The preparation of doctors and teachers is moving in opposite directions, even though both professions have the same goal of serving their patients and students according to the highest standards. This paradox is evident in the new Medical College Admission Test, which places less emphasis on basic science and more emphasis on humanistic skills ("Pre-Med's New Priorities: Heart and Soul and Social Science," The New York Times, Apr. 13), and in the new teacher licensing exams, which downplay pedagogy and stress subject matter. Driving the 2015 revision of the MCAT is the belief that mastery of core science is not ...


When I first heard about education management organizations, I have to admit that I was intrigued. But the more I learned about them, the more I became convinced that they can never deliver what they promise. I thought of my initial reaction after reading that Christopher Whittle is once again trying to sell for-profit preparatory schools to a gullible audience. For those with a short memory, Whittle is indelibly associated with Edison Schools Inc. In the early 1900s, Whittle became convinced that he could succeed in providing a quality education and make money in the process. He based this delusion ...


Competition is supposed to bring out the best in students by making them take their studies more seriously. But there is a downside that deserves far greater attention. It involves the use of prescription stimulants to give them an edge ("Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill," The New York Times, Jun. 10). Driven to excel in the college admissions game, students are turning to such drugs as Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin and Focalin to get a leg up on tests. It's impossible to know with certainty how prevalent the practice is, but the New York Times estimates that between 15 and ...


From time to time, college professors weigh in on ways to improve public schools. It always amazes me that their views are taken so seriously. I say that because what passes for sound pedagogy in higher education in all likelihood would be a total flop in K-12 classrooms. The latest evidence for my skepticism is a piece written by Gary Gutting, a professor at Notre Dame University ("Who Should Teach Our Children?" The New York Times, Jun. 7). He maintains that "a high level of intelligence, enthusiasm for ideas and an ability to communicate" assure effective instruction. His reason is ...


Once upon a time, rankings were limited to the sports pages, where avid fans knew them by heart. But that changed when U.S. News & World Report made a name for itself by applying the practice to colleges and universities. In short order, high schools followed, until today at least seven national and local lists exist. It's only natural to wonder at some point how one school stacks up against others. But I urge caution in jumping to conclusions based on the results. That's because many factors determine the position of a particular school. As Michael Winerip explained: "Anybody can ...


It was bound to happen. In what is the boldest move to date to privatize education, Louisiana this fall will give vouchers to parents to cover the full cost of tuition and fees at more than 120 private schools across the state ("Louisiana's bold bid to privatize schools," Reuters, Jun. 1). Approximately 380,000 students are expected to participate. The U.S. Supreme Court in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002 ruled that vouchers can be used as long as five criteria are met, most notably that they are given to parents and not to the schools. It's not clear if ...


Repeating something often enough does not make it true no matter how intuitively appealing the statement. I thought of that axiom after reading about companies bemoaning the lack of workers with requisite skills. This mismatch is what economists call a structural issue in the labor market. With time, workers will develop the skills in demand or employers will readjust their needs to the skills that workers possess. In the meantime, unemployment will remain high. Let's take a closer look at this phenomenon. Despite what companies argue, I think they're asking for the impossible. For example, one company received 25,000 ...


The debate over parental choice of schools took an unexpected turn recently when Mitt Romney came out in favor of allowing children to enroll in any school anywhere as long as there was room to accommodate them ("Romney's School Surprise," The New York Times, May 30). His remarks fly in the face of the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Milliken v. Bradley, which held that students could be bused across district lines only when clear evidence of de jure segregation existed. Most often, the movement is from city to suburban schools because the latter are known for the ...


Despite the guarantee of what most state Constitutions define as a basic education (or words to that effect) for all students, the commitment has largely fallen by the wayside because of the protracted recession ("Albany's Unkindest Cut of All," The New York Times, May 25). Yet the situation is not altogether new. Adequacy lawsuits began to make their presence felt some 25 years ago. Since 1989, states have been overruled by margins of more than 2-to-1 by their highest courts on the basis that poor students have been shortchanged. Leading the fight over the years has been The Campaign for ...


Taxpayer patience is slowly running out for the 5,000 persistently failing schools across the country that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has identified. Before writing these schools off as hopeless, however, I think it's important to take a closer look at the reasons. One example is Jordan High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Located in Watts, the school has an appalling track record. Only 3 percent of students are proficient in math and only 11 percent in English. More than half drop out between 9th and 12th grades ("Can Jordan High's experiment work?" Los Angeles Times, May ...


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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