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Articles - Reform Issues

Articles - Union Issues

Articles - Other

Books - Reform

Books - Union

Books - Technology in Education

Books - Textbooks

Studies, etc.



Articles - Reform Issues


The entire December 2013 Education Matters, the newsletter of the American Association of Educators, concerns itself with Common Core. To read articles pro and con, go here.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a collaborative effort among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, and regularly tests in reading, math and science. There has been much written about the 2013 results, which reveal that the U.S. is not faring well. In a Time Magazine article,StudentsFirst’s Michelle Rhee paints a gloomy picture – while over at Education Week, AEI’s Rick Hess writes “7 Reasons I Don't Care About the PISA Results.

CitizenshipFirst’s aim is to “become the country’s most creative driver of civic-education innovation.  Through creative advocacy, in-school programs, research and reports, CitizenshipFirst aims to remind educators, policymakers and all Americans that the founding purpose of education was to prepare our nation’s young people for self-government—and that restoring the civic mission of education must be an urgent national priority.” To learn more, go here.

Learning by rote memory has gotten a bad rap of late, but is there a place for it? New York teacher and writer David Bonagura certainly thinks there is. In “What's 12 x 11? Um, Let Me Google That,” he makes a strong case. To read this important article, go here.

George Leef, Director of Research of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, has written a provocative piece which claims that American schools of education are “A Key Reason Why American Students Do Poorly.” To read  Dr. Leef’s piece in Forbes go here.

Common Core will affect just about every public school teacher in California. While there is no shortage of articles on the national standards – pro and con – we found this one to be especially poignant. Koret Task Force scholar Eric Hanushek views it as a distraction. To read what he wrote in US News & World Report, go here.

Are you a tough teacher? Do you call your kids “idiots” when they screw up? My guess that you don’t and that a vast majority would find this abusive. But writer Joannne Lipman has another take. In The Wall Street Journal, she makes a compelling case for the opposite in “Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results.” To continue reading this thoughtful and controversial piece, please go here.

In The Atlantic, Christina Hoff Sommers writes “The Bizarre, Misguided Campaign to Get Rid of Single-Sex Classrooms.” She takes the ACLU and like-minded groups to task for comparing single sex classrooms to racially segregated classes. To read the piece, go here.

Erik Hanushek et al have written Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School. In an interview, Hanushek delivers 5 important points:

  1. We are not competitive internationally in terms of our schools and the skills of our population.
  2. Other countries have shown that it is possible to improve. Indeed some of our states have shown the same thing: Maryland, Delaware, Florida, and Massachusetts,
  3. If we can improve, the potential economic gains are huge. If we do not improve, we will be seriously hurt in the future – and the era of the “American Century” could come to an end.
  4. A number of people – particularly those currently working in the schools – resist the fundamental changes that are needed, but we must find a way to improve our schools.
  5. Improving our schools is not a partisan issue but one that faces all of our citizens.

Education Matters,
a publication of the Association of American Educators, has a very interesting cover story in its March 2013 issue. “International Case Study: Real Lessons from Finland” by Fordham Institute scholar Kathleen Porter-Magee examines how Finland developed a world-class education system. But can we replicate Finland, using their methods as a roadmap? To learn more, go to here.

Early childhood education continues to be a hot topic, with various pundits and politicians claiming that money spent on pre-school will reap benefits far exceeding the costs of such an endeavor. However, there is another side to this story, as Reason Foundation’s Lisa Snell and Shikha Dalmia write in the Wall Street Journal. To read their op-ed, go here.

Jay Greene has written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that will get mixed reactions from teachers. To read “The Imaginary Teacher Shortage,” go here.

A diverse community of thought leaders in education policy, teaching, technology, higher education, parenting and the education media write about and analyze the important education issues of the day - and then discuss them with you. To access Education Debate, please go here.

Nobody Deserves Tenure is a provocative article by Chester Finn. The article's title clearly articulates his point of view.

