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 ...


Rodney Ellis is fed up, and he's fighting back the way state legislators usually do. The Texas state senator, having witnessed the latest hubbub over the teaching of evolution on his state's board of education, has filed a bill to strip the board of the bulk of its authority over textbooks and curriculum. According to this story in his hometown newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, Ellis' move would leave the board with more narrow duties under the state constitution. The measure is unlikely to pass, even Ellis, a Democrat, acknowledges, because of conservatives' influence in the legislature. So Ellis has filed ...


There's a long-running debate about how the skills of U.S. students compare with those of their peers in nations like China. A recent study seeks to cut through the speculation with research from both nations' university systems. In an article published in the journal Science, a team of researchers found that first-year Chinese university students easily beat American freshmen in a test of their knowledge of specific scientific concepts in mechanics, electricity, magnetism. Yet the U.S. students equaled their Asian counterparts when it came to a measure of their broader scientific reasoning ability. The students tested in the ...


On the list of people you least want to tick off on Capitol Hill, Sen. Chuck Grassley's name is probably pretty high up there. Yet some employees of the National Science Foundation have managed to do just that, after allegedly spending a considerable amount of agency time looking at pornography on the Internet. The revelations about NSF staff members downloading sexually explicit files from the Web and storing them on their computers emerged in a semiannual report by the agency's office of the inspector general. One of the more startling revelations in the report is that an "NSF senior official" ...


One major piece of the Reading First program is the money it provides schools to hire reading "coaches," who work to improve the skills of fellow teachers. Under the federal law, money flows to states, which provide grants to schools and districts to adopt "scientifically based" reading programs and provide interventions with struggling students in the early grades. Reading First specifically provides professional development to teachers through institutes, workshops, and on-site literacy coaches. In fact, the law mandates that schools that receive grants use funds to hire those coaches. I recently came across an interesting study by the Northwest Regional ...


Can a kickball game help transform the climate of a school? That playground activity and other informal “classic games,” such as four-square and tag, can promote student health, as well as improved classroom behavior and learning, some health advocates say. Just last fall, a major effort aimed at expanding access to those activities, during recess and afterschool was launched with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., awarded a four-year, $18.7 million grant to Sports4Kids, an Oakland, Calif., nonprofit, to train adult “coaches” who can supervise and encourage recess and after-school activities. ...


Some of the publishers that made a heap of money off the Reading First program—which pumped $1 billion a year into instructional materials and professional development, as well as coaching positions in participating schools—are reporting losses now that the budget has been axed, according to this Publishers Weekly article. "Worsening economic conditions facing large urban districts were exacerbated by a sharp reduction in federal funding for Reading First programs," the magazine quotes Terry McGraw, the chairman of the company that publishes Open Court Reading and other popular reading series. Despite the 5.4 percent decline for McGraw-Hill's...


Is there any obligation for a school sports team to ease up on an opponent, when one side is so outmatched that the event devolves in a blowout that's embarrassing to just about everybody involved? Should athletic associations set up rules to prevent this from taking place? Those questions leap to mind in the wake of a much-publicized beat-down delivered by the girls basketball team from Covenant School, a Christian school in Texas, to the team from Dallas Academy, on Jan. 13. Even by the standards of high school basketball, where talent mismatches are common, this score was pretty stunning: ...


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