The controversy over H-1B visas to date has largely centered on their issuance to engineers and scientists who are willing to work in the private sector at lower wages than their American counterparts. Despite the 50 percent decline in the number of petitions this year below last year and 80 percent decrease below 2009, the debate has merely subsided, rather than disappear. What is less known is how the issuance of visas is being abused by school districts. According to The New Republic, Prince George's County in Maryland, for example, now has more than 10 percent of its entire teaching ...


The justification for charter schools is that they provide parents with a wide range of choices at public expense. But what is increasingly happening in Los Angeles, which has more charter schools than any other city in the nation, serves as a warning that all is not well with the movement. Even though a lottery is required whenever demand for places in a charter school exceeds the supply, officials at a coveted school can rig the lottery to favor parents they prefer ("Charter Schools: Getting Your Child on the List," L.A. Weekly, Oct. 13). They do so by invoking ...


Any hope that the controversy over the misuse of standardized test scores had finally run its course evaporated when news about the practice used by a high school in Orange County, California made the headlines. In an attempt to motivate students, Kennedy High School in La Palma issues color-coded identification cards to students based solely on their individual standardized test scores. The Orange County Register reported that students are required to carry their black, gold or white cards in addition to a spiral-bound homework planner with a cover of a matching color ("Student IDs that reveal test scores deemed illegal," ...


Just as a drowning person reaches out in desperation to anything that offers the possibility of rescue, so too are many financially strapped school districts spending heavily on software and hardware that offer the possibility of improving learning. According to a front-page story in The New York Times, sales of computer software to schools in 2010 amounted to $1.89 billion and spending on hardware was five times that amount ("In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores," Sept. 4). At the heart of the debate is whether these expenditures are justified today. If standardized test scores are the sine qua non ...


The new school year is guaranteed to intensify the already contentious debate about ways to narrow the achievement gap between the nation's second largest ethnic group and its white counterparts. I'm referring to the performance of Hispanics, whose numbers have grown dramatically over the past four decades until they now constitute 21 percent of the public school student population. Although test scores of Hispanic and white students have risen, the gap today is the same as it was in 1990, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The usual explanation is that there are four million Hispanic students in ...


There was a time when most students in K-12 could expect to be taught by veteran teachers. But this is no longer the case, as the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future points out ("Classroom 'crisis': Many teachers have little or no experience," msnbc.com, Sept. 26). In the 1987-88 school year, for example, 14 years was the most common level of experience. But by 2007-08, it was one or two years. The trend is expected to continue as more Baby Boomers retire, better paying jobs open up in the private sector, and pressure to boost test scores mounts. ...


You'd think that the rise in childhood obesity, along with childhood diabetes and hypertension, would provide reformers with an incentive to make physical education a high priority in K-12. But that has not been the case. Most states in this country have either watered down the requirement for physical education or eliminated it entirely because of budget cuts. Consider New York City, where an audit released on Oct. 4 found that none of 31 elementary schools that officials visited out of a total of about 700 were in full compliance with the state's guidelines on physical education ("Audit Finds Paucity ...


Misunderstanding contentious issues in education is common among those who have never taught, as an op-ed about merit pay for teachers written by FranTarkenton, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, illustrates ("What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules?" Oct. 3). Tarkenton argues that if each player's salary were based on seniority, rather than on performance, "the on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?" He claims that "the NFL in this alternate reality is the real-life American public education system. Teachers' salaries have no ...


It's axiomatic that democracy depends on an educated populace. Part of the process is to expose students to issues that by their very nature are controversial, and help them develop the ability to analyze conflicting arguments. In "Discussions That Drive Democracy," Diana Hess writes: "This means teaching young people that they should not shun, fear, or ignore such issues. Students need to have experiences respectfully discussing authentic questions about public problems and the kinds of policies that can address those problems" (Educational Leadership, Sept. 2011). I agree with Hess's position, but I hasten to point out that the freedom of ...


The school reform movement is obsessed with quantifying outcomes. Whether through standardized test scores, dropout rates or college acceptance rates, the coin of the realm is measurement. Yet there is another side of the story that is largely overlooked. It was highlighted in a cover piece in The New York Times Magazine on Sept. 18. In "What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?," Paul Tough focuses on the importance of developing character. He quite correctly recognizes that without it, students are shortchanged. Because the term means different things to different people, Tough explains which traits qualify based on research ...


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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