Education without snake oil

Linda Seebach of the Rocky Mountain News has collected advice for Denver’s new superintendent, Michael Bennet, formerly the mayor’s chief of staff, whose top priority is hiring a chief academic officer. How can he avoid the snake-oil peddlers?

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Mike in Texas says:

    Joanne,

    Do you include Michael Milken in your list of snake oil peddlers? The former junk bond king who served 22 months in jail and paid millions in fines for bilking people out of their money? Co-founder of Knowledge Universe, the secretive player in charter schools? Also one of the developers of K12, the alternative education company fronted by William J. Bennett?

  2. Milken isn’t an educational consultant. He started an e-learning company, Knowledge Universe, which helped start K12, which sells education programming to home-based learners. Milken’s foundation also have donated millions of dollars to initiatives focused on educating and rewarding teachers. Whether these are effective, I don’t know.

  3. Mike in Texas says:

    Is that a “no” then?

  4. Things not going too well, hey Mike?

    I can see why you could be a mite peckish, what with the co-sponsor of the NCLB announcing that when the NCLB comes up for reauthorization he’ll push to add high schools. Gotta be a bit of a problem.

    I mean it’s not like the NEA can run someone against Ted Kennedy in the primaries, right?

    And what about the example Ted sets? Never mind the Republicans, what happens when other Democratic party starlwarts start stepping over lines laid by the NEA? What happens when Teddie tries to line up support for the NCLB expansion among other fellow Democrats? Will they go where Teddie leads?

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    Well, Allen from what I hear the push to expand NCLB to high schools is in serious trouble.

  6. Tell it to Ted Kennedy.

  7. Mike in Texas says:

    Ted Kennedy is the south bound end of a north bound mule, as we say here in Texas.

  8. Maybe so but as a solution to the “problem” of the NCLB, saying mean things about one of it’s co-sponsors doesn’t come under the heading of constructive responses. Hopefully, the NEA isn’t capable of any better.

  9. Wayne Bishop, professor of mathematics at California State University at Los Angeles says that this is where nontraditional types get in trouble.

    I could care less what is “traditional” or not. I want to see something that works, realizing that children are individuals with their own needs.

  10. Foobarista says:

    Good quote:

    If he has a masters degree and a doctorate from a reputable ed school, assume that if his lips are moving he is lying.

    One they missed: if the candidate calls themselves an “educator”, don’t let the door hit them in the behind on the way out.

  11. “I could care less what is “traditional” or not. I want to see something that works, realizing that children are individuals with their own needs.”

    Kids need a foundation of skills and facts upon which to build understanding. Non-traditionalists hold that the understanding is the foundation upon which skills and facts are learned. Cathy Seeley, President of NCTM, criticizes the traditional form of teaching repeatedly in her speeches and on the NCTM website by characterizing such teaching as “Here’s the rule, now here’s a problem that uses the rule”. NCTM would rather see teaching based on “Here’s the problem, you figure out the rules needed to solve it”. It’s called constructivism, which NCTM denies that they advocate. Many people believe in them. If math teaching isn’t working with our kids, then NCTM says it’s because it’s not being taught in the way that NCTM recommends. Too much “teacher instruction” to lift a phrase from Ms. Seeley. I’d like to see something that works too, and I have seen it. SIngapore and Japan are examples. So is Saxon Math. Ask NCTM whether Saxon Math, and/or Singapore Math texts meet NCTM’s PSSM. (Standards). They will dodge the question and tell you “It’s not the text, it’s the teaching” and then maintain that in Japan and Singapore they teach the way NCTM recommends,and that if Saxon Math is working, look at how it is being taught. A bunch of us have. It is being taught in ways different than NCTM recommends, which is to say traditionally.

  12. I think that in this case “nontraditional” refers to superintendents who come from outside the education field.

    Chester Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, says, “This field is awash in jargon, self-proclaimed experts, unwarranted claims, strong feelings and lots and lots of snake oil peddlers. Many non-educator superintendents have stumbled because they trusted the wrong folks to guide them.”

    Wayne Bishop, professor of mathematics at California State University at Los Angeles says that this is where nontraditional types get in trouble. Alan Bersin in San Diego is a nice example, he said, or Joel Klein, who as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s choice for chancellor of New York City Schools, hired Diana Lam