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Class Struggle: February 6, 2011 - February 12, 2011

The myth of declining U.S. schools: They've long been mediocre

"U.S. students, who once led the world, currently rank 21st in the world in science and 25th in math," Newsweek reported in September. I hear that a lot. Politicians and business leaders often bemoan the decline of American education compared to the rest of the world. We are doomed, they say, unless we [fill in here the latest plan to save the country.] So I was surprised to find, in the latest report by the wonderfully contrarian Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless, that the notion of America on the downward track is a myth.

By Jay Mathews  | February 11, 2011; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags:  American student scores have not declined, China and Indian way behind, Finland not so good, PISA, TIMSS, Tom Loveless  
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The amazing Harriett Ball

Harriett Ball, a well-known teacher trainer who inspired the most successful charter school network in the country, died Feb. 2 at a Houston Northwest Medical Center after a heart attack. She was 64. A lively classroom performer with a rich sense of humor, the elementary school teacher stood 6 feet 1 inch tall and had a deep, vibrant alto voice. Most of her fame stemmed from the role she played in the creation of the Knowledge Is Power Program, now known as KIPP, which has grown to 99 schools in 20 states and the District.

By Jay Mathews  | February 10, 2011; 11:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Dave Levin, Harriett Ball, KIPP, Mike Feinberg  
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Rhee's response to blogger's allegations

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, on Wednesday evening issued a statement challenging blogger G.F. Brandenburg's account of her record as a Baltimore school teacher. The entire statement appears below: "A Response to the Unfounded Attacks on Michelle Rhee Our schools...

By Washington Post editors  | February 9, 2011; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (75)
 
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Baltimore City test specialist recalls Rhee story

(Updated with a response from Michelle Rhee's group, StudentsFirst, at 6 p.m. Wednesday.) Here is an e-mail I received today. I think it is self-explanatory and relevant to our topic of the day, Michelle Rhee's years in Baltimore. The writer...

By Jay Mathews  | February 9, 2011; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  
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Let's hear more from commenter who questioned Rhee's test scores

Here is the comment I posted this morning on the Education Writers Association listserve, where topic A is the G.F. Brandenburg blog that proves Michelle Rhee said her students' gains when she taught elementary school were more than they turned out to be. I am posting it here because I want the person who says he pointed out the crucial document to Brandenburg to take some credit, and tell us how he did it.

By Jay Mathews  | February 9, 2011; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  
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Michelle Rhee's early test scores challenged

G.F. Brandenburg, a retired D.C. math teacher with an irresistible blog, has done it again. If he had chosen a career in journalism instead of teaching, no U.S. president would have finished out his first term. He has found the missing test score data from former D.C. schools chancellor's early years as a classroom teacher, something I did not think was possible. He has proved that Rhee's results weren't nearly as good as she said they were.

By Jay Mathews  | February 8, 2011; 5:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (127)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Baltimore, G.F. Brandenburg, Harlem Park Elementary School, Michelle Rhee, blogger unearth data showing her students did not do as well as she said they did, was Rhee successful as a teacher  
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Is high school recess a waste?

There is no limit to what you learn about schools if you listen to teachers. Did you know, for instance, that Fairfax County, this region's largest school district, is using 10 days a year of valuable instruction time on do-what-you-like recesses for high-school students? I didn't either. West Springfield High School physics teacher Ed Linz says this program, designed to help struggling students, is a waste.

By Jay Mathews  | February 6, 2011; 8:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags:  Ed Linz, Paul Wardinski, Richard Moniuszko, West Springfield High School, about 100 may watch TV in the cafeteria, only remedial students required to be studying, principal says other students use it well, recess in high school. some teachers say it wastes time  
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