Education Week - May 20, 2015 - (Page 24)
State Teachers of the Year
Defend the Common Core
To the Editor:
In any profession, there are outstanding
individuals who inspire others to greater
heights. Teaching is no different in this regard,
and we are proud to stand among our peers
as Teachers of the Year in our states. We are
united in our commitment to educate our
students in a way that puts them on the road
to success after graduation. And we mourn
the loss of excellent teachers we see leaving
our profession too soon because they feel their
impact has lessened.
We are also united in our frustration
about the maelstrom of misinformation on
the Common Core State Standards that
has become so pervasive as to be considered
truth. Unfortunately, false statements on
the common core have been perpetuated
by some of our profession's most respected
teachers, such as Nancie Atwell, the winner
of the first Global Teacher Prize, who recently
discouraged today's students from becoming
tomorrow's teachers ("Honored Educator
Decries Current Climate for Teaching," April
We want to set the record straight by
explaining what the common core is-and
what it isn't.
The common core is not a federal takeover
of our schools, nor does it force teachers into a
rigid model for classroom instruction, as Ms.
Atwell's comments suggest. In fact, under the
common core, teachers have greater flexibility
to design their classroom lessons-and can,
for the first time, take advantage of the best
practices from great teachers in other states.
As teachers, we are the experts on what
happens in our classrooms. We know best
how to structure lessons so that both high
achievers and struggling learners can master
concepts and apply their learning to reallife
situations. The common core also gives
educators the flexibility to adjust to students'
multiple learning styles while allowing those
same students to progress at their own pace.
Moreover, the standards preserve and
strengthen local control by ensuring that
classroom teachers make the day-to-day
decisions, and that longer-term curriculum
planning is done at the district level.
As teachers, we want all of our students to
achieve to their full potential. Yes, the common
core creates a pathway to success. But it's just
the path. The steps on that path are taken
by teachers and parents alike who bolster
students through academic frustrations and
celebrate their achievements.
We are proud to be teachers, proud of our
profession, and proud to be helping students
take strides on their path to becoming welleducated,
This letter was written collectively and in partnership with the
Collaborative for Student Success, and signed by the following
State Teachers of the Year, listed with their years of selection:
Alison Grizzle, Alabama, 2014; Amanda McAdams, Arizona, 2011;
Kristie Martorelli, Arizona, 2012; Beth Maloney, Arizona, 2014;
John-David Bowman, Arizona, 2015; Ouida Newton, Arkansas,
2015; Elizabeth Miner, Colorado, 2014; Jemelleh Coes, Georgia,
2014; Jeff Baxter, Kansas, 2014; Melody Arabo, Michigan, 2015;
Angie Miller, New Hampshire, 2011; Jeff Hinton, Nevada, 2014;
James Ford, North Carolina, 2015; Lori Michalec, Ohio, 2015;
Karen Vogelsang, Tennessee, 2015; Mike Funkhouser, West
Virginia, 2013; Terry Kaldhusdal, Wisconsin, 2011; Amy Traynor,
Wisconsin, 2013; Jane McMahon, Wisconsin, 2014; Diana
Callope, Wisconsin, 2015; and Mick Wiest, Wyoming, 2014.
Governor's School Choice Essay
Ignores Research, Critic Says
To the Editor:
While Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's
support for more choice among public schools
has been positive, his Commentary "School
Choice Works, Privatization Won't" (April 22,
2015) is short-sighted and disappointing.
He overlooks the vital role of parents
in holding schools directly accountable.
School choice programs cultivate localized,
parent-driven accountability. The "exit"
option is a powerful signal allowing parents
to hold accountable private schools and
public charter schools. A warning of student
departure provides a strong incentive for a
Making the Right
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 28
the power was out and the computer
systems were down. Guests were being
asked to sign in on paper and to write
down their credit card numbers-and
many people were doing it. In a school,
this lack of vigilance would place our students'
data at tremendous risk.
What this experience teaches us is that
technology alone cannot ensure studentdata
privacy. Instead, we need to enact a
massive cultural shift. School administrators
must understand that student-data
privacy is not just a concern for IT administrators,
but also for the executive leadership,
who must take responsibility to
drive the change needed throughout their
organizations. All the security patches in
the world don't do much good when information
is locally stored on a laptop that
can be left in a car, or a network-security
password is taped to a computer monitor.
To drive this cultural shift, we must
take a holistic look at how sophisticated
and complex student-data privacy has
become. We must rigorously explore the
implications for kids, parents, and school
A year ago, a nationwide snowstorm
canceled classes after school had started,
so the students needed to be picked up.
Some were at school, some were still on the
bus, and many parents were stuck as well.
This created a situation in which parents
did not know where their children were,
and gps technology could have played an
important role. Location tracking, however,
adds a host of privacy issues we haven't
had to deal with until recently: how to
track student locations, whom to share this
information with, and what to do if parents
wish to opt out.
Regardless of whether a school is rural,
suburban, or urban, or is large or small,
there are a few fundamentals I can offer
from my experience in school technology to
help protect student-data privacy:
* Build data-privacy policies into your
school culture, so that every faculty and
administrative staff member is thinking
about it whenever student data is involved.
Promote this approach among all employees,
from the newest teacher up to the superintendent.
