Education News Roundup: March 30, 2012

Students in a Morningside Elementary French Dual Immersion second grade classroomToday’s Top Picks:

Gov. Herbert discusses his veto of the sex ed bill. (DN)
and (OSE)
and (KTVX)
and (KSL)
and (KSTU)
and (MUR)

Utah’s autism rate is higher than the national average. (SLT)
and (DN)
and (OSE)
and (SGS)
and (KUTV)
and (KSL)
and (KSTU)
and (MUR)
and (Ed Week)
or a copy of the report

With due deference to Rene Magritte ( Ceci n’est pas une ecole en France, c’est une ecole dans l’Utah. (KUTV)

Davis High students get to swim in the Shark Tank. (OSE)

Secretary Duncan discusses the common core. Wait. Is it a mistake for him to do that? (Ed Week)

Do lotteries really help schools or do legislatures see them as a dedicated source of funding allowing money to be diverted to other items in the state budget? (WaPo)

The Occupy movement turns its attention to education. (Ed Week)

National Press Club holds a panel discussion on the common core. (Ed Sector)



Governor Gary Herbert calls sex ed bill he vetoed ‘solution in search of a problem’

Utah has nation’s highest autism rate, CDC report says Data » “I’m scared by the numbers,” expert says of 78% rise in kids ID’d as having autism in U.S. from ’02-’08.

French Ambassador Applauds Utah’s Dual Immersion Program

‘Shark Tank’ investor gives marketing students advice

Island music brings joy, learning to Centerville third-graders

Seminary program helps LDS youths prepare for General Conference

Student accused in Roy High bomb plot requests preliminary hearing

Provo school locked down as police search and find suspects in chase

Students participate in regional science fair

Students invited to solve education problems

Hot tickets


Fix schools by listening to teachers

Are school projects for the kids or the parents?

Sex-ed ignorance

Duncan: Federal Advocacy ‘Can Get in the Way’ of Common Standards

Harkin Bill Would Provide Billions to Hire Teachers, Fix Up Schools

Mega Millions: Do lotteries really benefit public schools?

The Jewish Case for School Vouchers
The key to a strong religious community? Jewish day schools, which are expensive.

Pupil discipline bias undermines learning

Principal Walkthroughs

Math Matters, Even for Little Kids

What’s in Your Envelope?


‘Occupy’ Action Critiques Testing, Targets Ed. Dept.

Getting to 2014: The Choices and Challenges Ahead

Education Colleges Cry Foul on Ratings

Board of Education approves A to F grading system for Oklahoma

In Bullying Programs, A Call For Bystanders To Act

School board settlement with ACLU stirs anger in Camdenton

Mad science? Nevada Science Olympiad championship embroils two local schools in controversy

Stiff security at Tucson school board meetings angers Latinos

Oakland Unified meeting resumes after arrests

Education system holding Mexico back, critics say


Governor Gary Herbert calls sex ed bill he vetoed ‘solution in search of a problem’

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday the bill he vetoed that would have limited sex education in Utah public schools was “a solution in search of a problem” that didn’t need to be revisited by lawmakers.
“I’ve had nobody ever come up to me and say, “You know what, we have a real problem with a school sex education, change it,'” Herbert said during the taping of his monthly press conference on KUED Ch. 7.
The governor said lawmakers have “heard the voice of the people. They certainly saw what I’ve done with this piece of legislation. We’ll see what they do next year, if anything.” (DN) (OSE) (KTVX) (KSL) (KSTU) (MUR)

Utah has nation’s highest autism rate, CDC report says Data » “I’m scared by the numbers,” expert says of 78% rise in kids ID’d as having autism in U.S. from ’02-’08.

