Maine tolerates a wide achievement gap amongst students – is this what we want?

We all love the myth of the ‘American Dream’ – it’s comforting in a world that surrounds us continually with risk and inequity. The mythology holds that everyone has an equal shot at wealth and a satisfying professional life – all it takes is hard work, a winning disposition, and determination. Schools are said to give each child […]

Imagine the uproar if we were to explain that the educational bar should be lower for girls than boys?!

student image

I came of age as a teacher in the 1980′s, and in that era we read studies in teacher education courses about students whose school careers had been defined by race. Research had shown that teachers who expected children of color to perform worse than their white peers in fact brought those results to pass, with few achieving on a level […]

Should our taxes pay for arts education in school?

Students negotiate creation of a lighthouse.

This spring I have had the pleasure of leading a group of children as they worked together twice weekly over a period of a month on a class mural about intertidal zones in seacoast Maine.  As I guided the children last session I was reminded that arts education teaches the 21st century skills that all students need. […]

Is it really that important for students in Maine to learn a second language?

Taxpayers, teachers, board members, parents, and administrators in Maine sometimes wonder why we should fund an elementary and middle school World Language program in the public schools when taxes are so high and students seem to be having such trouble with subjects like math and reading. First, everyone should realize that according to LD 1422, […]

Dear Teacher: Where are the block buildings and the dress-up clothes? I’m only five years old!

block building

Tony Wagner, noted pundit on school transformation, writes: “Research shows that human beings are born with an innate desire to explore, experiment, and imagine new possibilities – in a word, to innovate.  How do children learn such skills? In a word – play.” Why then when I enter kindergarten classrooms these days are there no building […]

“School is boring!” Does it have to be?

I absolutely love thinking and learning about schools and students and I assume a lot of other teachers do too. Yet in my experience as a teacher I rarely have an opportunity to sit down in the context of my job with other equally charged teachers and talk and plan new programs and new curriculum and new approaches to […]

School board candidates should show serious engagement with current topics in education

School boards make decisions that greatly influence the education students receive, yet some school board members know very little about curriculum, brain research, child development, or what is going on state-wide, nationally, or internationally in schools. In Maine we value local control of our schools and we are reluctant to cede decision-making authority to bureaucrats. […]

Common Core Will Not Cure All

My chief criticism of the Common Core at this point is that it is being touted as a cure-all for our nation’s educational problems, but in fact it will not cure all. Mediocre teachers implementing the Common Core within the context of our current mediocre schools will only produce mediocre learning outcomes in students. What we […]

Principals Should Focus on Instructional Leadership

  Gordon Donaldson and George Marnik’s The Maine Principal Study reports that school leaders in our state devote relatively little time to initiating educational programs, evaluating curriculum, collecting student data, and other activities directly aimed at improving learning outcomes in students. The principal’s job is so demanding in other areas that it is challenging for […]

How can your tax dollars be applied more effectively in our schools? Here are some answers!

Answers to the question of what the United States could do to improve the educational performance of our students are to be found in the current issue of OECD Observer, the magazine of  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Several articles in the current issue focus on education from an international perspective. The first […]