At a time when public schools need all the support they can get from taxpayers, their cause was set back by the unfolding of events in a small Mojave community. On July 20, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled that parents in the Adelanto Elementary School District had the right to take control of the Desert Trails Elementary School under California's parent trigger law ("Judge Backs Push for Charter School," The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 24). When the parent trigger was passed in 2010, it seemed perfectly clear. If a majority of parents sign a petition, a ...


Corporate America complains that it has to hire workers from abroad because it can't find enough qualified employees domestically. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, multinational corporations increased hiring overseas during the 2000s by 2.4 million, while reducing their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million. They blame public schools for their action. But I don't buy their explanation. The reason corporations do so is that the cost of labor overseas is cheaper than it is here. It's also because of the generous tax credit allowed for moving operations to foreign shores. The Joint Committee ...


Readers who closely follow media coverage of education know how often studies are used as the centerpiece of reportage and commentary. There's something about research that lends gravitas to whatever is written. But unless the fundamentals of research are understood, it's easy to be misled into drawing false conclusions. I was reminded of this after reading "Analytical Trend Troubles Scientists" on May 4 and "Taking Ideas On a Test Drive" on May 7, both of which were published in The Wall Street Journal. Most studies in education are observational studies. This means that investigators pore over data previously collected by ...


The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that public schools will need more than 440,000 new elementary and secondary teachers by the end of the decade to replace retiring baby boomers. Whether this forecast is cause for alarm depends on a variety of factors that are poorly understood. First, states are in no position to provide funds to school districts as freely as they have done since 1970, during which time the employment of teachers and teachers' aides increased 11 times faster than student enrollment ("America Has Too Many Teachers," The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 9). Moreover, there will ...


Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million grant to improve schools in Newark is old news. But for readers who have short memories, it was made on the condition that Mayor Cory Booker would have to come up with matching funds from other wealthy donors. The plan was approved by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie because Newark's schools had been under state control since 1995. So far, obtaining private funding has not been a problem, but boosting student performance certainly has. That's why I believe there are lessons to be learned from there. At first glance, the willingness of the super rich to ...


School districts have long been regarded as management and teachers unions as labor. The result has been protracted animosity that has unavoidably affected students. But things are slowly beginning to change in spite of isolated action in a few cities. The latest evidence comes from Ohio, where the governor, the mayor of Cleveland and the local teachers union have come together to determine how teachers are hired, fired and paid ("A School Fix Without a Fight," The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 10). Fifty percent of teacher evaluations will be based on student test scores, presumably on state standardized tests. Teachers ...


Few issues in education trigger such fierce reactions as teacher tenure. With workers in the private sector still being laid off in the protracted recession, there is great resentment about the job protection that tenure laws seemingly provide. Rather than rehash the usual arguments made in defense of tenure, I'm going to focus exclusively on two recent events that made the news because they serve as cautionary tales. They both involve teachers in large urban school districts who had the courage to blow the whistle on blatantly illegal practices at their respective schools. The first is Harris Lirtzman. As a ...


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was part of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, was specifically designed to help schools with the neediest students. To qualify for federal money under Title I, a school was required by law to have at least a stipulated percentage of its students eligible for free school lunches. I still don't understand why a threshold is needed because I believe that a school deserves to get Title I funds based on any percentage of poor students it enrolls. This view is especially relevant to what is taking place today. As schools ...


Colleges and universities today declare that they are committed to equity and diversity in admissions. The question is whether it's possible to simultaneously achieve that two-part objective. I was reminded of the daunting challenge in light of the history of Asian Americans and Jews in higher education in this country ("The New Jews," The Weekly Standard, Jun. 11). Their experience is uncannily similar. As Jerome Karabel explained in The Chosen (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), the success of Jews on examinations at the turn of the last century was seen as a threat to the makeup of Ivy League schools. To protect ...


In a blatant attempt to boost graduation rates, school districts are allowing students who lack sufficient credits to make them up by what is known as credit recovery. The practice is highly controversial because it comes at a time when the value of a high school diploma earned in the traditional way is already suspect. The latest example was seen in the Los Angeles Unified School District when three students who failed a required course were permitted to make up the class in a few days at another school and then return to graduate with their classmates ("L.A. district ...


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.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments