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Class Struggle: August 22, 2010 - August 28, 2010

America's worst colleges

The Washington Monthly, a tiny bastion of high-grade journalism in the nation's capital, tries every year to kill the celebratory buzz greeting the latest U.S. News & World Report "America's Best Colleges" list. This time the monthly has outdone itself with what might be called the anti-U.S. News list, 50 carefully ranked colleges that have to be worst nightmare of any student who aspires to deep learning and careful career preparation.

By Jay Mathews  |  August 27, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: 50 colleges with the lowest graduation rates, Chicago State same demographics as NCCU, Washington Monthly list, but much worse results  
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Please Mr. President, don't speak on school time

Here we go again. I dodged a lot of electronic tomatoes last year for suggesting that President Obama NOT give his back-to-school speech during class time. Many readers thought that was a stupid suggestion. The president and his staff apparently agree with them, because the White House has announced he is going to do it again on Sept. 14. The White House is again encouraging schools to interrupt class so students can listen.

By Jay Mathews  |  August 26, 2010; 4:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (65)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Obama speaks again on school time, a bad idea, time almost as important as teacher quality in raising achievement  
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LA Times reporters respond to my questions on school ratings

I have been avidly following the Los Angeles Times publication of value-added data from elementary schools in the L.A. district. After Sunday's latest installment, I posted an appreciation of what they were doing, but expressed frustration with some gaps in the story, and what I considered at least slight misrepresentation of some of their data. Here is the LA Times reporters' response.

By Jay Mathews  |  August 25, 2010; 1:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: LA Times response to Mathews questions, data base to be released later in week  
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Why it's okay to be bored in school

I want to share a recent essay from Coach Brown's blog, "A Passion for Teaching and Opinions." He reflects on the master teacher that helped train him, and other influences. I think he has put the engagement issue, and our frequent complaints about boring schools, in just the right light:

By Jay Mathews  |  August 24, 2010; 11:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: LA Times teacher assessment series, blogger Coach Brown, boring is not always bad, how to engage students  
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L.A. Times testing series raises more questions

I found reading the LA Times series terrific in many ways. But the latest part was frustrating because it often fails to answer questions raised by the deep digging its reporters have done. Also, the stories seem to me to mischaracterize, in some spots, the data they present.

By Jay Mathews  |  August 23, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: LA Times series on teacher assessments key to education policy future, how much did schools really decline, series so far leaves some questions unanswered  
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Rhee is central to future of DC schools

If Mayor Adrian M. Fenty loses the Democratic primary, Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee — the most divisive D.C. educator in my 39 years at The Washington Post — will probably leave. If Fenty wins, she probably stays. Whether that is good or bad depends on your point of view.

By Jay Mathews  |  August 22, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: Michelle Rhee, divisive but effective, key to election  
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