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Morning Shots

How do I react?

Nancy: Joe, did Barack just endorse charter schools as an example of what’s working in public education?
Joe: I think he did.
Nancy: Everyone looks like they are about to applaud. What should we do?
Joe: Do you think the cameras are on us right now?
Nancy: I don’t know. Maybe they’re taking a shot of Landrieu. She’s all over charters down there in Louisiana.
Joe: My state has given charters a real rough time lately, and I don’t think my constituents donors would appreciate my showing any support.
Nancy: Mine neither. What should we do?
Joe: Let’s just scowl. It always worked for Cheney. I don’t know if he ever smiled at these things.

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Be Nice??

benicecookieThat’s what the union wants KIPP to be – Nice. In the opinion of the American Federation of Teachers, “nice” means giving them what they want, regardless of whether it’s good for kids. Through its NYC affiliate, the AFT has launched a campaign to pressure the leadership of KIPP AMP Academy‘s Brooklyn campus to accept the union as the leader of its teachers. KIPP hasn’t moved to recognize the union, so its leaders are striking back.

Be Nice, they say in a new PR campaign. It’s a clever turn of phrase on the motto of the Knowledge is Power Program, the nationwide network that has re-educated thousands of children nationwide who had been failed miserably by conventional public schools. But they are missing something. “Work Hard” is how the motto begins. “Work Hard, Be Nice.” The two phrases go together. Deliberately. That’s what the teachers who now want a break signed up to do – Work Hard. We wonder -is it nice to take a job in a school that you know requires long hours and arduous work, and then go behind the backs of your leadership and fellow teachers and ask a militant national union to come in and rob children of the first opportunity they’ve ever had to learn?

As in most of the charter schools that came before and since KIPP, success comes precisely because of their independence from onerous contracts and the flexibility afforded by the charter to be able to design programs without top down interference. KIPP sets an ambitious path for staff and students – 7:30 to 5:30 every weekday, Saturday work and summer requirements. That’s one key reason their students perform exceptionally well, despite their disadvantages, the same disadvantages that other

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Teacher Trifecta

CER’s recent monograph, Mandate for Change, pinpoints teacher quality as one in a five-part prescription for what ails public education in America today. Richard Whitmire’s essay lays out a compelling argument for addressing the way teachers are evaluated, cautioning “Effective teachers make a difference and the current system does next to nothing to reward effective teaching.”

Here are three examples of teaching/teachers at work for students:

sweating_the_small_stuff_cover1) The new paternalism

David Whitman spoke last Thursday at a CER event about his book Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. Whitman dedicated a section of both his talk and the book to a discussion focused on the aspects of a paternalistic teaching/learning environment. Here are but three examples:

  • Provide teachers with more on-site training and new opportunities to review student progress and discipline problems, and to observe other teachers’ classrooms.
  • Principals, with assistance from teachers, need to create a sense of mission and concern for student character. They should enlist all staff in attaining their goals, including the secretaries and janitors.

Finally, hire principals and teachers who like — and celebrate — their students. (more…)

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