With the start of the fall semester just a few weeks away, school officials will once again find themselves debating the issue of discipline. Over the past two decades, get-tough policies, often referred to as zero tolerance, have neither made schools safer nor have they helped children learn right from wrong. I'm not referring to suspending or expelling students for serious offenses, an issue that I've written about before ("Rules for Schools: Dealing with Delinquents," The American, Oct. 26, 2010), and that was recently in the news ("Teachers learning to file assault complaints," Boston Globe, Jul. 22). Instead, I'm talking ...


It's always risky to assume that evidence from one state applies to others. But when the state is California, it's hard to dismiss the findings out of hand. According to a poll conducted for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times, 64 percent of voters in the state said they are willing to pay higher taxes to increase funding for public schools ("Californians willing to pay higher taxes for better schools," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20). The consensus crossed all races, ages, regions, income and educational levels. (The sole exception was conservative Republicans, ...


When David McCullough Jr. recently told members of the graduating class of Wellesley High School in Massachusetts that they are not special or exceptional, his remarks went viral. But his view is not unique. It is shared by many others who complain that young people have an inflated sense of themselves ("Redefining Success and Celebrating the Ordinary," The New York Times, June 29). I'm not talking about the impressive grades and trophies they've collected that are the direct result of parents pushing them to stand out. These students attend the best schools money can buy and segue into lucrative careers. ...


It's disturbing to read an essay that claims to offer a true account about charter schools at this crucial point in the reform movement but instead presents a distorted picture. I'm referring to a piece in The Wall Street Journal by Joel Klein ("New York's Charter Schools Get an A+," Jul. 27). As readers will recall, Klein was the former chancellor of New York City's public schools who is now the CEO of News Corporation's educational division. News Corporation owns The Wall Street Journal. Klein starts off by asserting that the educational establishment has things turned around. Maintaining that "we'll ...


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 ...


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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