Jay Mathews in his weekly online column lets us know that he will soon be unleashing his 2003 Challenge Index ratings of the schools in this area. Rankings like this are good for some headlines and a flurry of news releases by the school systems, either boasting about their great scores or rationalizing why their schools didn’t score well. I’m not sure they are good for much more.

Of more interest in this column, however, is a discussion Mathews arranged between a parent who has been critical of his lavish praise on the International Baccalaureate programs that are so popular in local high schools (and growing in middle school) and another parent who shares Mathews support of the programs. It’s a long column but well worth reading.

More about the Challenge Index later when this year’s edition is published.