Last week’s attempt to help my fellow educators achieve self-improvement (by expanding their knowledge of their content) met with rave reviews, so I am excited to bring you the sequel.
In this installment, I’ll be sharing resources that a teacher can use to “Be a Part of the Debate”. If you have decided that in 2008 you want to learn more about the major policy issues affecting educators in this country, these tools should help set you on the path. Who knows, you may even decide that you want to “make a difference”! Crazy, I know.
1.) One of the most contentious issues in the national education arena right now is the faltering reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, pronounced “nickel-bee” by the education wonks). To find out more about this process, check out these resources:
2.) Discussions of No Child Left Behind often boil down to how learning is assessed. One of the greatest collections of writing about modern assessment is the Bond Essays from the Carnegie Foundation, written by psychometrician Lloyd Bond. In the words of Pat Hutchins, who writes the introduction to the essays,
“Assessment isn’t just for the experts anymore: it is the responsibility of all of us to understand its issues and possibilities.”
When you’ve worked your way through that last one, check out the North Central Region Educational Laboratory (NCREL) and its section on Assessment.
3.) Trying to decide which U.S. presidential candidate shares your views on education? Education Week magazine’s website has a fantastic graphical side-by-side comparison. While you’re at it, use this tool from Minnesota Public Radio to answer a few questions and find the candidate that fits you. And, be sure to visit OnTheIssues.com Education page for in-depth coverage of the education records and platforms of each presidential candidate.
4.) Need to read? There is an extensive library of books and magazines that cover the fields of education policy and reform, and here are some recommendations:
This collection from the editors of Education Week celebrates their 25th anniversary with commentaries from well-known luminaries, such as Bill Clinton and Fred “Mr.” Rogers.
A powerful discussion of the weaknesses of NCLB, authored by some of the most prominent educators in America. What I respect most is that they don’t just point out that the “emperor has no clothes”, but actually put forth viable alternatives.
I don’t normally endorse the work of “made-for-television-movie” teachers (I think that it’s a personal ego problem of mine), but Rafe Esquith has a thoughtful, self-reflective style that is captivating for the reader. Read ’em both, and thank me later.
5.) What will you do with all of your new-found knowledge and power? Start with letters to your state and national elected representatives (email is easy, snail mail has more impact). Join a local/state/national teachers organization, such as the NEA or AFT or a subject–area group. For a chunk of your precious income, these groups will keep you in the know, lobby on your behalf, and give you leadership opportunities. To paraphrase JFK, “Ask not what your national education system can do for you, ask what you can do for them.”
Now that you’re ready to be a “playah” in the world of education reform, go out and change the world. Think that you know better than this guy? You probably do, so leave a comment. But, don’t forget to check back soon for the next installment of Teachers’ New Year’s Resolutions when we tackle bringing some simple technological tools into your classroom.