Since I write about math and science education, I spend a good amount of time reporting on topics where elected officials, influential advocacy groups, and big businesses seem to speak with one voice—agreeing, to a large extent, about middling U.S. performance on international tests, unfocused math and science curriculum, poorly trained teachers, and the need to help prepare students for crucial subjects, like algebra, which are springboards to more advanced studies. The general thinking on a lot of these issues is that schools can and should be listening to the business lobby. After all, employers presumably know what...


Many civic education experts and historians have touted the potential for tapping into the enthusiasm surrounding the recent presidential election and the inauguration to get students interested in related school lessons. All well and good, but only if students have the background knowledge to understand the process and the rhetoric, Robert Pondiscio writes in this Ed Week commentary. As the communications director for the Core Knowledge Foundation, Pondiscio is hitting on the message the foundation has long promoted about the importance of rich content. But this piece brings a compelling and relevant twist. "President Obama’s inaugural address placed us—all...


A New York Times editorial on the stimulus bill this week makes a pitch for national academic standards amid recommendations, like this one among some think tanks and policy groups. Education Secretary Arne "Duncan’s main goal should be to replace a wildly uneven patchwork of standards with a coherent system of national standards and tests that would allow parents to know, at last, how their schools compare with schools elsewhere in the country," the Times writes. Of course even if everyone agreed to creating national standards in core subjects, it would take years of debate to figure out what ...


I've received a lot of responses to a story I wrote this week about the growth of "green" lesson plans and curriculum in schools. Some of the reaction has come from schools that are drawing power from solar energy and crafting lessons about the power of the sun. One sun-powered display that I didn't have room to get in the story can be found in the Lagunitas school district, outside San Francisco. (It's pictured on the right.) It was designed and built by Borrego Solar, also located in California. Borrego has seen more school districts use solar installations in recent ...


A friend of mine who works at one of the District of Columbia's public libraries tells me that February is the most important month at her library because it's Black History Month.The library schedules special programs to feature African-Americans. So since I'm new to the curriculum beat here at Education Week, I decided to do a Web search to see just how big Black History Month is in schools. Some schools have put together impressive collections of resources that can be used for lessons marking Black History Month. Here's a sampling: —Lakewood City Schools, in Ohio, has links to Web...


The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just released a terrific series of resources on evolution, all of them free and accessible online here. Those documents cover current events and examine recent fights over evolution in the states, but perhaps more important, they offer a clear guide through some of the social, legal, and religious dimensions of those battles. The documents are being put forward to coincide with the 200-year anniversary of British naturalist and evolution pioneer Charles Darwin's birth. Pew's documents offer recaps of recent state skirmishes on the theory, many of which will be familiar to ...


Taking math seriously, and learning to enjoy it, will probably make your life easier in high school. It will almost certainly help you get into college and increase your odds of succeeding once you get there. But what kinds of career options are out there for students with talent in math and a love for that subject? I recently came across a good online resource that seeks to answer that question for students. It's the "Career Profiles" page, offered on the Web site of the Mathematical Association of America. As the name suggests, the site aims to answer the question "why...


The folks at Common Core and Core Knowledge take issue with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's equating core knowledge with 21st-century skills. In blog posts here and here, the organizations take shots at the Democrat's P-16 education plan, outlined in his 2009 budget proposal. It calls for "mastery of core knowledge, critical thinking, possibility thinking, knowledge creation, development of strong interpersonal skills and effective work habits." I have a feeling that the governor and the Common Core/Core Knowledge advocates have two distinctly different ideas about content. "For the sake of Ohio’s students, we hope the governor and his advisors ...


Sometimes an in-class lab is not enough. I recently received a notice about a bus that is being used in Chicago-area schools as a sort of mobile science classroom to teach students about clean-air and environmental issues. It's one of a number of mobile science labs I've heard of over the years. The idea is pretty simple. You retrofit a bus or vehicle of some sort, which you then send from school to school, so that teachers make use of it to teach students about a specific science concept—in this case, environmental issues. The bus is officially known as the...


Today, the National Museum of the American Indian launched a searchable online collection of 5,500 items and photographs. The online collections site, called the "Fourth Museum," is part of a plan by the museum to put its whole collection of more than 800,000 items online (see today's press release about it), which is expected to take four years. The Washington Post describes the effort in a Jan. 30 article. The online collection could be a boost for teachers who are attempting to carry out new state laws or regulations that require them to teach students about the tribes ...


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