We’ve kind of let this feature fall by the wayside of late. I want to get back to it, especially today, because there’s quite a bit out there worth reading.
Usually, I tend to focus on equity issues, like equitable distribution of resources and inequities resulting from certain school atmospheres, structures, or types. It’s important to remember the quality question as well, since equity is not worth much of quality is not also present. As such, this morning I want to send a series of thoughts your way about quality teaching, as there’s quite a bit out there in the blogosphere addressing this issue. So, without further ado, this is what we’re reading today:
- In an online forum as part of the journal Education Next, Katie Haycock and Eric Hanushek debate how to ensure equitable distribution of teachers and administrators across high- and low-performing schools. This is a key component of the Obama administration’s education platform and plays an integral role in Race to the Top, so it’s worth checking out. Hanushek makes the good point that the metrics we have to evaluate teachers “have virtually nothing to do with teacher effectiveness.” Haycock counters that poor and minority schools are much more likely to have rookie teachers and teachers who do not have a degree or certification in the subjects taught. She advocates for targeted incentives and administrative freedoms that allow administrators and districts to retain the most effective teachers in the most challenging classrooms.
- Meanwhile, Rick Hess sounds the alarm that some (including the federal Dept of Ed) are taking this too far, leading to “ham-handed” efforts to “strip mine” the most effective teachers from high performing schools. This policy, Hess argues, masks the broader issue, that we should work to make sure that all teachers are able to be highly effective, regardless of the racial/socioeconomic composition of their classrooms. (And Hess makes a point that I always want to make when it comes to teacher quality debates. When the primary metric of teacher quality is student achievement, of course it’s going to look like the top 1/3 of teachers are in the top 1/3 of classrooms.)
- Jay Mathews, in his Washington Post blog, discusses a new book on teaching methodology that challenges the traditional ed. school approach to teaching. Entitled Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College, this is a fairly technical book aimed at improving teachers’ classroom experiences. As opposed to ed schools, that give future teachers “theory and practice in digestible form”, this book (and the teacher-training movement it embodies) provides hard, fast techniques to be used in teachers’ day-to-day lives. The New York Times Magazine reviewed the book here.
- And if you have six-and-a-half minutes, I encourage you to listen to this NPR piece on teacher training programs using the medical school model. In this model, teachers (most of whom already have a bachelor’s degree in either education or their subject of expertise) spend four days a week doing their “residency” in a local school, while receiving support and taking graduate-level courses just like doctors-in-training.
- Finally, changing gears a bit: I noticed this morning that the latest edition of Time Magazine has a story on Revolution Food and the movement to improve the nutritional content of public school lunches. This is a subject of note for anyone interested in the interplay and intersection between education and nutrition, intellectual and physical health, etc.