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Class Struggle: February 7, 2010 - February 13, 2010

Va. is for virtual, not charter, schools

Charter school advocates like me are going to make a big deal out of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's plan to expand those publicly funded, independently run educational alternatives. But I predict the most important part of his Wednesday education announcement will be not charter schools but virtual schools, the growing segment of programs in which students learn online.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 12, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: Paul Peterson, Robert F. McDonnell, Virginia schools, charter schools, online learning, school choice, virtual learning, virtual schools, vouchers  
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Washington's best winter ever

Sometime yesterday afternoon--I wasn't watching the clock for reasons that will soon be apparent--I heard a local TV news anchor announce that this was now the "worst winter in Washington history." I was in bed at the time, taking one of the nice naps that have become part of my routine during the succession of storms that have kept me home since last Friday. My thought: Is "worst" really the right adjective?

By Jay Mathews  |  February 11, 2010; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Worst winter in Washington, afternoon naps, best winter in Washington, life is good for lazy people, slugs love snow  
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Doubt about learning styles

If you are in a mischievous mood and want to get a rise out of your favorite teachers or principals, send them a copy of "Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence," in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Volume 9, No. 3, December 2008. (Actually, it came out in December 2009, but for a reason understood only by academics in the timeless search for truth, its official publication date was 12 months previous.) Here is my summary of the 15-page paper: Learning styles are hogwash.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 10, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags: learning styles are hogwash, learning styles don't help teachers, learning styles research, reaction against learning styles  
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Our knee-jerk tuition fears

My colleague Dan de Vise's new piece about college tuition is the most useful article in the paper. He exposes the persistent distortion of tuition rates by colleges. They appear to think they have a great marketing advantage in inflating their sticker prices---high cost means high quality in the public mind---even if it creates a disabling sense of hopelessness in some families about their ability to send their kids to higher education.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 10, 2010; 12:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Americans misinformed about college costs, Dan de Vise, colleges distort their cost, net college tuition, tuition sticker shock  
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More light needed on abuse allegations

I wish Nathan Saunders, general vice president of the Washington Teachers Union, had given more thought to the statement he gave to Post reporter Bill Turque. He said "the corporal punishment rules and regulations that exist are not problematic" in the District schools. I think a lot of parents and teachers would agree with me that he is wrong about that.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 9, 2010; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: D.C. schools, Michelle A. Rhee, Nathan Saunders, parents denied abuse information, parents ignored, students making false charges against teachers, teachers abusing students, teachers in trouble  
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Students should read non-fiction

For the next few weeks I am going to explore the future of news reading---and more broadly the whole matter of non-fiction in schools---to see if there isn't a way to both preserve my generation's allegiance to written news coverage with some depth and detail, and to add to schools something they have never had---a mission to instill a love of book-length non-fiction.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 9, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: decline of newspaper reading, lack of non-fiction in schools, news on the web, non-fiction reading in schools, non-fiction writing  
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U-Va. cheats IB students

Although IB and AP both add electrifying challenges to our usually limp high school course catalogues, IB is somewhat better because of its writing requirement and deeper exams, with no multiple choice questions. Yet students at U-Va. and elsewhere are finding that our finest colleges are dumb and deceptive about IB. They openly discriminate against IB students like Robertson, with no data supporting their rules and no interest in changing them.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 7, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: Advanced Placement, IB students protest, International Baccalaureate, University of Virginia, colleges discriminate against IB, deceptive college rules, dumb  
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