Class Struggle: the other a teacher


Posted at 02:23 PM ET, 07/15/2012

How computers can hurt schools

Seventh-grader Melvin Marshall was given a computer to help improve his reading. It didn’t work. What was missing?

By Jay Mathews  |  02:23 PM ET, 07/15/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  how computers can hurt schools, ACLU of Michigan, story of 7th grader Melvin Marshall, an online reading program that lacked a teacher

Posted at 10:21 PM ET, 06/20/2012

Quiet teacher changed a school

The teachers we hear about are usually larger than life, but quiet teachers can also have enormous impact on their schools. Take the case of Betsy Calhoon, who died suddenly this month.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:21 PM ET, 06/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  quiet teacher transformed a Fairfax County school, Betsy Calhoon, introduced low income students to challenging International Baccalaureate courses, Calhoon died June 11 of a heart attack

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/19/2010

Another blue ribbon report suitable for shredding

I propose a contest. The winner will get, appropriately enough, a blue ribbon. (I think I have a few crumbled ones in the Christmas wrapping box stuffed under the guest bed of the spare bedroom where I sit at this moment in my third month of working at home.) To receive this wonderful prize, all you have to do is identify a blue ribbon commission--any temporary assemblage of smart people asked to produce a solution to a great national issue--that brought changes that actually solved the problem.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/19/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  10 design principals, Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice,, blue ribbon panel reports are a national scourge, why not have a Blue Ribbon Scary Experiment in Doing Things Differently

Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 11/17/2010

Buster Posey and the value-added teacher debate

A new report on the controversy over rating teachers by how much their students' scores improve asks, sort of, this odd question: Should the San Francisco Giants keep rookie of the year Buster Posey on their team next year?

By Jay Mathews  |  09:00 AM ET, 11/17/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Buster Posey, batting averages have similar flaws, value-added criticized for mediocre reliability as a measure of teacher effectiveness year to year, value-added teacher assessment

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 10/15/2010

High schoolers barred from college-level courses

I expect there will be even more schools next year reaching the America's Best High Schools standard for inclusion than the 1,735 this year. The number has gone up every time I have done the list, beginning with just 243 schools in 1998. But proportionally, that is still quite small. This year's total represented only about 6 percent of all public high schools in the United States.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 10/15/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  America's Best High Schools, Challenge Index, access to AP courses, data show more acceptance of average students in challenging courses, many schools bar students with average GPAs or no teacher recommendations

Posted at 09:00 PM ET, 10/13/2010

Required essays in a physics class

In my search for signs of serious writing instruction in America high schools, I have stumbled across a rare creature: a physics teacher in Fairfax County who makes everyone in his honors classes enter a national science essay contest.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:00 PM ET, 10/13/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  Dupont Challenge essay contest, Ed Linz, Fairfax County Va., Linz rejects Mathews call for essays for all, West Springfield High School, physics teacher requires essay writing

Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 10/06/2010

'I was not allowed to take AP English'

My column on Charles Hebert Flowers High School requiring a 3.0 grade point average to take an Advanced Placement course, then dropping the rule after I asked about it, inspired many people who have been barred from AP and college prep courses to email me their stories. Here are two accounts from people who suffered because of the still widespread and wrongheaded view that only top students should be challenged.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:33 PM ET, 10/06/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Carolyn Elefant, I was not allowed to take AP English,, although denied a chance at AP, one becomes lawyer and author, the other a teacher

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 09/29/2010

Teacher/blogger critiques highly ranked school

A teacher who recently worked at one of my favorite D.C. schools, Columbia Heights Education Campus High School, James Boutin, sent me a detailed critique. He said CHEC did not deserve its high rank or my praise. I invited him to state his case here, and promised to get the school's response.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 09/29/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Criticism of highly ranked Columbia Heights Education Campus High School, DCPS responds with detailed exposure of factual errors, he blogs on the school, teacher James Boutin sends long critique

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 09/24/2010

How to make teacher salaries look better

McKinsey & Company, the giant management consulting firm, has taken a deep, detailed look at teacher compensation and concluded that teachers are making significantly more than most of us, particularly our most academically successful college students, think they are.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 09/24/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Closing the talent gap,, McKinsey study shows college student underestimate how much teachers make, how to make teacher salaries look better, two average teachers married to each other are in the top 20 percent wealthiest households

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 09/14/2010

Clever way to reward teachers as teams

The unconventional proposal is to reward small teams of teachers, such as everyone teaching second grade in an elementary school, or everyone teaching Algebra I in a high school. This discards the idea of merit pay for individuals, the current fashion, and merit pay for the whole school, a favorite of mine whose flaws Marshall quickly sees.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:30 AM ET, 09/14/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Kim Marshall, individual teacher merit pay is a loser, just good evaluations, no cash, no standardized tests, try rewarding teacher teams

