The Instructional Core

The Instructional Core, as defined by Richard Elmore,  is composed of a teacher and student in the presence of content. The relationship between these three elements, and not the the qualities of any one element, determines the nature of instructional practice.  At the heart of this trinity is the Instructional Task:  what students are being asked […]

Standardized Testing: The Beginning of the End?

Something profound happened this spring and if you weren’t an educator, you might have missed it.  In fact, even if you were an educator, the significance of this event might have been lost in the greater upheavals we’ve all been experiencing in the last 6 months. Standardized tests were cancelled. These tests have been a […]

Return to Learn: Covid-19 and Lessons from Katrina

With coronavirus surging in a number of states, most people’s hopes for a normal school year appear to be evaporating fast.  School districts are working hard to put plans for socially distanced classes and distance learning in place to try to keep learning as on-track as possible for the foreseeable future.  Against that backdrop is […]

Coronavirus, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and Brain-Compatible Learning

I was listening recently to a medical doctor addressing a question about why, during the Coronavirus pandemic, people were reporting mental fogginess, an inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, and difficulty doing the creative things they had previously enjoyed.  Was that, the question posed, actually a thing? It is, and the doctor used Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs […]

It Might Not Be the Money

Recently I ran across this headline on the Education Trust/Midwest website: Michigan spent $80 million to improve early reading. Scores went down.  Ouch. The article, which was from 2018, went on to detail the crisis in early reading in Michigan, where scores for proficiency in 3rd grade reading fell from 50% proficient in 2015 to […]

The Trouble With Grit

I’ve written about grit in this space before, and I continue to be intrigued with the way grit — the ability to stick with something even when it’s hard — has lasting effects on the so-called “soft skills” necessary for life after formal education.  But here’s the caveat to the grittiness mindset: some issues surrounding […]

The Intersectionality of Structural Racism: Connecting the Dots

Intersectionality is an important principle in understanding structural racism.  Intersectionality is when oppressive systems are interconnected to the point that they cannot be examined separately. In practical terms, this means two things: There’s a cluster of practices and situations that impact each other like so many dominoes, and People of color experience racism from multiple […]

The Pitfalls of Virtual Learning

In recent weeks, thousands of tweets and memes have confirmed how valuable (and underpaid) teachers are in the U.S.  as millions of parents have tried to take over the education of their children amid the coronavirus shutdown.  We have all watched in real time as school districts scrambled to move some or all of their […]

Landmark Detroit Case Finds Students have a Constitutional Right to Basic Literacy

On April 23, 2020, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the U.S. Constitution includes a right to “a basic minimum education,” which lawyers claim the state of Michigan denied to a group of Detroit Public School students. Suit was filed in 2016 on behalf of students from some of the lowest performing schools […]