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Class Struggle: December 27, 2009 - January 2, 2010

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  |  December 30, 2009; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Extra Credit  | Tags: Shangri-la of public education, Washington area schools, challenge in schools, school diversity  
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Foreign language teaching is becoming just Spanish

Most of the rest of the world has made great strides in improving English language instruction. Just because our mother tongue has become the leading language of international discourse doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to make as many of our citizens as possible bilingual, at least.

By Jay Mathews  |  December 30, 2009; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Center for Applied Linguistics, decline of less popular languages, foreign language instruction, rise of Spanish  
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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  |  December 29, 2009; 10:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Arne Duncan, Chester E. Finn Jr., Chicago schools, criticism of Duncan's record, education secretaries' records  
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Getting an education--it's about power

Karen Driscoll, wife of a Marine Corps officer, was told by officials of an northern San Diego County school district that they could only offer a classroom aide for her son ten hours a week, when the child's previous school in Fairfax County had provided 21 hours and told her that was what she deserved under federal law.

By Jay Mathews  |  December 29, 2009; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Armed services family education needs, learning disabilities, special education, third party help in education issues  
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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  |  December 27, 2009; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: D.C. schools, Healthy Schools Act, Mary M. Cheh, Physical education, Vincent C. Gray, politicians that don't understand schools  
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