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2011 in Education: The Year of the Awakening

By Anthony Cody — December 18, 2011 11 min read
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Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody

In my summary of the year 2010 I wrote:

This was the year of the billionaire in education. And teachers, parents and students are wondering what we need to do to make 2011 turn out a bit differently.

We figured it out alright. 2011 was the year of the great awakening. The year began with Wisconsin educators rallying to protect their rights, under attack from Governor Scott Walker. Jesse Turner had called it out even before 2010 was over - and along with a bunch of us from around the country, helped create the one of the big public education events of the year, the Save Our Schools March on July 30th in Washington, DC.

This was a year of pushing back and occasionally breaking through.
In March, President Obama revealed he actually shared the views of many when he spoke of the need for fewer tests. This led to a lively exchange with Department of Education officials who did their best to pretend they agreed. We kept pushing through the year, pointing out the weakness in reforms that focus on test scores, and the strength that lies in the intelligence of our teachers, when they are given the chance to work together.

Teachers were not the only ones who decided to take to the streets. The Occupy Wall Street movement has spread across the country, and is bringing into sharp focus the oversized influence of corporations in our political process, and our public education system as well.

As the year draws to a close, the powerful are doing their best to stamp out or spray away the pesky rebels in our cities and college campuses. But we are seeing some big ideas hang on, and in California and elsewhere, the rejection of NCLB waivers offers hope that a new direction may emerge.

Here are my 170 posts from this year, organized into categories. Special thanks to all the guests and interview subjects who shared their thoughts with us this year!

Education reform, standardized tests and accountability
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Jan. 3: Will National Standards Become the Operating System for our Schools?

Jan. 5: We Cannot Solve the Problems with Tests by Creating MORE of Them

Jan. 10: Should we Trust Low-Paid Teachers to Score Student Work?

Jan. 12: No, More High Stakes Testing is NOT Inevitable

Jan. 16: Rhee’s Plan Students (Test Scores) First!

Jan. 19: Heresy: Education Is Not the Cure for Poverty

Jan. 25: Teachers: How Do We Propose to Measure Student Outcomes?

Jan. 27: Is Data Driving us into a Dead End?

Jan. 28: Sir Ken Robinson Shakes Up the Standards Paradigm

Feb. 8: LA Times Manipulates the Teacher Evaluation Story

Feb. 14: Let’s Show Struggling Schools Some REAL Love: A Valentine for the Bottom 5%

April 25: Tests over Teachers in California

April 28: When Will the Testing Bubble Burst?

May 9: The “Counter-Manifesto” Against a National Curriculum

May 17: Standardized Testing Mythbusters!

May 18: California Governor Puts the Testing Juggernaut On Ice

May 30: Education Policy Should Honor the Obvious

May 25: Oakland Teachers Show the Power of Action Research

June 5: Jonathan Alter Kicks the Hornet’s Nest

June 7: Interview: How Does Classroom Stress Affect Learning?

June 9: Is Diane Ravitch Insulting Teachers? Who Speaks for Us?

July 6: The Brooks/Ravitch Dialogue Expands

July 23: Complex Thinking is not Tested and Won’t be Taught

Sep 4: The Single Best Idea to Come Out of Business in Years

Sep. 5: Interview: Steve Denning offers Radical Ideas for Reframing Education Reform

Sep. 10: A Teacher Responds to Steve Denning’s Ideas: These are Education, Not Management Issues

Sep. 22: Public Schools and Post Offices: What do they have in Common?

Oct. 6: Color Coded High School ID Cards Sort Students by Test Performance

Oct. 9: Jerry Brown Puts the Brakes on Test-Driven Reform

Oct. 14: In John Merrow’s Education Reform Land, Copycats Rule

Oct. 26: The Legacy of NCLB: Can We Force Schools to Improve?

Nov. 7: NCLB Waivers are not Worthy Reforms in California

Nov. 8: NCLB Waivers get a Reality Check

Nov. 13: America Leads the World in Nonsensical Comparisons: What Really Matters?

