Is red-shirting your kindergartener a leg up or an unfair edge?

Older students do better through college, according to a new study by David Figlio, a Northwestern economist, reports John Ydstie on NPR. Florida children who just missed the Sept. 1 cutoff and had to wait a year to start school performed better than demographically similar students who just made the cutoff. The September-born students were more likely to attend college and to graduate… Read more →

Should schools focus on tenacity or test scores?

It’s a new school year, and teachers will be talking a lot about how to nurture the kind of skills that lead to academic success. I’m not talking about reading and math skills–but rather the behavioral traits and mindsets that are getting a lot of attention in educational circles. The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research just released a… Read more →

My Manifesto Against ‘Summer Slide’

Last week I heard yet another radio advertisement for a program that promised to help children combat “summer slide.” I switched off the radio. The term “summer slide” drives me crazy. Why? Because while a phenomenon known as “summer slide” is something researchers at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere have established has real consequence, the way I hear it used is… Read more →

We need a new kind of public school in our suburbs–the one-size-fits-all choice isn’t working

Even though I went to elementary school a long time ago in a galaxy far away in California, I am repeatedly surprised by how much my children’s school right here in Illinois looks like my elementary school. I was the type of kid who did well in school. I was good at folding my hands and being quiet. I followed… Read more →

What passed for racial harmony in my diverse suburban middle school: Swallowing the bitter taste of the ‘Oreo’ slur

In the fall of 2001, I was introduced to an array of new things: a new school, new demographic pockets of my diverse Chicago suburb, and Oreos. Yes … Oreos! In elementary school they were two rich chocolate cookies that hugged sweet white cream. In middle school Oreos became more than a dessert. This type of Oreo was far from sweet… Read more →

Illinois’ accountability plan doesn’t work for our kids–and thankfully, the feds told them so

It’s comforting to learn that the feds (i.e. The U.S. Department of Education run by Secretary Betsy DeVos) has some serious concerns about Illinois accountability plans. When I first saw Illinois’ plan, I concluded that it fell far short of its goals around equity and transparency, and wrote about those failings here and here. Illinois was among the first states… Read more →

Can rural students live the American Dream, too?

I grew up in Joiner, Arkansas—a small farming community located in the heart of the Delta; the population back then was about 800, and now it’s even less than that. My grandfather, who raised me alongside my grandmother, worked as a sharecropper—and my family made sure I got a good education because they knew school was the key to a… Read more →

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