Last year I wrote about one of the nation's most prestigious universities making its lectures and audio, video, and print course materials available for free to the public online. A lot of K-12 science teachers, it turns out, were interested in making use of those resources, which were offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a related move, MIT has announced plans to make all of the scholarly articles published by its faculty available for free online. The university will make those papers accessible at no cost through an opensource, online system called DSpace, which was developed by the ...


They're going to be debating common ancestry in Texas this week. Common ancestry is a core piece of the theory of evolution, and as such, it's broadly accepted by the scientific community. It posits that humans and other living things have descended from common ancestors through an evolutionary lineage, and that all living things share common ancestors. Yet some members of the Texas state board of education want to insert language in the standards that calls common ancestry into doubt. The board, following up on a preliminary vote in January, is scheduled to consider language that says students should "analyze ...


A few years ago, a California parent filed a lawsuit objecting to a Web site, sponsored by a public university in her state, that basically espouses the view that believing in evolution is not incompatible with belief in God. Many scientists, who are Christians and believers of various stripes, share that view, though the plaintiff in the lawsuit apparently does not. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of that parent, Jeanne E. Caldwell. Our school law blogger Mark Walsh has a nice summary of the case, with plenty of background information, here....


There are many efforts under way in the United States to increase students' passion for science, run by private companies, nonprofits, state and local governments, and universities. But I'm not sure that any of those programs are as large scale as the Science and Engineering Ambassadors effort, which is under way in Britain. The program arranges to have volunteers from British science, engineering, and technology companies come into schools, with the aim of encouraging students in their math- and science related studies. Currently, 18,000 volunteers from British companies are participating, which is sponsored by the U.K. government (specifically ...


It's difficult to find a set of academic programs that aren't being scaled back, or at least whose administrators aren't scrambling to reduce costs, in this economy. It appears that programs serving the most-elite students in math and science aren't being spared, either. Today's Washington Post has a story about the impact of budget cuts on the magnet math and science program at Montgomery Blair High School, almost certainly one of the nation's top secondary programs in those subjects. The magnet program was created in 1985 with the idea of turning around an underperforming school, according to the article. Now ...


Few report cards these days include a line to mark achievement in an age-old skill that our parents and grandparents toiled over in school. Even when I was a kid, a good grade in penmanship or handwriting was enough to elicit pride and boastfulness in both parent and student, not to mention the teacher who forced us to practice perfect little curves and carefully crossed 'T' s. Now with computer keyboarding and text messaging taking on greater importance than legible cursive, many a curmudgeon have decried the state of children's handwriting. There's even a new book that chronicles the history ...


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke today before a major professional organization, the National Science Teachers Association, at its annual meeting in New Orleans, delivering a message that members of the audience were likely to find appealing. I only have a transcript from NSTA, but I'm willing to bet that the secretary drew some applause when he spoke about paying science—and math—teachers more, as a way to lure them into the profession and keep them there. "We need to respond to the market by paying more to teachers in high-need subjects like science and math," Duncan...


The AIG fiasco and the uproar over those executive bonuses might provide a timely opportunity for talking about character in the classroom. But it might be more difficult to integrate lessons on morality and ethics day to day, particularly at a time when many educators are hesitant to cover issues that can be colored by personal values and beliefs, and therefore open to misinterpretation and conflict. So I was intrigued by an announcement from the Josephson Institute that its Center for Youth Ethics is now offering free online lesson plans. The Los Angeles-based institute runs the Character Counts! program, perhaps ...


A recent article in Edutopia makes the case that interest in arts education is on the upswing. It says that states and schools are carving out more time for arts education, despite the pressure to test in other subjects, because of the belief that the arts contribute to students' development and can be used as a learning tool. Research on student cognition is fueling this interest, the article says. The story offers a lot of good links to studies and reports describing trends in arts education across the states. One of the arts advocates featured prominently in the piece is ...


One of the more fascinating and too-often underplayed aspects of the immigration debate centers on U.S. policies toward foreign college students and highly skilled workers. Many high-tech and industry leaders say those students and employees have played a vital role in our nation's business innovation and economic growth. A 2007 study, for instance, found that 52 percent of Silicon Valley startups had one or more immigrants as a key founder, compared with the California average of 38 percent. More broadly across the economy, immigrant-founded companies produced $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers in 2005. One of ...


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