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What Does The Wall Street Journal’s “Perfect Panel” On Changing Schools Have To Say?

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The Wall Street Journal just published an article about, and a video of, what the moderator called the “perfect panel” to discuss what change should happen in education. It’s titled Why We’re Failing Math and Science A panel of experts talks about what’s wrong with our education system—and how to fix it, though the panel’s comments certainly did not focus exclusively on math and science.

Who was on this “perfect” panel to discuss K-12 education? Three people, only one of which has ever spent any time working in a K-12 school (and Joel Klein’s experience was a minuscule amount of time in 1969). In addition to Klein, the Chancellor of schools in New York City, the panel included Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania; and Christopher Edley Jr., dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley.

In addition to alarmist and inaccurate claims that the United States is falling behind students in India and China in math and science scores (see Five Myths About U.S. Kids Outclassed by the Rest of the World from the Washington Post, which highlights research results done by faculty at Ms. Gutmann’s own university), panelists called for teacher merit pay, what sounds like a federal and state takeover of local school boards, and increased “competitiveness” through the creation of more charter schools.

One place to start with to hear some more reasonable recommendations for school changes — ones that have been developed by people who actually have experience working in K-12 schools — is by reading my interview with Claus von Zastrow from the Learning First Alliance and by reading his excellent blog.

You can get even more good ideas on school reform by reading the other blogs on The Best (& Most Thoughtful) Blogs On “Big Picture” Education Issues list and by reading the articles on The “Best” Articles About Education — 2008. Look for this year’s edition next month.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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