May 2010

Which American will be next to win the Nobel Prize in Literature?

I recently had a chance to ask Toni Morrison the following question: which American author alive today is most deserving of the Nobel Prize in Literature?  Morrison — who remains the most recent American laureate for the literature prize, which she won in 1993 — said she wished an American would win it again soon […]

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In tough economy, Illinois colleges turning down financial aid requests

A headline on an Associated Press story revealed what could become — and what in many cases already is — an extremely troubling situation for potentially hundreds of thousands of college students across the country: Illinois Turns Away 27,000 for Financial Aid. “The agency that distributes the payments (The Illinois Student Assistance Commission) says an […]

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Who said or didn’t say what? A little tiff between the AFT and Steven Brill

Steven Brill’s New York Times Magazine piece entitled “The Teachers Unions’ Last Stand,” is creating a rift, naturally, between Brill and the American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten. The AFT issued a “talking points,” memo noting that the article unfairly labels teachers as “bad,” and “caricatures contract negotiations as an exercise in which administrators […]

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Assignment memo: Is Massachusetts already at “The Top?”

Fairly regularly, The Hechinger Report will be posting quick summaries of stories we are working on to give you a sneak peek at what we are working on and what you’ll see in upcoming weeks. More importantly, it gives folks a chance to raise questions and make suggestions before the story is completed. Now is […]

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From the heartland: A struggle to improve education for all

Sometimes it feels like the issues of large, urban school districts get all the attention.  It’s one reason why The Hechinger Report was captivated by news of a study that appeared in the American Association of School Administrators journal, one that looked at how small towns are educating — and retaining — their high schoolers.  […]

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Outliers: Child Prodigies

Earlier this week, I blogged about Malcolm Gladwell’s third book, Outliers: The Story of Success (2008). Near the end of the book, Gladwell cites research by Alan Schoenfeld, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, that suggests why some students succeed at math while others don’t. What does success in […]

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Once again, NAEP scores not terribly promising

The nation’s  report card shows, once again, that U.S. students are struggling at the middle school level and not posting much needed gains in literacy.  The results come just six months after the National Assessment of Education Progress or NAEP,  exams showed U.S. students also lagging in math. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the […]


USA Today takes a look at our non-traditional students

In one of the more fascinating and misunderstood contradictions of the U.S. education system,  nearly half of our college students are only part-time. Some 12 million (also almost half) attend community colleges and 38 percent are also working full-time. Only 56 percent of students at four-year colleges actually get a degree within six years. Those […]

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Outliers — accounting for otherworldly achievement

Ever since reading Steven Pinker’s scathing review of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest efforts last November, I’ve hesitated to read Gladwell’s third book, Outliers: The Story of Success (2008). But as a teacher, I’ve always wondered about outliers. I’m curious less about why some of my students are so amazing and others aren’t – a phenomenon that […]


Judging in the “Race to the Top” competition

The federal education department’s $4 billion “Race to the Top” competition received lots of attention from journalists and education policy types. Most federal education money is given to states and school districts using complex formulas that depend on factors such as population, poverty and political calculations. The Obama Administration was encouraged by Jon Schnur, one […]

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