Common Core Standards or National Standards - courtesy of the President Obama's Race to the Top program - are coming. The idea to further nationalize education has drawn fire from most education reformers, but states are still signing on to it in the hope of receiving more federal dollars. Here are 3 articles - against, for and middling.

Andrew Coulson has written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that is quite controversial. “America Has Too Many Teachers” goes against the grain, to put it mildly. To read this provocative piece, go here.

Better schools for less money? Marcus Winters thinks this is possible by giving individual schools more autonomy. He makes a good case for it here.

The Open Enrollment Act lets parents whose children attend the lowest-performing 1,000 schools in California opt out and send their kids to a higher-performing, non-charter public school anywhere in the state.

Janine Caffrey, whose writing we have featured before, is now the new Perth Amboy, NJ schools superintendent. Recently, she wrote a guest op-ed for the Star Ledger in which she makes a passionate plea for eliminating teacher tenure laws. To read her piece, go here.

Education researcher Marcus Winters claims that a teacher compensation system “based on additional academic credit and experience makes sense only if those factors are actually related to classroom effectiveness. They aren't.” This article explains that the way most teachers are paid is wrong.

Salman Khan has stepped to the forefront of what is called “blended learning” – a mixture of online and teacher driven instruction. For more information, go here. To watch a video of Khan go here

In an exceptional blog post that every math teacher should read, Matthew Tabor writes about the type of question that every math teacher gets sooner or later. “Am I ever going to use this?” Or, “Why do we have to learn this?” Tabor answers these questions quite effectively. To read his post, go here.

Koret Task Force scholar Eric Hanushek discusses how best to deal with our fiscal budgetary woes in education – in a nutshell, get rid of bad teachers. The slightly larger classes that students would experience would be with better teachers. To read more, go here.

To read about a promising new pay for performance plan in Colorado, go here and from CA teacher Michele Kerr - a very interesting idea on the same subject in a Washington Post op-ed

A Wall Street Journal op-ed by former teacher and principal, Timothy Knowles, explains that to make teaching a true profession, we must eliminate tenure.

Amongst those who favor some kind of pay-for-performance, there are many different ideas about how to implement such a program. Here, education researcher Dan Goldhaber weighs in, concluding that entire schools, not individual teachers should be rewarded.

Tenure for teachers? Steven Sawchuk at Education Week sums it all up well here.

John Paul Gatto, former New York City and NY State Teacher of the Year and has some very interesting ideas about what education should look like and it is nothing like what exists today.

Janine Walker Caffrey currently works with the Board of Education in New York City and recently wrote an excellent blog piece - Stop the Blame! in which she says that real reform will begin only when all the various factions - teachers, media, schools, etc. stop blaming each other for the problem and step back and rationally analyze what needs to be done.

Teacher Choice, by Alveda King

Teaching Boys and Girls Separately by Elizabeth Weil

Common Core Standards or National Standards - courtesy of the President Obama's Race to the Top program - are coming. The idea to further nationalize education has drawn fire from most education reformers, but states are still signing on to it in the hope of receiving more federal dollars. Here are 3 articles - against, for and middling.

National standards? Two views - Chester Finn and Jay Greene.

Last hired, first fired? A balanced view from Heather Wolpert-Gawron

George Leef claims that much could be improved by overhauling our schools of education. To read Dr. Leef's article, go here.

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Articles - Union Issues

Teachers unions face moment of truth” by Politico’s Stephanie Simon claims that “teachers unions are facing tumultuous times. Long among the wealthiest and most powerful interest groups in American politics, the unions are grappling with financial, legal and public-relations challenges as they fight to retain their clout and build alliances with a public increasingly skeptical of big labor.” To read more, go here.

The worst union in the country? Troy Senik writes that it is the California Teachers Association.

