Class Struggle: Education


Posted at 12:33 AM ET, 07/09/2012

Erasures: The unsolved mystery

A look at school data in detail shows a big hole in the D.C. cheating investigation.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:33 AM ET, 07/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  D.C. investigation ignores test tampering, Alvarez & Marsal investigation, D.C. chancellor Kaya Henderson ignore big hole in the report, one class with huge and mysterious corrections left out of report, Office of the State Superintendent of Education

Posted at 01:59 PM ET, 05/27/2012

Why Romney, Obama are education twins

They say they have different approaches to fixing our schools, but the two presidential candidates don’t really mean it. On charters, unions and other issues, they are pretty close.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:59 PM ET, 05/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  why Romney and Obama are education twins, both candidates agree on charters, both resist union pressure, a generation of bipartisan approach to schools

Posted at 08:02 PM ET, 05/24/2012

Are charter schools bad at special ed?

It depends on the charter school.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:02 PM ET, 05/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  charter schools and special education, DC Prep success with learning disabilities, Emily Lawson

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 05/20/2012

2012 Challenge Index rankings--why small schools rule

Small schools rule in the 14th year of the high school list. Private school numbers are revealed for the first time.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:00 AM ET, 05/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Education, High School

Posted at 08:32 PM ET, 05/05/2012

Math stumble at renowned Jefferson High

The linear algebra students noticed their teacher was struggling, then he quit and four more instructors followed as the school tried to adjust.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:32 PM ET, 05/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  thomas jefferson high school, education

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2012

How to get off that college wait list

#1: Tell your parents to butt out.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, admissions 101

Posted at 01:35 PM ET, 04/04/2012

Why getting into Harvard is no longer an honor

You may have seen that Harvard just set a record for low undergraduate admission rate. Only 5.9 percent of applicants for the class of 2016 were accepted.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:35 PM ET, 04/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, admissions 101

Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 03/27/2012

Admissions 101: What are you getting out of the last-chance April college visits?

Hundreds of thousands of high school seniors will be showing up for April college visits next month. We need to help them decide what to do while they are there.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:43 AM ET, 03/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, admissions 101

Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 03/13/2012

Admissions 101: Do you prefer college acceptances and rejections be done by Web site or envelope?

At the end of this month, college acceptance and rejection notices go out. If you had the choice, would you prefer to hear by Web site or envelope?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:42 AM ET, 03/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  admissions 101, Higher Education, Colleges

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/16/2012

9 ways to pick a great school for your child

It takes some effort, but if you want to be sure your child’s new school is good, there are clever ways to make it happen.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:00 AM ET, 02/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Education

Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Admissions 101: Smart and lazy ways to pick a college major

Why did you pick a major? And would your method work for today's students?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, college majors

Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 01/31/2012

Admissions 101: Checking admissions essays for plagiarism

Universities are expanding the use of plagiarism checks in vetting admissions essays. Is it a waste of time and money?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:20 PM ET, 01/31/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  admissions, higher education, plagarism

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 12/17/2010

A plea for peace among petulant pundits

As the football season for my Redskins falls apart, I have become addicted to the shouting of sports talk radio. Great failures inspire irresistible passion and confrontation. The national debate over how to fix our failing schools attracts me for the same reason. But in my saner moments I wish we were more considerate of those with whom we disagree.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 12/17/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Diane Ravitch, KIPP, The Life and Death of the Great American School System, Whitney Tilson, education policy pundits distort each other's cases, how to help schools by being fair in the debate

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/24/2010

Is it harder for affluent schools to have good character?

Reading Samuel Casey Carter's new book, "On Purpose," I wondered about the friction that may result from focusing on character in schools: How can we create more single-minded schools like these in a democratic society if some teachers and students wish to express contrary thoughts and feelings? Is raising the standards for student and teacher behavior harder or easier on more affluent campuses?

