Opinion & Analysis

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Despite settled law, schools still struggle to get religion right

We need to provide more teachers and administrators with in-service training by non-partisan, qualified experts on how to apply the religious-liberty principles of the First Amendment. After all, why waste money on lawyers and religious freedom or infringement lawsuits in schools that can be much better spent on innovative classroom resources, higher teachers’ salaries or new technology?

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School supply ‘lists’ go against guarantee of free education

The Idaho Constitution requires that public schools be free. But what does the word “free” mean? When a school presents a long list, including brand names, it becomes a requirement to conform, especially when the lists include materials that clearly stock school inventory for general classroom, not individual, use.

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10 big hurdles to identifying and educating the nation’s smartest kids

There are problems in how high-ability students are taught in the U.S., Europe and Asia. For example, U.S. federal and philanthropic efforts to improve schools have concentrated almost exclusively on low achievers and bringing them up. Our nation is also exceptionally bad at producing low-income high achievers.

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Grading teachers is an inexact science

The responsibility for developing a fair system to judge this very complicated profession falls on state and local school administrators. And whether they like being judged or not, it falls on objective input from teachers as well.

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No end runs on class size limits

The Pinellas County School District has been using an unorthodox approach for meeting the class size limits that are not in the best interests of students. The state has been investigating the district for months for its use of substitutes in co-teaching roles to meet class size limits.

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Michigan should cut back on school districts

School districts are losing students, and they will continue to do so as birth rates remain low. Yet districts are still burdened with fixed costs for buildings, employees and pensions. Schools need to prepare for shrinking student populations. And merging is a good option to best use resources and relieve districts' financial headaches.

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Schools think students don't want to learn computer science

Times have never been better for computer science workers. Jobs in computing are growing at twice the national rate of other types of jobs. By 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1 million more computer science-related jobs than graduating students qualified to fill them.

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Federal intervention in schools? It happens less than critics think

Both the House and Senate versions of the updated No Child Left Behind Act are devised to prevent the federal government from doing something it has hardly ever done: force state and local governments to overhaul low-performing schools.

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Timeout for opt-outs?

A new poll suggests that a majority of adults think annual standardized testing is a good thing. They’re not as fond of the opt-out movement.

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Don't reverse progress on school lunch

This is not only a question of what’s right or wrong for kids. It’s also a national security and an economic issue. One in five young adults is too overweight to serve in the military. The cost of treating obesity-related illnesses drags down our economy and increases budget deficits.

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