There is an excellent back and forth between Jay Greene and Richard Kahlenberg in the Winter 2012 issue of Education Next. “Unions and the Public Interest - Is collective bargaining for teachers good for students?” To read it, go to - http://educationnext.org/unions-and-the-public-interest/

In The National Education Association and State Affiliates: A $1.5 Billion Annual Enterprise, Mike Antonucci lists the NEA and state affiliate revenues for 2008-2009.

In The Long Reach of the Teachers Unions, Mike Antonucci tells us of the amazing political reach of the teachers' unions and their massive war chests. If you are unaware of how politically powerful the NEA really is, or if you know someone else in this category, this is the article to read and disseminate.

For those who want to have a fundamental understanding of teacher contracts -- how they are structured, how do different contracts compare, etc., Andrew Rotherham of Eduwonk fame has written the very valuable Understanding Teacher Contracts.

Dr. Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles , goes into depth about the heavy-handedness of the California Faculty Association. CFA is one of the largest academic unions in the U.S. , representing 23,000 faculty, counselors, librarians, and coaches on the 23 Cal State University campuses. To read this eye-opening article, go here,

Andrew Coulson has written an exceptional article in which he contends that the unions effects on collective bargaining are trivial. He claims that their key success has been their effective lobbying to maintain the educational status quo. To read this provocative article, go here.

Politics As Usual for Teachers Union: From anti-Israel rallies to incoherence on school reform, the union places politics above helping students. Oct. 8, 2006

A Few Things All Educators Should Know About Teacher Unions --- But the National Education Association Won't Tell Them by David Denholm

Kill Union Special Interests by Cindy Omlin and Mark Mix

Ed Ring has written a very hard-hitting article which explores the vast amounts of money that the teachers' unions and other public employee unions spend on politics in California. To read it, go here.

Teachers' Pets -- Wall Street Journal editorial explains where the NEA is spending your dues

The NEA Pyramid - The View Changes as You Rise to the Top of the Nation's Largest Union -- a Special Report of the Educational Intelligence Agency

Union's Advice Is Failing Teachers by Kathy Kristof

NEA, AFT Annual Meetings Resemble Political Conventions by Ted. P. O'Neil

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Articles - Other

How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?  by Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters

Management 101 for Our Public Schools by Terry M. Moe

Teachers, did you forget to do your homework on 403(b) plans? by Lynn O'Shaughnessy

Poor government oversight could be turning the nation's free and reduced lunch program into something of a racket. To read David Bass' troubling article, go here.

Books - Reform

Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside Paperback by Barry Garelick  

Push Has Come to Shove by Steve Perry

Obama’s Education Takeover - by Lance T. Izumi

Why America Needs School Choice by Jay P. Greene

Inside American Education by Thomas Sowell

No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning by Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom

Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice by Lance T. Izumi, Vicki E. Murray and Rachel Chaney with Ruben Patterson and Rosemarie Fusano

Crazy Like a Fox by Dr. Ben Chavis with Carey Blakely

What's Gone Wrong In America's Classrooms - edited by Williamson Evers

A Choice for Our Children by Alan Bonsteel and Carlos A. Bonilla

Learning As We Go; Why School Choice is Worth the Wait by Paul T. Hill

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Books - Union

Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America's Public Schools by Terry M. Moe

Understanding Teacher Contracts by Andrew Rotherham

Free Choice For Workers -- A History of the Right To Work Movement by George C. Leef

Power Grab - How the National Education Association is Betraying Our Children by G. Gregory Moo

The Teacher's Unions -- How They Sabotage Educational Reform and Why by Myron Lieberman

The Worm in the Apple -- How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education by Peter Brimelow

The War Against Hope - How Teachers' Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education by former U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr.  Rod Paige

Understanding The Teacher Union Contract: A Citizen's Handbook by Myron Lieberman


Books - Technology in Education

Short Circuited: The Challenges Facing the Online Learning Revolution in California - by Lance T. Izumi, Vicki E. Murray, Evelyn B. Stacey, Rachel S. Chaney, and Ian D. Randolph

Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education by Terry M. Moe and John E. Chubb

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Books - Textbooks

The Trouble With Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion by Gary Tobin and Dennis Ybarra

Studies, etc.

