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Do we need better parents?

For better students, we need to begin with ‘better’ parents. Right? John Merrow investigates.

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With testing, where do we go from here?

Tweet As always, remember that John’s book The Influence of Teachers is for sale at Amazon. Forget cheating on tests for a minute and think about the concept of ‘teaching to the test.’ Just what does that mean? The usual line (which I have used myself) goes something like this: “It’s OK if it’s a [...]

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The play’s the thing

John Merrow writes of an important life lesson he learned as a teacher in 1966.

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In education, a lack of response to basic demand

On a flight from New York to California, John Merrow strikes up a dialogue with a man in the restaurant business who has two young sons. As they chat about methods of education, it becomes obvious that the many other systems — for example, the restaurant industry — are responding to basic demand models and truths far better than education. Plus: a report from Merrow’s first book party for The Influence of Teachers.

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E.D. Hirsch, Mike Smith and Linda Katz offer insights on reading development

On Monday, John Merrow wrote in his Taking Note blog about a new campaign to promote grade-level reading readiness by the third grade; in this installment of Taking Note, days later, he gets feedback from E.D. Hirsch, Mike Smith and Linda Katz on reading development.

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On Teachers: Let’s Stop Bashing and Get Proactive

Last week in this space I wondered why the President had singled out for high praise a school in Denver where the teachers had taken on their own union to get work rules relaxed. Was he, I asked, sending a not-very-subtle message to teacher unions, “Put kids’ interests first. Stop with the trade union behavior”?

I asked Peter Cunningham, the Department’s uber-capable Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, how that particular school was selected. He responded in an email that he had had nothing to do with it.

So if it wasn’t the Department of Education, then who? The likely suspects are on the President’s White House staff or in the Office of Management and Budget. Perhaps someone is off the reservation.

Or perhaps a speechwriter didn’t perform due diligence. That happens.

Or maybe eager staffers who work for Colorado Senator Michael Bennet (former Denver Superintendent of Schools) did their job—promoted their boss—effectively. (We saw the Senator and others from Colorado give their own standing ovation at that point in the speech.)

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The State of The (Teachers) Union

Was the President sending a strong message to teacher unions last night? Sure looks that way in the light of day.

What most of us saw and heard was high praise for education. He put it #2, behind ‘innovation’ on his list. Five of his 23 guests were students, and a 6th—Jill Biden—is a community college teacher. That’s all good. Mr. Obama praised “Race to the Top” and called for rewriting No Child Left Behind, and that’s all good too.

He went out of his way to praise teachers and remind us all that parents must do their job—turn off the TV, and engage with their children. That provided a welcome relief from all the teacher- bashing going on now.

And—icing on the cake–he made an eloquent plea to young people: become teachers!

Friends of public education had to be smiling and may still be today. The National School Boards Association and others have issued press releases full of praise, for example.

You may remember that he singled out one public school for high praise.

Here’s what he said:

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