprisingly become more confident with how I work with others and in addressing conflict, as contentious issues are common territory in the edu and science worlds.  Also, I've steadily increased my work ethic and spend solid chunks of the day now by reading, all in anticipation of future, more lucrative, science careers.  Perhaps a growing interest in material wealth is just a sign of adulthood, where I want (and need) to consider money more frequently, but I think it also stems from the fact that I went from a teaching career that paid alright, to grad school, and this downward trend must cease immediately before I start having to pay my next employer.

My declining traits are interesting, too.  I've grown more in touch with my logical side, settled down quite a bit, and have become increasingly introverted.  This is likely a product of both my environment and my nature, which emphasizes that grad school has been a good fit so far.  There's much to be done individually in this setting as it was for teaching, and so an increased reliance on my own skills is necessary.

While this was only a 126-question survey, the analysis is somewhat enlightening, and at the very least entertaining.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

BrainPOP and H1N1 Video Clip

BrainPOP, an educational resource providing animated content, lesson plans, and much more to help educators engage students (and whose motto of "The more you know, the more you know!" always cracks me up for some reason), is offering schools two weeks of complimentary remote access to all BrainPOP resources during school hours (7 am-5:30 pm local time). Sign up here to get in on this cool BrainPOP offer. The purpose of such good will is explained in a recent newsletter:
Last spring, more than 700 schools in 25 states temporarily closed due to outbreaks of the H1N1 virus. We're all hoping for the best this flu season. But as schools prepare for the possibilities of illness-related absences and disruptions to studies, we'd like to help.
Here's the updated H1N1 video they've made to help address misunderstandings students (and some adults..) might have:

Friday, October 02, 2009


All that effort to plan and implement my past lessons with a minimum of talking, and now I'm listening to people speak for hours at a time.

At least the labs are more fun!

Friday, September 25, 2009

I want clarification on "time off"

Me: I graduated in 2007 and then taught high school biology and integrated science up until now, what about you?

Hypothetical Other Persons: Oh you too?  Yeah I took some time off as well before graduate school, and (insert: traveled/relaxed/did drugs/stared into nothingness for days at a time).

Me: ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why We are Walking Out

The below message is circulating around the UC mailing lists, and it explains why UC staff and students are walking out today (except me, because I can't fail out of graduate school just yet):


On Thursday, September 24, an unprecedented coalition of UC faculty, undergraduates, grad students, postdocs, lecturers, and staff will engage in a system-wide walkout. As UC Davis graduate students and lecturers concerned with the quality of all UC students' education, we write to clarify the reasons for this walkout as we understand them.

This summer, UC administration began implementing tuition hikes, enrollment cuts, layoffs, furloughs, and increased class sizes that jeopardize our education, endanger the livelihood of the most vulnerable employees, and compromise the fundamental mission of the University. This is not simply another budget cut; although the UC Regents repeatedly state their commitment to "quality, access, and affordability," their recent actions undermine all three principles. These decisions affect all sectors of our campuses and communities, and threaten the fundamental character of the university.

On Thursday, we walk out to support our faculty, who are concerned about the undermining of shared governance. Their traditional involvement in decision-making processes was subverted this summer when President Yudof assumed emergency powers, ignored the recommendations of the Academic Council, and created the Gould Commission on the future of the UC, originally with no faculty from any UC College of Letters and Science present.

We walk out because faculty furloughs threaten to lower the quality of UC education. Whether taken on instructional days or not, furloughs suggest faculty should spend less time either on research or instruction, both of which are key components of UC's prestige. (Nonetheless, the faculty walkout statement requests an end to furloughs only for salaries below $40,000.)

We walk out to support our university staff members. The UC Office of the President demanded unlimited rights to furloughs and layoffs from University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), who are striking on 9/24 in response to unfair labor practices. They will be joined by the Coalition of University Employees (CUE). Our education depends on the vital role of UC staff, who make possible the day-to-day functioning of this university.

We walk out to support our undergraduates and their families, who now find themselves carrying a majority of the burden of funding this university. President Yudof’s proposal to raise student fees will bring tuition to over $10,000, forcing undergraduates to take larger loans, work full-time jobs, or drop out. While student fees continue to rise, course offerings are cut, extending the time needed to graduate. Lecturers and postdocs represented by the American Federation of Teachers Unit 18 have been laid off after UCOP refused to consider furloughs or answer questions, canceling required courses just weeks before classes begin. UC prides itself on making the world's best research faculty available to California's best students, regardless of income. Recent administrative actions threaten to strip students of that promise.