-- Jan. 2014 - The National Council on Teacher Quality has a new study which examines “the extent to which America's traditional teacher preparation programs offer future teachers research-based strategies to help them better manage their classroom from the start of their teaching career.

-- August 2013 - Ending Summer Vacation is Long Overdue – Here’s How to Pay for It

-- May 2013 -We have compiled some data that is not typically available at one's fingertips. If you find anything that you think is erroneous, please let us know.

-- Apr. 2013
- Researcher Greg Forster recently released his latest study on school choice. A few of the key findings:

  • Twelve empirical studies have examined academic outcomes for school choice participants using random assignment, the “gold standard” of social science. Of these, 11 find that choice improves student outcomes—six that all students benefit and five that some benefit and some are not affected. One study finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found a negative impact.
  • Twenty-three empirical studies (including all methods) have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools.
  • Six empirical studies have examined school choice’s fiscal impact on taxpayers. All six find that school choice saves money for taxpayers. No empirical study has found a negative fiscal impact.

To read more, go here.

-- Jan. 2013
- Every year, NCTQ puts out a yearbook, a 52-volume, 9,000-page compendium examining the state of the states on their policies to promote teacher quality.

-- Oct. 2012
- From the Fordham Institute, in conjunction with Education Reform Now (an arm of DFER), we now have a state-by-state comparison of teacher union power. There are several surprises here. For example, the Alabama (right-to-work state) teachers union is considered more powerful than the union in non-right-to-work Massachusetts. To watch a brief video about the study and to read the study itself, go here.

-- Oct. 2012
- On the subject of spending, the Friedman Foundation has come out with a staggering study which claims that, “America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students. To read more and download the study, go here.

-- Sept. 2012
- The always interesting Education Next yearly survey is out. One of the things that makes their polling different from others is that they will ask a question like, “Do you think that teachers are paid enough?” Then they will tell those being polled what teachers make and then repeat the question. Needless to say, the second response is frequently different than the first one. To access the survey’s results, go here.

-- July 2012
- According to a report released by the Education Action Group, the teachers’ contract in Los Angeles is costing the city, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, unnecessary millions that it can ill afford to spend at this time. “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools” gives us the gory details. To read the report, go here.  

-- May 2012
- Professor Jay Greene claims that “Charter Benefits Are Proven by the Best Evidence” and that “opponents of charter schools have no equally rigorous evidence on their side.

-- Mar. 2012 - A report by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst Office tackles the teacher layoff process in California. March Reduction In Force notices, seniority, bureaucratic bloat, etc. are all dealt with in a fair and unbiased way. To read the report, go here.

-- Feb. 2012
- Students enrolled in the Milwaukee voucher program are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college than their public school counterparts, boast significantly improved reading scores, represent a more diverse cross-section of the city, and are improving the results of traditional public school students. To read more about this study, go here.

-- Nov. 2011
- In North Carolina, the results of a study were released which show that giving public school students a choice as to which public school they can go to dramatically lowers the crime rate. Interestingly, the choices in this study are limited to traditional public schools – no charters schools or vouchers are involved. To read more, go here.

-- Nov. 2011 - A couple of researchers at the Heritage Foundation suggest that teachers are paid too much.  To read the report, go here. The authors of the study summarized their findings in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.  

-- Oct. 2011
- Jay Greene and Josh McGee have developed a database which enables anyone to learn how their school district shapes up next to not only others in their state and country, but to other countries also. To learn more and explore The Global Report Card, go here (http://globalreportcard.org/

-- Aug. 2011 - A new study from the National Center for Education Information deals with reform, union issues, etc.

-- July 2011 - According to NCTQ, the new IMPACT teacher evaluation system in Washington D.C. is working out quite well. For more info, go here.

