June 2007 Archives

Though the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected school diversity plans that use race as a factor in the case involving voluntary integration plans in school districts in Louisville, Ky. and Seattle, the ruling didn't stop bloggers from opining about the Justices' opinion. In addition to Education Week's extensive coverage, check out SCOTUSblog which recaps the term-ending case and provides solid analysis. The NAACP's Legal Defense Fund school integration blog cites Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s support of allowing school districts to pursue integrated schools despite his agreement in parts with the majority opinion. The Volokh Conspiracy also has plenty ...


Terry Gross, the host of NPR's Fresh Air, interviews two veteran Philadelphia public school teachers who were attacked and seriously injured by students in separate incidents. The two teachers talk about the rewards and perils of teaching in inner-city schools and discuss ways that school violence can be curbed. The two teachers are articulate in stating their love for teaching and students, particularly disadvantaged students, as well as describing the horrible attacks that left them bloody and battered....


On June 23, Title IX celebrated its 35th anniversary and columnists and bloggers have plenty to say about the landmark federal law that requires equal treatment for girls and boys on the playing field and at institutions that receive federal money. This Salon.com column points out the athletic limits once placed on girls which would now be unthinkable. In The Huffington Post attorney Emily J. Martin looks beyond athletics to the issue of single-sex education, also governed by the law. But the San Francisco Chronicle says the law is facing a mid-life crisis that includes a loss of leadership ...


If you're tech-savvy and always on the cutting edge of the latest technology advances for schools and districts, or if you know you need to learn more about everything from virtual schools to online professional development for teachers, take some time to check out Education Week's new publication Digital Directions. (Full disclosure here: I wrote several of the stories.) The publication is a great collection of information on the latest advancements in technology, and features stories about the ways math and science teachers are using high-tech gadgets and gizmos to reach out to students; methods for making online testing work ...


Do you know someone who's feeling blue about the end of the school year? Maybe they're acting out, being difficult as the school calendar counts down? Well, they're not alone, it turns out. "Transitionitis," as a blogger at The Boston Globe calls it, affects more students than you might suspect. "Children of all ages have a love-hate relationship with the end of school. The culture tells them they are supposed to be happy (no more pencils, no more books!) but what many of them actually feel is sad and confused," Barbara Meltz writes in her Child Caring blog. The best ...


The Bush administration is apparently fighting back against critics of its federally funded sex education programs, which mostly contain the abstinence-only message. The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has come out with a 40-page report on sex education programs that feature the use of condoms and other protective measures. The report criticizes these programs for not stressing the failure rates of such protections when it comes to pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. This is just the latest salvo in this war. In April, a separate federal study found there was no evidence ...


So, how do superintendents spend their summer vacations? Well, in Tulsa, the superintendent is running an algebra camp. And, he promises it will be fun! According to the Tulsa World, Superintendent Michael Zolkoski is holding his class in a middle school cafeteria and expects lots of class participation. One student offered praise—albeit slight muted praise—for the camp: "It's something to take up my time," said Emily Stanton, a seventh-grader. "Otherwise, I'd probably be going on the computer or swimming. And I can do that later."...


The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has launched a new blog tracking two key cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the broader theme of school integration. The blog bills itself as a "national clearinghouse of Supreme Court School Integration information" and keeps an eye on integration developments from around the country as it awaits decisions in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education—both of which challenge the legality of school districts' race-conscious student-assignment practices. The court is expected to issue decisions in both cases by July....


Bloggers have been weighing in regarding the announcement last week that Michelle Rhee will be the next chancellor of the troubled Washington D.C. public school system. Some are criticizing Ms. Rhee’s lack of school leadership experience—she only spent three years as a teacher through the Teach For America program—and has little experience overseeing a huge, bureaucratic organization like a school system. But others say that’s just what the D.C. schools need—a fresh eye and an innovator. Over at Going to the Mat, Matt Johnston says Ms. Rhee’s appointment is cause for cautious ...


Georgia's colleges and universities are not graduating enough potential math and science teachers to satisfy the state's growing needs, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. According to a new study, "out of 25,000 public college graduates [in Georgia] in 2006, just three became high school physics teachers and nine became chemistry teachers," reporter Andrea Jones writes. "By 2010, Georgia will need more than 4,500 middle and high school math and science teachers. In 2006, the most recent statistics available, the University System produced just 678 in those fields." On the Journal-Constitution's Get Schooled blog, Bridget Gutierrez points out that "this ...


In an opinion piece in the New York Sun this week, Diane Ravitch charges that people too frequently blame teachers but neglect to consider the role of popular culture and a lack of student drive as culprits in American students' failure to compete globally. "It's time to stop beating up on teachers and ask why so many of our children arrive in school with poor attitudes toward learning," she writes. "If the students aren't willing to work hard, if they aren't hungry to succeed, then even the best teachers in the world—laden with merit pay, bonuses, and other perks—are...


With the U.S. Department of Education’s clarification of the rules on single sex-education last year, which made it clear that public schools could legally educate boys and girls separately, the number of such public school programs is on the rise, reports the Hartford Courant in Connecticut. The article takes a look at Hartford’s Fox Middle School, one of the oldest single-sex public school programs in the country, but also points out that the research on single-sex education is very mixed. Researchers have been unable to say definitively that educating girls and boys apart increases (or decreases) academic ...


