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Archive: Schools

Michael Steele's Academic Misadventure

He hasn't exactly held high office, and he's neither a policy leader nor a brilliant campaigner, but former Maryland lieutenant governor and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is a hugely charming storyteller, and in a video to appear this weekend on C-SPAN, Steele keeps an audience of high school students spellbound with the scary yet inspirational tale of the time he was booted out of Johns Hopkins University. The heroine of Steele's story--as is often the case--is his mother, Maebell Turner, who managed to scare him onto the right course without ever deigning to look at her son...

By Marc Fisher | May 22, 2009; 08:10 AM ET | Comments (10)

Political Tiff Blocks D.C. School Reforms

The biggest difference between many D.C. public schools and their suburban counterparts is the enormous and too-often-ineffectual infrastructure the city system has built to deal with a few kids in each classroom who throw tantrums, assault teachers or otherwise disrupt the proceedings. Over the years, the D.C. schools have tried everything: suspensions, alternative schools, uniformed police, security guards, walkie-talkie-wielding deans of discipline, counselors and a hugely expensive expansion of the number of kids declared to be in need of special education. Now, just as Mayor Adrian Fenty and Chancellor Michelle Rhee have hit on a strategy that gets at the...

By Marc Fisher | May 21, 2009; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (1)

Study: Md., Va. Prep Kids For Success. D.C. Doesn't.

Maryland is among the best places in the country in preparing children for success in school and beyond, according to a new study by Save the Children, the Washington-based non-profit. Maryland ranks eighth among all states and the District in measures such as parental encouragement, preschool participation and quality of home environment. Virginia landed 13th on the list and the District was way down at the bottom, at 42nd in the nation. Overall, the report paints a dismal picture of parenting and schooling in America. It finds that 68 percent of American fourth-graders are not reading at grade level--64...

By Marc Fisher | May 5, 2009; 07:48 AM ET | Comments (9)

Out-of-State Students: Boo! Out-of-State Dollars: Yay!

In their increasingly desperate search for messages that might win them some votes in ever-more Democratic northern Virginia, Republicans think they've hit paydirt with an appeal to parents stressed out about getting their kids into the state's universities. Over the past decade, out-of-state students have been given an ever-increasing portion of the seats at the University of Virginia, George Mason University and the commonwealth's other major colleges. Now here's a red-meat issue politicians can grab hold of: Force the schools to reserve more of their places for genuine Virginians and just watch the votes of grateful citizens roll in....

By Marc Fisher | May 4, 2009; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (18)

The 'Whitey From Virginia' Who Believed In Black Kids

George Kettle died today. To thousands who made their living in the Virginia real estate world, that means the man in the Century 21 sportjacket, the magnate who controlled the realty franchise for the Washington region, has passed on. But in Southeast Washington, Kettle represented something else--a way out, a chance to get what people in the suburbs get--an education, summer vacations, job training, internships, new clothes, all the little things that spell the difference between growing up poor and growing up with the expectation of success. I first met Kettle in 1987, when he stood before an assembly...

By Marc Fisher | April 15, 2009; 02:55 PM ET | Comments (7)

Zero Tolerance: Parents Talk Tough, But Are They Really?

We don't really know what we want. That's the conclusion of a social psychologist who decided it was time to test just how committed parents and others are to single-sanction, zero tolerance, tough love punishment regimens of the kind that many schools have adopted in the wake of a popular backlash against drug use by teenagers. Colgate University psychologist Kevin Carlsmith looked at the consistent support for the University of Virginia's legendary honor code--an example, he posits, of a policy that "assigns extreme punishments for minor offenses." Under the code, any case of lying, cheating or stealing leads to...

By Marc Fisher | April 14, 2009; 08:21 AM ET | Comments (17)


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