Nov. 20: LA Times backs California’s NCLB Defiance

Nov. 29: Interview with Diane Ravitch: California’s Rejection of NCLB Waivers

Dec. 1: Turmoil Seems to be the Chief Product of Education “Reform.”

Dec. 8: When a School Board Member Takes a Test, the World Listens

Dec. 16: Duncan’s Dilemma: What will be Done to States without NCLB Waivers?

Teach For America, teacher preparation and retention

Jan. 1: Battling the Bad Teacher Bogeyman

Jan. 30: TeamScience Tames Teacher Turnover in Oakland

Feb. 10: Bilby & Greene: Tough Lessons from Teach For America

Feb. 10: Does Teach For America Deliver Systemic Reform?

Feb. 15: Marie Levey-Pabst: Will the Teach For America Elite Save the Poor?

Mar. 17: David Greene: Some Advice for Would-be History-Makers at Teach For America

Mar. 27: Bilby & Greene: TFA Interns Need Better Preparation

Oct. 18: Civil Rights Groups Press for Truly Qualified Teachers

Oct. 22: The Dialogue Heats Up over Teach For America

Nov. 19: Philip Kovacs Takes on TFA in Huntsville

Dec. 11: Philip Kovacs: Huntsville Takes a Closer Look at Teach For America’s “Research”

Dec. 20:Philip Kovacs: Teach For America Research Fails the Test.

Dec. 21: Tara Kini: One Year Ago Congress Defined Novices “Highly Qualified Teachers”

Dec. 23: NEA President Sends Mixed Messages about Teacher Preparation

Immigration and Education

Nov. 17: Deportations Throw Children into Foster Care

Oct. 2: Alabama Law Creates Immigration Panic in Schools


Teacher Unions, collective bargaining and due process

Jan. 1: Battling the Bad Teacher Bogeyman

Jan. 22: Teachers Beware, They are Coming for Our Pensions

Feb. 6: The Cinderellas of Education Reform: Why Aren’t They Invited to the Ball?

Feb. 20: Wisconsin teachers show us how to Resist the Shock Doctrine

Feb. 23: Solidarity Forever: Let This Principle Defend our Schools

Mar. 9: Should Schools Trade Seniority for “Effectiveness” Rankings?

Mar. 22: Standing up for the Underdogs: Why I Support My Union

Sep. 13: Are Michigan Lawmakers Taking their Cue from Ann Coulter: Teachers Useless?


Save Our Schools, grassroots organizing and genuine reform

Feb. 20: Wisconsin teachers show us how to Resist the Shock Doctrine

Feb. 24: What Does a “Good Wife” Do When a “Stern Father” Becomes Abusive?

Feb. 27: An Unlikely Hero Breaks Through the Blackout: Diane Ravitch

Mar. 11: Making Our OWN News: Be the Source for some Good News for Schools!

Mar. 23: I am Educator, Hear me Roar!

April 10: The Media Discovers There is a Debate over Educational Reform!

April 22: Grassroots Teacher Convention Makes Waves in Oakland

May 2: Here’s to the Teachers!

May 11: Here’s to the Students! Our New Video

May 20: Here’s to the Parents! We Need Them to Help Save Our Schools

May 24: The Antidote to Astroturf: A Real Grassroots Movement

June 2: Here’s to Our Schools! SOS Videos go Viral

July 2: Why Pedro Noguera will be Marching to Save Our Schools July 30th

July 18: Confronting the Inequality Juggernaut: A Q&A With Jonathan Kozol

July 27: Alfie Kohn: We Have to Take Back Our Schools

July 30: We are in Washington to Save Our Schools and We Want Answers!

July 31: Save Our Schools Rocks the Capital!

Aug. 1: More Save Our Schools Videos!

