What Would Theo Do?

I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan, so as this year’s trading deadline approaches, I’m wondering once again what Theo Epstein, the GM of my beloved Boston Red Sox, will do to improve his team’s chances of winning their third championship in six years – after not winning one for eighty-six.

I’m also a lifelong public education fan, so with the Department of Education’s Race to the Top Fund poised to provide billions of dollars in competitive grants, I’m wondering if Arne Duncan can do for public schools what Theo Epstein has done for the Red Sox – take a maligned institution known more commonly for its failures than its successes, and turn it into a perennial winner.

Duncan should start by asking himself a simple question – What Would Theo Do?

Our Children (and Our Country) Deserve Democratic Schools

A few years ago, a reporter in Columbia, South Carolina asked local elementary school children why America celebrates the Fourth of July.

Most of the answers were predictably personal. To eat hot dogs, said one boy. To watch fireworks, a girl answered.  Another child thought we all celebrated the Fourth of July because it was his brother’s birthday.

One student, a fifth grader from Nursery Road Elementary School named Vante Lee, gave a different answer. “We celebrate the 4th of July,” he said, “because we celebrate our freedom and the chance to make our own decisions.”

When you were nine, which child’s answer would yours have resembled?

What's Wrong With High Stakes Testing?

As a school principal I am often asked why I do not support high stakes testing. After all, doesn't the existence of a test for graduation force kids to take school more seriously? And doesn't it make teachers do a better job of teaching?

The answer to both questions is no. In fact, it is my experience that not only do such tests not improve schools, they actually hurt them.

First Amendment Left Behind, But Why?

The recent Knight Foundation study of student awareness of the First Amendment is frightening. From their survey of more than 100,000 high school students they found that young people on the verge of citizenship are woefully uninformed and, in fact, disinterested in their fundamental democratic rights.

The findings are striking:

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