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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 March 11, 2013/ 29 Adar, 5773

Education liberation

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Boston School Committee will vote this week on a plan to overhaul its broken system for assigning students to schools, a complicated lottery-based maze that for years has been a source of frustration, waste, and despair.

Scores of protesters at a Boston School Committee meeting in 2009. The city's dysfunctional school-assignment system has long been a source of conflict, anxiety, and waste.

Only a masochist could love the existing arrangement, whose Kafkaesque dysfunction was dissected in a Boston Globe series in 2011. The scale of that dysfunction could be inferred from its effect on a single city block.

Thanks to the school-assignment rules, the Globe found, the 19 children living on Montvale Street in Roslindale were forced to travel a combined 182 miles daily — by car, by bus, and on foot — in order to attend 15 different schools. Multiplied by hundreds of blocks and tens of thousands of children, Boston's system of matching students to schools is financially expensive, physically exhausting, and emotionally draining; it seems almost designed to ensure that few Boston parents are able to send their children to high-quality public schools near where they live.

Would the new plan be an improvement? According to Superintendent Carol Johnson, it will mark "a bold and welcome step forward," one that "finally connects the dots between choice and quality" and, after decades of failure, "puts a priority on helping students attend quality schools close to home."

Sure it will. And then Johnson and Mayor Thomas Menino will team up to win the next season of "Dancing with the Stars."

The proposal being voted on this week, after a year of assessment and scores of public meetings, would scrap the quarter-century-old setup that divides Boston into three vast student-assignment zones.

Instead, as the Globe reports, "a complex algorithm would generate a list of schools from which parents could choose based on a variety of factors, such as distance from school, school capacity, and MCAS performance." For each student, families would be given at least six schools to pick from, four of which would be no worse than of middling quality. But since many Boston students don't live anywhere near a decent public school, the plan acknowledges that the number of schools on their family's list "could be many more."

The question we should be asking isn't whether government officials in Boston have finally figured out a better way to assign students to schools. It is why anyone still imagines that something as crucial as children's schooling should be controlled by government officials in the first place.

In what other area are parents so passive? Children need to be fed as much as they need to be schooled. Indeed, even more so: Eating is a matter of life and death. Yet ordinary mothers and fathers somehow manage to meet that grave responsibility without the benefit of a government-approved plan that divides the city into "grocery-assignment zones" and tells each household where it may shop. Kids also need to be clothed, yet when was the last time city officials had to devise a "complex algorithm" that would "finally connect the dots between choice and quality" so that parents could provide growing children with shirts, pants, and shoes?

"Public education is the Soviet agriculture of American life," Charles Murray once wrote. When it comes to the myriad goods and services produced by the private sector — from cars to coffee to computers — not only are supplies plentiful, but quality, convenience, and innovation are routine. But when it comes to government-run schools, which are dominated by politics and guaranteed a captive customer base, the blessings of competition are all but unknown.

The problem with public schools, in Boston and elsewhere, is government compulsion. Soviet citizens learned the hard way what to expect when government runs the farms and operates the grocery stores: long lines, poor quality, empty shelves. Why should we expect anything different from public education? Government runs the schools, hires the teachers, sets the curriculum — and assigns the students. Of course the result is dysfunction and controversy.

What Boston's public schools need isn't a better top-down plan. It isn't a new, more complex algorithm. They need to be liberated. The education of children — like the clothing and feeding of children — should be entrusted to parents, not to politicians. Government education should be as unthinkable as government religion. Separation of church and state is a cardinal American value. Why haven't we figured out by now that separation of school and state should be too?

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.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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