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Preview: - Jay Mathews: Class Struggle - Jay Mathews: Class Struggle


Jay Mathews: Amid the SAT-obsessed, this family doesn't live by the numbers

Sun, 13 Mar 2011 21:23:00 EDT

The Demarees of Bethesda seem to be a normal American family, but wait. They didn't tell their children what their SAT scores were? They didn't do test prep? They didn't hire tutors? Could they have the answer to America's obsession with college admission?

Is America's best high school soft on math?

Sun, 27 Feb 2011 23:29:01 EST

By all accounts, he is one of the best math teachers in the country. The Mathematics Association of America has given him two national awards. He was appointed by the Bush administration to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. For 25 years he has prepared middle-schoolers for the tough admiss...

Jay Mathews: Md. teachers' support shows value of civics exam

Sun, 20 Feb 2011 22:43:01 EST

Teachers, according to many who speak for them, don't like the state tests that have been imposed on them and their students. So what am I to make of the many teachers who are begging Maryland to reverse its decision to cancel the state government test?

Rhee's five big missteps

Sun, 13 Feb 2011 18:03:00 EST

Richard Whitmire's deft and revealing book about former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee chronicles a difficult time in the history of the city's schools, when good people fought hard against one another because of sharply contrasting views on how to help our children.

Harriett Ball dies: Teacher who inspired KIPP charter schools was 64

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 00:40:00 EST

Harriett Ball, a well-known teacher trainer who inspired the most successful charter school network in the country, died Feb. 2 at a Houston Northwest Medical Center after a heart attack. She was 64.

High-schoolers' 'recess': Benefit or brain drain?

Sun, 06 Feb 2011 19:10:01 EST

There is no limit to what you learn about schools if you listen to teachers. Did you know, for instance, that Fairfax County, the Washington region's largest school district, is using 10 days a year of valuable instruction time on do-what-you-like recesses for high school students?

Prepare your middle-schooler for college

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 12:00:00 EST

Even in middle school, there are a few easy things (and some more challenging steps) students can do to up their chances at a college admission. Join Jay Mathews to discuss these tactics.

Too much 'Glee,' not enough studying, in TV shows about high school

Sun, 30 Jan 2011 17:36:00 EST

The snowstorm knocked out our electricity last week. It was hard to write the column without access to the Internet. My cellphone wasn't working well, either. This seemed a perfect opportunity to discard any pretense of research and instead vent on a subject too insubstantial for a serious educat...

Is KIPP abandoning the neediest kids?

Sun, 23 Jan 2011 18:10:01 EST

The Knowledge Is Power Program, the nation's and the District's most successful charter school network, has a new official name, KIPP, and a new approach to raising achievement for disadvantaged children.

Who needs school boards?

Sun, 16 Jan 2011 19:07:00 EST

School boards are disappearing fast, from 80,000 to less than 14,000 since 1950. In the Washington area, like other places, residents rarely bother to vote for them, or against them. Will they disappear altogether, or do they have secret strengths we don't appreciate?

Who needs school boards?

Sun, 16 Jan 2011 18:15:00 EST

The Washington area has many school districts. Each district has a school board, more or less. (The District's board is going through a neutered phase.) Each school board has many members. Each member is being reminded this month, as meetings resume after the holidays, that their job is to endure...

Why history book mistakes can be good

Sun, 09 Jan 2011 18:17:00 EST

In high school, I was a nerd with political ambitions, desperate for popularity. My U.S. history teacher encouraged criticism, giving me a chance for glory when, during the usual Friday game of 20 questions, he said the thing we were trying to guess occurred in the 19th century.

Let's be open: There's no logic in 'test security'

Fri, 07 Jan 2011 00:33:00 EST

Arlington parent Sarah Goodell wanted to help her third grade daughter's math progress by looking at a county math test she had just taken. Sorry, the county said, your daughter's answers on that test are confidential, even if you and other taxpayers supplied the money for them.

Winter break student enrichment made easy

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 00:33:00 EST

The Local Living school columnist doesn't have any school-age children living with him, so he has no clue how to enrich their educations during the holidays. On orders from his editor, he checked with educators throughout the region and found some great ideas.

What some call cheating can help learning

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 22:18:01 EST

My daughter is with us for the holidays, having survived her first barrage of law school exams in California. The exams were longer and more difficult than anything I ever had as a graduate student in Chinese studies. But her professors allowed students to have notes with them. This got my attent...

To gauge safety better, schools need to survey teachers regularly

Sun, 19 Dec 2010 19:09:00 EST

There was something strange in The Washington Post a week ago. A chart on page A16, using data provided by the D.C. public school system, showed that in late summer and fall 2009, Spingarn High School had by far the lowest number of assaults, thefts, threats and other crimes. There were just six ...

