Not Tough Reading

Everyone has an opinion on the Paul Tough article in the Sunday Times Magazine, and it’s a great piece of writing you shouldn’t miss.  But, don’t let the focus on it allow you to miss another spectacular piece – Clifford Levy’s account of his family’s school experience while he was a foreign correspondent in Russia.  There’s actually some overlap but it’s also just a wonderful story.

7 Replies to “Not Tough Reading”

  1. Even better, is the article promoted on the sidebar:
    No, Serious-No Excuses”

    Paul Reville, the Massachusetts secretary of education, wrote recently in Education Week, traditional reform strategies “will not, on average, enable us to overcome the barriers to student learning posed by the conditions of poverty.” Reformers also need to take concrete steps to address the whole range of factors that hold poor students back. That doesn’t mean sitting around hoping for utopian social change. It means supplementing classroom strategies with targeted, evidence-based interventions outside the classroom: working intensively with the most disadvantaged families to improve home environments for young children; providing high-quality early-childhood education to children from the neediest families; and, once school begins, providing low-income students with a robust system of emotional and psychological support, as well as academic support.

    School reformers often portray these efforts as a distraction from their agenda — something for someone else to take care of while they do the real work of wrestling with the teachers’ unions. But in fact, these strategies are essential to the success of the school-reform movement. Pretending they are not is just another kind of excuse.

  2. Having just had a son, it made me wonder about the extent to which I would want to expose him to a similar difficult situation. I simply don’t have the heart to go this far, but I think that in this era of “helicopter parenting”, this gives us a great idea of what is possible. In teaching students about test preparation, I notice how so many students aren’t accustomed to assignments and problems that ask them to really think. The head of the school could really give some educators here some good tips.

  3. Here is a great idea.

    Break math and science AWAY from public schools.

    Set up separate magnet schools where interested students can go for a period or two a day.

    Let the MS schools operate outside the restrictions and opinions of the ignorant ed. departments and the edu-experts.

    We now have in this country an edu-industry. And it is just as bad for taxpayers as the military industrial complex.

  4. The reform movement pays HUGE salaries, largely hidden from the public.

    These carpet baggers move around the nation sucking down vast sums of district budgets with unproven claims and strategies.

    Math and science teachers ARE COMPELLED TO INCORPORATE these failed methods in their classrooms.


    The only solution is very simple: Competent teachers must break away and set up competing solutions that will suck the paychecks away from these experts.

    Teachers must enter markets and offer their own educational products and reap those rewards.

    Right now they are indentured servants, losing at least 3/4 of their productivity to an enormous bureaucracy that adds little or no value.

    It is the only viable solution. Teachers must break away.

    And that means NO UNION.

  5. This blog is wonderful for administrators and edu-experts that are looking for the new chain of slogans to deliver at their next meeting with parents or the public.

    Please read the article and then ask yourself this important question. Exactly WHAT did this guy say, and exactly how do I know it will work, and exactly what are the steps to improvement.

    Geez, that at least is the MINIMUM for a math or physics course.

  6. I’m surprised to hear that anyone would suggest that teaching students to be people of strong character is inimical or irrelevant to classroom success, or for that matter success beyond our classrooms.

    The author’s main thesis appears to be that teachers and students can reliably evaluate character, that teachers can help students develop character traits, and that certain character traits are beneficial later in life.

    Certainly, this article alone isn’t enough for a school or district to embark on a completely new way of classroom management or school-wide character education, let alone giving families a character report card, but I know that my students receive more from me than the content of my lessons, whether I want them to or not. At least with a focused way of thinking about the values that I want my students to learn from me, I might be able to model them in my instruction more effectively.

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