Nine specialty schools that cater to dropouts in Detroit will have to prove their effectiveness in order to stay open, The Detroit News reports. The district's contracting office has notified the schools that their contracts won't be renewed because of questions about their effectiveness and the accuracy of their attendance figures. A district spokesman told the News that the district has paid $4.5 million this year to the schools, which are run by church groups and community organization and reportedly serve about 1,200 students. School officials will be allowed to reapply for new contracts. "It's alarming," board member ...


At racetrack Belmont Park on Long Island, there’s a lot more than horse racing going on. National Public Radio reports on the track’s model preschool, Anna House, where the children of racetrack workers can go for quality care while their parents are working. Racetrack workers, who spent their days exercising thoroughbreds and cleaning stalls, drop their children off as early as 5 a.m. The school takes about 50 children from infants to age 5—nearly all Hispanic—and though the teachers are bilingual, the instruction is in English. One parents reports that this has made it possible ...


A girls-only event offered Muslim teens in Minnesota a fun alternative to the more traditional proms some forgo for religious or cultural reasons, according to a story in the Pioneer Press. The Saturday night PROM—Party foR Only Muslimahs, or Muslim girls—was organized by the Muslim Youth of Minnesota and co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Al-Madinah Cultural Center. “I’d hate to miss this,” Sabrina Wazwaz, 15, a freshman who goes to Twin Cities Academy in St. Paul, Minn., told the Pioneer Press. “I think it’s really nice how they thought of the Muslim girls who...


Edutopia features a fascinating video look at Heifer International’s Global Village in Perryville, Ak. A humanitarian organization, Heifer International works to end world hunger. The group is best-known for its work using donations to purchase livestock, like cows, goats and chickens, for residents of poverty stricken areas in 125 countries to provide a sustainable food source and sometimes a source of income for families. But here in the United States, the group also runs its Heifer Ranch in Arkansas as well as some other domestic learning centers. The Edutopia video features a class of Colorado middle school students who ...


Austin (Texas) school officials have launched a survey to gauge support for a new public all-boys school. "The proposed Young Men’s Leadership Academy would be a college prep school offering advanced courses in communications, technology, math, and science," according to the homeroom blog on the Austin American-Statesman Web site. Austin already plans to open the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders this fall. Last fall, Education Week reported on new regulations from the U.S. Department of Education that stated definitively that it is legal to educate boys and girls separately under certain conditions. According to the National ...


The highly personal issue of school bathroom breaks is explored in a USA Today story about schools who don't let kids go any time they want. In attempts to crack down on kids who see bathroom breaks as a convenient way to meet friends and misbehave, some schools are limiting how many times students can head to the restroom. But these limits can sometime have "dire consequences" for children who really do need to use the bathroom, the newspaper reports. The story seems to have touched a nerve based on some of the comments posted on the USA Today Web ...


The Observer reports that many English schools are "sleepwalking" toward segregation. In many communities—particularly those in mill towns in northern England—students rarely attend class with children of a different ethnic background. According to the Department for Education and Skills, in Blackburn, four secondary schools out of nine there attract more than 90 percent of their pupils from just one ethnic group, the Observer reports. (The Observer is the Sunday edition of The Guardian.) As Stephen Byers, a former schools minister, put it: Statistics "show that in parts of the country we are sleepwalking towards the segregation of schools...


Most people know the that numbers of children being diagnosed with autism are on the rise and schools are developing programs aimed at helping many of these students go forward with their education. But the debate over what causes autism continues to rage. Some parents say their children’s autism was caused by vaccines, or more specifically thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative now banned from most vaccines. The debate over thimerosal is heated, with many health professionals saying there is no evidence the preservative has been linked to autism and many anguished parents who believe it to be a root ...


A nonprofit known for its popular after-school science program has announced plans to shut down later this year after 27 years in operation—a victim, at least in part, officials say, of the drive to tie extracurricular activities to improved test scores. Hands On Science Outreach Founder Phyllis Katz told The Washington Post that her "recreational science" offerings did help children learn, but because the program was informal, "we didn't test the children so we couldn't tell you at the end of an eight-week session, 'The kids learned X amount.' " At one point, Hands On Science served 40,000 ...


Recycling is a hot topic in many schools, but this month's issue of District Administration looks at recycling entire buildings for use as schools. In "RE-Construction," writer Peggy Bresnick Kendler looks at "adaptive reuse" where old or abandoned buildings are repurposed for use as schools. While not a trend, adaptive reuse is a viable and valuable option for schools, according to Molly Smith, associate vice president of NANA Consulting Services, an educational facilities planning consultant firm based in Mesa, Ariz. "A lot of districts just get in the mode of looking for land instead of looking at the resources within ...


Pay up, or all you'll get is a cheese sandwich. That's the story from The San Diego Union-Tribune, which reports on elementary schools in Chula Vista, Calif., where the method for getting deadbeat parents to pay their children's school-lunch fees is restricting their children to a cheese sandwich lunch. In Chula Vista, a school lunch costs $1.50. District officials say they racked up $285,000 in unpaid lunch bills just four years ago, but their new sandwich restriction cut that debt by more than $100,000 in 2003, the first year it was implemented. When a student's lunch account ...


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