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Stories by James E Ryan

By James E Ryan 12/07/2016 3:26 PM EST
James Ryan
"The new PISA scores are just out.  The scores usually show, as they did again this year, that the United States performs relatively poorly compared with other countries, including some regular high-performers like Singapore and Finland, and some new comers to the top of the list, like Estonia.  This way of reporting is slightly misleading because the United States doesn't have an education system.  It has at least 51 of them--one for each state, plus the District of Columbia.  You might say that we actually have over 14,000 systems, which is the number of school districts in the country. ...
By James E Ryan 09/21/2016 10:56 AM EDT
James Ryan
I have noticed some flirtation with local control recently by those on the left end of the political spectrum, who are otherwise committed to educational equity.  This includes the Black Lives Matter movement and the NEA.  There seems to be some interest in returning more control and autonomy not simply from the federal government to the states, but from states to local communities--so that communities can decide questions like when to close schools, whether to allow charter schools, and how to assign teachers. It is puzzling to see groups that care about educational equity embracing local...
By James E Ryan 08/02/2016 5:36 PM EDT
James Ryan
I hope your summer is going well.  In my last blog, written before taking a summer hiatus, I talked about Sheff v. O'Neill, a desegregation case in Connecticut, decided in 1996.  In that case, the Connecticut court ruled that all segregation, regardless of its cause, violates the state constitution, and it imposed on Hartford an affirmative obligation to integrate schools in the Hartford metropolitan region.  I asked why that ruling has largely been confined to Hartford, given that the state constitution applies across the entire state. Here, I would like to broaden the inquiry and ask why ...
By James E Ryan 06/22/2016 4:07 PM EDT
James Ryan
Learning technologies offer great potential to improve education, but whether that potential will be realized depends on three key factors, which have less to do with technology itself and more to do with the people using it. First, we need to ensure that we don’t lose sight of the “learning” in learning technologies. As we develop and adopt learning technologies we need to keep in mind what we know about how students learn. We know, for example, that they learn at different rates, that it is critical to master a topic before moving to the next when learning is sequential, that students who...
By James E Ryan 06/08/2016 4:32 PM EDT
James Ryan
We are quickly approaching the 20th anniversary of Sheff v. O'Neill, a watershed desegregation case from Connecticut decided in July 1996.  In that case, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the State is obligated by the Connecticut Constitution to reduce school segregation in the Hartford metropolitan region.  Importantly, the Court ruled that the state legislature had an affirmative constitutional duty to remedy segregation, whether de facto or de jure.  It also ruled that the current school districting scheme, which makes school boundaries coterminous with city and town boundaries, was...
By James E Ryan 05/09/2016 4:04 PM EDT
Jim Ryan
Anecdotal evidence suggests, and surveys strongly confirm, that most high school kids, in most schools, spend a great deal of their time in school feeling bored.  The potential causes of in-school boredom are legion and intertwined:  adolescence, and the real and feigned ennui that attends this developmental stage; mobile phones and the infinite competing distractions they contain; some topics that are hard to make interesting; pressure to cover material quickly; and some teachers who are a bit on the dry side.  There are also, importantly, exceptions as well as variations.  As I remember...
By James E Ryan 07/01/2015 12:00 AM EDT
Jim Ryan
This story originally appeared in Education Week. The causes of violence, whether at the hands of police or private individuals, are obviously complex, even more so for interracial violence. It is healthy for institutions to consider their part in perpetuating or stemming the violence. But it is a mistake to believe that any single institution is solely responsible or can solve the problem on its own. That said, it seems clear that, as a nation, we have not done nearly enough to teach our children how to look across lines of race and class and see similarities rather than differences—to see...
By James E Ryan 07/23/2014 9:23 AM EDT
HarvardX - A Year Later
It is fair to say that MOOCs have captured the world’s imagination as to what might be possible for education, both now and in the future. MOOCs have also generated controversy, with some wondering about their implications for residential education and others asserting that their hype exceeds their grasp.I would like in this blog post to address a slightly different question, which is what sort of learning can occur through MOOCs and other online offerings? We know that online learning works for knowledge and skills. But can MOOCs change the way people behave? That was one of the questions...