Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fantasy Reform from Jay Matthews - the bad.

I'm often amused and nearly always irritated at Jay Matthews - from his claim for KIPP being the Deus Ex Machina of the Educational world to his quaint ideas on time management for teachers.

I've posted a copy of his latest attempt at reasonable reform. Read that for context, as I plan on fairly heavy-handed snipping.
2. Unleash charter schools .... charter schools, public schools that make their own rules, are not draining money from school systems. ... School finance experts don't all agree, but I am convinced that charters are a bargain. So let's have more.
If charter schools are so successful because they make their own rules, doesn't that mean that the rules are the problem rather than the public schools? And what exactly makes you so convinced they're a bargain? Or is this another pro-KIPP thing?

3. Have teachers call or e-mail parents -- once a day would be fine -- with praise for their children. ... It doesn't take long. It doesn't cost much. But it nurtures bonds among teachers, students and parents that can lead to wonderful things.

This is priceless. Let's err on the small side even though I know that many of you would love student numbers like this: 120 students * 1.5 minutes = 3 hours. Every night? Wouldn't our time be better spent looking at student work or preparing for the next day? And you have to love the "once a day would be fine." But Uncle Jay ... I'd like to do this three times a day and not teach. Can we call it uber-differentiation if I call on each parent more than once?

4. Have parents call or e-mail teachers with praise. Successful teachers are often taken for granted.
Because I don't have enough email spam now. Let's add another 120 daily emails to read in between the ones from the principal. At least the principal can spell, but I donno about the parents. It'll be simple, just give the kids a point on the next test for every email their parents send me ...

6. Encourage teachers to call on every student in every class. ... A lesson has to be a conversation. Every student has to be involved.
Riiiight. Because I don't do this already. Bad Curmudgeon.

I have been in many classrooms where the teacher does most, sometimes all, of the talking. I imagine many teachers follow this rule, but it seems to me worth urging all of them to try it. It is, again, a change of attitude and method that costs nothing.
Gee Jay, do you think the kids might act differently when a famous writer like you is visiting? "I have been in many classrooms" - were any kids in there at the same time? "I imagine many teachers use this rule" implies to me that you're speaking out of your ass again.

7. Furlough everybody -- including teachers, students and parents -- for an unpaid national reading holiday. This will never happen.
No kidding, Jay. Screw You. You are an elitist moron.
You want to put me on an unpaid furlough so my students can maybe read a book? Are you planning on explaining how I pay my bills in the meantime?

Do you have a thought as to how you're going to explain this "holiday":
1) "Okay, you don't have kids, but you're on furlough today - go read a book."
2) "Buenos Dios, Senor, ..."
3) "No, you can't go get drunk. You have to read a book."
4) "I understand you're living paycheck to paycheck, but you don't get paid today. Instead, we want you to go buy a book called 'Work Hard. Be Nice. How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America. (Paid Propaganda pushed by a Prissy Print Journalist)' Or you can also just go to the library today along with the other 8 million NYCity residents."

Yeah, that'll work.



  1. "3. Have teachers call or e-mail parents -- once a day would be fine -- with praise for their children. ... It doesn't take long. It doesn't cost much. But it nurtures bonds among teachers, students and parents that can lead to wonderful things."

    Someone pointed out the number of hours this would require in the comments section. He clarified that he meant call/email the parents of one kid per day.

  2. (Slapping forehead) - damn.
    Note to self: Cut back to one per day.

    Thanks Uncle Jay.

  3. (Slapping forehead again)

    Note to self: stop attending games and talking to parents there, too. Uncle Jay says one contact per day is fine.

    Wait a minute. What the hell does he know about it?

  4. Yeah, I don't like making calls. But I regularly talk with parents, in person. Sports events. PTA.

    And I don't need praise from parents. They want their kids in my class. I get it.

    And no, I'm not taking time off without pay. Let Matthews do that. No one would notice.

  5. Well, me for one.
    Where else am I gonna get my rants from?