August 2007 Archives

My kids started school yesterday with typical fanfare: new backpacks and lunchboxes and, as they waited for the bus, endless chatter about their teachers and which friends are in their classes. My daughter and son, who are starting 4th and 2nd grades, respectively, are joining a record number of students entering the nation's public schools this year, nearly 50 million, according to this report by my colleague, Mary Ann Zehr. "The rising number of Hispanic youngsters in the United States is fueling overall growth in enrollment and is expected to do so for at least two more decades," the story ...


How shocked would you be to learn that school and watching television rank the same among activities that make young people most happy in life? In a survey by MTV and the Associated Press, few 13- to 24-year-olds identified school or TV (or sex or cars, for that matter) as the key to their happiness. Maybe we should be relieved that, instead, the respondents said they are most happy spending time with family and friends, playing with pets, worshiping God, and playing sports. About half of those surveyed described at least one of their parents as a hero (5 percent ...


If federal law doesn’t ensure that schools and districts report student achievement data to the public, maybe threat of a lawsuit will. Public Advocates is banking on it. The San Francisco-based non-profit law firm has filed suit against California's Oakland Unified, and sent warning letters to school officials in eight other districts, after finding their school report cards were inadequate, according to this story in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Public Advocates reviewed the report cards issued by 20 school districts across the state, and concluded that just one complied with the accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind ...


Japan is known far and wide for maintaining a rigorous and effective public education system. But a significant number of students are less than enamored with it. A new report from the country's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology shows that the number of students refusing to attend school is rising for the first time in five years. The Japan Times reports in this story that "a record 138,696 elementary and junior high school students were absent from school for at least 30 days without good reason during the school year that ended in March." That's a ...


With diplomas in hand, most new high school graduates would rather spend the summer soaking up their last moments of leisure before they have to tackle college work and make career plans. But a group of Miami students were motivated instead to tackle complicated, real-world lessons in Washington this summer, as the Miami Herald reports. The students, who graduated this year from Killian Senior High School, started a grass-roots lobbying campaign on behalf of a friend, Juan Gomez, and his family, who faced deportation to their native Columbia. After weeks of flooding lawmakers' offices with letters, e-mails, and faxes—and ...


It is the season for school report cards, and I’ve seen a number of news clips about student progress and overall school performance on state tests reported under the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. But alongside the coverage of test results, a parallel story line is playing out in many places. Cheating seems to be on the rise, or at least reports and allegations of it. Some observers have noted that with higher stakes comes a greater propensity to cheat on tests. And with the threat of school reconstitution, staff firings, and student retention linked ...


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