Education

Public-education crisis

Anyone who tells you that public schools are public because anyone can go to any school is lying.

You can only go to the schools where you can afford to live in the neighborhood; the school quality is part of the expense of that house.

In effect, our public school system remains separate and unequal.

Bottom line: The public school system is failing its students — particularly those of color.

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Toy soldiers

When I was growing up, I was obsessed with toy soldiers.

I had armies of little Army guys and little German soldiers, whom I would array in various little battles. In place of a howitzer, a well-shot rubber band would often serve as the artillery, and proved the temporary death of a many a little German dude.

One of my earliest memories was getting a Fort Apache set for Christmas. It had little U.S. cavalry soldiers and little Indians, and it provided me with hours of fun.

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Q&A with Michelle Rhee: Part III

In Part III of our interview with D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, she tells us how she stays fit, how her relationship with an NBA star and mayor of Sacramento works (the wedding is Sept. 4 in Sacramento wearing a Vera Wang gown, and her daughters "are way more into wedding planning than I am!") and why Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City schools, is her hero and mentor.

Institute for Education high school journalism interns Christina Valentine, Georgie Milanovic and Jenny Shore collaborated with me in this lively, informative Q-and-A. Enjoy our capital city's transformational chancellor, Michelle Rhee. We thought she rocked!

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Q-and-A with Michelle Rhee, Part II

On May 13, IFE’s INFO Breakfast series hosted D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee for a second time. She returned to give a frank overview about the school system’s progress and problems. She delighted her audience with her openness during the Q-and-A period, including former Mayor Anthony Williams, who introduced her. Chancellor Rhee also made time to answer additional questions from IFE high school journalism interns Christina Valentine, Georgie Milanovic and Jenny Shore. The Q-and-A from the lively INFO breakfast discussion follows.

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Q-and-A with Michelle Rhee

On May 13 IFE’s INFO Breakfast series was hosted D.C. Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee for a second time. She returned to give a frank overview about the school system’s progress and problems. She delighted her audience with her openness during the Q-and-A period, including former Mayor Anthony Williams, who introduced her. Chancellor Rhee also made time to answer additional questions from IFE high school journalism interns Christina Valentine, Georgie Milanovic and Jenny Shore. The Q-and-A from the lively INFO Breakfast discussion follows.

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Restoring the Social Security student benefit: The best policy idea you haven’t heard of yet

I do believe we are responsible for the widow and the orphan.”

— Richard Gilbert, Tea Party supporter (New York Times, April 16, 2010)

Whether you are a Francis Perkins admirer or Sarah Palin follower, Americans believe Social Security is a promise worth protecting for all generations. Supporting the children of a diseased and disabled parent is a core American value enshrined in the values of the Social Security program, and reinstating the student benefit for post-secondary education should be a top priority of any reforms to strengthen Social Security.

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Education is the silver bullet

During the 2010–11 school year, American taxpayers will spend about $543 billion to teach the nearly 50 million students who attend public elementary and secondary schools (kindergarten through 12th grade) across the country. In comparison, taxpayers will pay about $60 billion to house, correct and punish the 2.2 million prisoners who are behind bars every day in American prisons. Americans spend about $26,000 per prisoner but just $11,000 per student (U.S. Department of Education; Washington Post). Just incredible.

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Is lack of money the primary cause of our education crisis?

I don’t think money is the primary problem for our education crisis. We’ve been throwing good money after bad at the educational system for years, yet things seem to get worse.

I’m not sure what the solution is, but I think that though there’s a correlation between money and successful students, it’s only a correlation — not a causal factor.

I think better schools get more money because there’s a value on education in that school’s area FIRST. It’s because the local community demands it and is itself made up of education-minded, educated and successful parents who themselves make money and thus pay more in taxes to their communities and, in return, demand more from their schools.

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Amy Bishop and Harvard: A lethal mix?

Writing Friday about the University of Alabama-Huntsville biology professor Amy Bishop, who murdered three of her colleagues last week, the AP’s Desiree Hunter notes that Bishop has a Ph.D. from Harvard. Being denied tenure in Alabama, where she has taught since 2003, ate at her self-esteem, writes Hunter. Bishop was “apparently … incensed that a lesser-known school rejected her.”

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Fire the teachers union

Heroes can and will emerge from the most unsuspecting places and make crucial decisions that can reverberate around the world. Rhode Island Superintendent Frances Gallo boldly confronted the neglect of Central Falls High School students by pompous teachers and the Central Falls Teachers Union. Her challenge boldly illuminates the burden unions and government jobs have on productivity.

Courageously glaring at the shameless monster of one of the worst school districts in the nation, reporting 50 percent of students failing their classes and less than 50 percent graduating, Gallo was willing to challenge negligent teachers who were obviously apathetic to the success of their students. All they cared about, in the end, was their fat paychecks every two weeks, and had no concern for the dismal results of their students.

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