One out of 47 Utah children have been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder, the highest rate in the country, according to new data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 2008 data from 14 communities found a national rate of one in 88 children with autism. It also showed autism is five times more likely in boys than in girls, with one in 54 boys identified nationally.
In Utah, boys are almost three times as likely to have autism than girls with one in 32 boys identified, according to the new data, versus one in 85 girls.
Yet there has been a nearly 1,200 percent increase in identified girls in Utah between 2002 and 2008, said Judith Zimmerman, a researcher at the University of Utah’s Department of Psychiatry.
Hispanic and black children had the largest increases in autism identification nationally, according to the new data.
Researchers say the spike is real in Utah and can’t be attributed to over diagnosis or a different definition of autism. However, the new Utah rate comes solely from a sample pool of about 2,000 children — the smallest group in the nation — in a single urban area along the Wasatch Front. (SLT) (DN) (OSE) (SGS) (KUTV) (KSL) (KSTU) (MUR) (Ed Week)

A copy of the report

French Ambassador Applauds Utah’s Dual Immersion Program

SALT LAKE CITY – A French ambassador is visiting Utah this week.
Francois Delattre spent the morning visiting students in the French dual immersion program at Morningside Elementary School.
The ambassador says he was very impressed by what he saw being taught in the program, and says Utah is a worldwide leader.
“I think in terms of education for foreign languages, French in particular, Utah is really number one,”Delattre said. (KUTV)

‘Shark Tank’ investor gives marketing students advice

KAYSVILLE — High school students don’t often get to sit down and visit with a celebrity.
But Davis High School students in Jeff McCauley’s marketing class on Thursday got to chat with Daymond John, CEO and founder of the clothing brand FUBU and one of the investors on ABC’s show “Shark Tank.”
The group met during a live Google+ hangout session. (OSE)

Island music brings joy, learning to Centerville third-graders

CENTERVILLE — Ukuleles, spaceships and third-graders made learning to play a musical instrument look like an experience from out of this world.
Steven Butler’s third-grade students at Stewart Elementary School have been learning to play the ukulele and the angklung, both Pacific Island instruments.
On Wednesday afternoon, the students showed off the results of their hard work by performing for their families and fellow students. (OSE)

Seminary program helps LDS youths prepare for General Conference

LAYTON — Students wearing suits and dresses came through the door of Brother Derek Crimin’s seminary class Thursday near the campus of the Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering & Science Early College High School.
They were prepared to give talks, read scriptures and perform in musical numbers.
The occasion was the 16th Annual Conference in General that Crimin hosts to prepare young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the upcoming church General Conference. (OSE)

Students participate in regional science fair

The Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair is taking place this week. The public is invited to view the projects today from 2 to 3 p.m. The awards ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. at East High School, 840 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City.
The fair is organized by the University of Utah’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education. It is an annual competition for students in grades five through 12 who attend school in the Canyons, Granite, Murray, Park City, Salt Lake or Tooele school districts or the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese. Home-schooled students also are encouraged to participate. (DN)

Student accused in Roy High bomb plot requests preliminary hearing

OGDEN — A student accused of a plot to bomb Roy High School has opted to have a hearing on the evidence against him.
Dallin Todd Morgan, 18, will have a preliminary hearing May 14 for use of a weapon of mass destruction, a first-degree felony, attorney Pete Lowe confirmed.
Morgan and fellow Roy High classmate Joshua Kyler Hoggan, 16, were arrested Jan. 25 after a student at the school alerted officials of some disturbing text messages. Hoggan is facing the same charge in 2nd District Juvenile Court. Prosecutors, however, are attempting to certify him as an adult. (DN) (OSE)

Provo school locked down as police search and find suspects in chase

PROVO — A Provo elementary school was locked down Wednesday as police searched nearby for the driver of a vehicle who had rammed a police vehicle during a traffic stop and then led police on a chase.
Around 11 a.m., Provo police stopped a Toyota Camry for traffic violations, which was driven by Jeffery Rayan Richmond, 32, and contained two passengers, police said.
Richmond allegedly put his vehicle in reverse, rammed the police car and drove off.
Officers pursued the vehicle, but they believe that one of the passengers, whom police identify as Julian Jimenez Gutierrez, 30, got out on West Center Street.
The driver continued to flee in the vehicle until the car came to a stop near the Provo airport dike road and Amelia Earhart Elementary School, according to Provo Police Sgt. Matthew Siufanua. (DN) (PDH) (KSTU)

Students invited to solve education problems

Utah students are invited to participate in the National Education Startup Challenge by designing a blueprint for a new company or organization to solve an education problem. Students must submit a business plan and video pitch that addresses an issue in one of four areas ranging from helping middle schoolers transition to high school, to helping college students finish faster. Deadline is May 1. For more information, visit (SLT)

