October 8, 1997

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Vol. 17, Issue 06
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For the last decade or so reformers have tried to improve American schools through the use of educational standards. The standards movement was initiated to overcome problems created by America's fragmented governance system. This system sends so many contradictory messages to teachers that it is hard to know what is important. Now--after backlashes in California, Texas, and other states--the whole standards movement may be in jeopardy because too much fragmentation allows opponents to undermine efforts to set challenging standards for all children.
At its best, "barrier analysis" is an invaluable tool for understanding what the playing field looks like--a kind of topographical map of the potholes and pitfalls that Charles is facing. But in its more deterministic versions, barrier analysis is not friendly to a boy like Charles. It activates fears in the public mind--like a point spread stacked steeply against an underdog. It implies that children are little more than the sum of their sociological characteristics.
The debate over single-sex education is heating up again. The office for civil rights of the U.S. Department of Education has informally notified New York City Schools Chancellor Rudy F. Crew that an all-girls leadership academy, opened last year in East Harlem, appears to violate Title IX, the federal statute that bars sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. Federal officials have suggested that a possible solution might be to admit boys to the school or to open a "comparable" all-boys school at a nearby location. The chancellor has publicly rejected both proposals, threatening to take the case to federal court if necessary. However this stalemate is resolved, the resolution will reverberate far beyond the borders of New York.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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