Parents, here’s a ‘D’oh’ question to ask your schools: Are our new teachers swimming or sinking?

As school reforms go, it’s not sexy, it’s not new, and it’s not at all controversial. So it probably won’t get as much attention as Betsy DeVos being voted Donald Trumps’ worst cabinet member by readers of the New York Times, which is really saying something given that she’s in the same gaggle as Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection… Read more →

Here’s a school trend worth copying: Scrap the high school valedictorian

Is this the end of the valedictorian? asks AP’s Carolyn Thompson. Fewer high schools are naming a valedictorian: Some have dozens of honorees on graduation day, while others have stopped using grades to rank students. Reporting class rankings is going out of fashion too. About half of schools no longer report class rank, according to the National Association of Secondary… Read more →

The case for suburban school change is clear, but no one is making it

School reform advocate Derrell Bradford and policy writer Andy Rotherham hit on it. Illinois education writer Tracy Dell’Angela has a blog focused on it. Teacher/education writer Robert Pondiscio said it was a factor in the anti-charter vote in Massachusetts last fall. And former Education Secretary Arne Duncan famously broached the subject in 2013. “It” is the long overdue conversation about… Read more →

Why suburban CA parents don’t want their “family donations” given to other schools

I had a conversation the other day about family contributions–those fundraising donations usually requested each year by the PTA/PTO/PFA and/or raised by events hosted by those organizations. I’m genuinely perplexed by how my view of the situation is so off kilter with what I’ve read lately. There are many stories like this one about how wealthier suburban communities want to splinter… Read more →

Coveted career-tech programs become selective, college prep and mostly white

Rigorous career-tech programs such as New Jersey’s Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) prepare students for top colleges and careers, writes Catherine Gewertz in Education Week. However many career-and-college programs are selective — and primarily enroll middle-class white students. On a chilly spring morning, 18 teenagers clamber aboard a 65-foot research vessel and become marine scientists. In big blue nets,… Read more →

Teachers, don’t play it safe and duck the dicey debates in your classrooms

I teach a journalism class at a small, private university near my home. Disappointing but true: teachers can’t speak of freedom of the press and the responsibilities of professional journalists without knowing that at least a few students – or maybe their parents, who pay the tuition– will be offended. Some instructors recommend staying silent. Not discussing dicey matters is… Read more →

Here’s why this suburban supt supports HB1: Fixing IL school funding isn’t just a Chicago bailout

This is an interview with Kimako Patterson, the superintendent of Prairie-Hills Elementary District 144, a 2,600-student district in the south suburbs of Illinois where 95 percent of students are from low-income families. The average per-student instructional spending in Prairie-Hills is $5,700—$2,000 below the state average. She is a member of Funding Illinois’ Future, a coalition supporting HB1, a historic school funding reform law… Read more →

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