Hot tickets

Utah High School Musical Theater Awards » presented by Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre; nominees are from Alta, Bountiful, Hillcrest, Juan Diego, Lehi, Lone Peak, Olympus, Pine View, St. Joseph’s and Tuacahn high schools; Utah State University, Kent Concert Hall, Logan; Saturday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m.; $15-$20; 435-797-8022; (SLT) (CVD)


Fix schools by listening to teachers
(St. George) Spectrum op-ed by Marianne Mansfield of St. George

Full disclosure: I am a retired public educator. In 33 years, I started as a special education teacher and spent the last half of my career as an elementary principal. As my grandkids might say, I have street cred on the topic of public education.
So, when on March 20, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein released the final report of the task force they co-chaired for the Council on Foreign Relations, I bristled. Yet another group of non-educators issued yet another report on what is wrong with public education, and yet more suggestions on what we, the people working within the system, need to do (posthaste no less) to fix it.
One might argue that Klein is a former schools chancellor. He counts, right? Google him. He’s an attorney, albeit one with some impressive accomplishments to his credit, but an attorney who was brought in from the private sector to “fix” the New York City schools.
Let’s follow the logic here. If non-educators have the best ideas on how to fix what ails public education, what would you think of having construction workers overseeing our medical systems?

Are school projects for the kids or the parents?
KSL commentary by columnist Susie Boyce

DALLAS — “This is definitely going to be the best one!” my third-grade daughter announced confidently. She had just spent several hours on a model of the solar system and was gluing on the final sparkly flourishes.
Ah, the optimism of youth!
Managing kids’ expectations can be tricky, but I gave it my best shot by explaining how hard all the kids in her class must have worked on their solar systems. For the most part, I assured her, the projects were likely to be equally awesome.

Sex-ed ignorance
Salt Lake Tribune letter from Scott Guymon

I agree with legislators that abstinence, contraception, sexuality and other life choices should be taught in the home.
However, how will parents teach these topics if they themselves weren’t taught?
This why comprehensive sex education is crucial.

Duncan: Federal Advocacy ‘Can Get in the Way’ of Common Standards Education Week commentary by columnist Catherine Gewertz

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by nearly every state, but they still come in for frequent skepticism—or outright opposition—because of the perception that they are being driven by the federal government.
That perception is fueled in large part by the incentives for common-core adoption that the administration built into three of its programs: the Race to the Top competition, the waivers it’s offering from No Child Left Behind, and funding of tests for the common standards.
These examples of skepticism have cropped up in state legislatures, as lawmakers begin to evaluate the ramifications of adoption decisions made by state boards of education. We told you about consternation in Utah and South Carolina, both of which sparked personal involvement of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. That, in turn, only fueled more postings by pundits who see his support as confirmation of the federal-overreach argument

Harkin Bill Would Provide Billions to Hire Teachers, Fix Up Schools Education Week commentary by columnist Michele McNeil

As the U.S. House of Representatives gets ready to approve a Republican budget for 2013 that would cut taxes and federal spending, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin is offering a countermeasure that would spend more money on things like education and workforce training, and eliminate some corporate tax breaks.
Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, is proposing a sweeping effort to “rebuild America’s middle class,” which contains several elements that most teachers and school districts will cheer. (Of course, given the political dynamics in Congress these days, no one should get his hopes up.)
First, his bill would provide $20 billion in formula grants to modernize, renovate, and repair early-learning facilities, K-12 schools, and community colleges.
Second, it would attempt to rebuild the ranks of public employees, which suffered when cash-strapped state and local governments had to lay off police, firefighters, and teachers in the wake of the Great Recession.

Mega Millions: Do lotteries really benefit public schools?
Washington Post commentary by columnist Valerie Strauss

State lotteries that participate in games such as Mega Millions were sold to the public as enterprises that would benefit schools with millions of dollars in proceeds a year. So has public education really received a windfall?
If you look at the payouts from lotteries to schools, you might be impressed by the numbers. In California, for example, all lottery donations to public schools from kindergarten through college, total $24,018,713,472 since 1985. Yes, that’s $24 billion. K-12 schools alone have received a total of $19.3 billion.
It makes you wonder how some California public schools have had to hold bake sales to keep the lights on, doesn’t it?
In fact, in state after state, where lotteries send millions of dollars to public education, schools are still starved. Why?
Because instead of using the money as additional funding, legislatures have used the lottery money to pay for the education budget and spent the money that would have been used had there been no lottery cash on other things. Public school budgets, as a result, haven’t gotten a boost because of the lottery funding.