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/24/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Samuel Casey Carter, character education, creating schools of good character, do affluent schools have a harder task?, do such schools encounter dissent, good character produces good students

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/19/2010

Another blue ribbon report suitable for shredding

I propose a contest. The winner will get, appropriately enough, a blue ribbon. (I think I have a few crumbled ones in the Christmas wrapping box stuffed under the guest bed of the spare bedroom where I sit at this moment in my third month of working at home.) To receive this wonderful prize, all you have to do is identify a blue ribbon commission--any temporary assemblage of smart people asked to produce a solution to a great national issue--that brought changes that actually solved the problem.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/19/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  10 design principals, Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice,, blue ribbon panel reports are a national scourge, why not have a Blue Ribbon Scary Experiment in Doing Things Differently

Posted at 03:26 PM ET, 10/19/2010

Video reveals mystery man who runs largest teachers union

Video reveals mystery man who runs largest teachers union: Dennis Van Roekel of the National Education Association.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:26 PM ET, 10/19/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  American Federation of Teachers, Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association, Randi Weingarten

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 10/12/2010

What Jerry Bracey would have said about Locke High

Every once in awhile I run across a case of distorted education reporting and mourn the 2009 death of Gerald W. Bracey. For years he was the nation's watchdog of unexamined assumptions and misleading language in education policy and education writing. Instead of stewing over these mishaps, I am going to post them and say what I think Jerry would have said about them

By Jay Mathews  |  11:30 AM ET, 10/12/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Gerald W. Bracey, Green Dot Public Schools, Locke High School, big gains in proficency hide one of the lowest proficiency rate in the country, education statistical distortions

Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 10/01/2010

Ed school professors resist teaching practical skills

Amid the chatter about the Obama administration's Race to the Top funds, NBC's Education Nation programs and the release of the film "Waiting For 'Superman'" (warning: I am in it), I am not hearing much about how education schools fit into this new saving our schools ferment. A new survey of education school professors reveals traditional teacher training institute are trying, sort of, to adjust, but still resist giving top priority to hottest topic among young teachers, learning how to manage the kids.

By Jay Mathews  |  09:00 AM ET, 10/01/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Education school professors resist teaching classroom skills, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, but 63 percent like Teach For America, only 24 percent emphasize helping teachers work with new state standards and tests

Posted at 08:00 PM ET, 09/29/2010

American schools lax on cheating

Some students want their schools to do something about cheating. In the mid-1990s, I served on a citizen-teacher-student governance committee at Scarsdale High School in Westchester County, N.Y. When our chairman asked whether anyone had any personal complaints about the school, our two student members raised a topic we had never addressed: cheating. Non-cheating students, they said, felt abused by lax enforcement.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:00 PM ET, 09/29/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  Christopher L. Doyle, Education Week, cheating gotten worse since the 1960s, student blame teachers for being lax, student cheating

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 09/29/2010

Teacher/blogger critiques highly ranked school

A teacher who recently worked at one of my favorite D.C. schools, Columbia Heights Education Campus High School, James Boutin, sent me a detailed critique. He said CHEC did not deserve its high rank or my praise. I invited him to state his case here, and promised to get the school's response.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 09/29/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Criticism of highly ranked Columbia Heights Education Campus High School, DCPS responds with detailed exposure of factual errors, he blogs on the school, teacher James Boutin sends long critique

Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 09/28/2010

Signal on D.C. education reform from Gray's camp

On Sunday, the All Opinions Are Local page of washingtonpost.com ran a commentary by former D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous. I am rerunning it because I think it has unusual importance as we look toward the future of D.C. schools under Vincent Gray. The piece doesn't indicate ties to Gray. Nor does the identification of Chavous that ran with the piece. But Chavous is close to the presumptive mayor and the commentary provides many clues to what Gray might try to do.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:40 PM ET, 09/28/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Kevin P. Chavous, Vincent Gray, a clue to Gray's education reform plans

Posted at 08:00 PM ET, 09/22/2010

Why grade-skipping should be back in fashion

I have seen no data to confirm this, but it seems to me that schools rarely consider skipping students ahead anymore. I have talked to Washington area administrators about this. They are uncomfortable with the approach. They think students who are above grade level learn better--with some extras thrown in--if they stick with kids their age.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:00 PM ET, 09/22/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa, Gifted Exchange blog, Zumi Elementary School, acceleration better than gifted education classes, grade skipping, grade skipping less common than before

Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 08/23/2010

L.A. Times testing series raises more questions

I found reading the LA Times series terrific in many ways. But the latest part was frustrating because it often fails to answer questions raised by the deep digging its reporters have done. Also, the stories seem to me to mischaracterize, in some spots, the data they present.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:40 AM ET, 08/23/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  LA Times series on teacher assessments key to education policy future, how much did schools really decline, series so far leaves some questions unanswered

