*I Am Not Tom Brady*

Why are urban teachers being trained to be robots?

By Amy Berard
*Give him a warning,* said the voice through the earpiece I was wearing. I did Tom Bradyas instructed, speaking in the emotionless monotone I’d been coached to use. But the student, a sixth grader with some impulsivity issues and whose trust I’d spent months working to gain, was excited and spoke out of turn again. *Tell him he has a detention,* my earpiece commanded. At which point the boy stood up and pointed to the back of the room, where the three classroom *coaches* huddled around a walkie talkie. *Miss: don’t listen to them! You be you. Talk to me! I’m a person! Be a person, Miss. Be you!* Continue reading →

Data Drives the Bus (Over a Cliff)

And some parents say *enough* to a district’s assessment craze…

bus 3It’s field trip time and today we’re headed to the scenic seaside community of Salem, Massachusetts. When last we stopped by to *discover the magic of Salem,* we also discovered a school system gone wild for *bigger rigor,* especially for young Salem-ites who hail from the city’s less, well, luxurious lanes. But one child’s opportunity gap is an opportunity for a savvy eduprenueur, and edupreneurial opportunities abound here these days. Buckle up reader, because it’s time to board the data bus. Continue reading →

A Happy, Good News Story

In which we visit one of my all-time favorite programs and learn the surprising reason for its success

A student in the Andover Bread Loaf writing program in Lawrence shares her work.

It’s field trip time, reader, and I’ve got a special treat in store for you today: an actual good news story. So turn that frown upside down and climb aboard—we’re headed to Lawrence, Massachusetts, a city not exactly known for good news.Today’s destination has nothing to do with the grand experiment in education reform that’s currently underway on both sides of the Spicket River (remember this is a good news story). Instead we’re here to drop by one of my all-time favorite programs: Andover Bread Loaf—a writing workshop led by and for students in the Lawrence Public Schools.
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Lawrence: City of the Scammed

Ground zero for edu-shysterism in Massachusetts these days is the City of Lawrence.

In order to solve its many problems, new teachers must be imported into Lawrence, preferably teachers who know nothing about the city, its culture or its history.

Ground zero for edu-shysterism in Massachusetts these days is Lawrence. But don’t take my word for it. Savor the rich bouquet and heady aroma that is the official Lawrence Public Schools District Turnaround Plan. This gem of a document is so jargon-studded, so rife with edu-cliches, that steam seems to rise from its very pages. Here’s the gist. Lawrence, with the lowest median income in Massachusetts and a cast of cartoonishly corrupt public officials, has one big problem: its teachers SUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Or at least that’s what our va-genius educrat leaders would have us believe. This jargon-palooza of a plan has a bold solution to the “problem” afflicting the Lawrence Public Schools: bring in tons of brand new teachers, ideally teachers who know absolutely nothing about the City of Lawrence, its culture or its history. Continue reading →