September 8, 2015

Whitmire With Russakoff, Great Leaders, California Test Data, Teacher Prep, and Models Amongst Us!

By Bellwether

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Richard Whitmire talks with Dale Russakof about “The Prize” and the issues the story raises in a RealClearEducation exclusive.

Dan Willingham wants better teacher preparation. His argument is fundamentally about scale. How do you design effective teacher preparation programs that pitch at the average – because, by definition, in a four million plus workforce that’s what a lot of people will be. Although what he calls for is happening in some ed schools, it’s not happening at anything near scale anywhere. The problems with teacher preparation he identifies? Turns out they’re really scalable!

This Washington State charter school ruling (pdf) is a mess and potentially disruptive for students. And it shows the folly of elected judges (stuff like this just makes people cynical about government). But, elected judges are a problem that extends far beyond this particular case and isn’t really a novel problem either…

California officials are right, don’t panic about the new test scores coming out this fall (Wait, did you say fall? Weren’t the new tests supposed to give faster more usable and actionable feedback for teachers?). Anyhow, what you might want to panic about, at least a little, Californians, is that your education officials thought it was OK to try to hide the ball on school performance and pulled this clown car stunt.

Ted Sizer was one of the great ones in this sector. Ron Matus points out his support for school choice. Sizer wasn’t a big fan of much of what goes on with standardized testing (though he wasn’t hostile to good tests (the MCAS for instance in his state of Massachusetts) but he realized if you weren’t going to have testing you had to have an alternative, which leads you to choice. He also was keenly aware of trade-offs and understood every approach had obvious problems and drawbacks. Too little of that around.  I talked with him about some of this a decade ago for an ES interview.

Speaking of impactful leaders, Thomas Sobol has passed. The Times on his life and work here. (And it turns out Diane Ravitch can even politicize an obit these days. I’d insert a joke here but, well, anyway she has a skill or something…)

The Limited is using leaders rather than models in its new campaign. There is at least one education leader in the mix, Nitzan Pelman, at the top, 4th from left.

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