The daunting task of recruiting and retaining teachers in inner-city schools is now so well known that it seems little more can possibly be said. At least that's what I thought until I read about compassion fatigue. According to the American Nurses Association, it is "a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional pain and physical distress" ("When Nurses Catch Compassion Fatigue, Patients Suffer," The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 3). What struck me were the parallels between teaching in schools serving poor students and caring for patients in hospitals. Both teachers and ...


Teachers opt to teach in religious schools for reasons known only to themselves. But I wonder if they fully understand what they give up when they choose to do so. Two cases before the courts illustrate the issue. In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if teachers in religious schools who also perform religious duties can sue for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Cheryl Perich took a medical leave as a parochial school teacher in Redford, Mich. because she was diagnosed with narcolepsy. When she ...


They say if you live long enough you get to see it all. That's why I was not surprised to read about Impact Plus, billed as the nation's most advanced merit pay system for public school teachers ("In Washington, Large Rewards in Teacher Pay," The New York Times, Jan. 1). What distinguishes the District of Columbia's merit pay program from others around the country is the dramatic increase offered teachers who are rated "highly effective" for two consecutive years. One middle school special education teacher saw her salary rise 38 percent, from $63,000 to $87,000. I applaud efforts ...


It's disturbing to learn that public schools persist in promoting religion despite landmark decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962 and 1963. The latest reminder comes from Jefferson, S.C., where the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Chesterfield County school district for the continuing promotion of religion in several of its schools ("Battling Anew Over the Place of Religion in Public Schools," The New York Times, Dec. 28). Specifically, a preacher at a school assembly was permitted to describe how Jesus Christ saved him from drugs. But as the Times reported, similar violations of the separation ...


The Bridgeport Education Reform Fund in all likelihood will mean nothing to most people. But ignoring the fund is a mistake because it is a model that figures to play an increasingly prominent role in the funding of schools in the years ahead in this country. Although the present venue is the largest city in Connecticut, whose schools were taken over by the state in July after the superintendent was fired, the strategy has the potential to spread to other underperforming school districts. What is troubling is that the $400,000 in the fund has come from wealthy donors who ...


The news that New York State will lengthen its math and language arts tests for elementary and middle school students to three hours beginning this April is another reminder that common sense is woefully lacking in the accountability movement. According to John King Jr., the state's education commissioner, the change is part of the effort to "fine-tune tests of student performance" ("State Tests Extended to About Three Hours," The New York Times, Dec. 19). I'd be very interested in knowing exactly what King means by that statement, and how he justifies his decision. When I taught English in the Los ...


Long plagued by an acute inferiority complex, community colleges are on the threshold of a new era that has the potential to remake their image. Yet at the same time, it's important to acknowledge that the transformation carries with it certain risks. I was reminded of this after reading Rahm Emanuel's op-ed in The Wall Street Journal ("Chicago's Plan to Match Education With Jobs," Dec. 19). He argues that community colleges need to be regarded as the "first choice for high-skill job training," rather as a "last ditch effort for remedial education." The only way to upgrade the reputation of ...


It's tempting to conclude that the success of schools on military bases in narrowing the achievement gap between black and white students has relevance to public schools. At least that's what reformers will likely maintain after reading Michael Winerip's informative column ("Military Children Stay a Step Ahead of Public School Students," The New York Times, Dec. 12). After all, it's hard not to be impressed by the latest results from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress. In reading, for example, there was an 11-point gap between black and white fourth graders at the military base schools. This compares with ...


Americans love rankings. They serve as a quick and easy way of determining who or what is better than others in the same category. I understand their appeal, but I wonder if rankings do more harm than good because they fail to take into account vital nuances. Consider rankings of hospitals and schools. In a column in The New York Times, Peter B. Bach, M.D. wrote that "researchers at Dartmouth College publish rankings of hospitals and states based not on how successful they are at preventing deaths of patients who are very ill, but on how much they spend ...


As readers of this column know, I've long supported parental choice of schools. But at the same time I've always cautioned about its limitations. Now comes the latest caveat that free-market reformers don't want you to know. It's important to bear it in mind because 13 states enacted school choice legislation this year, and 28 more states have legislation pending. The setting is the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest. In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, Leslee Komaiko, the mother of a first grader at a charter school in the mammoth system, explains how ...


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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