Let me describe the worst parent-teacher conferences I ever attended. Picture a large, echoing gymnasium, with teachers seated behind tables set nearly edge-to-edge around the perimeter; two molded-plastic chairs face each table. In the center of the gym, a roiling mass of hundreds of parents, trying to locate their daughter's teachers, assessing the length of lines. Facing each table, a line of parents, standing, waiting for their three-minute "conference" with the teacher, also their only opportunity to sit down during the evening. How did parents know that a conference should take three minutes? Because it said so in the information ...


Antipathy to the five-paragraph essay ultimately comes down to our encounters with students who have become imprisoned by the method and have lost the ability to write and think creatively (or maybe never developed it).


I'm not particularly bothered by that murky road ahead. An excellent education really is built through lively relationships.


Are the MI legislators sponsoring the bill requiring the Pledge of Allegiance concerned with equally important things, like civic engagement, respect for national service, teaching kids to investigate all sides of an issue? What about maximizing voter turnout?


Are there values--character traits and actions--that some people see as virtuous and others perceive as harmful, or even dangerous?


What would parents think if all the teachers in a traditional public school quit? If their children had no sinks in the science rooms, but flew to Las Vegas to meet a basketball team? Or if students couldn't access necessary instructional materials because their laptops didn't work?


Teachers, individually, are caught between a rock and a murky place when it comes to politics.


Choice isn't the answer to building a vision of a high-quality, personally tailored, democratic education for every child in America. Nor is it evil incarnate. It's a distraction from the conversation we should be having about improving public education in America.


If we as a nation want to address the dropout crisis, we must address discrimination against pregnant and parenting students. This is a critical first step to keeping these young women in school and securing a better future for them and their children.


I don't believe teachers should abdicate their roles as rule-setters, formal leaders of the classroom pack. Especially new teachers, who haven't yet established an authoritative, authentic teacher-persona.


The opinions expressed in Teacher in a Strange Land are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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