We walk out to support our fellow graduate students, who face proposed fee increases alongside heavier workloads, reduced lab assistantships and teaching appointments, and greater debt. Administrative responses to the budget cuts undermine our educational and professional goals, hinder our ability to offer quality teaching, and diminish the perceived and actual quality of a UC graduate degree.

The crisis facing UC, while certainly related to the state budget , is primarily about California's priorities for funding education. After the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, California's K-12 public schools dropped from 4th to 45th in the nation. Current budget decisions by UC administration place our university system on that same path. There are alternatives to fees and furloughs, including pay cuts -- rather than pay raises -- for the highest-paid UC executives, and the tapping of surplus funds from medical and extension units.

The UC Regents' actions accelerate a long-standing process of privatization and have led us, today, to a crisis we cannot and will not stand for. On September 24, we will not conduct official university business. Instead, we will gather at our university for education of a broader sort. We walk out to educate students and all Californians about what the University of California has been, what it promises to be, and what it might be in the future. We walk out to force the administration to seek alternatives to fee hikes and furloughs, and to demand that legislators prioritize state funding for education. We walk out to demonstrate that this university belongs to its students, its community, and its workers. We walk out on 9/24 so that come 2010, we still have a public university in California: a university solidly committed to quality, access, and affordability.


Toby Beauchamp, Graduate Student, UC Davis
Kristin Koster, PhD, Lecturer, UC Davis
Vanessa Rapatz, Graduate Student, UC Davis
Kaitlin Walker, Graduate Student, UC Davis

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grad students and email

In response to an email invitation for all grad students to attend "the biggest, baddest, most expensive party the [Graduate Student Association] has ever thrown," flyers were electronically exchanged chronicling the downward spiral and certain demise of the UC system, along with a picture of the UCOP pouring salt on a melting banana slug.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

SC Orientation

I'm in a new place called UC Santa Cruz, and after a long day of listening to and reading up on and thinking about everyone-there's research project, I see that there's a long road to travel before I can get all of my mind here, too.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Speech that Ended Democracy

Short snippet of Obama's address to students planned for this morning:

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

It's likely going to bore some, but it could also be a worthwhile springboard into a class of activities planned around reflecting on personal goals, sharing them with others, tying them to academic success, etc.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Obama's School Speech

President Obama's planned Sept. 8 speech addressed to our nation's students is getting its unfair share of backlash:
The White House found itself on the defensive Friday over what would ordinarily be considered the most uncontroversial of events: a back-to-school speech for children.

The White House said the address, set for Tuesday, and accompanying suggested lesson plans are simply meant to encourage students to study hard and stay in school.

Many conservative parents aren't buying it. They're convinced the president is going to use the opportunity to press a partisan political agenda on impressionable young minds.

I must've missed the part about a "partisan political agenda", as I conveniently read that the purpose of the speech was "to challenge students to set goals, work hard and stay in school." That one would assume the president is lying about this and will actually turn this into a policy speech is somewhat mind-boggling, given the attention this speech has garnered.

Conservative gripes about included lesson plans that initially asked students to write letters to themselves about what they could do to help the president (this language was removed) are similarly perplexing.  As eduwonk notes, this activity is within the context of students doing well in school, not about policies or politics.  How's a kid going to help him pass health care, anyway?

Some argue that this language of helping a president implicates the role of government in our affairs as necessary, which is philosophically at odds with conservatives.  Why is doing well in school connected to helping the President, as opposed to helping ourselves and each other?

Well, because students will feel that their president is setting an ambitious goal and is personally asking each of them to contribute by reaching high for their own personal academic goals. In the context of the speech, this makes a whole lot of sense. Conservatives can pout about how this accepts the mommy role of government, but they can’t argue with the influence and symbolism a president realistically wields as the leader of the free world, no matter how ineffective one deems him/her or government as a whole to be.  Asking students to do something for the president gives it that much more importance, even if what they're being asked to do is strictly related to their own personal and academic achievement.