The Jewish Case for School Vouchers
The key to a strong religious community? Jewish day schools, which are expensive.
Wall Street Journal op-ed by PETER BEINART, professor at the City University of New York

Among the world’s Jewish diaspora communities, American Jews have done a singularly bad job of inculcating Jewish commitment in our children. In Mexico, Jews intermarry at a rate of 10%. In Australia, it’s roughly 20%. In Canada, 35%, and in France, 40%. In the United States, by contrast, 50% of Jews intermarry.
There are several reasons for this, but the most important is also the most painful: Many American Jews know very little about Judaism. And it’s hard to feel connected to something you don’t understand.
The evidence is clear that Jewish commitment stems from Jewish education, and by far the most effective purveyors of Jewish education are full-time Jewish schools. Even controlling for home environment, according to sociologist Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College, Jewish school attendance increases a Jewish child’s likelihood of marrying another Jew by 14 percentage points.
So it’s no coincidence that the U.S., with its sky-high intermarriage rate, has one of the weakest Jewish school systems in the world.

Pupil discipline bias undermines learning USA Today op-ed by Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women

Nearly five years ago, the case of the “Jena 6” riveted the nation. Six young black men had been arrested and charged with attempted murder for fighting a white high school classmate in Jena, La. White students, who had also been involved in fights, weren’t arrested. The disparity in treatment hit a nerve because students at other high schools shared similar experiences.
This month, the Department of Education released data showing that the problem is far more serious than even the Jena case suggested. African-American students are more likely to be suspended and expelled than their white peers and, more important, are more likely to be arrested. Data for large school systems — those with more than 50,000 students — showed that while blacks accounted for 24% of enrollment, they represented 35% of arrests. Whites were 31% of enrollment, but 21% of arrests. There was less of a gap with Latino students, who were 34% of enrollment and 37% of those arrested.
Why do school administrators bring police officers onto elementary, middle and high school campuses for behavioral infractions? And why do they do it so unevenly?

Principal Walkthroughs
Education Week commentary by columnist Peter DeWitt

Schools are supposed to be educational institutions where students are engaged, teachers are nurturing and offer rigorous lessons, and principals are educational leaders where they can help create inclusive environments. Unfortunately, this is often a Utopian view of schools. Too often principals stay in their offices and teachers close their doors and become their own islands. Fortunately, those old practices are changing.
Walkthroughs are becoming popular with principals. At least, they should be popular with principals because they are an effective way to observe what is going on in the classroom. Walkthroughs also provide administrators with the opportunity to establish important connections with students. Simply put, there is no downside to doing walkthroughs in a school.
As much as it may be difficult to break away from the computer or not schedule back to back meetings, even a walkthrough that lasts a few minutes can be an important part of the day and should be done as frequently as possible. As a school administrator I try my best to get into every classroom every day. Administrators with larger buildings may not have the same luxury but they can still get out.

Math Matters, Even for Little Kids
Education Week op-ed by Deborah Stipek, Alan Schoenfeld, and Deanna Gomby (Deborah Stipek is a professor and former dean of the school of education at Stanford University. Alan Schoenfeld is the Elizabeth and Edward Conner professor of education and affiliated professor of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley. Deanna Gomby is the vice president for education at the Heising-Simons Foundation, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif.)

Everyone knows that children who are not reading at grade level by 3rd grade are fated to struggle academically throughout school. Concerns about early literacy skills are justified because reading skills at kindergarten entry predict later academic achievement.
But guess what predicts later academic success better than early reading? Early math skills. In “School Readiness and Later Achievement,” a widely cited 2007 study of large longitudinal data sets, University of California, Irvine, education professor Greg Duncan and his colleagues found that in a comparison of math, literacy, and social-emotional skills at kindergarten entry, “early math concepts, such as knowledge of numbers and ordinality, were the most powerful predictors of later learning.” A large-scale Canadian study from 2010 echoes those findings: Math skills at school entry predicted math skills and even reading skills in 3rd and 2nd grade, respectively, better than reading skills at school entry. Although the mechanisms underlying such associations are not yet understood, the importance of early mathematics, and thus of access to it for all students, is clear.
We have a long way to go.

