Education Policy & Practice

Archive for the ‘K-12’ Category

Athletes Highlight Education as Key to Their Success

Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets [and Duke Class of 2001] and Myron Rolle, former Florida State football player and current Rhodes Scholar, share their personal stories to encourage students to take responsibility for their education.

Shane Battier, a classmate of mine from Duke, has always been academically-focused.  Myron Rolle, chose to defer the NFL for one year to study medical anthropology at Oxford.

Two young, successful African American males.  It pleases me to see this story planted on the U.S. Department of Education website.  But I’m a 30 y/o education researcher/evaluator with nerd-like tendencies – of course I’m going to see that story because visiting is something that I do for fun.

Is my 9th-grade cousin, who is quite academically capable, but who has also announced his dream to aspire to become a professional athlete, going to see this?  Yes, in fact, he will!! He will because this blog post will be imported to my facebook page, and I will tag him in that note.

Great.  But he’s just one.  It is incumbent upon us [if you are reading this, then you are included in the “us” to which I am referring] to push these stories down to where the younger generation will be exposed to them.

I feel a surge of passion coming on here! I believe that the current generation of K-12 students must not be studied, talked about, or used as pawns, but rather they should be ENGAGED.   We need to bridge this gap.


Two giant philanthropic efforts have made news this month.  On November 4, 2009, the Ford Foundation announced that it will commit $100 million over 7 years toward “transforming secondary education in urban schools across the country.”  Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it will commit $335 million “to promote effective teaching and student achievement.”  Yes, that is a combined $435 million private investment in education and research in education.

The Ford Foundation plans to fund projects in 7 cities that address 4 essential elements: 1) sufficient and equitable school financing; 2) quality teaching; 3) additional and more useful learning time; and 4) meaningful accountability.  Among these districts are the some of the usual suspects, including New York City, Denver, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, and Detroit.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funneling $290 million in grants to support 4 Intensive Partnership for Effective Teaching sites that have developed groundbreaking plans to improve teacher effectiveness, according to its press release.  Those sites include  Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools, Memphis (Tenn.) City Schools, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Public Schools, and The College-Ready Promise, a coalition of five public charter school management organizations in Los Angeles.  Another $45 million will go toward the Measures of Effective Teaching project, a research initiative that seeks to define effective teaching and identify fairer and more reliable evaluative measures.

According to its website, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $2 billion over 9 years in education reform efforts. I am pleased (quite pleased) to see the focus shift to teacher effectiveness investigation and to have resources committed to that end.

So I ask, what bang are we getting for these big bucks?

Other heavy-hitting foundations investing in urban education (past and present) include:


This past Sunday morning, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Democratic presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton appeared on Meet the Press to discuss the state and direction of our public schools.

During the tour, Rev. Al Sharpton said, “If we can come together on education, I think it’s an example to the kids that some things should be above our differences.” Newt Gingrich reiterated that sentiment on the air on Sunday. Referred to as a “political odd couple,” Gingrich and Sharpton are standing on common ground.

So I ask, “Is education above our differences?”



To what extent are moral and ethical considerations taken into account in educational decision making? Take unhealthy school lunches as an example. Burgers and fries and pizza and hot dogs, while I will support on occasion [smile], are not healthy choices. We’ve known for a bazillion years what healthy food is and how important smart nutritional choices are for students. But of course it requires more money and resources to provide fresh/nutritional/healthy meal and snack options.

The “right” thing [also moral/ethical] is to provide the babies with what’s good for them! I appreciate what’s happening in the Baltimore City Public Schools – locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, meatless Mondays, and nutritional education to name a few.


I contemplate these kinds of things quite often. I’ve never been a principal or a superintendent, so my perspective is not balanced. But here’s what I know about teaching: Teaching is CHALLENGING. Anyone who says that it is not, is LYING, and I’ll be bold enough to say that they were not trying HARD ENOUGH to be the best teacher they could be.

However, let’s just see where people’s thoughts are on this poll – and if you could say a little bit about what makes the role you’ve chosen the most challenging, that would be lovely!

Education Policy & Practice

September 2022

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