Vicki Cobb: Why Teaching and Learning Cannot Be “Scaled Up”

Kiersten Marek:

This is, in my humble opinion, the crux of the matter. Not everything can be turned into an automated process.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Vicki Cobb, a prolific writer of science books for children, is offended by the simplistic idea that education practices can be “scaled up,” just like manufacturing processes. Standardized testing is the quintessence of “one size fits all.”

She writes:

“Let me explain why. The very nature of “standardized” testing runs counter to the work of educators and to the notion of America as a haven for the individual worth of each human being.

“There are certain professions that are considered “high touch.” Nursing, for example, is about patient care and “care” is the operative word. Nurses deliver human kindness to people who are not at the top of their game. A patient may want a glass of water, but getting it from a robot is not the same as interacting with another human being. Teaching is another “high touch” profession. Children learn because of the relationship established between them…

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New York Times: Opt Out Becomes a Powerful Political Force

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Elizabeth Harris and Ford Fessenden wrote an article that just went online in The Néw York Times about the stunning growth of the Opt Out movement in Néw York state. Its numbers have increased dramatically in only two years.

The movement is now a potent political force:

“As the vanguard of an anti-testing fervor that has spread across the country, New York’s opt-out movement already has become a political force. Just two months ago, lawmakers from both parties, at the behest of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, increased the role of test scores in teacher evaluations and tenure decisions.

“Those same legislators are now tripping over one another to introduce bills that guarantee the right to refuse to take tests. The high numbers will also push state and federal officials to make an uncomfortable decision: whether to use their power to financially punish districts with low participation rates.”


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Arnold Foundation Launches New Evidence-Based Policy Division

Kiersten Marek:

Some followup discussion on the need for findings to be “verified to ensure research is not subject to bias or political manipulations.” Thanks,!

Originally posted on Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences:

The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, equivalent to CEGA’s domestic counterpart and a leading force working to institutionalize evidence-based policy making, will merge with one of its funders, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF). Also a funder of BITSS, LJAF will integrate the staff of the Coalition into its newly established Evidence-Based Policy and Innovation division. The mission of the new division will be very similar to the one of the Coalition it is replacing which will close down its operations in the next few days and transition its staff to the LJAF in the coming weeks.

According to a LJAF press release, the evidence-based policy subdivision, that will be led by Jon Baron, the former president of the Coalition, will focus on “strategic investments in rigorous evaluations, collaborations with policy officials to advance evidence-based reforms, and evidence reviews to identify promising and proven programs” (LJAF). The innovation subdivision, to be led by Kathy Stack, former…

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The Facebook Effect (On Real Estate Prices)

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Four years ago, Facebook announced that they were decamping to Menlo Park from their longstanding home of Palo Alto. Just last month, the company finally cut the ribbons on a beautiful 430,000-square foot building designed by Frank Gehry that is basically one giant, open-air room with an enormous park on top.

The effect on the prices of surrounding real estate has been profound.

If you look at the chart below, published last week in the Almanac and Palo Alto Weekly, the price increases are mainly concentrated in Menlo Park and the neighboring city of East Palo Alto.


East Palo Alto is a historically black and now majority Latino community that took shape more than half a century ago through a legacy of racially discriminatory practices in Bay Area housing markets. Given that it is the most affordable community left in Silicon Valley, the city’s economy also supplies low-wage labor to the neighboring affluent suburbs of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. It…

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Defending the Early Years Publishes a New Report Explaining What Young Children Should Learn

Kiersten Marek:

The importance of cultivating innate learning and exploration in young children.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Defending the Early Years is an organization of professionals who have devoted themselves to early childhood education. DEY has just published a new report by Lillian G. Katz, Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois, called Lively Minds: Distinctions Between Academic Versus Intellectual Goals for Young Children.

This comes from DEY’s website:

Dr. Katz argues that the common sense notion that “earlier is better” is not supported by longitudinal studies of the effects of different kinds of preschool curriculum models. Furthermore, her report maintains that a narrow academic curriculum does not recognize the innate inquisitiveness of young children and ultimately fails to address the way they learn.

“Young children enter the classroom with lively minds–with innate intellectual dispositions toward making sense of their own experience, toward reasoning, predicting, analyzing, questioning and learning,” says Dr. Katz.

“But in our attempt to quantify and verify children’s learning, we…

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Long Island Superintendent Gamberg Tells Parents How to Opt Out

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

David Gamberg, superintendent of schools in Greenport and Southold, two neighboring towns on the North Fork of Long Island in Néw York, sent a letter home to parents, outlining the procedure they should follow if they don’t want their child to take the Common Core tests.

He assured parents that students will not be compelled to “sit and stare,” a punitive approach in some districts.

An enlightened educator, Gamberg is a strong supporter of the arts in schools. The elementary school in Southold has its own orchestra and a vegetable garden where children raise food for the cafeteria.

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Pawtucket Teacher Reinstated After Stern Reprimand by Administrators

Kiersten Marek:

Home state news!

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Bill Ashton, a teacher in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was suspended for discussing opting out with his students. They launched a campaign to “Bring Back Ashton,” and he was reinstated.

But the leaders of the school and the district made it clear that he had violated district policy and was on thin ice. They accused him of editing anti-testing fliers that ridiculed the Rhode Island Department io Education. They were especially angry that his son was leading an anti-testing protest.

“Ashton was sent home on paid leave last Friday after telling students at the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts that the school would not lose funding if they did not take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, according to a letter written that same day by JMW Principal Elizabeth Fasteson. Ashton was back to work on Tuesday morning, according to school.”

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