What’s in Your Envelope?
New York Times commentary by columnists JACQUES STEINBERG and TANYA CALDWELL

If there were an event like the Super Bowl that capped the college admissions season, then it would likely be Thursday night — beginning at 5 p.m. on the East Coast.
At that time, the eight institutions of the Ivy League and other highly selective colleges and universities, including Duke and Johns Hopkins, are scheduled to make available, online, their decisions on most of the applications submitted this year in the main admissions round (usually submitted on or around Jan. 1).
As has been the case on big decision nights in years past, we’d like to convene the equivalent of a virtual, communal kitchen table on The Choice blog.


‘Occupy’ Action Critiques Testing, Targets Ed. Dept.
Education Week

Educators and advocates from around the country are scheduled to convene in Washington today for four days of rallies, marches, and talks taking aim at what they see as problems with high-stakes testing and the “corporatization” of public schools.
Dubbed “Occupy the DOE”—for its target, the U.S. Department of Education—the event is being portrayed as a way to build on last summer’s Save Our Schools event, which drew people to the nation’s capital for a high-profile demonstration and meetings focusing on many of the same themes.
“This is a sister event, or a continuation,” said Occupy the DOE co-organizer Ceresta Smith, a teacher from Miami. She is also a co-founder of the event’s sponsoring group, United Opt Out, which encourages parents to “opt out” of having their children take part in standardized testing. “The difference is our major focus on the high-stakes testing,” Ms. Smith said.

Getting to 2014: The Choices and Challenges Ahead National Press Club panel discussion

Between now and 2014, states will be facing the challenges of new Common Core standards, new assessments, new accountability systems, new teacher evaluations, new data systems, and for some states, implementing Race to the Top. At the same time, they will be expected to expand online learning and provide increasing levels of choice.
Making this many simultaneous changes would be a challenge even without the possibility that some of these reforms may be in conflict with one another. Yet there have been few efforts to look across the spectrum to see where these reforms may collide . . . or where there could be unexpected synergies.
On March 27, Education Sector held a live event that will ask stakeholders to consider how all of these reforms will look when implemented at the same time. Our panel of experts did not make right-and-wrong judgments about individual policy decisions. Rather, they looked at the challenges and choices for policymakers to navigate between now and 2014. Already states are grappling with and managing these dilemmas and the trade-offs that naturally follow. (Ed Sector)

Education Colleges Cry Foul on Ratings
Wall Street Journal

A nonprofit advocacy group is pushing colleges of education to participate in an effort to rate their teacher-preparation programs, but many of the schools are balking, arguing the project is flawed.
The nation’s 1,400 colleges of education have been criticized by the Obama administration and others for lax admission standards, unfocused curriculum and failure to provide enough real-life classroom training.
States must evaluate teacher-prep programs, but standards are so weak that only 31 of 1,400 programs were rated subpar in 2010, the latest data available, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan group, seeks to come up with more rigorous ratings for undergraduate education programs but is running into opposition from the schools, which say the ratings fail to measure graduates’ effectiveness in the classroom and rely too heavily on assessing course syllabi.

Board of Education approves A to F grading system for Oklahoma Tulsa (OK) World

OKLAHOMA CITY – The state Board of Education on Thursday voted 4-2 to approve proposed rules for an A to F grading system for the state’s schools.
Two board members, Joy Hofmeister and Brian Hayden, adamantly opposed the rules because they didn’t include an appeals process and because they believe the bar is too high to get an A.
Because the approval required four yes votes, State Superintendent Janet Barresi voted yes on the measure.

In Bullying Programs, A Call For Bystanders To Act NPR Morning Edition

The documentary Bully opens in theaters Thursday, and the heated controversy over the appropriate rating for the film has frustrated many schools hoping to use it as a teaching tool.
Administrators have struggled to find effective ways to help curb bullying in their schools in recent years, and a growing number of bullying prevention programs have emerged to meet the demand.
Many schools started by cracking down on bullies, then later focused on propping up victims, with the hope of helping to make them “bully-proof.” Now, they have shifted their efforts to people who witness bullying.

