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Marc Epstein
Marc Epstein has been teaching history in the New York City schools for the past eighteen years. His articles about school violence and testing have appeared in The New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Sun,Washington Post, Education Next, and City Journal Online.

Entries by Marc Epstein

Common Core and New York's Suburban Firewall

(3) Comments | Posted November 20, 2013 | 4:16 PM

There's a scene in the movie The Ten Commandments, when Ramses II, played by Yul Brenner, is prevented from attacking the Israelites who've fled Egypt for the Promised Land because God places a pillar of fire in between his army and the Israelites encamped on the banks of the Red...

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When It Comes to Education Reform, Which Political Party Is the Stupid Party?

(5) Comments | Posted September 5, 2013 | 5:48 PM

The Republican Party is going through an identity crisis. They can't figure out if they are very smart or very stupid. In this regard they resemble the "wise men of Chelm," who inhabited the fabled Jewish town that, according to the Yivo Institute Encyclopedia, "spawned hundreds of tales describing outlandish...

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The Body Snatchers Are Running Education Reform

(2) Comments | Posted August 15, 2013 | 6:44 PM

When the first wave of national education reform was codified into law under the No Child Left Behind act, my initial reaction was that it was just another in a long series of public policy exercises that would wither away and die after appropriating huge sums of money and have...

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A Renaissance for School Violence

(6) Comments | Posted July 23, 2013 | 3:06 PM

Get ready for the coming eruption of school violence.

While all eyes have been focused on the "stop and frisk" debate in New York, hardly any attention has been paid to the rewriting of school discipline procedures that are certain to result in a spike in schoolhouse disruptions.


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Cecil B. DeMille and School Reform

(1) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 2:14 PM

With the seemingly endless waves of education reforms that have been washing over us it's hard for the average person to pay attention to the claims and counterclaims that make serious discussion all but impossible.

But despite a massive PR machine that touts the accomplishments of Mayor Bloomberg, whether or...

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Does the New Data Tell Us Anything About School Violence?

(4) Comments | Posted February 26, 2013 | 10:28 AM

This past September, New York's public schools introduced a new discipline code keeping in line with an emerging federal policy initiative that seeks to reduce the "disparate" rate of minority incarceration in this country.

This "theory" posits that there's a direct road from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse for minorities...

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Small Schools: Miracle or Mirage?

(3) Comments | Posted February 21, 2013 | 9:49 AM

Whenever I read a Bill Gates prescription for healing our public schools or society I'm reminded of the old E.F. Hutton commercial, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." But when it comes to Gates, "When Bill Gates talks, politicians listen." They not only listen, they transform his words...

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Americans Are Lousy Reformers

(5) Comments | Posted January 24, 2013 | 4:16 PM

We're experiencing one of those spasmodic waves of reform that seems to wash over us every 60 years or so. The effects of it are unpredictable but if history is any guide it will have lots of unfortunate consequences that succeeding generations will inherit and have to clean up, like...

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The Age of Newtown

(5) Comments | Posted January 4, 2013 | 3:12 PM

It's been only three weeks since the Newtown horror. If you Google "Newtown Massacre" as of January 4, you'll get 77 million hits. You can divide the commentary into roughly three categories. Most of the millions of words and verbiage concentrate on gun control, mental health, and the societal breakdown...

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Is the Love Affair With Data Driven Public Policy Cooling Off?

(4) Comments | Posted December 14, 2012 | 3:05 PM

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

When historians and political scientists look back on the first decade of this century I suspect they'll spend a fair amount of time explaining why politicians, enamored of data driven "reforms,"...

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Why New York's School Reforms Didn't Work

(12) Comments | Posted December 4, 2012 | 5:40 PM

It appears that New York's public schools are more segregated than ever, according to a lawsuit filed by the NAACP that claims a disparate number of blacks are not admitted to the prestigious high schools that require entrance examinations. These claims come in spite of twelve years of...

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Hurricane Sandy's School Lessons

(2) Comments | Posted November 20, 2012 | 4:41 PM

There's nothing like a natural disaster the likes of a Hurricane Sandy to concentrate the mind. The resulting death, destruction, and disruptions are likely to be felt by New Yorker's for some time to come, and for some, forever.

Sandy was a shock to the nation's largest school system...

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Food for Thought

(3) Comments | Posted November 9, 2012 | 2:43 PM

Mayor Bloomberg and Michelle Obama have been waging a crusade against childhood obesity, poor eating habits, and the dramatic increase in type two diabetes among teenagers.

The mayor's campaign isn't limited to his use of the Bully Pulpit. He ordered sweetened drinks removed from school vending machines and lunchrooms. Cake...

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A Layman's Guide to School Reform

(0) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 2:40 PM

While the Chicago teacher's strike has brought public education to the forefront of the presidential campaign, it barely received more than lip service at the conventions just a few weeks ago.

That's because both parties' positions on public school reform mark a distinction without a difference. They believe public...

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A School Too Far: Is School Choice Unraveling Education Reform In New York City?

(8) Comments | Posted June 13, 2012 | 10:48 AM

It would appear that when students don't attend school, they don't get educated in ways that are productive for them in particular, and society at large.

Teachers have long known this to be the case. Now the issue is being joined by politicians, fueled by a Johns Hopkins study that...

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Putting New York's School Reform in Perspective

(2) Comments | Posted March 12, 2012 | 5:19 PM

In case you haven't noticed, hunting public school teachers is currently the sport of choice for a passel of politicians, education philanthropists, and members of the Fourth Estate, from Maine to Hawaii.

You have the sense that if wildlife preservationists don't step in soon, the teacher may go the...

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The School Closing Follies

(0) Comments | Posted October 3, 2011 | 3:31 PM

About 15 years ago I clipped out a cartoon from a newspaper that depicted a public school administrator explaining the latest school reform craze to his colleagues. He was holding up two models of schoolhouses. One was a large building and the other a one-room schoolhouse.

The caption read,...

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Have the Bush-Obama School Reforms Helped Our Inner-Cities?

(5) Comments | Posted September 22, 2011 | 1:29 PM

When Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, and Joel Klein talk about reforming public education in America, the conversation doesn't include the Scarsdale and Grosse Pointe public schools. While No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top established national guidelines for student and teacher performance, the underlying purpose of...

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New York City Ronin Teacher

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2011 | 11:36 AM

About six weeks ago I received a letter informing me that I was now a member of the Absent Teacher Reserve pool of the New York City Department of Education. That meant that because my school was being phased out and wouldn't be accepting new students my services were no...

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Will Rick Perry Unravel the Strange Consensus on Public Education?

(11) Comments | Posted August 26, 2011 | 7:40 PM

By all accounts, political polarization has made America ungovernable. Speaking in Holland, Mich., President Obama declared, "There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics." He went on to say that we were experiencing the "worst kind of partisanship" and "the...

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