Be very wary of "free" technology solutions.
You may end up paying with students'
data, rather than cash.
* When you work with a technology company,
don't just ask for a product demonstration.
Demand an executive briefing that
will show you step by step and scenario by
scenario exactly how data will be protected.
* Data privacy often has legal implications;
make sure school or district lawyers
are involved in the policymaking process.
* Take advantage of reliable online resources
that clarify why data privacy is
important, best-in-class privacy standards,
and strategies for tailoring a school's or district's
Making these principles a priority will
not only provide a solid basis for improving
will also help create better and more equitable
educational opportunities for all
When my daughter started middle
school this year, I felt a tingle of déjà vu
when I looked at her school supply list.
I checked it against supply lists I found
online for an array of districts around
the country and realized it was the same
school supply list I was given when I was
her age. As William Gibson famously said
in the early '90s, "The future is already
here; it's just not evenly distributed." Even
now, schools are often unable to make the
best use of technology.
My daughter is fortunate in that I'm in
a position to spark her curiosity at home
through tech tools. She can use a usb microscope
to look at a tooth that she lost, or
navigate a drone in our backyard to learn
about geospatial information and geography.
But all children should have the opportunity
for such customized and technologically
enhanced experiences, while their
parents and educators work together to
ensure their privacy is protected. n
24 | EDUCATION WEEK | May 20, 2015 | www.edweek.org/go/commentary
Is the Public Ever
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by commercial enterprises is ubiquitous.
Companies track for criticism of their
brands, to understand consumer sentiment,
and sometimes to respond to specific
consumer problems. The Comcast
staffer managing the @ComcastCares
Twitter handle even became a minor Internet
hero for his efforts to address concerns
that consumers of that cable giant
were venting about on Twitter.
However, the line between monitoring
consumer sentiment in general and
tracking individual customers is unclear
and ill-defined. Companies need to understand
public perceptions about both
different types of online tracking and different
sorts of consumer concerns.
Monitoring by schools appears to be
even more complex. Many schools and
districts have reacted to school shootings,
student suicides, and bullying concerns
by connecting with social-media-monitoring
companies to help them identify
problems for which school personnel,
parents, or even law enforcement may
need to take action. Parents appear to
have largely accepted this general practice.
In fact, when tragedies have taken
place, the first reaction has often been to
scour social media to see whether there
were clues that should have led to action
Yet many parents had the opposite reaction
to the recent revelation that Pearson-the
educational testing and publishing
company-was monitoring social
media for any discussion by students of
test questions on the Partnership for Assessment
Readiness for College and Careers,
or parcc, a national standardized
test. Pearson explained that its action
was part of ensuring a fair testing environment.
Further, the company was actually
obligated by its state contracts and
by test-certification standards to ensure
that test questions weren't being shared
In this case, state education officials defended
Pearson's activity, and noted that
monitoring for the sharing of test questions
by students is a longtime practice
conducted by most states. Some of the
most vocal critics of the social monitoring
were also strong critics of standardized
testing, suggesting displeasure with standardized
testing in general, as much as
the privacy issues raised in their criticism.
Since the alternative of turning a blind
eye to online evidence of sharing test
questions or answers isn't feasible, it appears
that such monitoring will continue
to be required by states and test providers.
Policies that oversee who does the
monitoring, and ensure that school officials
handle decisions about any warnings
or student discipline, will need to be
It is evident that new digital capabilities,
along with the enhanced capacity to
ubiquitously monitor and analyze individuals,
are disrupting social norms. Some
privacy thought leaders are developing
a concept of "privacy through obscurity,"
which explores the legal and ethical issues
involving privacy in public spaces.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency, or darpa, the military agency
famous for developing the Internet, has
just launched a major effort to fund technologies
that help secure online privacy
U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Jared Polis
have recently introduced student-privacy
legislation backed by the White House,
but the proposed bill focuses on ensuring
that vendors don't misuse student data,
without reaching the broader challenge of
how to promise privacy for data shared in
Our increasing capacity to monitor and
analyze activities both online and off-
to address real problems and to deter
threats-can be beneficial. But it is clear
that we don't yet know how to strike the
right balance between monitoring and
tracking-while allowing individuals to
vent, blow off steam, and otherwise freely
express themselves online without feeling
Chris Whetzel for Education Week
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 20, 2015
Education Week - May 20, 2015
Gifted Programs Miss Disadvantaged Students
Army of Scorers Tackles Common-Core Tests
Groups Aim to Smooth Student-Police Relations
U.S. Senate Proposal Puts Spotlight On ‘Open Educational Resources’
Civil Rights Data Detail Increase In Complaints
News in Brief
Accountability Measures for Traits Like ‘Grit’ Questioned
Long-Term Gains Seen for Kids Who Move Out of Poverty
Blogs of the Week
Selective Public Schools Struggle to Diversify Enrollments
Illinois Policymakers Scramble After Pension Law Struck Down
Student-Data Use a Key Issue In Debates Over Privacy Bills
Blogs of the Week
Why Not Practice What We Preached?
Education Has to Be a ‘Human Business’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Making the Right Commitment to Student-Data Privacy
Is the Public Ever Really Private?
Education Week - May 20, 2015