Bryant, Jeff

Are Teacher Evaluations Education Reform's Biggest Bust?

By Jeff Bryant

Would you like your job performance judged by a 5-year-old?

That's a relevant question for public school teachers in Hawaii, where the state's new teacher evaluation system attributes 10 percent of their job performance rating on what children as young as 5 years old think.

Although 10 percent may not seem like a whole lot, in a metric based evaluation system where harsh judgments of "effective" versus "needs improvement" can swing either way based on a point or two, 100 percent can be 100 percent of the reason for a bad grade.

But the child's portion is not the sole problem Hawaiian teachers are having with their new evaluation system, which will ultimately affect their pay and can subject them to penalties as severe as termination.

Support Efforts To Rein In For-Profit Colleges

By Jeff Bryant

The good news coming from the U.S. Department of Education recently is the effort to put tougher restrictions on for-profit scam colleges that rip off students, families and the taxpayers.

The bad news is that not all Democrats are behind this effort and pushing for the tighter restrictions.

Think Progress last week passed along a report from The Wall Street Journal that Big Ed has drafted a rewrite of regulations to rein in “for-profit schools whose students end up deep in debt or default on their student loans at exceptionally high rates.”

Critical Questions Democrats Must Ask About School Choice

By Jeff Bryant
Campaign for America's Future

Left-leaning people everywhere recently got a hoot when the Texas Republican Party declared its opposition to the teaching of "Higher Order Thinking Skills," including "critical thinking skills," in public schools. Although a party spokesperson later back-peddled from that statement -- saying that including "critical thinking skills" in their declaration was a "mistake" -- there's little doubt that what these Republicans object to most is any sort of education that would challenge "fixed beliefs" and "authority."

Frankly, I don't see what Republicans are so worried about. Because when it comes to the subject of education, there's very little evidence that critical thinking is widespread these days, especially among the people who Republicans are supposed to worry about most -- Democrats.

Get Ready For The Edu-Debt Crisis

By Jeff Bryant

Last week the US House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, passed a bill, H.R. 2117, with the misleading title of The Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act.

The title is misleading because the bill has absolutely nothing to do with "protecting academic freedom" and everything to do with making our country more vulnerable to a rapacious campaign to turn America's entire system of education into an enterprise that can be exploited by corporate rentiers.

Today's Big Idea To Get America Working: Invest In Public Education

By Jeff Bryant

I don't think anyone has ever even tried to make the argument that education and jobs are not in any way linked. But the economic argument for education is not well understood even by those -- politicians especially -- who are most apt to make the connection. So before we demand that political and civic leaders at all levels turn around our troubled economy by increasing investment in public education, we need to get the framing right.

You Can't Blame The Bad Economy On Education

A truly specious argument about education and its relationship to the economy is that economic failures are "caused" by inadequate public schools. Both conservatives and "liberals" are often guilty of making this charge.