Dreaming of Reform
Published: November 29, 2010
The Dream Act, the immigration bill that opens a path to legalization for undocumented young people who go to college or serve in the military, has a shot at passing the lame-duck Congress. Not a clear or sure shot, given the danger of Republican filibustering and Democratic wobbliness, but a shot.
Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have at least promised to squeeze it onto the floor in the twilight of Democratic control of the House.
If the Dream Act passes, credit must go to those who have fought for it most strenuously, at greater personal risk and inconvenience than anyone else: the young people whose futures ...view middle of the document...
The question then becomes, whom don’t we deport? Let’s start with college students and soldiers who didn’t ask to come here without papers, who want to better themselves and serve their country.
The Public School Bargain
Published: November 29, 2010
Mayor Michael Bloomberg avoided a dispute that would have paralyzed New York City’s school system when he agreed to appoint a career educator to serve as second in command to his pick for schools chancellor, Cathleen Black. Her lack of education experience had made it almost certain that the state education commissioner would veto her appointment. Ms. Black’s chief academic officer will be Shael Polakow-Suransky, a respected, hard-driving educator who has worked his way from middle school math teacher, to high school principal, to his most recent post as the school system’s accountability officer.
He seems a good fit for the new post. But the big question is whether his relationship with Ms. Black will be the real partnership that the commissioner agreed to and that New Yorkers expect and need. The administration needs to reassure suspicious parents, legislators and state education officials that Mr. Polakow-Suransky will have real authority and will not be a figurehead.
The change of leadership could not have come at a more sensitive time for the nation’s largest public school system. New policies promulgated by the State Board of Regents earlier this year will require schools all over the state to retool in several different areas at once.
Most crucially, they will need to redesign curriculum to conform to rigorous standards developed by the National Governors Association along with state superintendents and embraced by the regents as part of New York State’s application for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competitive grant program.
Adapted from high-performing school systems abroad, the new standards lay out specific skills that children will need to learn in order to succeed at college. The point of this writing-intensive approach is to develop reasoning skills far earlier than is customary.
By fourth grade, for example, children will be required to write well-organized essays in which they introduce and defend opinions, using facts and details. By the senior year of high school, they will be expected to solve complex problems through research and to display skills that we now associate with the first year of college.
To support the new standards, the city and state will need new programs to train math and science teachers and a more effective testing system that would allow everyone to judge students’ preparedness for college.
To get the city’s schools to the next level, school leaders will need to work tirelessly and hand in hand with policy makers at the state level. That job will fall largely to Mr. Polakow-Suransky, or at least it should.
November 26, 2010, 3:15 pm
The Man Who Would Be Taliban
By TOBIN HARSHAW