Sep. 14: The Slekar Family Stands Up and Opts Out

Oct. 5: Why I Support the Occupation Movement

Oct. 12: Improving Teaching 101: Teacher Action Research

Oct. 25: Lesson Study Works! An Interview with Dr. Catherine Lewis

Nov. 3: Occupy Oakland: Striking Questions

Nov. 19: Peaceful UC Davis Students Pepper-Sprayed

Nov. 22: UC Davis Students become Powerful Teachers

Nov. 26: You Have Free Speech, So Long as its Appropriate

Dec. 13: Teacher Power: The One Percent Solution

Obama, Duncan and the Department of Education

Mar. 10: The White House Is of Two Minds When It Comes to Bullying

Mar. 6: Obama is Right: Education is a Bi-Partisan Issue

Mar. 29: Obama Blasts his Own Education Policies

April 1: Just Who is Misrepresenting Obama’s Education Policies

April 1: Obama’s Policies Under Fire: Department of Ed Responds

April 2: Obama Knows Best, Part One: How Should we Assess Learning?

April 3: Obama Knows Best, Part 2: “Too Often we are Using These Tests to Punish Students or Schools.”

April 5: Dept. of Ed Responds Again: “Secretary Duncan Totally Concurs with President Obama”

April 5: The Department of Education Cannot Unring the Bell Obama Struck

April 7: President Obama: We Want for Our Children What You Want for Yours

May 2: An Open Letter from an American Teacher to Secretary Duncan

May 6: Teachers Feeling Unappreciated by Secretary Duncan

May 12: Will the NEA Endorse Obama and the Use of Test Scores for Teacher Evaluations?

May 13: Local Teacher Association’s President: We Must Challenge the Obama Administration’s Education Policies

June 13: President Obama, We Were There When You Needed Us

June 22: A One-Sided Dialogue: Teacher Frustration Leads to Protest

June 30: Secretary Duncan’s Data Integrity Warning Misses the Point

July 5: Those who can, Tweet! What Would You #AskObama?

Aug. 9: Say No to Duncan Dollars: Rookie Reform has Run its Course

Aug. 14: GOP Candidates Take on the Department of Education

Aug. 17: President Obama on Shaky Ground with Teachers: Can He Firm Up Support?

Aug. 18: #AskArne Twitter Town Hall Next Wednesday: Share your Questions Here

Aug. 20: Sharp Themes Emerge from #AskArne Questions

Aug. 25: Arne Duncan’s Twitter Town Hall: Orwell Would Be Proud

Aug. 29: Duncan Worries About Losing “Great Young Talent": What About Us Old Timers?

Sep 3: Environmentalists Join Educators in Protesting Obama Policies

Dec. 16: Duncan’s Dilemma: What will be Done to States without NCLB Waivers?

Dec. 16: Open Letter to Jon Stewart: Please Interview Your Mother

Gates Foundation, Astroturf Groups

Jan. 3: Will National Standards Become the Operating System for our Schools?

Mar. 1: An Open Letter to Bill Gates: Higher Class Sizes will Drive Teachers Out

Mar. 20: Where are the Champions of Education Reform as School Funding Collapses?

May 24: The Antidote to Astroturf: A Real Grassroots Movement

July 13: Jonah Edelman Reveals Corporate Education “Reform” at Work in Illinois

July 14: Diane Ravitch on Edelman’s Astroturf Enterprise

July 16: Teach Plus: Astroturf In Indiana?

Aug. 22: Bill Gates Inspires a Class Size Experiment in Kansas City

Sep. 26: Circular Reasoning at the Gates: Education Nation off to a Confusing Start

Oct. 29: If Only the Billionaire Reformers Cared about THIS Data

Nov. 5: Bill Gates’ Big Play: How Much Can Money Buy in Education?

Dec. 28: Are Critics of Corporate Education “Reform” Winning the Online Debate?

Dec. 29: Lop-sided Debate over Education Reform Reveals a Broken Political System

Science Education

Feb. 26: Teaching Controversy where None Exists: The Fight over Evolution and Global Warming

Dec. 28: Are Critics of Corporate Education “Reform” Winning the Online Debate?


Miscellaneous:

Sep. 12: What?? Girl’s T-shirts Sold: “Allergic to Algebra”

Sep. 22: Public Schools and Post Offices: What do they have in Common?