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 08/05/2010

Jaime Escalante, Alfie Kohn, John Taylor Gatto, Frank Smith (part 2)

This is the second part of my guest columnist California high school English teacher Jerry Heverly's imagined conversation with four great education experts. Scroll down this blog for last week's first part, which introduce Heverly and four real people whom, as far as we know, never met except in Heverly's imagination.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 08/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Alfie Kohn, California English teacher Jerry Heverly's imagined conversation with education experts Jaime Escalante, John Taylor Gatto and Frank Smith

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 07/21/2010

Power of books my wife grew up with

A new study, based on 20 years of research, suggests that children who have 500 or more books in the home get, on average, 3.2 years more schooling than children in bookless homes. Even just 20 books makes a difference. The availability of reading material has a strong impact on a child’s education, even when controlling for the effects of parental education, father’s occupation, gender, nationality, political system and gross national product.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 07/21/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  500 books means 3.2 more years of education on average, Reno, University of Nevada, in China 6.6 years, more books in the home advances children's education, my wife's 300 books, scholar Mariah Evans

Posted at 12:06 PM ET, 07/12/2010

What Bill Gates is really up to

I strongly recommend everyone read my colleague Nick Anderson's front page story on the incredible amounts being spent by Microsoft founder Bill Gates on public schools these days.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:06 PM ET, 07/12/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Bill Gates, Nick Anderson piece on Gates' education empire, key to school innovation

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 04/14/2010

Washington area's top education bloggers

Several weeks ago, my blogging colleague Valerie Strauss (The Answer Sheet) and I announced our picks for best education blogs of this year. Our favorites were a diverse bunch, with many witty teachers, incisive journalists and droll experts of other kinds providing unusual perspectives. But Washington area education bloggers were severely underrepresented. I found only two, one in Fairfax County and one in the District, who had the acidity and depth I craved.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 04/14/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  GFBrandenburg's, Guy Brandenburg, Tim Stahmer, assortedstuff.com, top Washington area education bloggers

Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 03/19/2010

Grill Washpost's education team for free!

Come to the auditorium of Richard Montgomery High School at 250 Montgomery Road in Rockville (behind the big Marlo furniture store on Rockville Pike) between 6 and 8 p.m. this Wednesday, March 24, and meet the Post's education team.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:34 AM ET, 03/19/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Washington Post education team forum, embarrassing questions welcome

Posted at 01:40 PM ET, 03/14/2010

Obama plan flaw: achievement gap

I see a problem in the president using the achievement gap as a measure of schools in his suggested revisions. This could mean that a wonderfully diverse school like T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, a recent subject on this blog, would be motivated to ignore its best students, who want to get even better, and focus all its money and time on those at the bottom of the achievement scale so they can narrow the gap. That is not a good idea, and I hope the president will get it out of his proposal.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:40 PM ET, 03/14/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Obama education plan, achievement gap emphasis wrong

Posted at 01:35 PM ET, 02/23/2010

Crawling toward national tests

Two leaders of the necessarily slow and difficult movement to give American children everywhere the educations they deserve dropped by the Post last week at the invitation of my distinguished colleague David Broder and provided an update on the future of national standards and tests.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:35 PM ET, 02/23/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Jack Markell, James B. Hunt Jr, common standard, common tests, national education standards

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 02/05/2010

Readers question Challenge Index

Q. The downside not discussed is that from 1989 to 2009, the percentage of AP exams earning a 1 (lowest score) has doubled, from 10% to 20%. Over that same period, the mean score declined from just over 3 to 2.89. This tells me a lot of kids are being pushed into a AP classes for which they aren't ready or motivated.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 02/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Advanced Placement, Challenge Index, Darwin, International Baccalaureate, selective colleges, special education

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 12/30/2009

Why Washington area schools are the best

I remember asking seniors in an government class at T.C. Williams about the differences between them. The teacher, Jack Esformes, had put in the same class Advanced Placement students heading for college and regular students praying for the last bell. Weren’t they uncomfortable, all mixed together? They fiercely defended their pride at being one exciting class, with contributions from everyone. In their eyes, I was just another clueless visitor trying to stereotype them.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 12/30/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Extra Credit | Tags:  Shangri-la of public education, Washington area schools, challenge in schools, school diversity