When schools don't communicate well with parents

Wed, 15 Dec 2010 23:56:01 EST

A Loudoun County parent discovers the difficulty of communicating with her child's middle school. It has stopped assigning the homework that helped her keep track of the child's progress, and is giving many more quizzes creating new difficulties. She is told to talk to the teachers, but the new poli

Raising school achievement isn't enough - D.C. principals must also keep order

Sun, 12 Dec 2010 17:58:00 EST

Dunbar High School Principal Stephen Jackson was fired at the end of the last school year by the private management group in charge of the school but put back in the job last week by interim D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson at the urging of parents, community leaders and teachers. Jackson s...

Urban schools don't need gifted-and-talented chief

Wed, 08 Dec 2010 21:11:01 EST

D.C. school officials decided they could not afford to hire a gifted and talented coordinator. It is no big loss. Gifted programs don't help much in inner-city schools, as one of the nation's most successful big-city school principals reveals in a new book.

What happens at school stays at school: When students can't bring old tests home

Sun, 05 Dec 2010 18:30:00 EST

Besides this Monday Metro column, I write my Class Struggle column every Thursday for the Local Living section. It focuses on parents. When I move to California next year, I hope to rename it "The School Parent" and compare the adventures of families here to parent-school encounters elsewhere. Su...

If your child resists college search

Sun, 28 Nov 2010 19:26:00 EST

A frustrated parent brought an unnerving problem to my Admissions 101 discussion group on The student (many of us in the group immediately assumed it was a boy) had gotten into a well-respected public university in his state and, the parent said, "adamantly refused to go on co...

Let each high school decide how to motivate students

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 20:16:00 EST

Two demographically similar and academically impressive local high schools - Northwood in Montgomery County and West Potomac in Fairfax County - have been debating grades. Both schools have been accused of letting too many students pass their courses without learning the material.

High schoolers failing county final in Montgomery school system? No problem.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 18:03:01 EST

The SAT and Advanced Placement results, put out so proudly by the Montgomery County school system, suggest that it is among the best districts in the country, but the country has seen no significant increase in math or reading achievement for 17-year-olds in 30 years.

Diversity is a tough test for Thomas Jefferson High, the country's most selective school

Sun, 07 Nov 2010 19:13:00 EST

My colleague Kevin Sieff reported last week that the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is not only the most selective school in the United States, but also one of the least diverse. After years of Jefferson promising to reach out to the third of Northern Virginia students wh...

H-B Woodlawn can't live down its good reputation

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

My annual rankings of high schools were mentioned at a town meeting of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program recently. Some students said they didn't like the great reputation I was giving their school.

Curiosity is banned at Westfield High

Sun, 17 Oct 2010 18:50:00 EDT

World history teachers at Westfield High School in Fairfax County have decided, in order to frustrate cheating, that students should no longer do independent research. If it's not in the textbook, their notes or their head, they can't use it in their homework. They seem to be saying that curiosity i

Time for required writing should be made

Thu, 14 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

In my search for signs of serious writing instruction in American high schools, I have stumbled across a rare creature: a physics teacher in Fairfax County who makes everyone in his honors classes enter a national science essay contest.

Facebook movie 'The Social Network' shows the folly of Ivy envy

Sun, 10 Oct 2010 19:29:00 EDT

This time of year, with high school seniors slogging through one college application after another and parents jittery about their children's futures, I often write columns explaining why it doesn't matter where they go to school.

Educators hope STEM bug bites more students

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT

I know how high school course choices affect college chances, but I know much less about how they affect lives. For that kind of advice, I rely on some experienced career specialists, such as Ann Emerson of Stafford County public schools. She sent me a refreshingly cool appraisal of the red hot...

KIPP DC leaders unworried by drop in test scores

Sun, 03 Oct 2010 19:52:00 EDT

KIPP DC, the city's most successful charter school program, had a drop in test scores, but isn't bothered. KIPP leaders are so confident of overall gains that they have added more low-performing students, and started a high school where KIPP's famous rules for behavior are not so tough.

A crackdown on cheating would benefit all

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The Sept. 1 edition of Education Week had a provocative commentary, "All my favorite students cheat," by high school teacher Christopher L. Doyle. He and I agree that cheating is rife, but we don't agree on what causes that. He thinks students are protecting themselves against widespread insecurity...

Prince George's County high school opens AP courses to all

Sun, 26 Sep 2010 19:24:00 EDT

Charles Hebert Flowers High School, one of Prince George's County's newer schools, has always set high standards for its students and seems to be meeting them. It is one of three high schools in the county with a science and technology program. In 2009, it met all federal targets for adequate yea...

