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Our Gadfly readers won’t be surprised that in India, where a quarter or more public school teachers are absent at any given time, the demand for quality education among the poor has created a thriving market of private schools. Some think tanks, such as the Economist-profiled Centre for Civil Society, and provincial governments are running voucher experiments—with encouraging results. But as the Economist points out, the Indian government, which has proven to be innovative in some areas like health care, remains mulish in its opposition to private schools, designing rules apparently aimed at their eradication. For the sake of their nation’s children, we urge them to reevaluate.
A new NCTQ study finds that during the Great Recession, forty of the fifty largest school districts froze or cut teacher pay at least once between 2007 and 2012. Still and all, teacher pay did rise, if only slightly, over that five year period. The trends were “on par with almost all of the comparable professions” they assessed. Fascinatingly, Chicago clocked in with the highest pay raises (6.5 percent).
Christine Quinn, a front-runner for mayor of the Big Apple, has proposed addressing inequities in that city’s excellent but far too small gifted-and-talented program by creating 8,700 new spots over nine years. Additionally, she suggested allowing students from disadvantaged backgrounds to seek admission by way of teacher recommendations, rather than test scores. The first of those ideas is indisputably sound. The second might be worth trying on a pilot basis, vulnerable as it is to favoritism and manipulation.
After a simple chemistry experiment caused her to harmlessly blow off the lid of a plastic bottle, Florida teen and honor-roll student Kiera Wilmot was expelled from school, charged as an adult with felony possession of a weapon, and taken to a juvenile detention facility. Scientists across the country and blogosphere have come to her defense, recounting tales of their own scientific mishaps and reproaching a system seemingly bent on destroying curiosity and punishing risk-taking.