Chubb’s ‘The Best Teachers in the World’ Disses MSOs

[Note: This article first appeared as a comment to Withrow’s ETCJ article on 11.8.12. -Editor]

I was not going to respond to Frank B. Withrow‘s “Education in the 21st Century: The World Is Our Classroom.” Then I went to this meeting, and, since the recent election, I have been thinking. I know Frank. I know that he is speaking to all of the educators, but in Washington, lots of people sit on stages and affirm that there are certain practices that will change the world. I believe in Frank’s ideas and leadership. The nation turns a blind eye to the plight of children in rural, distant, unconnected and urban schools while seeking a digitized curriculum.

I don’t find it amusing that lots of the “experts,” if they have children, quickly explain that their kids go to Arlington, Montgomery, or Fairfax Schools. Never mind that lots of DC schools are in terrible need of modernity, and a few STEM schools don’t change the equation. The learning landscape is not even in DC and other places.

They just took librarians or media specialists out of DC elementary schools. I left teaching in DC years ago because of the lack of resources (Anthony Bowen is now a police station thanks to Rhee, but it is clean and no longer reeks of urine when the heat is on).

We lived through Rhee. Few have noted the ravages of her plan. Then I read Michael Keany’s “A Plan to Get the Best Teachers in the World” (11.10.12). Keany says:

In his new book, The Best Teachers in the World: Why We Don’t Have Them and How We Could [Hoover Institution, Nov. 2012], Education Sector’s John Chubb explores strategies for how the United States can cultivate and retain the best teachers in the world, all with an eye toward raising student achievement. Jeff Selingo, an Education Sector senior fellow, sat down with Chubb to discuss the book at a recent Education Sector author talk.

I was there. I am sure that you will not see me on the video. Keany continues:

Selingo started off the conversation asking Chubb to weigh the importance of teacher recruitment versus teacher training, a main theme in the book. Chubb argued that most of the evidence that drives teacher quality points to training. Selection matters, he says, and so does aptitude. But training is critical, argues Chubb. “The dominant explanation of success is what teachers learn on the job.”

At the discussion Chubb said that an Ivy League education was the key. Keany continues:

The challenge with this, however, is the variation in ongoing professional development and teacher improvement. “Training on the job needs to be structured,” says Chubb. And, part of the solution might be to focus on leadership within the school, he suggests: Does the principal provide a structure by which teachers can collaborate and learn from each other? Does she really know what good instruction looks like? What training is needed and effective? School leaders must be more focused on creating the right context and structure, argues Chubb.

Chubb’s mantra was TFA, Ivy League schools, charter schools, and KIPP.

Before KIPP there was a series of parochial schools that were successful. Scratch a successful minority, and you will find that experience or the resources of the armed forces.

TFA does not believe that teachers should make teaching a career, and, anyway, there are not enough Ivy League schools nor people who can afford them in the minority groups.

Do people really, really think that there are no good teachers except those who are TFA trained? They did mention Vanderbilt. My student, who was teaching there, left because of the short emphasis on content for TFA.

Do people really believe that the only true and measurable education takes place in Ivy League colleges and universities? That those of us who graduated from MSO, which means minority serving organizations, as chopped liver? I know that is not true. There are some good points in Chubb’s book. But the conversation and the video dis minorities who do not attend the Ivy League schools. Shame on him.

6 Responses

  1. Hi Bonnie,

    Are the video highlights in Author Talk: ‘The Best Teachers in the World’ that Michael Keany mentions not representative of the event, then?

    I’m asking because re: “Chubb’s mantra was TFA, Ivy League schools, charter schools, and KIPP.”, in these videos, it’s Jeff Selingo who seems hooked on Teach For America, John Chubb only mentions it once, but as an example of the existing interest for teaching, an interest that should be tapped to develop better training, bottom up, from the schools themselves. Ivy League universities are not mentioned, only Vanderbilt is (in the 2nd video) as a model of that kind of training based on schools’ needs. And charter schools and KIPP are not mentioned.

