• Overheard at citizenship ceremony, “It’s your great day!”

    I happened upon a citizenship ceremony in San Francisco's Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium. It was 2005 and 1445 new citizens were to be sworn in. I watched along with families and friends and crying babies and balloons and flowers and flash cameras. "This is the country where you can achieve anything that you set out to do," the presiding official told us. When we stood to sing the national anthem, I choked up. More than 50 years since I landed on these shores in Hoboken New Jersey, I am [...]
  • Overheard at the playground.

    Again, I'm sorry for the lapse in blogging. What have I been up to? Actually, I'm of counsel at my lawfirm and have more time to ruminate, clean out my office, write, agitate for reforms, speak, and remain active. I can also take more time to see and observe stuff and spend as much time as possible with my little granddaughter. Life is good. So today, I walked through a playground on my way to work. It was around noontime and one of the teachers was ‘dragging’ her little charges along [...]
  • Lawsuit against NYC exam schools cites test validity!

    Ah, finally, here's a case with rumblings about test validity. Validity in testing requires that tests be used only for the purpose they were created. Here's a lawsuit about the exam used by NYC to select students for its 8 exam schools have not been validated for the purpose they are being used. The complaint alleges that the exam is not validated to predict success in the selected schools--and thus should not be used as a criteria. Go forth! I have argued for years that validity in [...]
  • Betty Hart died at 85.

    Who, you say, is Betty Hart? I suspect you know her by her work. She and Todd R. Risley were the researchers who discovered the fact that many middle and upper class parents talk to their babies far more--and in more positive and encouraging terms--than do many parents in poverty. And, that the lingering effect of this uneven early language development stays with children for many years and is very difficult to overcome. The fact that early childhood education focuses on helping parents [...]
  • Parents boycotting tests in New York City, but missing a key argument!

    The New York Times today reports that groups of New York City parents are boycotting sampling tests. These tests that children take--about reading, writing, and arithmetic, etc.--are samples for those that will be used to evaluate teachers and schools, among other purposes. But wait! There's a real reason to question the use of these tests to evaluate schools and teachers. That reason? They are NOT VALID for that purpose. It is a misuse of them--since these tests are designed to see [...]
  • ‘Education parents!’

    Yes! it's not a typo. Joanne Jacobs picked up a good piece about what it takes to be an 'education parent,' a parent that supports children in their learning. I love it! I believe that--to improve learning for general and special education students, we need 'education parents.' It almost doesn't matter if the specifics in this piece are the 'right' ones. What matters is that we focus in the role parents can play in their children's education. Thus, I was very glad to see this piece.
  • Special education reform–BIG time in the debate!

    Did you hear it? Often? One surprise in Tuesday’s Presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney? The mention of education over and over and over again…. And even the mention of special education and children with disabilities, including autism several times. HMMM. See, for example, Joanne Jacob’s write up. I, for one, am glad that the issue is getting play nationally. Reforming special education is a vital part of ed reform. As my loyal readers and fellow reformers [...]
  • Immigrant children do better! Who knew?

    I knew. My brother and I were immigrants to New Jersey in the 1950's. We worked hard in school and did very well. And, yes, that status--of not quite fitting in and wanting to--was a great motivator. I'm glad to see that it's still so for this generation of immigrants.
  • Idaho, Chicago, Wisconsin and ?

    Today's New York Times carries an interesting story about the upcoming referendum in Idaho dealing with public schools and teacher unions. Some of the issues are unique to that state--others are echoes of what we have seen elsewhere. The dispute sounds rather fierce.... The line that stuck with me is this, "Some district administrators say they fear that in their bloodletting both sides are forgetting the students." Ah, that seems to be going on in lots of education disputes. As I've [...]
  • It’s time to focus on the top half of the class, too.

    It's about time. Many of us know and are troubled by it--we have left the top half of our classes behind in our effort to bring up the bottom half. Yet, noone likes to talk about this, apparently, as it's viewed as elitist... And, alas, many people believe that these students, often called gifted and talented (a label I do not like!) will be OK on their own, even without focus and effort and support by our schools. Well, it ain't so. I applaud Chester Finn for putting this vital issue [...]