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Class Struggle: October 3, 2010 - October 9, 2010

Why low standards for education are good

No education scholar in America throws an analytical knuckleball as well as David F. Labaree of Stanford University. You are reading along, enjoying the clarity of his prose and the depth of his research, thinking his argument is going one way when--whoops!--it breaks in another direction altogether.

By Jay Mathews  | October 8, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags:  David F. Labaree, why school reform always fails, why schools are better off not having standards too high, why the school reform process makes Americans feel good even if it doesn't work  
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Why science careers, and courses, aren't so popular

The Obama administration loves the STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) idea. The Bush administration loved it. Colleges, from the biggest to the smallest, look for STEM grants. STEM is popular from sea to oily sea, from the mountains to the prairies, to every school board in every town in the nation. The only people having difficulty getting excited about STEM are the students who must take and pass the courses if the movement is to succeed.

By Jay Mathews  | October 7, 2010; 11:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (69)
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags:  Ann Emerson, STEM programs, Stafford County public schools, engineering, math, science, science courses often too touch, science jobs not well paid, technology  
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'I was not allowed to take AP English'

My column on Charles Hebert Flowers High School requiring a 3.0 grade point average to take an Advanced Placement course, then dropping the rule after I asked about it, inspired many people who have been barred from AP and college prep courses to email me their stories. Here are two accounts from people who suffered because of the still widespread and wrongheaded view that only top students should be challenged.

By Jay Mathews  | October 6, 2010; 12:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Carolyn Elefant, I was not allowed to take AP English,, although denied a chance at AP, one becomes lawyer and author, the other a teacher  
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Baltimore teachers contract could be great

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called me last week full of excitement over her Baltimore local's new teacher contract. Education leaders often exaggerate when talking to journalists, but Weingarten has taken some bold steps in Colorado and D.C. that were not popular with all of her members, so she is very credible, at least to me.

By Jay Mathews  | October 5, 2010; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Andres Alonso, Marietta English, Randi Weingarten, new Baltimore teachers contract  
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KIPP leaders unworried by test score drop

Fifth grade scores dropped this year at the KIPP DC charter schools. Some people wondered if the Knowledge Is Power Program’s long record of raising D.C. student achievement was in jeopardy. The woman who created KIPP DC seems unworried. She has already made a change that may drive some average scores even lower next year.

By Jay Mathews  | October 3, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (92)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags:  KIPP DC, KIPP DC: College Prep in its second year, KIPP culture change, KIPP fifth grade scores go down, Knowledge Is Power Program, Susan Schaeffler, for first time KIPP adds fourth grade to middle school  
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