    Odd. In the editorial choices behind these video highlights, was there perhaps a wish to make the event appear less elitist than you perceived it live?

  2. […] -Editor] I was not going to respond to Frank B. Withrow's “Education in the 21st Century: The World Is Our Classroom.” Then I went to this meeting, and … Educational Technology and Change Journal · Entries RSS | Comments …  […]

  3. I replied to you on email and some of my passion has cooled downI was an invited guest to the event. Yes the video is not a reflection of the whole event, but it was a media event.

    As a teacher who attended a minority serving institution because that was all that was available to me because of segregation and prejudice which still exists in some areas I have been sadly aware that the face of technology and education is white. We do have people of color who are talented and who have stories to tell that would be inclusive of all.

    I am not against good leadership like Vint Cerf, Karen Cator, and I learned even a lot by attending a set of conferences about the work that the current secretary of education is doing , Meeting the Challenge was that conference and I applaud the work.

    There are a set of factors that even the best teacher cannot change.
    There is documentation of the problems, but perhaps the media edits out the problems because they are “boring”. I had a reporter interview me and some others , and she said while she understood, she did not think that her editor would find the problems interesting and /or easy to solve and that people preferred learning about the new technologies.

    There is still a digital divide, an economic divide, a depth in subject matter divide and an access divide. Many students do not have teachers who have access to technology in a fluid and interesting way.
    I worked with the advisory board of the George Lucas Educational Foundation for more than ten years, hearing experts, learning about projects and knowing of places of excellence, case studies that show that there are many ways to teach.

    I learned from Chris Dede, from Seymour Papert, from a diversity initiative that was from the NEA, NFIE so I shudder when people start to hang all the dirty laundry of education on the unions. But that is another story.

    I am currently not teaching, but being an advocate where I can, without funding, because I believe it is important to educate every one and my school , is the Tracy Learning Center, in Tracy California where we have a school K-12 that provides an individualized curriculum for every child and which is run by the teachers.

    I am not against the real leaders in education, SETDA has just gotten funding, Doug Levin is doing a state organization. I am not wanting to hold up computational thinking, and computational problem solving There are people who have invested time and money in helping me to create, share, understand and write about Supercomputing even though to many people it is unknown except for their use of the tools,
    I did not matriculate at the University of Illinois, but I have learned about many things there in the organization of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Today lots of my friends are going off to the Supercomputing Conference and I am not . I wanted to, but
    funds were not available to me. How I know it is important that minorities and women need to be involved and championed in their work is through the variou organizations that reach out to share their knowledge . NCWIT. http://www.ncwit.org, such a wonderful organization.

    Last week I attended a Washington DC Octo event. i felt like I was in the year 1992. I did ask one question which was why did the outside people have to teach technology when the DC schools spent more than any school system in the country per pupil. But I really knew that the system is in remake mode. I was quickly told that there are STEM
    institutes, and that there are some students who do graduate. I was also told that there was this bus that would go through the neighbors and share the knowledge of technology. I worked such a bus for the President of the United States and Al Gore so I was excited to go into the bus. The young man was a tech guy, He says he is going to teach Drupal to neighborhoods. I went on a truck to neighborhood of need and started wherever the person was, we did round tables for the businesses, we did instruction for administrators and school board members, we did teacher days and I loved the parent days where people who had never touched a computer came to sew what in the world we were talking about. ( we did have funding from NTIA)

    I guess I think first you have to teach what it is, why it helps, personalize it and infuse it in the schools so that it is a matter of daily proactive practice . No teacher , even me is bigger than the possibilities that are available online. I like being a facilitator for change. Sadly there is still a narrow look taken at the places of need in education. Karen Cator is right,we do need to do all the things she is saying, but teachers have school boards, principals, and state boards and groups to vault over if those groups do not understand how technology and wise use of the media changes the face of education,

    Further, Chris Dede is at Harvard, and he fights to change the face of education even there. You have to read his work. He came from George Mason where I was a student, later.

