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How to get world-class leaders for world-class schools

Massachusetts' well-intentioned Open Meeting Law, with its strict provisions for conducting public business with the greatest possible transparency, generally serves the public sector well. However, it does, unintentionally, create problems in attracting top superintendent candidates to a process in which they are required to make their candidacies public.

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The teaching crisis that unions and school districts won't address

Los Angeles teachers and school district administrators are doing battle once again after 18 rounds of contract negotiations. Given the potential long-term impact of any settlement, it is a shame that a major stakeholder can't be at the negotiating table. Namely, college graduates considering whether to pursue a teaching career.

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Pa. Senate bill should include governor's stronger policy ideas

When the Senate receives the House's long-overdue charter school reform bill, it should retain its better features while incorporating the stronger policy sought by Gov. Tom Wolf. His plan would re-establish a state reimbursement to districts, require annual charter school audits and establish a standard base tuition rate.

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How should learning be assessed?

Accountability should shift back to what we do for kids, rather than what they’ve done for us with their test scores. Each person should be held accountable only for what he or she can control — the educators for providing an environment that stimulates individual learning, and the community for providing sufficient funding to enable them to carry this out equitably.

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Reducing classroom size starts with building more classrooms

At a time when the Washington Legislature is debating the best way to pay for basic education in K12 schools, it makes sense to start with the most basic element of all: classrooms. That means tackling an outdated school-construction model that has created inequity and inefficiencies across the state’s 295 school districts.

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Barriers that keep poor kids out of school

Absenteeism matters. The reasons that children from low-income families miss more school are varied. These financial, medical, mental and health support problems are difficult to resolve taken one by one. But many could be avoided all together if there were a higher baseline of support offered to low income families.

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Schools hope changes in policy will bridge the 'discipline gap’

Some schools find that racial disparities in student discipline must be fixed before they can address any academic issues. One of the ways to help in this paradigm shift is to engage students, teachers and other school and community authority figures in trust-building relationships. Mutual respect between various parties fosters a more inclusive school and community discipline system.

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Education is not great equalizer for African Americans

Gaps in wealth, not in education, between black and white families may be the most powerful force locking Americans into their social class. Black Americans with college degrees have less in savings and other assets than white Americans who dropped out of high school.

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Increasing student voice in local school districts

Beyond the value of teaching democracy by practicing it and developing leaders by giving them a leadership role, the exclusion of students in districtwide and schoolwide decision-making is pragmatically unsound. Our efforts to educate them would benefit from including the voices of these students.

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Student absences require creative school response

A proposed Maine bill would allow school districts to lower the mandatory attendance age from 7 to 5. It gives schools the power to step in on behalf of its youngest students before a truancy pattern develops. But for it to be effective, schools have to collect and monitor real-time data on attendance, so they can identify at-risk students and respond quickly.

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