Richard Dawkins loses the argument, while Neil deGrasse Tyson persuades…


One of the questions that comes up with CCSS-ELA writing is,  ”What the heck is ‘argumentative’ writing, and is that just a new buzz-word for persuasive writing?” We’re assured that NO, it is not the same thing, and as with reading, will require that one sticks to the facts because (according to some) no one cares what students think. A perfect examplar of this can be found in this succint piece comparing the two styles of writing that was posted on Twitter, Persuasive vs. Argumentative Writing (via Caitlin Tucker), and reminded me of everything that makes these new standards so annoying. The piece perfectly captures the patronizing tone of CCSS, and the attitude that we know best, and the best is…well crap. It just reeks of all the psuedo-objectivity that abounds in CCSS-ELA. This was one of my favorite parts:

Audience of argumentative writing:
Doesn’t need an audience to convince. The writer is
content with simply putting it out there

Because it echoes something Neil deGrasse Tyson says here:

Which leads to my conclusion/title…

The Downside of Grit


This should be subtitled, why social media will never replace a good bookmarking program/site. I came across this intriguing article listing some of the long-term health problems that increase in people who experience upward mobility due to their personal effort. Read the rest of this entry »

A rose by another name…


Name Calling Has Gotten To Be A Nasty Habit
Sherman Dorn, unlike some of us, is a classy blogger. He had a recent post on the overuse of certain terms and created an Education Noise index. I was on the road at the time, but shot off a comment asking given the egregious excesses, what would you use to describe the behavior of Michelle Rhee.

Dr. Dorn challenged me to think of a new term, so I’ve decided that for folks who are clearly sucking at the teat of public and private philanthropic dollars (I’m looking at you Michelle Rhee and Wendy Kopp) deserve the term edu-kleptocrats. For those spreading their largess and influence (Bill Gates, Rep. George Miller, New Venture Funds, the Walton Family — the ones in Arkansas) the term edu-oligarchs fits, since they have undo influence and are in no way creating a “free” or “open” market for ideas, students, or anyone but themselves and their favored kleptocratic allies. I think this fits well with the political zeitgeist of the time with the when folks will cry victim at the same time they impose Soviet-style strong-arm tactics (I’ll leave it to you to decide if that refers to Eva Moskowitz or Putin in the Ukraine).

Obviously these terms are too strong a term for folks who are just in love with the idea and “promise” of so-called “reform” in public education. For them, I’ll reserve the term edu-weenie because, it just fits.

Image credit: Name Calling Has Gotten To Be A Nasty Habit by outtacontext, on Flickr

Rotten to the CORE


The following piece was written by fellow Sacramento Teacher, Lori Jablonski and appears on The Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education Website:

Few would argue that we need relief from the test-driven reform failure that is No Child Left Behind; unfortunately, the remedy that President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have provided states and school districts through the Race to the Top waiver would prove even more harmful to the future of public schools, the teaching profession, and the education of our children.  That’s why the state of California has refused to adopt specific policies that federal education officials consider necessary to win a waiver from No Child Left Behind sanctions.  Among these is the mandated adoption of test-based teacher accountability measures.
Read the rest of this entry »

Week in Class: Weeks 13-20 the Lost Files


Hidden Message in Credit Card
I have been a super-bad correspondent since winter break started over a month ago. For this I will apologize. Writing about what I am actually doing in my class is important, and not just for the handful of readers perusing my blog. It’s important for me to think honestly about my practices, and to try to do better. What was I doing?

  1. I had a major bought of nesting around my home, putting in a nook, reorganizing my study and kitchen, canning marmalade (not so successful, but still lots of fun).
  2. I relaxed, I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve been spending time with family, watching Netflix, and reading novels. For the first time, my husband took off all Thanksgiving week, and two weeks at Christmas to spend so we were ALL together for a break.
  3. I’ve been working with colleagues at my work discussing what we’re doing with Common Core and in our classrooms more generally.

My time has not been wasted, but I’m overdue to get back on the blogging habit, so…here I am. Read the rest of this entry »

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Creative Commons License
All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Howdy! I teach sixth grade at an elementary school in Sacramento, CA. I started my career in Oakland, Ca, and moved here to Sacramento in 2001.

My goals are:

  1. To reflect on how I am teaching, and how effective my practices are;
  2. To reflect on my profession, and how effective various practices are;
  3. To understand the political and cultural context that we teach in; and,
  4. To network with other like-minded educators.

To help me reach my goals, I use this blog as a place for me to reflect on best practices, and the practices I’m (trying to) putting in place in my classroom.

I can be contacted here.


The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not those of Sacramento City Unified School District.