In this issue

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 Dec. 12, 2005 / 11 Kislev, 5766

Reforms that foster accountability and competition

By Michael Barone

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Winter 2006 issue of the Hoover Institution's Education Next has several interesting articles on high schools. It is one of the features of our national life that in a country with so many islands of excellence our high schools stand out as a huge island of mediocrity. How can we change that?

Not by some big federal initiative, argues longtime education reformer Chester Finn. Money quote: "Considering all the impediments to wholesale high-school reform and the absence of true consensus as to the nature and urgency of the problem, I conclude that diversity and experimentation are a reasonable way to proceed in mid-decade, rather than pressing for elusive agreement about a single national strategy. That doesn't mean I'm complacent about today's high schools. They are not, in fact, getting us where we need to go as a country. But neither are they going to be turned around from Washington, which lacks the political will to make this problem its own."

Finn differs here from the Bush administration and agrees with Congress. The Bush administration has called for extending the No Child Left Behind Act accountability approach from middle schools to high schools. But Congress—notably John Boehner, the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee—seems uninterested. Boehner, working with the committee's ranking Democrat, George Miller, was one of the major forces behind NCLB. Such bipartisan cooperation would probably be harder to come by now than it was when NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001; Miller has joined Sen. Edward Kennedy in lamenting that the Bush administration has not called for spending all the funds authorized by NCLB. (This is standard operating procedure in government: Appropriations usually fall short of authorizations.) My initial reaction to Boehner's lack of interest in extending accountability to high schools was disappointment.

But on reflection, and after reading Finn's article, I find I'm not bothered. Reforms that foster accountability and competition, not only in education but in crime control and welfare, have come not from Washington but from different places around the country. Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin led the way on welfare starting in 1987; Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York led the way on crime control in 1994; many other state and local officials,—most of them Republicans, but many Democrats as well—took similar initiatives on these issues. What resulted were two of the great public-policy successes of the 1990s, the huge and largely unanticipated reductions in welfare dependency and crime. The federal government waddled in late, with the crime bill Bill Clinton championed in 1994 and the welfare reform bill he reluctantly signed in 1996. Clinton and Congress were interested and occasionally helpful bystanders; the real work was done by governors, mayors, and other state and local officials. The same has been true in getting more accountability in education. Governors led the way—including George W. Bush in Texas and Democrat Jim Hunt in North Carolina. The federal government came in later, with NCLB.

One problem with high schools is perpetual: The people it deals with are adolescents. Education Next reminds us of the eternal nature of this problem by reprinting excerpts from sociologist James Coleman's study of high schools in 1959. Here is Coleman's pithy summary of the problem: "In secondary education . . . we are beset by a peculiar paradox: in our complex industrial society there is increasingly more to learn, and formal education is ever more important in shaping one's life chances; at the same time, there is coming to be more and more an independent 'society of adolescents,' an adolescent culture which shows little interest in education and focuses the attention of teenagers on cars, dates, sports, popular music, and other matters just as unrelated to school." Interestingly, SAT scores peaked in 1963, just four years after Coleman's study appeared. So it's possible to improve the achievement levels of members of the "adolescent society." But it's still a formidable problem, the more so because there are powerful institutional forces—the teacher unions and the education schools—that are generally opposed to competition and accountability.

How to proceed? There's an interesting article by Paul Hill on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation spent $1.3 billion in 2004, 58 percent of it on education, or about $750 million. The head of the Gates Foundation's education efforts is Tom Vander Ark, formerly school superintendent in Federal Way, an industrial suburb south of Seattle. Initially Vander Ark concentrated on promoting small high schools. More recently, under his leadership the Gates Foundation has become "agnostic about instruction and less wedded to progressivism. It also relaxed its beliefs about the need to work through school districts and became more open to alternative methods of providing public education." It has provided venture capital for charter school operators and has been funding the move by KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) to expand from its amazingly successful grade 5 through 8 program into high schools. KIPP operates charter schools that take in kids from the lowest economic levels and get them scoring well above grade levels, in a highly structured and disciplined program. I've observed a couple of KIPP schools and have been greatly impressed by them; they seem to have found a way to produce good academic results with kids who start off with enormous disadvantages. It's not universally replicable; it requires commitment by students and their parents.

Hill's bottom line on the Gates Foundation: "Vander Ark, the Gates, and other foundation leaders don't expect to get everything right, but they don't expect to go away, and they say they won't get defensive about the problems of their past initiatives. The Gates Foundation is still looking for the breakthrough education program—the instructional method, the way of organizing a school, the way of using money—that will lead to dramatic improvement in outcomes for the most disadvantaged children in America. It expects to make some messes along the way; it does not expect to keep everyone happy all the time. It is, in short, a private philanthropic initiative playing aggressively in a very public arena." I find myself very impressed and encouraged about the Gates Foundation's work. Bill and Melinda Gates have the opportunity to do for education what John D. Rockefeller did for health research and Andrew Carnegie did for libraries. I hope I remember that the next time my Microsoft software develops a glitch.

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

Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future  

America is divided into two camps, according to U.S. News and World Reports writer and Fox commentator Michael Barone. No, not Red and Blue, though one suspects Barone may taint the two groups in the hues of the 2000 presidential election. Barone's divided America is one part Hard, one part Soft. Hard America is steeled by the competition and accountability of the free market, while Soft America is the product of public school and government largesse. Inspired by the notion that America produces incompetent 18 year olds and remarkably competent 30 year olds, Barone embarks on a breezy 162-page commentary that will spark mostly huzzahs from the right and jeers from the left. Sales help fund JWR.

JWR contributor Michael Barone is a columnist at U.S. News & World Report. Comment by clicking here.

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