But the graduation at Quander Road school was something special. These are kids who have, by any measure, overcome special challenges. They spoke openly about what had brought them to Quander–“When I was a heavy drug user,” one began. Another said, “After my parents kicked me out.”
Yet there they were, all having met the Virginia graduation requirements. In a moving ceremony, each graduate was given a rose to present to the person who had been most responsible for his or her success. The flowers went to grandparents, parents, teachers, and friends.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
There are a lot of ways we can and must improve our public schools. But on graduation day, it’s OK to also recognize the hard work that helps so many kids get a good start on achieving their dreams.
On the day of the Democratic primary, the covered the school lawn with gazillions of yard signs. Most of them were for Republican candidates, none of whom was on the ballot. (There were lots of McCain signs.)
That’s a great prank–it’s clever, it requires some careful planning, and it doesn’t hurt anything. (Yes, they did spend part of the morning removing all the signs.)
Reportedly, seniors at a Fairfax high school once let four gerbils loose in the hall. On their backs were painted numbers–1, 2, 3, and 5. It took administrators a while before they realized there was no errant Gerbil #4.
I think pranks like that are fun. But when I hear about seniors trashing part of their school building, or pouring bleach on someone’s lawn, or doing something else that is just destructive, I lose my patience.
Besides, the only memory that will leave behind is, “Thank God THEY’RE gone.”
Not sure our colleague Chris Saxman is thrilled to be featured on a blog called the Daily Beast (where other headline stories include Madonna’s latest adoption and Brad Pitt’s latest art purchase), but it’s nice to see him named as one of the Faces of the Future for the Republican Party.
The astonishing thing about that comment is that it comes from former Assistant Secretary of Education (during the first Bush Administration) Diane Ravitch.
Ravitch is hardly an education apologist. She’s a tough-minded education critic, a former Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a person who has always led the fight for high standards.
As recently as 2005, Ravitch was still arguing that NCLB was effective. But today, she acknowledges what a growing–and bipartisan–group of legislators, administrators, teachers, parents, and students have all recognized.
“Congress should get rid of No Child Left Behind because it is a failed law. It is dumbing down our children by focusing solely on reading and mathematics. By ignoring everything but basic skills, it is not preparing students to compete with their peers in the high-performing nations of Asia and Europe, nor is it preparing them for citizenship in our complex society,” she concludes.
The author, a physician on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, starts out by visiting McAllen, Texas, a place where health care costs are the highest in the U.S. He wants to see what lessons the U.S. might learn as we embark on a national conversation about health care.
Along the way, he also looks at the lowest-cost cities, including Rochester, Minnesota. He finds that the Mayo Clinic’s superb model of health care is also extremely cost-effective.
The key quote for me: “Most Americans would be delighted to have the quality of care found in places like Rochester, Minnesota, or Seattle, Washington, or Durham, North Carolina–all of which have world-class hospitals and costs that fall below the national average. If we brought the cost curve in the expensive places down to their level, Medicare’s problems (indeed, almost all the federal government’s budget problems for the next fifty years) would be solved.”
I occasionally get accused of a bias in favor of All Things Minnesotan. But after Mayo docs treated my father’s cancer and my mother’s NPH, I know this–you can’t find better health care anywhere. Nor, apparently, at any price.