100% Retention

New Haven Connecticut’s alternative “High School in the Community Academy for Law and Social Justice” made headlines last summer when the city turned management of the school over to the teacher’s union, the New Haven Federation of Teachers. This summer the small alternative high school is making headlines again. All 44 HSC freshmen failed to advance to sophomore classes. Many are currently taking summer school courses in order to achieve “mastery-based learning,” meaning a grade higher than a D in all of the 4 cores subjects.

Retaining the entire freshman class reduces stigma among peers in a class of 44 diverse students, but in other larger and more impersonal high school settings, such a policy risks dividing and alienating learners struggling to master advanced curriculum. This sort of experimentation is worthwhile in a setting like HSC, but my concern is that larger schools will try the same thing and end up increasing drop out rates and student frustration. College isn’t for everyone, and all students shouldn’t be required to master calculus or advanced chemistry.  

Whatever happens promises to be noteworthy. The school’s website can be found here: http://www.highschoolinthecommunity.org/about/history-of-hsc/

July 29, 2013. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Un Pez, Dos Peces, Pez Rojo, Pez Azul

Yesterday I was in a pre-school classroom. One adorable bilingual girl, all dressed up for picture day, seemed especially eager to read a book with me. Since it was in Spanish, I asked if she could translate what was happening . She began…

“There was EVIL! He screamed!! This man called the police!”

She was pointing to pictures from the middle section of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss.

October 12, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Strike Out

The story so far…
Wisconsin Governor Walker eliminated collective bargaining for teachers and survived a recall this year by a greater margin than when he was first elected. Indiana became a right to work state, breaking the teachers’ union this year. Ohio almost followed Wisconsin down the anti-union path, but labor managed a rare victory. The latest front is in Michigan, where organized labor is trying to get voters to make collective bargaining a right guaranteed by the state constitution.
What is happening in Illinois is more subtle. Former Chicago CEO and charter school advocate, Arne Duncan, was not popular with the Chicago Teachers’ Union. His elevation to Secretary of Education had many Chicago teachers shaking their heads…and fists.
Last year was even worse for the union. Mayor Emanuel and his appointed school board rescinded the teachers’ 4 percent pay increase. Illinois Senate Bill 7- a bill that required 75% of all union members to approve a strike and made Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to the lengthen the school day and year non-negotiable. Teachers were ready to strike. Union negotiators talking about being disrespected only added to the indignation. It’s almost as if the union was intentionally being goaded into a strike during the Great Recession to make it appear greedy and out of touch. Another midwestern domino is poised to come crashing down in the educational deform movement’s war on public education.

September 11, 2012. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.


Click to see a video of behaviorists gone wild:http://www.myfoxboston.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=11212

April 14, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Why bother to Teach Sex Education?


School playground ‘rape tag’ sparks concern


By Sylvia Wood, msnbc.com
Freeze tag during recess seldom raises eyebrows, but a variation of the game known as “rape tag” among students at a Minnesota elementary school has alarmed administrators and parents.
Find the article here:

February 3, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Happy Martin Luther King Day

When I do a mediocre job at instruction, it isn’t intentional, but  Arizona is doing it deliberately:

In a meeting this week, administrators informed Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,” including the teaching of Shakespeare’s classic in Mexican-American literature courses.

Read the depressing article at:


January 17, 2012. Education. Leave a comment.

You May Erase the Blackboard…

From the Washington Post:

Two Fairfax County middle-school students used stolen passwords to wreak havoc with a school software application, erasing assignments and sending “poorly written pornographic e-mails.”

What a shame when our children can’t even write porn at grade level.


January 15, 2012. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.


I’ve subbed at a couple of schools during the past few weeks. One of the schools doesn’t even have air conditioning, since the copper pipes on the roof were stolen and won’t be replaced until the end of June. The hot temperatures means that the students and I have been treated to women in V neck  shirts or dresses bending over in front of  us.  It’s unavoidable since one school has little kids sitting on the floor for long periods, while at the other, staff are always assisting and positioning students in and out of wheelchairs. What I’ve noticed is that almost all the female teachers at these two sites have tattoos on their ankles, lower back, or arms. At least I’m assuming that’s the extent of it.

June 1, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Educational Malpractice?

Teachers report that a ninth grader is “like a stick of furniture” in class and that her work is “gibberish and incomprehensible.” Teachers also report the student plays with dolls and sometimes urinates on herself in class.  The student’s mother was reluctant to have the child “looked at,” and School District officials decided not to “push.” Now the parent has sued and won.


May 8, 2011. educational malpractice. Leave a comment.

I hope you Know This Will Go On Your Permanent Record

About a year ago I applied online  to one of the wealthiest school districts around. After filling out the usual work history and essay questions, I was asked to complete a timed Teacher Style Profile Builder. It was late at night and I thought it was an interesting twist on the application process. I assumed there were no right answers, since different types of teaching often demand a different set of skills. I was wrong. I went ahead and quickly completed the multiple choice questions, most dealing with hypothetical situations.

Now, a year later, I started filling out an online application for another desirable district. The Teacher Style Profile popped up again. This time I thought I should investigate a little before completing the questions. Possibly the questions favored a particular approach or philosophy. A quick search revealed very little information about the actual content about the questions, but several other teachers seeking employment also had some anxiety about it. One conservative teacher thought the essay questions and profile reflected a liberal, multicultural bias. A few more wondered why they couldn’t see the results. I searched further and found the Style Profiler’s purpose is to screen the hundreds of applications received by districts in order to select about 45, saving the district time and money. The district I had applied to apparently had over 3,000 applications on file. Individuals whose responses matched those of the district’s best teachers would make the cut and be considered for an interview.

Armed with this new knowledge, I went back to take the Profile and complete my application for the second district, paying a bit more attention to my choices. Unfortunately, a message popped up saying that my previous results were on file, and would be for two years. If I didn’t want to share the results with the district, I would have to contact them directly, since I wasn’t allowed to retake the profle.

You can find out more about the dreaded Profile Builder at:


May 8, 2011. Education, mediocre teacher, teacher pre-screening. Leave a comment.

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