Best & Worst in 2014 Education News

Washington Post  Journalist, author and blogger Valerie Strauss wrote a great article about the Best and Worst education news from 2014. Read her article at www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/12/25/best-and-worst-education-news-of-2014-a-teachers-list/. Here’s a summary of her list (copy-pasted, though most have more info than I’ve copied here):

Best Education News of 2014:

  • State after state implementing unfair and arbitrary teacher evaluation methods this year nonetheless found an infinitesimal number of teachers to be “ineffective” — including Florida, Rhode Island, Maryland and New York.
  • High school graduate rates are at their all-time high, drop-out rates have decreased and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test results increased, with the biggest improvement among students of color.
  • Colorado students organized a successful large-scale protest campaign that stopped their district from making changes in their Advanced Placement History course curriculum.
  • Ras Baraka was elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey, with opposition to the state’s “One Newark” reform plan for that city’s schools.
  • Two destructive “school reformers” left the public scene:
  • Lily Eskelsen García was elected president of the National Education Association and will provide a powerful voice, along with her counterpart at the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, to support teachers, students and their families with a progressive and positive education agenda.
  • It was a very rough election night, though there were two clear education bright spots that had a lot to do with the support the candidates received from teachers — Tom Wolf was elected governor of Pennsylvania and Tom Torlakson was re-elected California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • The good news is that Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union is recovering from surgery on a brain tumor.
  • Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • The central role of standardized testing in schools came under increasing attack from many different directions and has even forced some major proponents to at least make rhetorical retreats.
  • Dana Goldstein’s book, The Teacher Wars, was published and became a bestseller.
  • The millions of students who had great learning experiences in their schools this year.

Worst Education News of 2014:

  • Two particularly awful tragedies struck educators and their students in other countries this year — the apparent murder of 43 student teachers in Mexico by police and drug traffickers and the massacre of 148 students and teachers at a Pakistan school by the Taliban.
  • Of course, the United States was not immune from the killings of young people. (Ferguson, MO, Cleveland, OH)
  • In another attempt to blame teachers for challenges facing schools, California judge ruled in the Vergara lawsuit that tenure and due process is to blame and not poverty, lack of resources for schools in under-served communities, or minimal professional support.
  • The Obama administration appeared to learn little from its countless missteps it has made in the name of “accountability” for K-12 public schools and announced plans to start treating colleges and universities the same way.
  • The Atlanta test cheating scandal has resulted in an endless trial that is still continuing, with terrible revelations.
  • TIME Magazine published a cover insulting to teachers everywhere and sparking a justifiable backlash from educators.
  • Social Emotional Learning threatens to become just another in a long line of good ideas manipulated and used by school reformers in harmful ways.
  • A video from a Chicago professional development session showed why teachers are going out of their minds.
  • A new study found that less than one-half of one-percent of research studies related to education were replicated.
  • The millions of students who should be getting a better education than they are receiving.

The Most Important “In-Between” Education News Of 2014

The Common Core Standards continue to be under attack, with a few states withdrawing their support.