by Max Brantley
A couple of headlines of note on education in the NY Times this morning:
* VIRTUAL SCHOOLS: The on-line school racket — devised by the likes of William "Slot Machine" Bennett to pour dollars into the pockets of private businessmen through per-pupil tax support equivalent to that given students in real schools with labs, gyms, bands, rich curriculum and all — gets another poor review. Their students, on average, score far behind students in privately managed charter schools and conventional public schools on standardized tests. The profiteers continue to work to expand Arkansas tax subsidies to the private company running an Arkansas on-line operation that caters to home schoolers.
* THE VALUE OF GOOD TEACHERS: Study is said to show that teachers in elementary and middle schools who demonstrate the ability to improve students' test scores do much more than that. Students of teachers who demonstrably "add value" to students produce students less likely to become pregnant as teens, more likely to enroll in college and more likely to be higher earners. This won't settle the debate on the reliability of measuring teachers by test scores, but it seems hard to argue the intrinsic value of good teachers. They should be recruited, encouraged, paid well and otherwise encouraged, not vilified, even if they choose to bargain collectively for good working conditions.