More and more states are enacting laws that require teachers to be evaluated on the basis of multiple measures. I support the trend as long as the part of the evaluation that uses classroom observations specifically specifies that evaluators are certified in the subject being observed. In this regard, New York City, home of the nation's largest school district, is off on the right foot ("Observers Get Key Role in Teacher Evaluations," The New York Times, Feb. 17). Under an agreement just concluded, the school district, with the consent of the teachers union, will contract with a company to provide ...


If public schools are as bad as reformers claim, then why do parents send their children there? I'm not talking about suburban schools but instead about schools in large cities. Census data show that a large majority of wealthy, foreign-born parents, including both immigrants and others temporarily working in New York City, deliberately choose neighborhood public schools ("Affluent, Born Abroad and Choosing New York's Public Schools," The New York Times, Feb. 15). It's a trend that contradicts claims made by reformers that public schools are failing. If they are, they're apparently not failing enough to deter parents in this group. ...


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. ...


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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