School board settlement with ACLU stirs anger in Camdenton Kansas City Star

Nothing stirs up a small town quite like the American Civil Liberties Union.
When attorneys for that group demanded that the high school in Camdenton, Mo., stop using an Internet filter that discriminated against gay-friendly websites, folks packed school board meetings.
How dare this New York City bunch come in here and tell how us to raise our kids!
They wanted to fight. The local tea party rallied the troops. The crowd at a Friday night football game cheered wildly when a plane flew over pulling the banner: THANK YOU CAMDENTON! GET LOST ACLU!
That was last fall. Now this lake town is really fuming.
Earlier this week, the Camdenton school board agreed to settle a federal lawsuit brought against the district, agreed to allow sites such as that of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and agreed to pay $125,000 for the plaintiffs’ legal fees.
Stacy Shore, a longtime Camdenton Realtor and tea party member, said Thursday she thought the board should have fought on.
“The ACLU came in here and pushed us around and told us what to do and now they’re gone and we’re left to pick up the pieces,” Shore said. “This was never about gay-bashing. This was about parental rights.”

Mad science? Nevada Science Olympiad championship embroils two local schools in controversy Las Vegas Sun

Who would have thought that choosing Nevada’s high school representative to a national science competition would hinge on an ethical question?
In a quandary more common in athletics than in academics, a scoring error at a recent Nevada Science Olympiad competition has pitted two rival Las Vegas high schools against each other over which will compete in May at the National Science Olympiad tournament.
The ensuing brouhaha now has one school refusing to comment to the media and the other airing its grievances at a recent Clark County School Board meeting, even threatening legal action.

Stiff security at Tucson school board meetings angers Latinos CNN

Tucson, Arizona – It was the evening of March 13, people lined up outside the Tucson Unified School District office in Tucson, Arizona, to attend a school board meeting. Nine-year-old Nicolas was in line with his teenage sister Juliana, waiting to enter the meeting. Juliana, who is in high school, was there to voice her support for the Mexican-American studies program, which was dismantled this year after it was banned by the state.
One by one, each person had to first go through security screening. It wasn’t until Nicolas, wearing a yellow Batman t-shirt, standing with his legs and arms spread apart while being wanded by an armed security guard, that Roberto Rodriguez, an associate professor of Mexican-American studies at the University of Arizona, took notice of the process. Rodriguez grabbed his phone and took two photographs of Nicolas going through security.
Rodriguez, who is also a syndicated columnist, says he sent one of the photographs to several colleagues. Before he knew it, the picture went viral. It seemed to strike a nerve with some people, particularly within the Latino community, who say the pictures symbolize what Rodriguez calls an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant atmosphere in Arizona.

Oakland Unified meeting resumes after arrests KGO

OAKLAND, Calif. — An Oakland school board resumed discussing whether to close five schools after anger and arrests at a meeting Wednesday night.
Some of the people arrested Wednesday night returned Thursday for part two of Wednesday night’s Oakland school board meeting. The early afternoon Oakland school board meeting kept most teachers and parents away, making it non-eventful. It was a far cry from the previous meeting which was interrupted and eventually suspended. Ten people were arrested.
On Thursday, the board members were able to vote on a proposal to lease Santa Fe Elementary to the Emery School District. Santa Fe is one of five schools which will close at the end of the school year. But first, there was public input. “You speak so proudly about closing the structural deficit on the backs of these poor elementary school kids whose schools you want to close,” Tim Terry said.

Education system holding Mexico back, critics say USA Today

MEXICO CITY – Pilar López’s children have all gone to public schools, touted for decades as a singular achievement of Mexico’s early-20th-century revolution.
The maid and mother of five has one daughter who is studying medicine at the prestigious National Polytechnic Institute. She says her children are succeeding not because of, but in spite of a system that is failing Mexicans, especially in rural poor areas.
Some schools must hold classes outdoors for lack of rooms. Others have no drinkable water, and sometimes no teachers. Though many have called for changes, the national teachers union has fought changes it doesn’t support.
“There are talented students that want to get ahead but can’t,” López says.
Mexican public education is secular, free and accessible to all, as guaranteed in the constitution enacted in 1917, but its results are poor, according to statistics.

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