For gifted students, skipping a grade is a smart move

Thu, 23 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

As the second month of the school year nears, some parents wonder whether their children are getting all they need. The lessons might seem too simple. Their kids are bored. If their children have been designated gifted, there might be occasional pullout lessons to enrich what they are learning, b...

D.C. presumptive Mayor Gray should keep Bedford team at Dunbar, Coolidge highs

Mon, 20 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

As prospective mayor Vincent C. Gray's education advisers begin to discuss changes in the way Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee ran the D.C. schools, it should quickly become apparent that they should keep their hands off one of Rhee's smartest moves -- handing management of Coolidge and Dunbar high...

Models for D.C. schools? Try next door, in Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery.

Thu, 16 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

I have been arguing with readers on my blog about how to improve D.C. public schools. It may sound like the same old fight over D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee , which should be resolved soon. (This column's deadline was Monday, before the polls closed on the mayoral race.) But our online...

New teacher applauds Michelle Rhee's quick response to problem

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Anthony Priest is one of those personnel office surprises -- a 44-year-old just starting as a teacher. He has two degrees in engineering from Georgia Tech and a master's in business administration. He does marathons and triathlons. In 2008, he was project manager for the redevelopment of a...

Transfer of D.C. teacher Erich Martel seems like administrators' revenge

Mon, 06 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

My nominee for most effective whistleblower in the D.C. school system, Erich Martel, has finally gone too far in the eyes of some school administrators.

Guidance counselors' weak spots: Financial aid, potential private school bias

Thu, 02 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT

I love high school counselors. For an education writer like me, guidance counselors have been wonderful sources of information.

D.C. schools' performance should not be measured by focusing on achievement gap

Mon, 30 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The D.C. mayoral race is deeply split on most issues, but everyone agrees on one thing: We must reduce the achievement gap between minority and white students. It is too bad, then, that the gap is such a mindless measure of school progress.

College offers far more than a career path

Thu, 26 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

My favorite teacher, Patrick Welsh, wrote an intriguing essay for USA Today about what he considers an overabundance of high school students going on to college. The same sentiments were expressed in a well-phrased letter from Eugene Morgan of Wheaton, published on The Post's editorial page June 20.

College offers far more than a career path

Thu, 26 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

My favorite teacher, Patrick Welsh, wrote an intriguing essay for USA Today about what he considers an overabundance of high school students going on to college. The same sentiments were expressed in a well-phrased letter from Eugene Morgan of Wheaton, published on The Post's editorial page June 20.

Media Files:

Democratic primary could determine fate of D.C. schools, for better or worse

Mon, 23 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT

School opens today in the District. For the next three weeks, Americans who care about the future of urban schools will watch the city closely.


Mon, 26 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

The weekly Jay Mathews education column is on break for a few weeks. But it'll be back next month when school starts.

Books at home push kids toward more schooling

Thu, 22 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

My wife's parents did not go to college. Linda's father was a carpenter. Her mother was an aircraft assembly line worker. They grew up in Oklahoma farming families, married, moved to Southern California and raised their children in blue-collar neighborhoods full of families just like theirs.

Books at home push kids toward more schooling

Thu, 22 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

My wife's parents did not go to college. Linda's father was a carpenter. Her mother was an aircraft assembly line worker. They grew up in Oklahoma farming families, married, moved to Southern California and raised their children in blue-collar neighborhoods full of families just like theirs.

Media Files:

Better data needed to accurately rate school systems

Mon, 19 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Educational statistics expert Joseph Hawkins, one of my guides to the mysteries of test assessment, is impatient with the way the Montgomery County public school system is, as he puts it, "always telling the world how much better it is than everyone else." He finds flaws in its latest celebration of...

Long papers in high school? Many college freshmen say they never had to do one.

Thu, 15 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Kate Simpson is a full-time English professor at the Middletown, Va., campus of Lord Fairfax Community College. She saw my column about Prince George's County history teacher Doris Burton lamenting the decline of research skills in high school, as changing state and local course requirements and ...

Media Files:

Results of D.C. principal's controversial methods need to outweigh criticism

Mon, 12 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Dwan Jordon, more quickly than any principal I have ever known, has made a name for himself in D.C. public schools.

Scores affect college choice but not necessarily success

Thu, 08 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

I wrote a story several years ago about great people who got terrible SAT scores. If you are wallowing in shame over your score in May, and quiver at the thought of taking the SAT again in October, consider the case of Bob Edgar, who got 730 out of a possible 1600. (That would be a 1100 or so on...

Rhee should take herself out of D.C. mayor's race

Mon, 05 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT

I can't blame D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee for getting herself pulled into the D.C. mayor's race. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty wants her support. She wouldn't have her job if it had not been for him.

Today's Class Struggle

Fri, 06 Feb 2009 10:48:01 EST

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Banging on the PK-16 Pipeline

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 11:58:34 EST

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