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Those are among the questions asked by three of the world’s leading education scholars in a groundbreaking new book hitting bookshelves on September 3rd, just in time for the new school year.

In Endangering Prosperity, scholars from Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Munich shows just how far American students are falling behind their global counterparts and how the looming failure of our education system imperils our economic future.

Three polls have come out within the past week: the Education Next (EdNext) poll, the Associated Press poll (about which I have commented previously), and, now the Phi Delta Kappan (PDK) poll, published by a journal with close ties to schools of education across the country.

While many in state capitols and Washington, D.C. are placing bets against state and national accountability systems that range from No Child Left Behind to Common Core State Standards, the public remains faithful to its long-standing commitment to hold schools, students and teachers accountable.

Can we believe education polls? Do different education polls yield different responses? We know from presidential election polls that most polls yield results that do not differ more than a few percentage points, but, then, the question posed is almost exactly the same: Who do you plan to vote for? Further, those polls are about a topic that has been given intense publicity for a prolonged period of time. How about education polls, which ask people their views about matters to which the media give much less attention?

“By 2019 about 50 percent of courses will be delivered online,” wrote Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn in a pathbreaking essay in 2008 (“How Do We Transform Our Schools?” features, Summer 2008).

School vouchers never had a better friend than Peter Flanigan. It was not Peter’s direct philanthropic contributions. Although he gave generously from the wealth accumulated as an investment banker, others—such as the late John Walton—drew upon deeper pockets to donate more to the common cause. Nor was Peter a theoretician who could expound the case for vouchers with Friedman-like brilliance.

In response to the article on the disparity in state proficiency standards that Peter Kaplan and I published earlier this week, one reader, Scott McLeod, referred (in a comment) to an article arguing that that “proficiency” as defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) does not really mean proficiency.

In my June 25 blog post, I reported that effective Florida teacher preparation programs received no better ratings by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) than ineffective ones.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, in conjunction with U. S. News and World Report, has issued an ambitious report evaluating the quality of teacher preparation programs in schools of education across the United States. But its critics argue that the report fails to show that its measure of program quality is correlated with the classroom effectiveness of a school’s graduates. If the information available to us for a few teacher preparation schools in Florida is at all representative, the critics may have a point.