Mind the Gap: Why It’s Time to Stop Talking about the Achievement Gap

The achievement gap has driven education reform for the past twenty years. Guest David Stevens says it’s time to stop talking about the achievement gap and focus instead on the “headwinds” and “tailwinds” that hold some students back while pushing others along. With the pandemic exacerbating the inequality between students, Stevens’ alternative approach, what he calls the Academic Support Index, has never been more relevant. You’ll be inspired and encouraged, and you’ll understand exactly why Stevens is the winner of the 2020 Have You Heard Graduate Student Research Contest. 

Complete transcript of the episode is here. The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Subscribe on Patreon or donate on PayPal.

Jennifer and Jack’s forthcoming book A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School, is now available for preorder!

The Credibility Gap

What if the *solution* turns out to be a big part of the problem?

credibility gapBy Sarah Lahm
Friends, we have a problem on our hands. It turns out that experienced teachers—otherwise known as LIFO lifers—may not be causing the chasm of the achievement gap all by their lazy little selves. Now you’re probably thinking to yourself at this point: *color me confused.* After all, everyone who is anyone has been telling us for about as long as we can remember now that there is a money-back guaranteed way to boost all children up, no matter their zip code or lack thereof: de-tenurize teachers and take their golden *seniority* tickets while we’re at it.  Continue reading →

Top 10 Reasons to Join Teach For America

Did you miss the last application deadline for Teach for America? Fret not, young reader—you still have three more weeks before the next and final deadline to join the 2014 corps.

By Jay Saper, TFA reject

TFA reject Jay Saper with AFT president Randi Weingarten.

1. Teach for America saves taxpayers a fortune. Let’s face it: ending poverty in this country would cost a fortune. That’s why instead of focusing on what we don’t have—say, a place to sleep for all of our children—TFA aims its laser of excellence on what we have plenty of: lazy teachers who confess to only working half-time and should be displaced. Think about it. The federal government would have to spend untold billions to deal seriously with poverty and its ills. Instead, taxpayers are only on the hook for the hundreds of millions that TFA gets to remind us that poverty is merely an excuse. Continue reading →

The Incredible, True (and Not at All Excellent) Adventures of a Teacher in Charterland

Meet Norah. Two years ago, this artist and professional story teller landed her dream job teaching performing arts at a Massachusetts charter school. But as Norah quickly discovered, dreaming is impossible when you don’t have time to sleep. Armed with a sense of humor and a prescription for Adderall, Norah works 100+ hour weeks and does her best to carry out an ever-changing array of administrative orders at a school where every decision is data driven and closing the achievement gap is no laughing matter. Norah’s one-woman show, “Charter School is English for Gulag,” catalogues her year-long adventures in charterland. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll reach for your wine box…

Watch part 2
Watch part 3

A Whiteous Cause

Introducing a new concept: “whiteousness,”  the unshakable belief that one knows what’s best for others, especially those of other races or lower income brackets.

Achievement-gap-measures that are all the rage in education reform circles are often fueled by a sense of “whiteousness.”

Today I invite you to ponder one of the great questions of our age: How can I pull down some serious cheddar in the name of the achievement gap? How has the civil rights issue of our time turned out to be the source of so many civil wrongs? Last week, a patchwork of groups from across the country filed civil rights complaints claiming that school closures and turnarounds are hurting minority students. In what can only be described as ironical, officials from the same Obama administration that hatched the achievement gap closing policies will now look into the whether those policies have violated civil rights. Continue reading →