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Let’s talk education – what’s the fix?

Education is coming up next on the White House reform calendar. I must admit, I don’t know a ton about the subject or the battle lines of the coming fight. However, I did run across this item today in the Times:

Students who entered lotteries and won spots in New York City charter schools performed better on state exams than students who entered the same lotteries but did not secure charter school seats, according to a study by a Stanford University economist being released Tuesday.

Charter schools, which are privately run but publicly financed, have been faring well on standardized tests in recent years. But skeptics have discounted their success by accusing them of “creaming” the best students, saying that the most motivated students and engaged parents are the ones who apply for the spots.

The study’s methodology addresses that issue by comparing charter school students with students of traditional schools who applied for charter spots but did not get them. Most of the city’s 99 charter schools admit students by lottery.

I know Obama supports charter schools, and supports more accountability for teachers. None of these ideas strike me as bad, but I can also see how disasters like No Child Left Behind can be spun as improvements.

So, I’m curious as to what folks here think about education. Where are the problems in our system? What can we do to make things better? Can we hold teacher accountable for job performance without teaching to the test? Can we experiment with education without undermining public schools?

Your thoughts, please.

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Jason Rosenbaum

Jason Rosenbaum

Writer, musician, activist. Currently consulting for Bill Halter for U.S. Senate and a fellow at the New Organizing Institute.