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Open letter to the class of 2020

Michael O'Hare, professor of public policy | April 22, 2016

The original version of this letter was posted in late 2010 on the Reality-Based Community blog).   In the last several weeks, I’ve been asked by a variety of friends and colleagues to post it again; here it is, with some revisions and updating.  I wish I could report that it’s out of date, but things … Continue reading »

America’s school buildings — like California’s — need fixing

Jeffrey Vincent, deputy director, Center for Cities and Schools | April 4, 2016

Our country’s K-12 infrastructure is in crisis. Far too often, these learning environments are rundown and in disrepair, discourage and sicken children and teachers, waste energy, and fail to support a 21st century education. A new national study by the 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities, and the Center for Green Schools sheds much-needed light … Continue reading »

How should California fund its K-12 school facility needs?

Jeffrey Vincent, deputy director, Center for Cities and Schools | February 10, 2016

With the Brown Administration and the State Legislature returning from the holiday break and looking at options for new K-12 school construction and modernization funding, the word “need” is frequently used…but little understood. They ask, “How do we fund based on ‘need’”? It appears Governor Brown is also interested in this question. His new 2016-17 … Continue reading »

What is CNR (College of Natural Resources)?

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | September 1, 2015

Especially at the start of the semester, I am frequently asked by students, parents, sponsors, and otherwise curious people, what is the College of Natural Resources. I actually asked it myself; and over the years I think that I got the answer. The college embodies all the contradictions, practical deliberations, and social debate relating to … Continue reading »

To ensure access and excellence in our public research universities, we need a 21st century Morrill Act

Robert Birgeneau, professor of physics, former chancellor |

At the present time, Congress and the Obama administration are addressing two important issues, the progressive deterioration of the nation’s physical infrastructure and the enormous sums of money that are being held offshore by U.S. corporations unwilling to pay federal taxes on these funds. Any repatriation of these offshore funds will inevitably involve some compromise … Continue reading »

No longer useless: Liberal arts education in a digital age

Catherine Ceniza Choy, professor of ethnic studies | August 4, 2015

Last week, two on-line articles published on the same day, July 29th, in Forbes Magazine caught my attention. The first, entitled “America’s Top Colleges Ranking 2015,” by Forbes staff writer Caroline Howard, opened with the following: “The No. 1 FORBES Top College 2015 is Pomona College, followed by Williams College and Stanford University.”* The second Forbes article … Continue reading »

Higher education: Should college be free for all?

Carol Christ, director, Center for Studies in Higher Education | May 23, 2015

Should college be free for all? Bernie Sanders thinks so. So did John Adams. “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expense of it,” Adams argued. That belief motivated the establishment of land grant colleges, in the 1862 Morrill Act, “to promote … Continue reading »

Common Sense About the Common Core

Alan Schoenfeld, professor of education and of mathematics | September 21, 2014

Is the Common Core the best thing since sliced bread, or the work of the devil? Is it brand new, or a rehash of old ideas? Is it anything more than a brand name, or is there substance? Can it work, given the implementation challenges in our political and school systems? Opinions about the Common … Continue reading »

How social-emotional learning transforms classrooms

Vicki Zakrzewski, education director, Greater Good Science Center | September 19, 2014

Research clearly demonstrates that integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) into the classroom is good for both students and the adults who work with them. But there’s a story that the research hasn’t captured — the one of powerful transformation that can result from the practice of SEL. I recently spoke to a number of educators about … Continue reading »

Teacher tenure: Yes!

Robin Lakoff, professor emerita of linguistics | August 22, 2014

In his New York Times op-ed of August 19, Frank Bruni has become only the latest in a long line of authoritative people to denounce teacher tenure. By so doing, Bruni enters the race to become my least favorite Times columnist, against the stiff competition of Maureen Dowd and David Brooks. If you have been … Continue reading »

What ‘Ivory Tower’ gets wrong

Nicholas Dirks, UC Berkeley Chancellor | July 23, 2014

The documentary film Ivory Tower takes on national debates about higher education and renders them as compelling dramas, stories, and scenes. Andrew Rossi, the film’s talented director, previously used similar techniques to raise probing questions about the future of print journalism in an age of digitalization in his film Page One. Now Rossi asks whether “college is … Continue reading »

A new model of school reform

Vicki Zakrzewski, education director, Greater Good Science Center | May 22, 2014

Last week, The New Yorker reported that Mark Zuckerberg’s 2010 gift of $100 million to the Newark School District hadn’t really improved the schools — with most of the money having been spent on labor contracts and consulting fees. Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), an urban district with demographics and challenges … Continue reading »

What’s wrong with grit?

Vicki Zakrzewski, education director, Greater Good Science Center | March 21, 2014

Grit is all over the news these days — the “latest fad in schools, ” according to author Alfie Kohn. With research suggesting that grit is linked to academic success, many policy makers, school leaders, and educators are crossing their fingers that this might be the silver bullet needed to give a boost to struggling students.  … Continue reading »

Five ways to encourage giving to disadvantaged public schools

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | February 7, 2014

As governments have slashed funding for public education, more and more school districts have turned to parents for help—and parents have responded to the call. Case in point: In San Francisco, PTA budgets have increased by 800 percent over the past 10 years, according to an investigation I conducted with colleagues at the San Francisco … Continue reading »

How to integrate social-emotional learning into Common Core

Vicki Zakrzewski, education director, Greater Good Science Center | January 22, 2014

Do the Common Core State Standards undermine social-emotional learning? Many educators think so. In a recent Ed Week op-ed, an elementary principal argued that teachers were too busy teaching Common Core to address the social-emotional development of their students. I’ve heard the same argument from many teachers. This is troubling given that researchers strongly suggest that the learning … Continue reading »

Transportation policy is housing policy

Stephen Menendian, assistant director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | September 6, 2013

Many years ago Haas Institute Executive Director john powell warned education advocates that “housing is education policy” — a refrain now regarded as common wisdom. The insight behind this assertion is a recognition that patterns of racial and economic isolation that manifest in schools and other educational environments are chiefly a function of residential housing … Continue reading »

How to reduce violence after school closures

Vicki Zakrzewski, education director, Greater Good Science Center | May 24, 2013

Chicago is moving ahead with plans to close 50 schools in the city’s school district, the third largest in the nation; similar closings are currently on the table in other major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. These plans have been met with angry protests from teachers and parents who argue that the closures … Continue reading »

Better to work with the schools we have

David Kirp, professor of public policy | March 26, 2013

School board elections are usually placid affairs, but that wasn’t the case in the recent Los Angeles election. Would-be kingmakers, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and media magnate Rupert Murdoch, spent nearly $4 million to defeat incumbent Steve Zimmer. Zimmer’s sin was to question the untrammeled growth of charter schools and the over-reliance … Continue reading »

Wealth and motivations for saving

Carola Conces Binder, Ph.D. candidate, economics | March 24, 2013

In a recent column in the Atlantic called “Building the Wealth of the Poor and Middle Class,” Noah Smith suggests a few ways to improve the unequal distribution of wealth in America. He notes that “one obvious thing we could do to make wealth more equal is – surprise! -redistribution…Giving the poor and middle-class more income will … Continue reading »

Four reminders of human strength and goodness after Sandy Hook

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | December 18, 2012

I first heard about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Twitter. In the flood of reactions, one stood out to me. “The children were killed execution style,” tweeted one woman. “People are horrible.” Are people horrible? It’s a question we as a culture pose after every war and atrocity; it’s a question we … Continue reading »