Repeating something often enough does not make it true. But don't try telling that to corporate executives. The latest example is an attempt by Brad Smith, the executive vice president and general counsel of Microsoft, to convince readers that there are some 3,400 open jobs at Microsoft for engineers, software developers and researchers that can't be filled because schools are not turning out enough workers with the necessary skills ("How to Reduce America's Talent Deficit," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 19). Smith says that other companies face the same problem. As a result, he advocates a national Race to ...


The only conclusion I can draw from the recent decision by a state district court in Texas is that the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply there. I'm referring to a temporary injunction against the Kountze school district prohibiting it from enforcing a ban on Bible-themed banners at school events ("Texas Judge, Siding With Cheerleaders, Allows Bible Verses on Banners at School Games," The New York Times, Oct. 19). In his ruling, the judge sided with the governor and attorney general that the ban violated a state law requiring schools to treat student expression of religion the same way it treated ...


In the face of financial woes not seen since the Great Depression, school districts are resorting to unprecedented practices to stay solvent. I've written before about how some districts allow corporations to place their advertisements on campuses for a fee. The latest move, however, makes such tactics seem insignificant. It involves putting school buildings on the market to raise cash ("School District Bets Future on Real Estate," The New York Times, Sept. 5). Realizing that it had no other viable alternative, Gervais, an Oregon farm community located an hour south of Portland, bit the bullet and put three of five ...


How much weight should be given to student complaints about their teachers? I ask that question because the evaluation of teachers in the years ahead is expected to include input from students in addition to input from principals, peers and parents ("Seeking Aid, School Districts Change Teacher Evaluations," The New York Times, Oct. 16). I welcome the change. But I have reservations about placing inordinate reliance on student comments. Although students spend considerable face time with teachers, that doesn't necessarily mean they are able to judge their teachers fairly. Take the most familiar complaint that a teacher is boring. A ...


When teachers first argued against the use of standardized tests to judge their effectiveness, they were accused of trying to avoid accountability. But their cause has now been picked up by parents, who certainly can't be said to be opposed to accountability when their own children are involved. I have reference to parent activists in New York City, home of the nation's largest school district ("Dear Teacher, Johnny Is Skipping the Test," The New York Times, Oct. 14). A small but growing number of parents are showing their disdain for standardized tests by boycotting both field testing and actual testing. ...


Is there really a teacher shortage in this country? The usual data cited are from the U.S. Department of Education's Digest of Education Statistics. It shows that in 1970 there were 2.06 million public school teachers, or one for every 22.3 students. Today, there are 3.27 million public school teachers, or one for every 15.2 students. At first glance, these numbers seem to indicate that there is no teacher shortage and that class sizes are not too big ("The Imaginary Teacher Shortage," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 9). But these conclusions are misleading. First, the ...


The SEC requires investors to be warned in a prospectus that past performance is no guarantee of future results. I think state licensing departments should warn teacher candidates that their past behavior is guaranteed to come back to haunt them. I was reminded of this by the case of Tiffany Webb, a 37-year-old high school guidance counselor in the New York City system who was fired after 12 years of exemplary service because she seductively posed in her undergarments several years before she became a teacher in 1999 ("Manhattan HS guidance counselor stripped of job over steamy-photo past," New York ...


I have great respect for Alfie Kohn, but I disagree with what he recently wrote as a guest blogger ("Do kids really learn from failure? Why conventional wisdom may be wrong," The Answer Sheet, Oct. 4). If I read him correctly, he believes that nothing good comes from failing. "But are we entitled to conclude ... that failure is beneficial, or that parents and teachers should deliberately stand back rather than help out?" The answer to the first question is yes, while the answer to the second question is no. There's a distinct difference between disengagement on the part of parents ...


I thought that the U.S. Supreme Court had made it clear in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969 that students did not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Yet on Oct. 2, a 15-year-old high school student in the New York City school system was sent home when she refused to change her T-shirt that said "I Enjoy Vagina" ("School sends home bisexual Queens student who wears 'I enjoy vagina' T-shirt," New York Daily News, Oct. 3). The girl's mother supported her right to wear the T-shirt, ...


The growing popularity of parental choice is having unintended consequences for school finances. The situation in Inglewood, California is a case in point. The school district there has experienced a 20 percent overall decline in enrollment since 2006, creating a fiscal emergency ("Jerry Brown's School Bailout," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2). But school districts by law cannot declare bankruptcy. Instead, they are taken over by a state-appointed receiver who operates the schools while attempting to balance the books. (I wrote about the subject in "When States Seize Schools: A Cautionary Tale," Education Week, Jun. 12, 2007.) The reasons for ...


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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