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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 21, 2011 / 19 Sivan, 5771

Removing the joy of learning from public schools

By Nat Hentoff




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Because of the failing economy, American public school budgets are being cut and teachers are being laid off. The result is the alarming loss of classes in civics, U.S. history and the arts. The curriculum is aggressively engaged in a rigid emphasis on standardized tests in reading, math and certain other areas.

Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama's Department of Education secretary, promises even more such tests ("A not-so-modest proposal," The Washington Post, April 11). And in New York City, where I live, self-titled "education mayor" Michael Bloomberg will use a quarter of the $256 million Race to the Top money it won in Obama's much-touted special-education reform funds to establish "16 new standardized exams in the third through 12th grades" (The New York Times, May 23).

However, as I have reported, in several cities and even a few school systems, some teachers are learning -- as one of them wrote in a June 3 letter in The New York Times -- that far too many public schools are "sucking the joy and life out of learning and school by viewing education solely through the narrow lens of tests, tests and more tests."

In The Washington Post's valuable regular guide for parents, "The Answer Sheet" (April 26), there is this blunt response to the test-intoxicated education reform establishment:

"The traditional emphasis on learners storing information in their heads no longer makes much sense. The young need to learn to process and to apply information."

They especially need to get the confidence and satisfaction of being able to think critically, and, in doing so, become lifelong learners.

Otherwise, as Albert Einstein once said, "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."

Here comes The Washington Post's Marion Brady -- a veteran educator and columnist who has clearly learned how to think critically -- with "A not-so-modest proposal" (April 11) that can liberate public school students from having their curiosity and love of learning numbed by standardized tests.

In this proposal, Brady says: "We're told that governments at all levels -- federal, state and local -- are worse than broke, and that the services they provide, including education, must be cut."

However, Brady adds, "There's one multibillion-dollar cost of educating that's not scheduled to be cut -- high-stakes standardized testing."

Providing hard-edged credibility to this proposal to flunk standardized mass-testing is a report that should be made available to all parents of public school students:

"Panel Finds Few Learning Benefits in High-Stakes Exams" (Education Week, June 8). The source of this vital discovery is a committee of the National Academies' National Research Council, composed -- as Education Week reports -- of "a who's who of national experts in education, law, economics and social science."

This committee "undertook a nearly decade-long study of test-based incentive systems ... While the panel says it supports evaluating educational systems and holding them accountable," it was discovered that this fixation on standardized testing of students collectively -- not individually -- has "had little or no effect on actual student learning, and in some cases has run counter to their intended purposes." Wow!

Not only parents, but also the nation's governors, mayors, school boards and principals, should read and circulate this report, including this fateful passage:

"In fact, the report found that, rather than leading to higher academic achievement, high school exit exams have decreased graduation rates nationwide by an average of about 2 percentage points."

The keyword is "decreased." And dig this: "The study found a growing heap of evidence that schools and districts have tinkered with how and when students take exit exams as well as other high-stakes tests in order to boost scores on paper for students who do not know the material -- or to prevent those students from taking the tests at all."

I have reported on schools where students with English-language learning difficulties and other special needs are precluded and hindered from taking these high-stakes tests, which are increasingly used to "evaluate" teachers deserving of more pay or dismissal for their alleged ability to actually prepare students for fruitful lives beyond school. The tests can be rigged.

What's the alternative? One, among others that go much deeper than mass-testing, was reported by Winnie Hu of The New York Times (March 1, 2010): "This year, all 428 sixth-graders at (public) Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, N.J., are charting their own academic path with personalized student-learning plans -- electronic portfolios containing information about their learning styles, interests, skills, career goals and extracurricular activities." That's the very start of lifelong learning for each student!

"These new learning plans will follow each sixth-grader through high school and are intended to help the students assess their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide their parents and teachers with a more complete profile beyond grades and test scores."

Now that, at last, makes sense! But the media spent enormous resources on U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's sexually explicit digital escapades and none on this crucial awakening to real-life education reform.

No wonder we elect so many public officials uneducated in who we are as constitutionally self-governing Americans! Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were not flattened by standardized tests.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.

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