    There are people who hate me because I want the use of computational thinking, problem solving and new ways of working to be a part of the whole K-12 movement to change. I am used to it.
    A lot of the people who are advising people how to teach do not have a vast experience in teaching, learning, and being a part of thinking about the educational process. I look forward to what it is that George Lucas will do with the foundation. I learned so much from that foundation and was able to help using the projects, films. resources, and ideas that are liberally shared .

    We talk about math rarely. Math sucks in most schools. The teachers who taught me in the parochial schools tested us at the beginning of the year and the end of the year. There was no finger pointing for once a year testing that happens in February. Hello? THe whole year has not even passed and teachers are being held accountable for a year’s work as they go into the half year mode in reality.

    We hold children in their learning. I used to be a teacher of the talented and gifted. It was very, very hard and rewarding work.
    All children do not learn at the same rate. I loved seeing Seymour Papert ask people in an audience to sit by age groups.. you get the message. He was poking fun at our way of age grading, but is is what we have to address the needs of young students. It seems only in music are people allowed to grow and change as they can.

    Hopefully there will not be the science of yesterday being taught to the children of today. Frank Wilthrow would be pleased with the students I taught using his Voyage of the Mimi. I was able to teach it because it was interdisciplinary ( The Maya Tapes) so it was under the radar, and we did the science, math, social studies, geography and culture of the Maya. We crossed subject matter areas in the 6th grade and it was fun to attend a National Geographic Dinner. I was sitting with geographers and telling them how I could not afford the project so I previewed it and bought the books so I at least could create some version of it. Well, the film director of the project and his son were at my table and in a week I had the whole project as a gift. WIth the Internet now, and the places like http://www.concord.org, the Exploratorium, the NCSA and their gateways with visualization and modeling and
    big data.. those are the things that people should be talking about
    but it takes work, scholarship and depth of content.

    Good starting points?
    NASA ( My Nasa)
    Edutopia
    http://www.nwit.org
    Concord.org
    NCTM
    CSTA
    The Geographic Alliances

    If you have a tool and you don’t know how to use it. Is it a tool? I think not.

    I have a few cheerleaders. They are the people who helped to invent the Internet. There are people who truly understand transformation.
    It is not just in Ivy League schools. The transformation of schools in Maryland was not even mentioned.

    Bonnie Bracey Sutton
    PS
    The National Geographic has rich resources that are shared in alliances for teachers, but sadly geography is not a subject that is taught. Daily we look at television and she the world, but only in digital format. I wrote a piece on that in my blog, i thought it was too K-12 centered to share here.

    Citizen science is a new idea. That for a later discussion.

  4. Genter.. We need to interview Ruthe Farmer. Here is the correct URL
    http://www.ncwit.org/.
    There are so many resources here.

  5. NASA was my educational scaffolding and diversity was just a part of what they did. I was a Christa McAuliffe Educator, and won prizes for my work. It is how I came to meet George Lucas, through the networks and then to be invited to serve on his advisory board for ten years.
    They had at that time CHallenger Fellows , and we had projects and funding to do our projects. But NASA still provides for teachers, the media does not now promote them as much as they used to
    NASA –
    mynasa.nasa.gov/portal/site/mynasa/index.jsp?bandwidth=high
    Mar 28, 2011 ·

    If you find something on the NASA site you’d like to read later, you can click the bookmark icon to add it to the bookmarks or playlists panels.

    NASA –
    Home
    http://www.nasa.gov
    NASA.gov brings you images, videos and interactive features from the unique perspective of America’s space agency. Get the latest updates on NASA missions …Each NASA Center has a focus, and some of us have been trained, professionally developed at several sites. Langley, the Cape and are my official sites of training and there is professional development going on far better than the TFA content. There are courses available through different universities that link to NASA far superior to the courses in many universities but available to use in every kind of course. Goddard is where I did the astronomy in depth.
    Got very little ones, they have stuff.

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