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When teaching to the test means survival, children lose

When schools and the professionals who run them live or die by test scores, it should be no surprise when teaching to the test becomes a survival tactic. Rich, transformative, far-from-standardized experiences are what truly motivate and challenge children and deeply engage them in learning.

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Seeking fairness in high school football

Some of New Jersey's non-public high school football teams have gotten so good that some local public schools no longer want to play them. The state body that oversees high school sports is proposing to split the two high school football groups. Scheduling and restructuring may pose problems, but it would be preferable to mismatches and forfeits.

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Time for real charter school reform in Ohio is now

This is a moment of rare opportunity in Ohio politics when everyone agrees that Ohio's charter schools need fixing. Checkbook-level detail should be available under Ohio's open records law to track the expenditure of public funds by charter schools, just as it is for public schools.

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After job cuts, a better use of dollars in Minneapolis schools

Eliminating over 100 Minneapolis Public Schools administrative positions is a sensible move that will direct resources to schools and classrooms. If the district can do without that many full-time central office employees, questions need to be asked about how those jobs contribute to the district’s mission and why they were not re-evaluated earlier.

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Schools are collateral damage in Chicago's financing argument

Schools sharing their tax base with tax-increment financing (TIF) districts experience slower revenue growth and higher tax rates than those school districts unencumbered by TIF districts. TIF's impact is mediated by tax caps, transfers of TIF funds between government agencies and each state's equalization formula.

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Repeating failures by not learning from others

The price of our unwillingness to learn from the successes and mistakes of others is repeat failures. The United States resists looking to other countries to learn what’s worked and what hasn’t. We refuse to learn not only from successful educational reforms in other nations, but from failed ones, too.

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Why school suspensions aren't the answer

Most suspensions result from behavior problems, not violence or illegal acts. Some 60 percent of out-of-school suspensions are for school rule violations, defiance of school staff and disruptive behavior. The answer, then, is to change behavior, not just to punish.

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Improving school lunches with chefs

With so many children getting about half of their daily calories from school meals, it’s critical that school cafeterias provide healthier options. The latest research suggests one way to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables is for schools to develop menus with chefs.

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The role of parents in improving school diversity

Public-education systems struggle with a lack of racial and economic diversity. In many cities, the choice of a school is an individual family’s decision that can become entangled with the future health of the school system itself. We are likely to see more equality in these systems when more families are willing to elect to send their kids to schools dominated by lower-class minority populations.

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Feeling alone as the opportunity gap widens for kids

As Americans, historically we’ve wanted public schools to create a level playing field. Schools must be part of the solution. We shouldn’t blame teachers or districts. They’re just dealing with what they’ve been given. Districts don’t decide their own boundaries, but saying that doesn’t absolve us from how schools can help.

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