Convinced that the best jobs will move to states with a highly qualified work force, President Obama Obama is determined to add eight million college graduates by 2020. I question the wisdom of this strategy. First, quantity is not synonymous with quality. Merely increasing the number of college graduates is no assurance that they will possess the knowledge and skills necessary for the workplace. As I've written before, colleges too often are education-free zones where partying trumps studying. Unless steps are taken to evaluate what students have learned after four years, the increase in the number of degree holders provides ...


With the debate over standardized testing increasingly focused on using the results to evaluate teachers, it's easy to forget about the SAT. How students in China are gaming the grandfather of all standardized tests was the subject of an article by Daniel Golden that was published in Bloomberg Businessweek on May 5 ("China's Test Prep Juggernaut"). Golden is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges - and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates (Crown Publishers, 2006). Golden uses the track ...


The absurdity of applying the business model to public schools knows no boundaries. In an essay published in The Wall Street Journal on May 5 titled "If Supermarkets Were Like Public Schools," Donald J. Boudreaux, professor of economics at George Mason University and senior fellow at the Mercatus Center, tries to show why the present monopolistic system of public education in the U.S. is indefensible. He attempts to make his case by supposing that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education. At first, I thought the piece was intended to be a satire. But then I ...


In the midst of the publicity given to marquee-name organizations like the Harlem Children's Zone and their leaders like Geoffrey Canada, it's easy to forget other organizations and their leaders that have achieved equal results in their own quiet way. I call such people unsung heroes because they work in the shadows without ever getting the recognition they deserve. Before the HCZ came into existence, there was College For Every Student. Founded in 1991 by Rick Dalton, the non-profit CFES has helped more than 100,000 impoverished young people in 540 schools in 22 states and the District of Columbia ...


As a long-time subscriber to The Wall Street Journal, I know before reading its editorials and essays about public schools what to expect. "Do American Students Study Too Hard?" (Apr. 30) by James Freeman, assistant editor of the editorial page, was no exception. Freeman uses "Race to Nowhere," which was released in Sept. 2010 by first-time filmmaker Vicki Abeles, as a springboard to comment on what he says is the wholesale failure of public education. Contrary to the documentary's argument that students in this country are overwhelmed by stress caused by pressure from their parents to get good grades, participate ...


The Los Angeles Times prides itself on balanced coverage of education news. When it published on its front page in August the names and rankings of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District based on their students' standardized test scores, it justified its decision by explaining that taxpayers have the right to know if students are being well taught. Yet the Times sees nothing wrong with burying good news about the district. The latest example was its decision to place an article about the Academic Decathlon, an intense intellectual high school competition, in the lower right-hand corner of the ...


Often thought of as an anachronism, single-sex schools are undergoing a reevaluation by reformers who belatedly realize their potential for improving academic achievement. Whether they will find a serious place in the menu of options open to parents largely depends on how well the issues surrounding them are understood. It was only in the late 19th century that public schools in this country became coeducational. Prior to that time, formal education took place in single-sex schools. Girls were most likely to be educated at home, if indeed they were educated at all. Single-sex schools that persisted thereafter were independent or ...


So much of the debate today about improving public schools concerns the curriculum. It's certainly important, but what about instruction? How teachers teach (instruction) warrants as much attention as what they teach (curriculum). An essay by Paul E. Peterson of Harvard University in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Next addresses the issue ("Eighth-Grade Students Learn More Through Direct Instruction"). Peterson starts out on the right foot by framing the debate about instruction as one of "the sage on the stage" versus "the guide on the side." In other words, should teachers stand and deliver material, or should they allow ...


If corporate reformers have their way, all schools in this country will eventually be privatized. The rationale is that competition best serves students. It's a specious argument, but it has great appeal to taxpayers who are frustrated and angry in the face of disappointing results posted by too many public schools. Yet until now, little has been written about the details of the future educational landscape. So maybe it's time to take a closer look. New York City, home of the nation's largest school district, provides a preview that we ignore at our peril. Parents who are disaffected for one ...


Whatever happens first in California tends to eventually happen elsewhere. That's why the news out of Sacramento is worthy of close attention. In a front-page story on Apr. 4, the Los Angeles Times reported that the number of students preparing to become teachers is plunging, with all signs indicating that the trend will continue ("Today's teacher layoffs threaten tomorrow's college classrooms"). The Commission on Teacher Credentialing said that the number of credentials issued annually fell 29 percent over the past five years, from 28,039 in 2004-05 to 20,032 in 2009-10. Although the decline was most evident in state ...


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.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments