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Professional Opinion

Janice M. Tkaczyk is the national director for counselor and academic relations at Universal Technical Institute. She spent 35 years in public education, including 30 as the guidance director at a regional, technical high school.

In today’s education landscape, it’s common for teachers, school counselors and administrators to encourage students to graduate high school and earn a four-year college degree.

For years, we have seen this as the “right” path and perhaps the only path to success. But this one-size-fits-all approach isn’t a viable one. While many graduating seniors are excited to head off to college, many students with great skills and big dreams are struggling to decide on their next step. So, what’s the right path for those students?

Laura Dinehart is an associate professor of early childhood education at Florida International University.

Relegating handwriting to the back burner of early childhood education ignores the close relationship between fine motor skill development and early success in math and reading.

Technology isn’t the enemy, but jumping to keyboards and calculators before mastering pencil and paper may not be developmentally appropriate for young learners.

David Browne is superintendent of the Randolph, New Jersey public schools, a suburban K12 district of 4,800 students.

Student assessment in public education has taken on an unprecedented primacy during the 2014-15 school year, as states scramble to administer one of two new national assessments.

Bill McCarthy is the assistant head of Lower School at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City.

Several years ago, I attended a four-day training on instructional coaching at the University of Kansas, led by Jim Knight, an expert in the field. During this training, Knight presented a comprehensive model that can easily be implemented as part of internal professional development in schools.

As the academic year began at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, we discussed how this could constitute an effective and important model for our own professional development.

Lisa Gonzales is superintendent of the Portola Valley School District in California and vice president of Legislative Action for the Association of California School Administrators.

When I tell colleagues that our district is in its second year of a transition to project-based learning (PBL) districtwide, only a few questions emerge.

Years ago, I would have expected “What is PBL?” Now there are many districts in our region who have opted for the structured approach, led by the Buck Institute for Education.

Paula Love, the “Funding Doctor,” brings decades of experience to developing grant strategies for state and local educational agencies, schools and institutions.

Gaps in high school graduation rates are narrowing. National Center for Education Statistics data shows that nearly every racial and ethnic subgroup has seen a growth in graduation rates.

President Barack Obama’s proposed FY16 budget invests in programs that have improved student outcomes. Some highlights that will provide more funds for college-and-career readiness include:

Mark D. Benigni is the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools. Miguel A. Cardona is the district’s performance and evaluation specialist.

Meriden, Connecticut, is a struggling, former industrial city, once known for its silver manufacturing, lamp producers, military product development, and automotive component assembly plants.

We were both born there, to parents who had little more than each other and a dream for their children. We were poor. We were the statistic.

Yet, just as we were unleashed from the grip of poverty, so too can millions of other children break free. We chose education as a profession because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

Tim Markley is superintendent at New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Our growing district faced numerous facility challenges in the fall of 2013. The only way to address these needs was with a $160 million school bond—the largest in our district’s history. What made this campaign different for us was the extensive use of social media and a very coordinated information campaign.

Kate Walsh is president of the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Are teacher prep programs giving out A’s and honors distinctions too easily?

Sharon P. Robinson is president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

As the U.S. Department of Education combs through the public comments received on its proposed federal regulations for teacher preparation programs, citizens must wait—probably until late summer—to learn the fate of the vast and controversial proposal.

The plan will require states to rate teacher preparation programs based on graduates’ performance—and then tie new teaching students’ eligibility for federal financial aid to those ratings.

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