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Class Struggle: February 14, 2010 - February 20, 2010

Down with parent power

The California state government has given parents the power to close or change the leadership of low-performing public schools. It sounds great. It has many parents excited. It could shake up the state educational establishment, including the education department, school boards and teacher unions. Yet I can't shake my feeling it is a bad idea, a confusing distraction that will bring parents more frustration, not less, and do little to improve their children's educations.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 19, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: California Parent Revolution, California parent trigger law, Gabe Rose, parental cynicism, school lynch mob controversy  
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Life habits schools can teach

The habits of the heart are probably learned almost as much at school as at home. But which ones can we reasonably expect teachers to address? What should we look for to make certain these unmeasurable immeasurable but invaluable traits are being reinforced?

By Jay Mathews  |  February 17, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags: arguing, character education, exercise, friendship, life skills, life skills taught in schools, music, organization, presentation, presentation. thinking critically, teamwork  
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How old news people can help schools

Many high schools don't have student publications of any kind, except what teachers with unusual amounts of energy manage to create in their classes. That kind of educator power is precious, and difficult to find since the regular teaching day takes so much out of you. But it seems to me we have another resource we could tap---the millions of retiring baby boomers.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 16, 2010; 6:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: baby boomer volunteers, http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/convention68.htmlstudent publications, open student newspapers to all, using student publications to improve writing  
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College ratings to trust

If you are, as the law school applicant in my family has begun to call them, a prestige whore, then I guess the U.S. News & World Report America's Best Colleges rankings are for you. Those lists are based heavily on what colleges think of each other---what is called the reputational score. The higher the rank, the wider the smile on your grandmother's face when you get in. But if you want an introduction to a lesser known, but to my mind more useful, rating of undergraduate institutions, take a close look at the National Survey of Student Engagement.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 16, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: George Kuh, Godzilla, National Survey of Student Engagement, U.S. News America's Best Colleges, best college ratings, measuring college value  
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Teachers more important than polls

I am late mentioning it. It’s none of my business. But I think it might have been a bad idea to add what survey respondents were saying about the city’s schools to the Post’s big poll stories on declining approval of D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 14, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: Adrian M. Fenty, Michelle A. Rhee, education polls, misleading school survey data, political polls, teachers do., voters don't make schools better  
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