High school seniors who plan to attend a four-year college or university may want to rethink their choices if getting a job is their primary concern. The Wall Street Journal published the results of its survey of top corporate recruiters in a front-page story on Sept. 13 ("Penn State Tops Recruiter Rankings"). It found that they preferred graduates of state universities over the Ivies and elite liberal arts colleges. Recruiters said that graduates of top public universities possess the practical skills that their corporate employers are seeking. As a result, prospective students are being advised by their counselors to ask ...


In the midst of today's deep recession when unions would be expected to be indivisible, a nascent movement is calling that view into question. Since it began in March in New York City, Educators 4 Excellence has signed up 700 teachers who believe that the United Federation of Teachers does not represent its priorities in educating students in the nation's largest school district. Although the new group's membership pales in comparison with the 80,000 teachers in the UFT, it is a counterintuitive development that warrants closer examination. The immediate cause of the formation of Educators 4 Excellence is the ...


The data released by the Census Department on Sept. 16 are grim. The percentage of Americans living in poverty is the highest in 15 years, with children feeling the rise most acutely. The news has direct implications for reformers intent on narrowing the academic achievement gap and for states competing for the Race to the Top funds. With one in five children affected - more than 15 million - and with little relief in sight, teachers will find their best efforts unlikely to be enough to turn around the worst schools. That's because most failing schools are disproportionately populated by ...


Although the primary election on Sept. 14 in Washington D.C. was billed as a contest between Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council Chairman Vincent Gray, in actuality it was a referendum on Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. That's because the differences between the two candidates on the ballot ultimately came down to their views on her leadership of the troubled school district. Rhee made this clear when she unabashedly campaigned for Fenty, who had appointed her soon after he was successful in getting legislation passed that eliminated D.C.'s elected school board and gave him full control on June 1, ...


In theory, parental choice of schools is supposed to assure educational equity. But in practice, the strategy has not always worked out that way. Reports from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York City, for example, illustrate why the devil is always in the details. For starters, the system is terribly confusing to even the most sophisticated parents. In an attempt to provide all parents with the opportunity to enroll their children in schools that best meet their needs and interests, officials have created rules worthy of a Solomon to decipher. Los Angeles uses a points system for parents ...


An experiment that allows teachers to run schools as they see fit is slowly gaining traction across the country. A front-page story on Sept. 7 in the New York Times described the latest effort taking place in Newark N.J. ("In a New Role, Teachers Move to Run Schools"). If the strategy succeeds in turning around failing schools, it will likely encourage more teachers to throw their hats into the ring. That's because schools that are run by teachers report higher morale, less turnover and greater motivation to improve, according to Education Evolving, a St. Paul policy group specializing in ...


It's easy to forget at the start of the fall semester that private schools enjoy certain advantages over their public school counterparts. I was reminded of this difference by the Little Lake Free School in Ann Arbor, Mich. that opened its doors on Sept. 7. It is the antithesis of the standardization of education that is sweeping the country. First, the school's curriculum is determined by what students want to learn, rather than what teachers tell them to learn. The idea is that their natural curiosity will lead them on the road to discovery. The responsibility of teachers, therefore, is ...


To date, reformers have focused almost exclusively on the performance of teachers in an attempt to improve educational quality. But education is not their sole responsibility. I wrote about the crucial role that parents play in the process ("The Untouchables in School Reform," Sept. 3). Now it's time to examine the performance of principals. The latest reminder of how principals can poison the learning atmosphere comes out of Washington D.C. Jay Mathews, education columnist for the Washington Post, exposed the risk that even the best teachers run when they criticize their principals ("Transfer of D.C. teacher Erich Martel ...


If the new standardized tests slated to make their debut in the 2014-15 school year turn out as their designers promise, classroom instruction will enter a new era. Until now, teachers have argued that the tests in wide use largely measure achievement of low-level cognitive goals. As a result, even if teachers were able to post impressive gains for their students, educational quality was unavoidably sacrificed in the process. But the two groups responsible for creating the new instruments in English and math (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) have ...


Right now, teachers are under the microscope in an attempt to identify which ones are effective based on the value-added model. There's no question that better ways need to be developed and implemented to make that determination. But what is lost in the debate is the role that other figures play in educational outcomes. Strangely, parents have so far evaded similar scrutiny. This oversight is cause for deep concern as the new school year begins. Parental involvement in the achievement of students is well supported by a broad body of empirical evidence. The most recent data come from the Harlem ...


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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