There is a fairly regular stream of stories in the news about schools and districts tackling requests to ban or restrict students' access to books that a parent or community member finds offensive or inappropriate. I wrote about one case in Fayetteville, Ark., that sparked heated debate over dozens of books, including classics and young adult literature. Banning books seems to have become a time-honored tradition in some places, and challenges happen so frequently that the American Library Association began commemorating the fight against unreasonable censorship in schools more than 25 years ago with Banned Books Week. The latest effort ...


Someone recently forwarded me this link to a citizens' organization that is apparently tracking the revision of state math standards in New Jersey. Many of its members' concerns, and their language, will seem familiar to anybody who's followed debates over K-12 math over the years, particularly in state academic standards. For instance, the coalition's members are concerned about students at early grades becoming too reliant on calculators, and they say the draft state document is misleading from a mathematical standpoint. (I'm not certain if the draft has been reworked since then.) Nothing unusual about those complaints, as far as these ...


A newsletter published by the Kentucky Department of Education for teachers recommends a book written by a school shooting survivor for the reading list of middle and high school students. The book, I Choose to Be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor's Triumph Over Tragedy, is written by Missy Jenkins, now 27, who was one of eight student in a prayer circle at Heath High School in Paducah, Ky, shot by a 14-year-old student, Michael Carneal. Three students were killed. Jenkins was paralyzed from the chest down. Her message is that bullying, even in its mildest form, can have ramifications, according ...


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...


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