Board's Eye View

For all of you test faithful, so long cowering in the shadows of ?critical thinking skills? and free range blah-blah, ?you can come out now.

In a big boost for common sense ? ie. tests are a good way to encourage learning and to test its?staying power?? the NY Times is reporting on a new study that finds that ?taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know,?? but ?actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.?

Thank God, the pendulum still swings.

?Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

The New Jersey teacher whose public confrontation with the Garden State's Governor in September has become ?a YouTube classic? (over 840,000 views as of today), according to the NY Times, is now front page of the Times ?and a poster child for the growing anti-union ?outrage? over public employee wages and benefits. The teacher, Marie Corfield, tells the Times:

People I don't even know are calling me horrible names ? The mantra is that the problem is the unions, the unions, the unions.

After reading the story, you might agree with poor Ms. Corfield's detractors. While New Jersey's average local government pensioner is earning less than $20,000 a year, the Times reports, its retired teachers are earning $46,000.? (Truth be told: Some police and firefighter retirees are pulling down six figure pensions.)

The clock on the pension bomb continues to tick, faster and faster?especially in the public sector. In California, says the Times,

[P]ension costs now crowd out spending for parks, public schools and state universities; in Illinois, spiraling pension costs threaten the state with insolvency.

The ?incestuous alliance? between public employee unions and their employers, as the Times characterizes it, is not much news for many reformers (see this comprehensive index in Education Next or just about anything Terry Moe has written). And you don't have to be a Peter Brimelow, author of The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions are Destroying...

?Monday is Cathleen P. Black's first day of school??so begins a provocative story by Elissa Gootman in the NY Times.?The Times asked some of New York City's ?most respected principals? to give the new Gotham schools Chancellor ?some advice.?

They do.

It's a terrific roundup of opinion?educated opinion. Let's hope Black is listening.

?Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow

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