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Class Struggle: April 18, 2010 - April 24, 2010

The irksome myth about Garfield after Escalante

There is a widespread myth that Garfield High School in East Los Angeles went downhill academically after its superstar math teacher Jaime Escalante left the school in 1991. It is important to understand why this is false. Galvanizing school cultures are maintained by many people, not just hero teachers. Great teachers like Escalante can create such cultures, but the test of their validity is what happens after that teacher leaves.

By Jay Mathews  |  April 23, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: John Bennett, Myth about Garfield after Escalante, Tom Woessner, math program declined, rest of the school stayed strong  
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Admissions 101: If your college counselor undercuts you

I'm back from vacation with a new topic for our Admissions 101 discussion group. It's a provocative subject: What do you do when your guidance counselor or college counselor doesn't believe in you? Some parents are wealthy enough to hire...

By Washington Post editors  |  April 22, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Why waste time on a foreign language?

We tell our children that their Spanish or Russian or Arabic or Japanese studies are important. But we give them high grades for little progress. Most colleges don’t require that applicants have more than two years. And from what I can see, based on what actually happens in high schools, learning a foreign language often is a waste of time.

By Jay Mathews  |  April 21, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (110)
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags: good grades for little work, low standards for instruction, the rest of the world speaks English so why try, why learning foreign language is a waste of time  
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Job losses bad for teachers, not necessarily for education

The effect of teacher layoffs on learning is not so clear. In the four decades we have had reliable information on school achievement the national school learning curve and the business cycle don't seem to have had much to do with each other.

By Jay Mathews  |  April 21, 2010; 1:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: NAEP long-term trends, achievement also not gaining during good times., achievement does not drop during recessions, job losses bad for teaches but not necessarily for education  
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The Fixer: a principal who made a difference

Successful school revivals, the Djouadi story suggests, are often pure luck, propelled by the serendipitous presence of smart and resourceful people above and below the principal at the right moment.

By Jay Mathews  |  April 20, 2010; 2:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Marie Djouadi, formula for fixing schools, getting staff behind you, principal improves school, raising high school standards  
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Principal tells ninth-graders to study, or leave

I was surprised when Charlie Thomas, principal of Crossland High School in Prince George’s County, began sending me emails. His school has been one of the worst in a low-performing district for a long time. But Thomas, who arrived in 2004, was trying to improve his school and was willing even to deal with a fault-finding columnist if it would help. Nearly 66 percent of his students were low-income, but he was not going to let that slow him down. I confess he has gotten my attention with some unusual moves.

By Jay Mathews  |  April 18, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: Advanced Placement, Charles Thomas, Crossland High School Prince George's County Md., reviving a high school, telling ninth graders to shape up or leave, tough principal improves high school  
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