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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 08/31/2009

Why Read The Answer Sheet?

By Valerie Strauss

Q) What is this blog trying to do?
A) Probably too much. I'm interested in everything education.

One big focus is on helping parents get themselves and their children through their formal education--while staying sane. It’s not easy. Schools may look pretty much as they did when you learned to read, write and dissect a frog, but within those cinderblock walls, it’s a new world. So is college admissions.

Another big focus is on teachers -- what they encounter in the classroom on a day to day basis as well as on education policy that affects everything they do. You will hear from me, as well as from guests, including a lot of teachers.

Q) What issues will be discussed?
A) All of them, from preK-graduate school. Educational, developmental, social, psychological, epistemological and any other word ending in "al" that is pertinent.

FOR EXAMPLE:
What should my kid be learning, and when?
What’s up with the SAT and the ACT?
Why is my kid reading the same book 327 times?
Will my kid’s homework always be the bane of my existence?

Why can’t I understand second grade math?
Why isn’t my child "gifted" like the other kids?
What are college admissions officers really looking?
What does “teaching to the test” mean?
Why can’t my child sit still in class?
Why won’t my kid read without nagging?
What do I do if my child’s third grade friend is watching "True Blood?"
Why does school start so early for teenagers?
Will prekindergarten really determine my kid’s future?
Will Advanced Placement classes really determine my kid’s future?
Should my child bother getting an MBA?
Should standardized tests be the key measure for anything? Why are they?
What is the Obama administration doing with education policy?
What is the future of No Child Left Behind?
Q) Who are you?
A) I am Valerie Strauss, born and raised in Miami. I earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Miami and a masters degree at Northwestern University. I am married to a banking securities lawyer (I almost understand what he does) who keeps me laughing, and we have two amazing daughters. I have covered education--lower, middle, higher--for more than 15 years.

Q) How do you know all the answers?
A) I don’t. But I know some--and I know where to get the rest. This blog will host guests who are experts in different areas. I’ll ask advice from other moms and dads. And I’ll ask readers--that would be you--for help.

Q)What most worries you?
A) The Worldwide Web is too limited a medium for the whole list. Mostly I worry about nuclear winter, asteroids colliding with Earth and my two hilarious daughters.

Q) What else is there to know about you?
A) My 17-year-old is a writer and avid reader who is uncommonly kind. (She did refuse to read Harry Potter until last year, when I bribed her and won a rare victory in winning her over to something I like.)

My 14-year-old is a singer and songwriter in a rock band. (She is obsessed with “Twilight” and wishes Edward Cullen were real even though he is a vampire. She's not alone; children's and young adult literature is something I will take up repeatedly.)

(You are, incidentally, wrong if you think I am so worried about page views that I included the Twilight and Harry references so search engines will pick this up even though it isn’t about them, or for that matter, Brangelina or Robert Pattinson. Or President Obama.)

The girls attend a private school in Washington D.C.

Q) Anything else to know about you?
A) My analogies are lousy, I leave metaphors and similes to the experts, and I am sometimes prone to Melville-like digressions. I will, however, fight that part of my nature while blogging.

Q) Is that all?
A) Read The Answer Sheet for a lot more. If you have questions, comments or anything else, call me at 202 334 6914 or email me at theanswersheet@washpost.com or straussv@washpost.com



By Valerie Strauss  | August 31, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  About This Blog  | Tags:  education policy, the answer sheet, valerie strauss  
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