Why it should be front-page news that income plays a more important role than race in the academic achievement gap is beyond me ("Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say," The New York Times, Feb. 10). Studies have consistently shown that poverty is the single most important out-of-school factor in predicting student performance. In 2010, for example, The Century Foundation found that socioeconomic obstacles are seven times as large as those associated with race in performance on the SAT (Rewarding Strivers, Century Foundation Press). But I suppose we should be grateful that the subject is given such prominence. ...


Education reformers place great emphasis on the importance of parental choice. But they recently revealed their hypocrisy in a way that is infuriating to all those who support the strategy. Despite protests from thousands of parents, the Panel for Education Policy voted to close 18 schools in the New York City system and shrink five more ("Thousands Gather in Brooklyn to Fight School Closures," In These Times, Feb. 10). The justification was that the schools were not providing a quality education. Presumably, the evidence used for making this determination were standardized test scores. Another 33 schools are on the list, ...


The news that two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School are accused of lewd acts with children in their classes sent shock waves throughout the working-class South Los Angeles neighborhood. Reacting to parental outrage, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy moved swiftly to announce that the entire staff of the school will be temporarily transferred with full pay to a school under construction for the balance of the school year ("Staff of Miramonte replaced pending sex abuse inquiry," Los Angeles Times, Feb. 7). Their places were filled on Feb. 9 by teachers and other staff members from a rehiring ...


The college admissions frenzy in the U.S. is at a fever pitch even though tuition and fees have skyrocketed 439 percent since 1982. The trend is expected to continue despite evidence from England that there is a limit to what parents and students will pay for a coveted sheepskin. While it's always risky to apply the lessons from abroad to these shores, a few caveats emerge. When the House of Commons approved a bill allowing universities to increase undergraduate tuition in England to more than $14,000 a year, the effect was reflected in an overall drop of 8.7...


The term adult education will undoubtedly conjure up images from history textbooks of rows of immigrants being taught English and citizenship in night school. Although this perception is still partially true, it fails to convey the full menu of options, including acquisition of high school diplomas and career skills. That's why the announcement that the entire adult education division in the Los Angeles Unified School District is slated to be eliminated because of lack of funding is disturbing. In December, the school board was presented with a proposal to ax the program, which in the past was budgeted at $120 ...


The ratings game that has triggered fierce opposition from teachers is about to apply to doctors. Medicare intends to open its files to insurers, employers and consumers so that they can prepare report cards on individual doctors ("Prescription with side effects," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 30). The announcement has doctors up in arms for reasons that are uncannily similar to those expressed by teachers. What stands out in both professions is that neither doctors nor teachers are miracle workers. Doctors who practice medicine in communities where patients become partners in health because of their backgrounds stand a much better chance ...


Tuition at private day schools in large cities has been slowly creeping up over the last decade, forcing many parents to question whether their disaffection with neighborhood public schools is enough to overcome sticker shock. To put the matter in concrete terms, elite private schools in New York City now charge more than Harvard's $36,305 ("Bracing for $40,000 at City Private Schools," The New York Times, Jan. 29). From every indication, tuition will top more than $40,000 in the next year or two. Why do parents decide to write a check for this staggering amount? There are ...


The repercussions from closing persistently failing schools are about to be felt by tiny Premont, Texas, which is located about 150 miles south of San Antonio. The town of 2,700 is bracing for the shuttering of the Premont Independent School District by the Texas Education Agency because of poor academics and a high truancy rate ("Texas district cancels sports in hopes of improving grades," Fox News, Jan. 21). In a last ditch attempt to avoid what seems to be inevitable, officials are eliminating sports this spring and next fall to save enough money to keep the district's schools open. ...


If public schools don't already have enough to contend with today, a new law in New Hampshire has the potential to make their situation worse. The state Legislature earlier this month overrode Gov. John Lynch's veto to give parents the right to object to any course material in their child's curriculum as long as they provide a reasonable alternative that the district approves, and pay for any associated costs ("New NH law allows parental objection to any course material; educators wary of potential consequences," Nashua Telegraph, Jan. 22). Although the law applies only to public schools in New Hampshire, it ...


I was brought up to believe that education is the single most important factor in upward mobility. But Winner-Take-All Politics (Simon & Schuster, 2010) by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson calls the assumption into question by contending that the huge differences in wealth in this country are instead the result of a campaign designed by powerful players in Washington and on Wall Street. In other words, education alone does not explain the enormous gap between those at the very top of the income mountain and everyone else. Wages in the U.S. are at an historic low as a percentage of ...


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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