Timely Topics

Below are a number of educational topics and summaries of corresponding articles which continue to receive attention in journals, publications, debates and the news. These topics are debated and discussed at every level from local to state to national platforms. Whether discussed by teachers, administrators and/or parents, just about everyone has a voice, and most are willing to share their thoughts. Each topic listed has a subsequent summary of a specific article and then the corresponding link to the full article for your review and consideration.

Stretching the School Dollar

Authors Michael Petrilli and Marguerite Riza list 15 ways that school districts and states can stretch their dollars. While some may have been seen before, there are many others listed that are new and should be contemplated. Some of the newer ones may also be considered controversial. (Read full article)

High Cost of High School Dropouts

7,000 students are dropping out of school each day. This is equal to an annual count of approximately 1.3 million students. While the number alone is alarming, the economic cost of dropping out is staggering. The Alliance for Excellent Education explains how dropouts will earn significantly less than high school graduates and the cumulative effect dropouts have on the nation’s economy. (Read full article)

Merit/Performance Based Pay

Along with the rising cost of education, this particular topic has recently received increased attention. Charlotte Danielson, author of Framework for Teaching, presents an overview of what a performance-base system looks like while also addressing important concerns and related issues. In addition, Danielson also proposes an emerging and promising approach to this controversial topic. (Read full article)

Special Education: Labeling and Disproportionality

This article, published by the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest employee organization, warns of the dangers and consequences when an inappropriate and unnecessary label, special education label, is given to a student. In addition, there is grave concern that disproportionality can contribute to significant social separation. (Read full article)

Teacher Evaluation

The New Teacher Project recognizes the need for a better and more effective way of evaluating teachers. It supports the claim that teacher effectiveness is the most important variable in the teaching-learning process. It then lists six guiding principles that should be part of every effective teacher evaluation system.
(Read full article)

Federal Role in 21st Century Educational Innovation

The recent role of the federal government has been more pronounced than in the past. It has been exceedingly active in proposing major changes to public education. Its stated purpose is to reduce disparities in educational achievement and ensure that our future workforce remains globally competitive. The article poses a number of possible interventions for consideration. (Read full article)

Pathways to Prosperity – Preparing Young People for the Future

This report, prepared by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes what is needed in order for society to more effectively prepare its young people to lead productive and prosperous lives as adults. Yet as the first decade of the 21st century closed, there are unsettling signs that the nation is failing to do this. (Read full article)

ESEA – A Blueprint for Reform

Reflecting on the controversial work of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the U.S. Department of Education, under the guidance of President Obama and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, has proposed a Blueprint for Reform, not only to renovate the previous flawed law, but also an outline for a re-envisioned federal role in education. The desired result is to strengthen America’s public education system. (Read full article)

Unlikely Allies – Teachers’ Union and Administration

This effort is led by two unlikely allies—District Superintendent Tom Brady, a former Army colonel, and Steve Smith, a former state legislator who is president of the Providence Teachers Union. Rhode Island is the only state in the nation that has allowed its school districts the option to “restart” their lowest performing schools using a joint labor-management strategy. Out of this partnership has come a groundbreaking plan that called for shared decision-making, shared accountability and shared leadership. (Read full article)

Finnish School System

Since it has been touted as one of the better public school systems, it is not unlikely that the American system of education would be compared to the system in Finland. While there are some inherent and demographic differences between the two countries, there may be some items that the American public school system could consider for implementation. Those items are described in the full article. (Read full article)