The call for schools to turn out students who can succeed in the 21st-century economy is so familiar by now that it hardly seems worthwhile revisiting the issue. But reading an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by a former high school teacher changed my mind ("Educating the Next Steve Jobs," Apr. 14). Tony Wagner argues that young people in this country become innovators in spite of their schools - not because of them. Although he cites a few notable exceptions, the message is quite clear: most schools are designed and operated to penalize failure. Yet unless students are allowed ...


With the end of the spring semester rapidly approaching, teachers once again will have to confront the issue of social promotion. For years, research seemed to be on the side of moving students to the next grade whether or not they mastered the material because it showed that holding students back is harmful. But a study released this month, "The Benefits of Florida's Test-Based Promotion System," by the Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership found that retention is beneficial. Specifically, students in the third grade who were detained and given remediation did better in the short and long ...


On paper, the argument in favor of school choice is impeccable: Parents will be able to enroll their children in a school that best meets their needs and interests, bad schools will be forced to improve or close, and society will benefit from better educated graduates. But the reality is different. Consider New York City, home of the nation's largest school district. The New York City Department of Education announced on Apr. 6 that more than 2,400 children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall have been placed on wait-lists for openings at the schools closest to their ...


When the New York City Department of Education ordered test publishers it does business with to avoid 50 sensitive words and topics, it instantly became the butt of jokes. Realizing that the politically correct demand had gone too far, the city's chief academic officer revised the policy ("City Revokes Testing Word Ban," The New York Times, Apr. 2). But curiously nothing was said about the textbooks used in classrooms. That omission is hard to understand because textbooks and tests are inextricably linked. The content of textbooks forms the basis of instruction. As a result, altering the policy on tests but ...


The monetary value of a bachelor's degree in the years ahead will not be as certain as it was in the past. Most of the 14 million new jobs that will be created in the next decade will be in fields that typically can be filled by those with an associate's degree. The trouble is that only about 25 percent of students enrolled in community colleges graduate. Equally disturbing is that too many post-secondary private vocational schools operate without state approval ("More Than 130 Vocational Schools Are Operating Without State Approval," The New York Times, Apr. 5). That's why a ...


It wasn't too long ago that students newspapers were essentially considered house organs, and their staffs were little more than cheerleaders. I was reminded of how much things have changed after reading about events at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School ("TV reporter's worries leads [sic] to Bethesda school pulling student newspaper," The Washington Post, Mar. 26). The student newspaper, the Tattler, contained several articles about the media's largely negative treatment of teenagers. It illustrated the story with a photo of Andrea McCarren, a local TV journalist who had covered alcohol consumption by teens. She complained to Karen Lockard, the principal, saying ...


"A Few Good Men," the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise, was responsible for my assumption that officers in the military had to abide by the most stringent rules regarding their conduct. It prompted me to look up Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: "Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct." The conduct refers to behavior in an official capacity or to behavior in a private capacity that seriously compromises one's standing as an officer. It's the latter ...


When parents decide to home-school their children, they do so because they find public schools lacking for one reason or another. Although religious reasons top the list, parents also have practical concerns about curriculums, textbooks, peer pressure and bullying. The appeal of the movement is seen in its growth from 850,000 students in 1999 to 1.5 million today, according to the Department of Education. In the past, the debate about home-schooling was usually limited to whether students were being shortchanged socially. But recently, a new issue has arisen: Should home-schooled students be permitted to play varsity sports at ...


The attention finally being paid to bullying in K-12 schools would seem to assure a wide audience for a documentary about the subject. But that hasn't been the case with "Bully," which received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America because of six "f" words. Despite the absurd rationale, there are groups that support the rating, including the Parents Television Council, a nonpartisan organization advocating responsible entertainment (" 'Bully' deserved an R," Los Angeles Times, Mar. 28). Although "Bully" is being released unrated by the Weinstein Co., the issue will not go away - and for good reason. ...


There's no guarantee that what takes place in California will be repeated elsewhere, but it's a mistake to dismiss events in the Golden State out of hand. A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll serves as a case in point. Despite a series of reports about the persistent underperformance of public schools in the state, voters strongly support Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to increase the sales tax and raise levies on top earners in order to raise money for schools ("Strong majority backs Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative," Los Angeles Times, Mar. 26). Specifically, 64 percent of voters surveyed were ...


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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