Guest posts

Jan. 7: Mike Dwyer: Value Adders - The Newest Members of the ‘Monday Morning Quarterback Club’

Jan. 13: Chuck Olynyk: A Year After, a Veteran of Reconstitution Offers Words to the Wise

Jan. 18: Tim Slekar: Tucson Tragedy no Reason to Follow Failed Strategies

Feb. 3: Chuck Olynyk: Still Truth-telling about “Failing Schools”

Feb. 5: Victoria Young: This Idaho Parent Prefers Teachers to Laptops

Feb. 8: Robin Reynolds Barre: An Open Letter to New Teachers and Those Wishing to Become Teachers

Feb. 10: Bilby & Greene: Tough Lessons from Teach For America

Feb. 12: Betsy Angert: Those Who Can Teach; Life Lessons Learned

Feb. 13: Betsy Angert: Those Who Can Teach; Transformative Teachers

Feb. 15: Marie Levey-Pabst: Will the Teach For America Elite Save the Poor?

Feb. 18: Dave Greene: Time for The Practical Wisdom of Teaching

Feb: 18: Are You There, Mr. President? Madison is Calling

Mar. 4: David Greene: I am the Seed Miss Stafford Planted

Mar. 5: Peggy Robertson: Which is More Important? Wisconsin or Charlie Sheen?

Mar. 8: Anthony Colucci: Learning from Educator and Civil Rights Martyr, Harry T. Moore

Mar. 17: David Greene: Some Advice for Would-be History-Makers at Teach For America

Mar. 27: Bilby & Greene: TFA Interns Need Better Preparation

April 8: Krashen and Ohanian: High Tech Testing on the Way: a 21st Century Boondoggle?

April 12: Pennsylvania Parents Call for Full Court Press with Politicians

April 14: John Kuhn: Why Shouldn’t Teachers be Graded Too?

April 20: Sarah Rubenstein: When will Impoverished Students Get What they Need?

April 26: Ron Fink: Breaking the Rules to Let Kids Play

June 12: Jim Owens: School Is Out: Let Your Education Begin!

June 18: John Thompson: Fact Checking the National Council on Teacher Quality

June 25: John Thompson: School Transformation in the 21st Century: Turtles, Frogs or Butterflies

June 27: John Thompson: Three Visions of Teaching in the 21st Century

July 13: Stephen Krashen: Race to the Top for Tots: Don’t Measure the Temperature of the Fire - Put it Out!

July 21: The Scaled Down Contract: Boon or Bane to the Teaching Profession?

July 26: John Thompson: On the Eve of the March, Phony Reforms are on the Ropes

Aug. 13: John Thompson: What Happens when Magical Thinking is a Condition of Employment?

Aug. 22: John Thompson on Brill’s Re-write of Teacher Union History

Sep 1: John Thompson: Time for our Unions to Lead Reform

Sep. 8: John Thompson takes on Nyamekye’s Defense of Testing

Sep. 11: Jeffrey N. Golub: Common Core Standards Leave Teachers Out of the Equation

Sep. 19: John Thompson: Does a “No Excuses” Approach Really Work?

Sep. 20: John Thompson: Should Schools Grade Students’ Moral Character?

Sep. 27: John Thompson: Gates Foundation Teacher Effectiveness Researcher Seems to Support the ‘Status Quo’

Oct. 3: Education Reform Takes a Corporate Path With Help From ALEC

Oct. 11: John Thompson: Coaching is Good for Doctors and Teachers Both

Oct. 23: John Thompson: Will Duncan Learn Lessons from Chicago?

Nov. 15: With Whom do We Stand? A Counterpoint for Education Reform

Dec. 5: John Thompson: The Center for American Progress Pushes the Good, Bad and Ugly in Teacher Evaluation: Part 1

Dec. 6: John Thompson: The Center for American Progress Pushes the Good, Bad and Ugly in Teacher Evaluation: Part 2

Dec. 11: Philip Kovacs: Huntsville Takes a Closer Look at Teach For America’s “Research”

Dec. 20:Philip Kovacs: Teach For America Research Fails the Test.

Dec. 21: Tara Kini: One Year Ago Congress Defined Novices “Highly Qualified Teachers”

What do you think about the year 2011? What should we look forward to in 2012?

The opinions expressed in Living in Dialogue are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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