-- May 2011
- Four day work week for schools? May be worth a try. For more, go here

-- Apr. 2011 - A Harvard Study Shows that Lecture-Style Presentations Lead to Higher Student Achievement.

-- Jan. 2011 - In a time when student testing has gotten a very bad name, a new study has emerged which shows that testing actually helps students learn. The study claims that testing and a reading theory developed in 1946 remain great learning tools. To read more, go here and here.

-- Dec. 2010 - Seniority is examined in a study by the Center for Education Data and Research at the University of Washington. Dan Goldhaber, lead author of the study and the center's director "projected that student achievement after seniority-based layoffs would drop by an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 months of learning per student, when compared to laying off the least effective teachers." Goldhaber then added, "If your bottom line is student achievement, then this is not the best system," To read more, go here.  To access the study, go here.

-- Dec. 2010 - Performance pay is examined in depth in a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Restructuring Teacher Pay To Reward Excellence can be found here.

-- Nov. 2010 - "Percentage of U.S. Students Achieving at Advanced Levels in Math Trails Most Industrialized Nations.” This in-depth study, sponsored by Education Next, is very troubling. It asserts that "New analysis finds U.S. ranked 31st out of 56 countries in the percentage of students performing at a high level of accomplishment, trailing Korea, Canada, the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Poland and Lithuania, among others." For more information, the press release and a link to the study can be found here.

-- Feb. 2010 - The National Council on Teacher Quality has published a report about seniority and layoffs called Teacher Layoffs: Rethinking "Last-Hired, First-Fired" Policies.

-- Jan. 2010 - Andrew Coulson has written an exceptional article in which he contends that the unions effects on collective bargaining are trivial. He claims that their key success has been their effective lobbying to maintain the educational status quo. To read this provocative article, go here.

-- Nov. 2009 - In a recent study, researcher Michael Lovenheim found that "...unionization had no discernible effects on average teacher pay or per-student district expenditures in Iowa , Minnesota or Indiana from 1972 to 1991." To read more about this study, cited in the Nov. 30, 2009 NCTQ Bulletin, please go here.

-- Oct. 2009 - The Destruction of a Profession is a must read for anyone who has an interest in public education. This blog post references a new study, Teaching for a Living: How Teachers See the Profession Today , which claims that 40% of public school teachers are "disheartened." To read the full report, please go here.

-- Oct. 2009 - In a RAND Corporation study , conducted in New York City , we learn that ending social promotion is indeed beneficial for students. The various self-esteem counterarguments are debunked.

-- Sept. 2009 - Caroline Hoxby's important study "How New York City's Charter Schools Affect Achievement" can be accessed here. At the same time, she released a paper on the CREDO study. "A recent study of charter schools' effect on student achievement has been published by CREDO (2009). It contains a statistical mistake that causes a biased estimate of how charter schools affect achievement. This paper explains that mistake." To read the memo, go here.

-- May 2009 - If you are seeking an alternative to teaching in a public school, private school may suit you. Research says you may find greater satisfaction there. Please read this study from the Friedman Foundation.

-- Jan. 2009 - Harvard researcher Thomas Kane authored a "groundbreaking study that suggests charter school students in Boston outperform their peers at other public schools in Boston. Results for pilot schools were less clear; some analyses showed positive results at the elementary and high school level, while results for middle school students were less encouraging. The study uses an innovative research design based on school lotteries that allowed for a direct comparison of charter and pilot school students with their peers." To learn more, go here.

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Dissident Prof

Laurie Rogers’ Betrayed

Buckhorn Road

Core Knowledge Blog

Dropout Nation

Ed is Watching

Education Debate at Online Schools

Educational Intelligence Agency

Ed Policy

The Education Wonks


Jay Greene

Joanne Jacobs

Larry Sand on Union Watch


The Quick and the Ed

Rick Hess Straight Up

Right On The LeftCoast – Views of a Conservative Teacher

School Reform News

This Week in Education





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