August 2006 Archives

In the current issue of Education Week, you can read Mary Ann Zehr’s story on the effect of a pull-back by the U.S. government when it comes to rebuilding Iraqi schools, but if you want more you can also listen to Mary Ann’s astute comments on the issue. All Things Considered’s Robert Siegel interviews Mary Ann, who shares her thoughts on the long-term effects that American assistance may or may not have on the Iraqi school system and regular Iraqi families. (NPR story requires media player.)...


You might already know it’s important for students to eat breakfast in the morning before school. For decades, studies have shown that breakfast improves a student’s academic performance. But guess what? The type of breakfast a kid eats also plays an important role, according to this report by NPR. Lay off the Frosted Flakes and dig into whole grain toast slathered with peanut butter instead. The report even provides some sample breakfasts for enhanced brainpower—and no, Krispy Kremes are not on the menu. (Audio requires media player.)...


This year’s social studies teachers are facing class discussions that may take their students into controversial territory. From debate over the war in Iraq, national security, and personal freedoms, social studies teachers have to be more vigilant than ever to structure these discussions in a way that helps foster debate, not yelling, according to an article in the September issue of NEA Today. The story takes a look at how a couple of teachers have been able to tackle these debates without the heckling or fistfights....


National School Backpack Awareness Day is September 20. Sponsored by the American Occupational Therapy Association, the event is intended to disseminate information about proper usage of backpacks, including how to wear them and how much they should weigh. This article from MSNBC offers back-to-school bookbag tips for parents....


Adults in New York are conspiring against the city's schoolchildren, writes Eva Moskowitz in this article from Education Next. New York City's public school system, a microcosm of public schools nationwide, is locked into a series of self-serving collective bargaining agreements that foster mediocrity and stagnancy, according to Moskowitz. After wading through thousands of pages of union contracts, she offers her view of what's wrong and what can be changed....


How do AYP's success-story schools do it? While many schools struggle to meet the No Child Left Behind Act's mandated yearly progress levels, some schools excel at spotting trouble areas and catching lagging classes before they slip behind. In this article from T.H.E. Journal, Michelle Gamble-Risley describes some of the techniques used by these star schools. Working with accumulated student data, writes Gamble-Risley, is the secret to their success....


Does higher education in the United States really live up to its reputation? What is the basis for the clout that accompanies names like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other top-tier universities? In this article from the Washington Monthly, Kevin Carey writes about what really makes a quality college earn its ranking, and what parents and students should be looking for when selecting a place to invest their tuition dollars. What's at fault in the numerous sets of college rankings is the "absence...[of] the equivalent of a bottom line. There are no widely available measures of how much learning occurs ...


There is still hope for evolution in the United States, but it is fading, writes Jeff Hecht in this feature from the New Scientist. Recent surveys indicate that less Americans believe in the theory today than did 20 years ago, and the number of fundamentalist Christians who oppose its inclusion in the education curriculum are growing. For proponents of evolution, these are troubled times. Hecht looks at how separation of church and state, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion—the bedrock of American history—are influencing this debate....


The U.S. Department of Education today released "peer review feedback and related information" on the teacher quality plans submitted by the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that outline how each is complying with the NCLB mandate of having a "highly qualified teacher in every classrooms. "I asked states to show us how they plan to give students in their schools qualified instructors and I was encouraged by their feedback," Secreatary of Education Margaret Spellings was quoted on the department's press release....


Students in Virginia's Augusta County School District will be paying a little bit extra for their cheese burgers this fall, and it's all because of Oil. The rise in oil and gas prices over recent years has resulted in fuel surcharges being applied to a whole host of items that go into making Johnny's and Jane's noonday meal. Posted by National Public Radio. (Media player required.)...


You can add "The Ron Clark Story" to the list of based-on-a-true-story movies about teachers saving poor inner-city, minority kids from desperate life situations and failing grades. The made-for-TV movie that aired this past weekend tells the story of a young teacher from the rural south who takes a teaching job in Spanish Harlem. Ron Clark has since written a best-selling book of teaching techniques and will open his own academy in the fall of 2006. While the film received both good and bad reviews, this letter from one of Mr. Clark's former students, published in Reader's Digest, attests to ...


What began as a grade-fixing scheme in a Camden, N.J. high school is now a growing scandal, according to an August 11 story from NPR. The fixing scheme was first uncovered by Paula Veggian, a scheduler at Brimm Medical Arts High School, in 2004. However, a state investigation begun in early 2006 has since widened to include a former Superintendent and two other elementary school principals. Allegations include not only grade-fixing, but unauthorized expenses and bonuses as well. Results of the state's investigation expected any day, according to NPR....


We've all heard the typical high school sports stories about pushy parents who berate coaches and players on the sidelines, coaches who overcome great obstacles to motivate teams, or kids who achieve greatness in athletics under extraordinary circumstances. But, before the glory and triumph, what does it take to keep those athletes safe and healthy while on the field of battle? This article from the American School Boards Journal looks at the state of school sports programs, and what they need in terms of equipment, regulations, and leadership to be safe....


Overcrowded classrooms plague many schools in rapidly growing communities, where children frequently have to learn their lessons in trailers because there is not enough space in the buildings for more classrooms. To deal with the challenge of educating students in overflowing facilities, some school districts are turning to the private sector for help. Listen to this story from American Public Media's "Marketplace." (Real Player required.)...


Even with increasing concern over improving student nutrition and exercise during the school day, many schools don't want to terminate relatively lucrative contracts with soda companies. But how much money do schools actually earn, and where is the money coming from? And, most importantly, what are the implications for student health? Nicola Pinson investigates in this article from Rethinking Schools....


The general secretary of the U.K.-based Professional Association of Teachers told a conference recently that teachers whose voices are monotone or hoarse are at risk of boring their students, reports the U.K.-based online Guardian Unlimited. Citing results from a variety of independent research, Philip Parkin went on to say that teachers would benefit from expert voice coaching--he offered unemployed actors as a potential resource--as it would not only make their teaching more effective, but could also save them from voice disorders later in their careers....


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