Fisher v. Texas: It's wrong to curb diversity

When I started school in Virginia in 1968, the public schools in my county were still segregated by race. When our school board finally began complying with Brown vs. Board of Education, a group of parents decided to start an all-white private school. They showed up in our driveway one evening to convince my parents to join them. My father — a white factory worker and a son of the brutally segregated South — sent them away unhappy. Years later I asked him what he'd told them. "I told them you and your sister had to learn to live in the world," he said. "And I told them the world wasn't going to be all white."

On October 10, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Fisher v. Texas. At stake is the freedom of a public university to fulfill its educational mission by selecting a diverse student body. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Texas to preserve our own ability to achieve our mission — and ultimately, the ability of public universities nationwide to prepare their students for lives in a world that is increasingly more diverse.


'Let's Move' law is flawed. 'No Hungry Kids Act' will fix it

Starting a new school year is typically filled with excitement and many changes, but this year kids and parents across our nation are dealing with big surprises in the lunch room. Thanks to new calorie bracket regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children are going hungry in our school cafeterias. The background of the rule and the outcry from parents and children has led to our legislative response, the "No Hungry Kids Act."
The new "calorie maximums" are broken down in three categories: grades K-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Last year the federal government recommended a lunch of a minimum 785 calories for a sixth grader; this year, that same sixth-grade student will be fed a maximum of 700 calories.


School lunches should be filled with nutrition, not red tape

Have you ever wondered how school administrators decide what goes into school lunches? As is the case with most federally-run programs, there’s a thick stack of instruction papers for that. On the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) webpage for the Food and Nutrition Services Department, you can find a copy of the 81-page rule that sets nutrition standards. According to the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) analysis and explanation of the latest rule for school lunch nutrition standards, the maximum number of calories a student in grades K-5 can have at lunch is 650. This is the first time in history the USDA has set a calorie cap on students.


Debacle in Chicago

The Chicago teachers’ strike is turning into an all-round debacle – for school children and their families, for President Obama and his party, and quite likely for the teachers themselves. Only Republicans are smiling, as the strike supplies fresh fodder to their campaign to vilify and weaken public sector unions.


Literacy is the keystone in the arch of an education

"Hwat wdulo hte lrodw kolo lkei fi ouy ocldu otn erda?"

To 793 million people, the confusion you just experienced deciphering the above is a regular part of everyday life. For those that cannot read or write, a local newspaper, medicine bottles, street signs and food packaging, all present a struggle that inspires fear, frustration and social immobility.

Illiteracy is not just a problem of the developing world; it is prevalent across the United States. Here in the District of Columbia, where students recently began the new school year, reading levels for elementary students remain well below average – with 56 percent of the District’s fourth graders failing to achieve basic reading levels, according to the 2011 nation’s report card. And it is estimated that nearly 36 percent of District adults are functionally illiterate. This is untenable.


Economic downturn spotlights college advantage

The Great Recession that began in December 2007 hit America hard and exposed many of the shortcomings of our nation’s workforce. Now, a new study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, co-funded by Lumina Foundation, shows undereducated workers are increasingly being left behind and that policymakers, employers and institutions must do more to produce the skilled talent our nation needs to compete more effectively in the global economy.


We must make anti-bullying a mainstream message

On the heels of the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Education is hosting its Third Annual Bullying Prevention Summit this week, which is fortuitously timed and desperately needed. Without question, the Sikh temple shooter, Wade Michael Page, a self-proclaimed skinhead, neo-Nazi and white supremacist music bandleader, had been trying to bully and intimidate any non-white American into feeling unwelcome, un-American and unsafe.  And we know that Page is not alone in his fear-inducing, hate-mongering bullying practices. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of hate crimes occurring every year in America.


Police for-profit school abuses, but be fair

Higher education costs are rising at roughly two-and-a-half times the rate of inflation without producing dramatically improved outcomes. This is unsustainable, and for America to compete over the next 20 years, this dynamic must be reversed. Costs must come down while we dramatically increase our completion and employment outcomes.


For-profit schools need better oversight and more empowered students

An eye-opening congressional report released this week paints a picture of a too-familiar scenario in which unvarnished greed and lack of oversight grips an industry, exploits consumers and squanders billions in taxpayer funds. It is yet another situation that calls for increased oversight to stop abusive business practices.


Misleading the public about University of Phoenix

Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, released a report on for-profit colleges and universities, including University of Phoenix. This report is the culmination of a two year review.