Commentary: What I learned in school this year
With this essay, Ellie Herman concludes her year in the classroom — and sharing her observations and insights with LA School Report. This year, I had the remarkable experience of taking the academic year off to visit high schools across the socioeconomic spectrum in L.A. in an attempt to understand better what we mean when...
By Ellie Herman | May 28, 2014
Commentary: Why aren’t we listening to our teachers?
I’m fed up with the inefficiency of the judicial system! I’m going to become a judge. I may not be a lawyer, but I’ve been a law-abiding citizen all my life, I mean, how hard could it be? I have 20 years of business experience in the TV industry. When I blow into the courtroom...
By Ellie Herman | May 14, 2014
Commentary: Another test, but what is it, exactly?
In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, “When the Circus Descends,” David Brooks derided opponents of Common Core Standards, implying that they were ideologues on the far left and far right making “hysterical claims and fevered accusations.” But as I visit classrooms across the city talking to teachers about the Common Core,...
By Ellie Herman | April 29, 2014
Commentary: Best gift of more money is gift of more time
Under the new Local Control Funding Formula, LA Unified schools in underserved communities will be given $837 million to meet the needs of students in poverty, English learners and children in foster care. It’s not yet clear exactly how that money will be allocated, and it’s still less than what we’ve thrown at iPads. But...
By Ellie Herman | April 16, 2014
Commentary: The years when learning matters the most
The architects are huddled in an intense meeting. Problems have arisen: the supports for the tower appear insufficient, causing balance issues. Should they proceed with the plans they’ve envisioned or make modifications for a less ambitious approach? The leader is unequivocal: the vision will be executed. His team shrugs, then proceeds in accordance with the...
By Ellie Herman | April 1, 2014
Commentary: With an API delay, a step toward real accountability
California has just suspended the calculation of API scores until 2016—and that’s cause for celebration by those of us who believe in meaningful accountability. I know, many people are freaking out because they believe this suspension of scores will leave schools in low-income communities free to go down the toilet for two full years while...
By Ellie Herman | March 18, 2014
Commentary: Where I would spend the ‘Local Control’ money
Want to play the least fun game in the world? It’s called “Principal for a Day.” I know, back when you were five, it used to sound so fun to follow the principal around, issuing commands—Extra recess for everyone! Free donuts in the cafeteria!—but thanks to years of budget cuts, the game is no longer...
By Ellie Herman | March 5, 2014
Commentary: When our students are living in a book desert
He was beefy and laconic, rumored to be gang-affiliated. Kids whispered that he stood outside of school in the early mornings selling weed, though we could never catch him at it. He was also brilliant. If you define “intellectual” as a person who takes delight in the process of abstract thinking, Xavier was one of...
By Ellie Herman | February 18, 2014
Commentary: Why Vergara won’t solve the real teacher problem
Bad teachers need to leave. And it is a gross injustice that they are disproportionately congregated in low-income communities. Right now, because of Vergara vs. California, the lawsuit waged against education laws alleged to protect bad teachers, there is a tremendous amount of public anger directed at those teachers. But to fire grossly incompetent teachers...
By Ellie Herman | February 4, 2014
Commentary: If iPads are the answer, what’s the question?
“I don’t have to stress that a billion dollars is an insane amount of money,” Jacques assures me right away. I feel much better. I was starting to think I was the one who was insane. To understand how LAUSD’s billion dollar commitment to Apple iPads makes any sense, I’ve consulted a panel of experts:...
By Ellie Herman | January 21, 2014