Posted at 10:38 AM ET, 12/29/2009

The truth about Arne Duncan and the Chicago schools

Those districts will never rise to the level of their suburban neighbors. But you can see Duncan has been working at this very hard for many years, and (if you look at what he says rather than what sloppy writers like me have suggested) has always been honest about how far his home town still needs to go.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:38 AM ET, 12/29/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Arne Duncan, Chester E. Finn Jr., Chicago schools, criticism of Duncan's record, education secretaries' records

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 12/27/2009

More required P.E.--a bad idea from good people

Nowhere in her press release does Cheh address the key issue--the fact that the D.C. schools need to do a better job using the limited time they have, about six and a half hours a day, to address students’ weaknesses in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. She and Gray are telling teachers trying to turn around those poor performances that now they will have even less time to do it.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 12/27/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  D.C. schools, Healthy Schools Act, Mary M. Cheh, Physical education, Vincent C. Gray, politicians that don't understand schools

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 12/09/2009

Why gifted classes are not enough: the Warren Buffett case

For Warren Buffett, school was a problem. He was so bored in class and so eager to pursue his business ideas that his grades fell and he dabbled in grand larceny. His prime target was Sears on Wisconsin Avenue. He stole hundreds of golf balls and once walked out of the store, unmolested, with a full bag of new clubs he had not paid for.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 12/09/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Extra Credit | Tags:  Morton Sherman, Warren Buffett, gifted class discrimination, gifted education, home schooling

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 11/29/2009

Five reasons why I am a bad education writer

I rarely wrote about private schools: This is partly because of laziness. It takes much time and effort to report on private schools because so many are reluctant to give out information that might hurt their reputations in their annual competition with other private schools for students. I am also handicapped by the journalistic assumption, rarely discussed or debated in our newsroom, that paying attention to these private enterprises is like giving them free advertising.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 11/29/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Bill Turque, Columbia Heights Education Center, Knowledge Is Power, Michael Birnbuam, Michelle A. Rhee, Rebecca Cox, Wakefield High School, education reporting, private schools

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 11/25/2009

Too hard to pick the right high school

The suburban districts themselves employ people with encyclopedic knowledge of what is available for students of every learning style. Why not put them at prominent tables at those open houses with big signs that say, “IF NOBODY HAS ANSWERED YOUR QUESTIONS, ASK ME.”

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 11/25/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Extra Credit | Tags:  ADD, Northwood High School, high school choice, learning disabilities, special education

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/18/2009

Name the new education law, one word at a time

Assistant secretary of education Peter Cunningham suggested I ask readers what single word they think is most important to have in the new name to replace No Child Left Behind. Sounds like a fun exercise. Put your suggestions here.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/18/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Elementary and Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind, Peter Cunningham, law naming contest, name the new education law

Posted at 06:06 PM ET, 11/11/2009

What should I ask Arne?

The Obama administration once again shows its willingness to deal with even the most wayward types by inviting me for a visit to the U.S. Education Department tomorrow, Thursday, at 10 a.m. This thoughtful gesture came after I set...

By Jay Mathews  |  06:06 PM ET, 11/11/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Arne Duncan; education secretary;

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 10/09/2009

How to Fight for Special Education

I have often wondered what I would do if I discovered I had a child with learning disabilities. The parents I have interviewed who have gone through this seem more patient and persistent than I am. I suspect they got...

By Washington Post editors  |  06:00 AM ET, 10/09/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Daniel P. Hallahan, Etta Brown, James M. Kauffman, Special education, learning disabilities

Posted at 02:30 PM ET, 07/28/2009

Admissions 101: Can Acerbic Students Make Good Teachers?

In his Friday column, Jay Mathews wrote about Michele Kerr, username Cal_Lanier on the boards, a California teacher who was nearly thrown out of Standford University's Teacher Education Program (STEP) for blogging about her anti-progressive (thus anti-Stanford) ideals during her...

By Sarah Mimms  |  02:30 PM ET, 07/28/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  Stanford Teacher Education Program, blogging

Posted at 02:01 PM ET, 07/23/2009

Jay on the Web: Joy and Equality in Public Education

Houston high school teacher, Jesse Alred, of the Examiner, wrote an interesting analysis of one of Jay Mathews' columns about balancing hard work with play and injecting more joy into the classroom. Alred agrees with Mathews on "the joy factor,"...

By Sarah Mimms  |  02:01 PM ET, 07/23/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Jay Mathews, charter schools, equality, public education