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 09/12/2010

Teacher in troubled school likes Rhee's impatience

Anthony Priest decided teaching math would be more interesting than his big business career, so he accepted an assignment at one of the most chaotic public schools in the region, Spingarn High in Northeast Washington. Since then, he says, he has had many adventures, including a first-hand look at the inspiring and results-oriented (at least to him) management practices of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 09/12/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Anthony Priest, Michelle A. Rhee, Rhee got it done in a day, Rhee intervenes when school in chaos, Spingarn High School, some teachers like Rhee's impatience, teacher could not get principal to fix broken door

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 09/05/2010

The real reason a whistleblowing teacher was transferred

My nominee for most effective whistleblower in the D.C. school system, Erich Martel, has finally gone too far in the eyes of some school administrators.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 09/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Erich Martel, Peter Cahall, principal and teacher disagreed over AP and learning styles, principal disliked teacher's anti-cheating methods, principal transfers teacher to distant school because of philosophical disagreements

Posted at 12:56 PM ET, 08/31/2010

America's best teacher and the L.A. Times

Once the Los Angeles Times announced it was going to release its analysis of how much value each one of 6,000 L.A. elementary school teachers had added to their classes, based on test scores, I knew I had a good test of the validity of their project. I have spent much time in room 56 at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School in Los Angeles, where fifth grade teacher Rafe Esquith has proved himself to be, in my view, the best classroom teacher in the country, and certainly in his city.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:56 PM ET, 08/31/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Testing L.A. Times teacher assessment project, but Esquith still thinks the Times project has problems, he does, many mediocre teachers at his school get high scores, will America's best teacher Rafe Esquith do well

Posted at 04:23 PM ET, 08/26/2010

Please Mr. President, don't speak on school time

Here we go again. I dodged a lot of electronic tomatoes last year for suggesting that President Obama NOT give his back-to-school speech during class time. Many readers thought that was a stupid suggestion. The president and his staff apparently agree with them, because the White House has announced he is going to do it again on Sept. 14. The White House is again encouraging schools to interrupt class so students can listen.

By Jay Mathews  |  04:23 PM ET, 08/26/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Obama speaks again on school time, a bad idea, time almost as important as teacher quality in raising achievement

Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 08/23/2010

L.A. Times testing series raises more questions

I found reading the LA Times series terrific in many ways. But the latest part was frustrating because it often fails to answer questions raised by the deep digging its reporters have done. Also, the stories seem to me to mischaracterize, in some spots, the data they present.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:40 AM ET, 08/23/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  LA Times series on teacher assessments key to education policy future, how much did schools really decline, series so far leaves some questions unanswered

Posted at 02:37 PM ET, 08/16/2010

L.A. Times report unveils teacher performance data

Anyone interesting in the raging debate over using test to rate teacher performance, in D.C. or anywhere else, should read the L.A. Times Sunday story revealing using hitherto secret data on how well L.A. Unified School District teachers' students do each year.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:37 PM ET, 08/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  L.A. Times series on teacher performance, could have huge consequences for both sides of the debate

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 08/05/2010

Jaime Escalante, Alfie Kohn, John Taylor Gatto, Frank Smith (part 2)

This is the second part of my guest columnist California high school English teacher Jerry Heverly's imagined conversation with four great education experts. Scroll down this blog for last week's first part, which introduce Heverly and four real people whom, as far as we know, never met except in Heverly's imagination.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 08/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Alfie Kohn, California English teacher Jerry Heverly's imagined conversation with education experts Jaime Escalante, John Taylor Gatto and Frank Smith

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 07/29/2010

Jaime Escalante, Alfie Kohn, John Taylor Gatto and Frank Smith

The following conversation is purely fictional. No such meeting ever took place. This is merely my attempt to guess what these four experts might say to me if I could get them all in one room at one time. I wrote this in a effort to work out my own demons, in hopes that I might increase my understanding of the failings of my own teaching methods.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 07/29/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Alfie Kohn, Jaime Escalante, John Taylor Gatto and Frank Smith, imaginary conversation between California teacher Jerry Heverly and four well-known experts

Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 04/16/2010

Brian Betts--a great loss for D.C. schools

It is difficult to adjust to any 6 a.m. phone call, but the one I received this morning was particularly jarring. Brian Betts, one of the most energetic and enthusiastic educators I have ever met, had been found dead in his home in Silver Spring, just months before what I expected would be good news about his relentless efforts to raise achievement for students at the Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:49 AM ET, 04/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Brian Betts, D.C. Teacher a great loss for D.C. Schools, Shaw Middle School are Garnet-Patterson

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 02/24/2010

Let me pick my kid's teacher

Would it be so bad if parents had a chance to tell the principal, without fear of being shunned as pushy jerks, that their child might react better to one brand of teaching than another? Many parents do this anyway, quietly. I don't see the harm in a note on the school Web site, or in the parent bulletin, telling parents the principal would be happy to hear their teacher preferences, although would of course can make no promises.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 02/24/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Ben Jimenez, Jaime Escalante, parents picking their child's teacher, principals let parents pick teachers, pushy parents, teacher shopping

Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 01/05/2010

First big crisis over for Rhee--when's the next one?

