Standardized snake oil. By Marion Brady

I was, generally speaking, a fairly well-behaved kid. I’ve no reasonable explanation, then, for burning a hole in the wall of the one-room school I attended in the late 1930s. It wasn’t an original idea. A precedent had been set by somebody who’d come and gone before I arrived at Union School the previous year… Read more »

The Real Lessons of PISA By Diane Ravitch

Dear Deborah, When the results of the latest international assessment—the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA—were released, our national leaders sounded an alarm about a national “crisis in education.” Our students scored in the middle of the pack! We are not No. 1! Shanghai is No. 1! We are doomed unless we overtake Shanghai!… Read more »

Eliminating Recess Hurts Kids When Testing Pressure is Too Great, We All Lose By Nicholas Thacher

The suburban New England town in which I run a small elementary school has just been obliged to eliminate morning recess for its public school children. This has, as one can readily imagine, caused a lot of palaver, dissension, anger, anxiety, and finger-pointing. Our excellent superintendent had the unenviable task of moving from one acrimonious… Read more »

‘Ready to Learn’ Equals Easier to Educate, by Alfie Kohn

The phrase “ready to learn,” frequently applied to young children, is rather odd when you stop to think about it, because the implication is that some kids aren’t. Have you ever met a child who wasn’t ready to learn — or, for that matter, already learning like crazy? The term must mean something much more… Read more »

The Gini Index and Educational Achievement By Walt Gardner

With reformers relentlessly demanding that schools produce measurable outcomes, it’s curious that the Gini Index is rarely mentioned. I say that because what Italian statistician Corrado Gini wrote in 1912 has direct relevance to today’s debate. Sometimes referred to as the Gini coefficient, it measures the range of income inequality in a society from 0… Read more »

De-legitimizing public education. by Marion Brady

The quality of American education is going to get worse. Count on it. And contrary to the conventional wisdom, the main reason isn’t going to be the loss of funding accompanying economic hard times. Follow along and I’ll explain: Step One: Start with what was once a relatively simple educational system. (For me, it was… Read more »

How to Sell Conservatism: Lesson 1 — Pretend You’re a Reformer. By Alfie Kohn

If you somehow neglected to renew your subscription to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, you may have missed a couple of interesting articles last year. A series of studies conducted by two independent groups of researchers (published in the September and November 2009 issues, respectively) added to an already substantial collection of evidence… Read more »

Waiting for sanity in education reform. By George Wood

This fall brought not only the start of another school year but plenty of noise about schools as well. A movie, a manifesto, and a mayoral election in Washington D.C. all amplified the ongoing debate about who the real education reformers are. Noise and more noise. Thank goodness for the sane voices that arose in… Read more »

Demonizing Public Education By Diane Ravitch

I reviewed “Waiting for ‘Superman’” for The New York Review of Books. I thought the movie was very slick, very professional, and very propagandistic. It is one-sided and very contemptuous of public education. Notably, the film portrayed not a single successful regular public school, and its heroic institutions were all charter schools. There are many… Read more »