Education

Book Review: Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn’t So

Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So Jay P. Greene Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005 Education policy, says Jay P. Greene, is dominated by myths. Myths aren't lies. They're intuitive, they seem to be true, and we want them to be true. There is probably some evidence supporting the myth. But if the myth isn't true, if it isn't accurate, and we make policy decisions based on the myth, we create disastrous results. As important and expensive as public education is, this means we need to examine myths and…
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On Paul Mirecki

There are two aspects to the Paul Mirecki matter that I haven't seen discussed, or discussed only in passing. First: What if Professor Mirecki had made condescending and hateful remarks about "protected" or "favored" minority groups such as Jews, blacks, Hispanics, women, even Muslims? I am having trouble imagining what would have happened, but being insensitive to groups like these carries a much harsher penalty than insulting Christians, I am sure. Second: Shouldn't we be concerned that a professor (a department chair no less) at the flagship university of our state, educated at the finest university in the world, writes…
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Every state left behind

In Kansas, according to Standard & Poor's Statewide Education Insights, about 60% to 70% of students are proficient in reading, as evaluated by the Kansas state reading test. But on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, only 33% to 35% of Kansas students are proficient. A similar discrepancy exists in the math test scores. Diane Ravitch, in the New York Times on November 7, 2005, writes "Idaho claims that 90 percent of its fourth-grade students are proficient in mathematics, but on the federal test only 41 percent reached the Education Department's standard of proficiency. Similarly, New York reports that…
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Book review: Class Warfare

Class Warfare Besieged Schools, Bewildered Parents, Betrayed Kids and the Attack on Excellence J. Martin Rochester Encounter Books 2002 In Lake Wobegon, "every child is above average," Garrison Keillor says. In my personal experience, I can't think of any parents I know who don't have children who are not gifted or doing much better than average. After learning about the theory of Multiple Intelligences in chapter four of this book, I now know why all children are gifted. Multiple Intelligences is a theory, just over 20 years old, that says that besides the traditional areas of intelligence -- linguistic and…
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How one school found a way to spell success

In the October 14, 2005 Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger wrote about an elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas that experienced a remarkable turnaround in student achievement. This poor school, where 92% of the students live at or below the poverty level, was able to increase its scores on an achievement test by 17% in one year. What did Meadowcliff Elementary School do? Did it build new buildings and hire new teachers to reduce class size? Did it implement new curriculum? Did the local board of education hire an extra assistant superintendent to oversee the school? Did it increase teacher…
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How teaching math is politicized in public schools

The Wall Street Journal, in an article titled "Ethnomathematics" (June, 20, 2005, available at this link, although registration may be required) tells us of the transformation of mathematics from a universal language and tool for understanding and problem-solving to a "tool to advance social justice." For example: In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998 "contemporary mathematics" textbook, Williamson Evers and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics. In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter "F" included "factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal, finite set, formulas, fractions, and functions." In the 1998 book,…
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Corruption in the Public Schools: The Market Is the Answer

Corruption in the Public Schools: The Market Is the Answerby Neal McCluskeyClick here to read the article. This is an excellent article that shows how free markets can provide the best education for our children. On the surface, it would seem that having government bureaucrats in charge of educating children would produce good results. For a time in America, it did. But not now. As Milton Friedman said in his commentary "Free to Choose" published in the Wall Street Journal on June 9, 2005: "A Nation at Risk" stimulated much soul-searching and a whole series of major attempts to reform…
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The school productivity crisis

As the Kansas Legislature prepares to meet to consider school financing, it is a good time to reflect upon the state of our public schools. This interview (How to Improve School Productivity? Caroline Minter Hoxby) with noted Harvard economist Caroline M. Hoxby teaches us that American public schools have poor and declining productivity. As she states: The main symptom of the productivity crisis is the fact that productivity has fallen almost 50 percent in the past 30 years. We measure productivity by dividing a measure of student achievement by per-pupil spending in inflation-adjusted dollars. Regardless of which achievement measure we…
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Beneath the Radar

Beneath the Radarby Richard Nadler On June 3, the Supreme Court of Kansas issued a ruling requiring the state legislature to appropriate an additional $853 million per year to Kansas schools, K-12. The basis of the decision, said a unanimous court, was a clause in the Kansas Constitution: “The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” The increase equals roughly 20% of the state’s entire general revenue budget.In comes at the end of a fifteen year period during which Kansas’ expenditure per pupil doubled, exceeding the rise in consumer prices by 29%. In…
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Wearing a Black Robe to Make Sausage

Wearing a Black Robe to Make Sausageby Bob L. CorkinsApril 22, 2005 Want to create new laws without legislators? Then watch the Kansas Supreme Court for the next few weeks to see how it's done. Like pride for trophies on a mantle, trial lawyers boast of cases where they convinced a court to declare the birth of a new duty. Persuade a jury that somebody owes a responsibility to someone else, even if there's no agreement, precedent, or statute providing a basis, then collect damages after showing the duty was breached. If the decision holds up on appeal - Presto!…
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