I have expressed some doubt about the significance of the latest D.C. success on federal math tests for fourth graders. But my skepticism is meaningless in this context. If the test scores look good, it is going to be hard to dislodge her, or to beat her patron Mayor Fenty in the election this year.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:01 PM ET, 01/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Bill Turque, D.C. schools, D.C. teacher contract, Michelle Rhee, Tom Toles

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 01/03/2010

Can D.C. teacher evaluations be too admiring?

Mahoney deserves his high marks. But parts of the evaluation were vague. On multiple learning styles, the report said “Mr. Mahoney attempted and effectively targeted three learning styles: visual, kinesthetic and interpersonal,” without giving any examples.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 01/03/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  D.C. IMPACT program, Dan Goldfarb, John F. Mahoney, admiring evaluators, teacher evaluations

Posted at 11:35 AM ET, 12/02/2009

Teacher incentive watch: why Prince George's County matters

What I find most appealing about FIRST is that it is voluntary---only teachers who want to participate have to. (For principals, the choice part is trickier, since they have to do the special evaluations for their participating teachers even if they don't want to try for the money themselves.) Also, for those of us who don't like the idea of bonuses based on an individual teacher's success in raising test scores, FIRST puts more emphasis on other factors.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:35 AM ET, 12/02/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Bill Hite, FIRST program, John Deasy, Prince George's County, principal incentives, teacher incentives

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 11/22/2009

D.C. expose--one teacher's evaluation

Overall, the evaluator gave the teacher only 2.3 out of a possible 4 points. Goldfarb got only 1 out of 4 points in one section for failing to post or say what the objective of the lesson was--to me unnecessary kid’s stuff for an AP class. He also got only 1 out of 4 points for not catering to multiple learning styles, even though some experts, like Willis D. Hawley of the University of Maryland, call learning style analysis “bunk.”

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 11/22/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  D.C. schools, Dan Goldfarb, IMPACT evaluation program, Jason Kamras, Michelle A. Rhee, multiple learning style, teacher evaluation

Posted at 09:59 PM ET, 11/22/2009

Dan Goldfarb's evaluation--D.C. schools and Goldfarb respond

Here are two lengthy responses to the Monday column on Dan Goldfarb's teacher evaluation, just above this blog post. First are the thoughts of Jason Kamras, the former national teacher of the year who oversees the IMPACT evaluation program for the D.C. Schools. Second is the response from Goldfarb, the subject of the column. I don't usually provide lengthy notes after every column, but in this case I thought they had many more important things to say. The Web gives journalists a chance to help readers go deeper, and I hope we continue to take advantage of it in this way.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:59 PM ET, 11/22/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  D.C. schools, Dan Goldfarb, IMPACT program, Jason Kamras, Michelle A. Rhee, multiple learning styles, teacher evaluations

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/20/2009

Why not junk teacher evaluations in favor of more preparation time?

Education consultant Ted Haynie made this provocative suggestion: "If we completely suspended the formal evaluation process for two years, the overall quality of classroom instruction would be greatly increased because the time could be spent actually discussing effective classroom practice in a collegial and more informal manner than what exists today."

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/20/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Elena Silva, Furman Brown, Generation Schools, Jonathan Spear, Ted Haynie, Willis Hawley, teacher evaluation, teacher instructional time, teacher planning time, teacher preparation, teacher teams

Posted at 11:00 PM ET, 11/08/2009

Forget about rating teachers---rate schools instead.

Those unfortunate people in the District may worry about the quality of their teachers, and wait anxiously for the results of the school system’s controversial new evaluation of classroom techniques and test score improvement. But those of us in...

By Jay Mathews  |  11:00 PM ET, 11/08/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  teacher evaluation

Posted at 02:30 PM ET, 07/28/2009

Admissions 101: Can Acerbic Students Make Good Teachers?

In his Friday column, Jay Mathews wrote about Michele Kerr, username Cal_Lanier on the boards, a California teacher who was nearly thrown out of Standford University's Teacher Education Program (STEP) for blogging about her anti-progressive (thus anti-Stanford) ideals during her...

By Sarah Mimms  |  02:30 PM ET, 07/28/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  Stanford Teacher Education Program, blogging

Posted at 03:00 AM ET, 06/26/2009

Do You Know a Great 'Surplussed' Teacher?

I’m not saying Juliet Good is the best teacher I ever saw, but she is way above average. So why did Richard Montgomery High School, a splendid institution in a wealthy Maryland suburban school system, tell her they no longer...

By Washington Post editors  |  03:00 AM ET, 06/26/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  teacher layoffs

Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 05/12/2009

Admissions 101: How qualified are AP teachers?

In Admissions 101, a conversation has been bubbling over the last week about the qualifications of most AP teachers. Patrickmattimore1 thinks teachers are well prepared: The College Board works hard to ensure that high-school teachers are qualified to teach AP...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:39 AM ET, 05/12/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  AP, teacher qualifications

Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 05/06/2009

Jay on the Web: Does Energy Outweigh Experience When It Comes to Teachers?

Jay has been generating some buzz on the web with his take last week on whether experience or energy matters most when it comes to improving education at schools in low income neighborhoods. It was a response to this Post...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:23 AM ET, 05/06/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  teacher experience