Who benefits from these laws?

Who benefits from these laws–the Common Core related testing, which is supposed to be implemented this spring,  and special education. I’m sure you can add many other laws that are presumably about schools and students but have huge unintended (or was it intended?) beneficiaries.

Without getting into the pros and cons of any specific law, we can all agree that it is intended to improve the education for students. Undoubtedly, the stated  mission. And surely, many students do benefit, BUT!

In my concerned–and cynical–moments, I see that two other groups benefit hugely!

About the Common Core tests, technology companies are now selling computers to ALL schools for these tests–whether the Partnership for Assessment Readiness for College or Career (PARCC) or  Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) or other tests.

About the special education law, that’s been around since 1975, lawyers (yes, like me) and others have created careers (and a huge cottage industry) around that law–with all its reauthorizations and parallel state laws.

Is this what we really want for our schools? Where are the students in these calculations?





The school year is starting, a good time to talk about favorite books and inspirations. 


My favorite book about children and education is Mindset—the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor.  She sets out the advantages of a growth mindset, instead of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset is based on effort, working hard, grit, believing that a student can learn, and, according to the book, even believing that a student who works hard can grow his/her brain!  A fixed mindset, on the other hand, is based on a label—you are smart. You are pretty. You are not smart. You are lazy. Whatever the label. Students get stuck there and believe their futures are pre-ordained. Even worse, smart kids don’t try new things where they might fail because then the grown ups will see that they are really not smart.  How liberating is the growth mindset—for all!  Praise children for the effort, not their adult-perceived label.  A great mantra for the start of the school year.


Some schools have adopted her approach, including, I believe, the Fieldston School in NY.  And see Salman Khan’s Huffington Post, “The Learning Myth:  Why I’ll never tell my son he’s smart.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/salman-khan/the-learning-myth-why-ill_b_5691681.html 


Carol Dweck’s book tells me pretty much everything I need to know about what we are doing wrong.  Let’s hope we get it right this year.

 What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite inspiration?



It’s been a long while since I blogged…. for loyal readers, I do apologize for my absence.

The great news is that I’ve been hard at work–with much support from friends and colleagues– on an exciting project–writing a new law for special education!  It’s current title is Education for All:  Reaching High for Generation 2.  

Its mascot is the giraffe–who always reaches high!

The project started back in January… at the cafe when I was talking to Dave and his teen-age son about the law. Dave inspired me to just do it. And so I did–with much help on the way–laying out the basic principles for a new law. It’s short and sweet, and….

…almost ready for prime time…. If you would like to learn more and how to get involved, please let me know. Email me at Miriam@schoollawpro.com. 

Happy new school year and happy Generation 2 !