It's not often that a scathing academic study about business schools and front-page news about a Wall Street scandal are published simultaneously. But such was the case when three Harvard Graduate Business School scholars released "Rethinking the M.B.A.: Business Education at a Crossroads," and the New York Times reported that the SEC had filed a civil complaint against Goldman Sachs for securities fraud. The confluence of the two events warrants a closer look because of its relevance to the debate over reforming K-12 schools. The professors charged that business schools contributed to the economic meltdown of 2008 by ...


Gov. Charlie Crist's veto on Apr. 15 of a bill that would have eliminated tenure for public school teachers in Florida and linked their pay to student performance on standardized tests was seen as a bellwether. But the issues raised are far from dead. As a result, this is a propitious time to take a closer look at three lessons that emerge from the state's experience. First, tenure is a two-edged sword. Although it is given too soon in a teacher's career and has been abused, it provides teachers with due-process rights. Brooklyn Technical High School, one of four elite ...


Public schools have been depicted as an unmitigated failure for so long that it comes as a surprise to many people to learn the truth is far more nuanced. U.S. News & World Report serves as Exhibit A ("Methodology: America's Best High Schools," Dec. 9, 2009). Its 2010 analysis of 21,786 public high schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia provides compelling evidence that the bleak characterization is overstated. The magazine hired School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education data research firm of Standard & Poor's, to determine which high schools could produce measurable academic outcomes to demonstrate that ...


The cover story of the latest issue of TIME magazine serves as an example of how journalists often get in over their heads in reporting on educational issues ("Should Schools Bribe Kids? Apr. 19). Amanda Ripley looked into the work of Harvard economist Roland Fryer Jr., who wanted to know if cash is the answer to motivating students to learn. Ripley described how Fryer eventually convinced 143 schools in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington to participate. Half the students were randomly selected as a control group (students received no cash) and the other half were randomly selected as the ...


The big news out of Washington D.C. last week was the tentative deal reached between unionized teachers and reform advocates that avoided a high-noon showdown. By consenting to tie compensation largely - although not completely - to improved standardized test scores, the local union retreated from its longstanding opposition on the issue. There were other important concessions made by the Washington Teachers' Union, but they took a back seat to pay-for-performance. So let's take a closer look at the details of this specific section. First, the pay-for-performance plan is voluntary. At present, teachers can earn a maximum of $87,000....


The Wall Street Journal's publication of a letter to the editor on Mar. 30 ("Free-Market Accountability Could Rescue Our Schools") in response to an op-ed on Mar. 25 ("Why Freer Schools Are Better Schools") cries out for a rebuttal. Bob Schoolfield, who wrote the letter, is president of Let's Choose Schools in Texas! He argued that there is a fundamental difference between government accountability and free-market accountability. The latter "provides for mutual responsibility, not entitlement." This is the opposite of a mandate system, which is what presently exists in this country. Fair enough. But then Schoolfield goes on to write ...


Reformers today increasingly stress the indispensability of passion for inspired teaching. Its place in the classroom is illustrated by the title of a popular book, "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" (Viking Press, 2007) by Rafe Esquith, winner of numerous prestigious awards as an elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. But passion by definition is an intense emotion that is hard to sustain over a protracted period. Most public school teachers at the high school level, for example, teach five classes a day five days a week. How likely is it that they can teach all ...


The tributes to Jaime Escalante, who died on Mar. 30, are for a teacher whose success with inner-city students read like a work of fiction. He achieved the seeming impossible at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles by posting a pass rate of more than 90 percent on the famously difficult Advanced Placement calculus test. In so doing, he instilled in his students the importance of determination and perseverance. But fed up with petty jealousies among the faculty, Escalante quit in 1991 to teach at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, where he intended to apply the same methods. ...


The release of a set of proposed national academic standards on Mar. 10 is likely to intensify interest in three tests that purport to measure the ability of the U.S. to compete in the new global economy. The trio are known by their acronyms: PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS. Although they are given periodically to samples of students in countries around the globe, they are given too much importance. PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests 15-year-old students in reading, math and science every three years. The test is designed to measure the ability of students to apply their skills ...


When a panel of educators released a set of proposed national standards on March 9 to replace the crazy quilt of locally written standards, the blueprint was rightly hailed as a long overdue step to assure that students are prepared for college or career. But before uncorking the champagne, reformers need to follow through with a plan that provides appropriate evidence about student learning. What comes to mind immediately is the use of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Often referred to as the nation's report card, NAEP would seem to be the ideal instrument for this task. After all, ...


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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