Two recent court rulings about the right of students to exercise free speech have left me baffled. I'm referring to the decisions initially handed down in February in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia but now up for reconsideration. One case involved a middle school student and the other a high school student. Both dealt with vulgar remarks they posted online from their homes about their respective principals. Yet despite the similarities—at least to my thinking—one panel of the federal court decided in favor of the high school student, and the other panel ruled in favor...


The agreement reached last month between the District of Columbia and the union representing its 4,000 teachers was hailed by the Wall Street Journal in an editorial on July 1 as a model for school districts across the country ("Teacher Tenure Breakout"). The Journal's jubilation was understandable because the contract established the rules for tenure, seniority and pay that the newspaper and others had long fought for. Equally important - or arguably more important - in their eyes, it demonstrated that determined education reformers can stand up to hidebound teachers unions and triumph. But the question no one is ...


Lost in the debate over school choice is the rapidly growing home school movement. At last count, an estimated 2 million children, or about 4 percent of the total school-age population, were receiving their education in this setting. The number of children learning at home is expanding by 15 to 20 percent a year, according to the Department of Education. Home schooling was in the news most recently in February, when a German family was granted asylum in the U.S. because home schooling is illegal in their native land. The Romeikes wanted to teach their five children in a ...


Just when the heated debate over the payoff of a four-year college degree seemed to have died down, The Weekly Standard published a piece in the July 5-12 issue that is sure to reignite the flames ("Obama's Crusade Against Profits"). Andrew Ferguson, the magazine's senior editor, argued that the only genuine difference between non-profit (traditional) and for-profit (proprietary) colleges is that the latter earn a profit. He believes "nowadays that's enough to make you suspect." Actually, there's more to the story than what Ferguson maintains. Let's start with the numbers. Despite the cost, enrollment in proprietary colleges has soared. Average ...


It's time to acknowledge that parental choice of schools is the wave of the future. Its foes can continue to try to stall its growth through a series of rear guard actions, but they will not succeed in derailing the movement. It is too powerful. The only question, therefore, is the form that parental choice will ultimately take. There is an urgency to the issue, however, that is not fully appreciated. I say that because the education of children is time-sensitive. Education Department data show that children from disadvantaged backgrounds enter kindergarten already three months behind the national average in ...


Although the start of the fall semester is months away, obsessed seniors are already hard at work polishing their applications in the belief that the admissions process is a meritocracy. What they don't understand or don't want to accept is that it is a marketplace in which every opening is up for bids. The number of slots that have been set aside for legacies (children of alumni) and development admits (children who wouldn't be accepted but for wealthy parents who might donate large sums to the school) serves as an example. This tilted playing field is nothing new. In The ...


The school year is finally over, but zealous students will not be spending the summer months as they did in days of yore. Instead, they'll be honing their skills either for the SAT or the ACT, which still count heavily for admission to most marquee-name colleges. For years the SAT was the overwhelming choice of high school seniors. But the ACT's growth is outpacing its competitor. The competition pits the College Board, owner of the former, against American College Testing, owner of the latter. Once more popular in the Midwest and the South, the ACT is overtaking the SAT in ...


As the largest non-government provider of education in the U.S., Catholic schools are considered a sensitive gauge of the health of this sector. That's why the news out of San Francisco regarding the uncertain future of Stuart Hall High School is noteworthy. In the 10 years that Stuart Hall has been in operation, it has established a reputation for academic excellence. Yet even its 2010-11 tuition of $32,500 is not enough to offset a $1.1 million budget shortfall ("Exclusive Private School in Danger of Failing"). Readers will be quick to point out that Stuart Hall is an ...


The school year is finally over, but summer vacation won't be the idyllic time of yore for many high school students. Instead, it will be a season of prepping for either the SAT or the ACT, both of which still determine to a large extent admission to most marquee-name colleges and universities. Until fairly recently, the SAT totally dominated the field, but the ACT is slowly gaining ground on its rival. The competition pits the College Board, which owns the SAT, against American College Testing, which owns the ACT. The latter has been around only since 1959, while the former ...


Cheating by educators on high-stakes standardized tests is on the rise. A blatant reminder appeared on the front page of The New York Times on June 11 ("Under Pressure, Teachers Tamper With Test Scores"). As a result of an investigation prompted by suspicions that educators had erased incorrect responses and substituted correct ones in 191 schools in Georgia in February, 11 teachers and administrators were referred to a state agency with the power to revoke their licenses. The Times followed up this story with an editorial on June 18 that focused on cheating at an elementary school in Baltimore as ...


The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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