As the school year wraps up, many parents are scrambling to buy thank-you gifts for their children's teachers. One parent, who was interviewed on the Phoenix news station KSAZ Fox 10—but under a pseudonym and with his face and voice disguised—said that he feels "a lot of pressure" to make cash donations to teachers as an end-of-the-year gift, as well as for other occasions. "There's a Christmas gift, an end-of-the-year gift, one for teacher appreciation week..." said the parent. He also mentioned that as the years go by, a larger donation is expected: "Before it's been $10 or $20,...


The Los Angeles Unified School District, which has made headlines lately because of its plans to lay off thousands of teachers, also intends to cut 85 school librarian positions. Bill Chappell of NPR reports that the librarians "have been told that they no longer count as teachers," and that "the change in classification would make it easier for the school district to cut the jobs." Chappell also writes that the librarians are being grilled by the district's lawyers—with questions such as, ""Do you know how to take attendance?" and "How many weeks are in a school year?"—as an administrative...


Steven Pearlstein at The Washington Post offers a lofty vision for the future of the U.S. education system, in which students do most of their learning through individualized online programs.


Should kids go to recess before they eat lunch rather than after? Some in the Pleasanton Unified School District in California think so, according to an article in the Contra Costa Times. The "play-first lunch" program—already used throughout Montana and in other states—first went into effect in Pleasanton at Alishal Elementary School two years ago, reports the newspaper, which covers the Contra Costa and Alameda counties in California. The concept spread to other schools in the district after administrators observed that students who went to recess first wasted less of their lunch food, were more focused in classes,...


The Wall Street Journal reports on a new study finding that negative classroom environments--often the result of school budget cuts--cause students to feel stress.


Researchers, policymakers, and parents tend to agree that effective teachers are the key to high-quality schools—and, by implication, to maintaining an educated and thriving citizenry. So why are teachers in the United States so undervalued and lately even disparaged? That's the question at the heart of "American Teacher," a new documentary produced by author Dave Eggers and Nínive Clements Calegari, a former teacher who helped Eggers create the 826 National tutoring centers. The film was shown last night at an advance screening in Washington attended by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and assorted other government officials and ...


NYC Educator relates a story about a student asking to charge her cell phone in the classroom, and him refusing her request (cell phones are not allowed at school). But more recently, he writes, he saw another girl pull her phone charger out of the outlet at the end of class--and he let it slide.


I had to read this story a couple of times to make sure it wasn't satire of some sort: Chicago Public Schools this week has apparently issued new guidelines—to the tune of 45 pages—designed to allow schools to provide students with a 20-minute recess break. Currently, according to the Sun-Times, due to scheduling changes implemented in the 1970s, only 42 percent of the city's schools offer recess (with many of those schools holding it only in classrooms). And in most schools, because of the limit on students' free time, teachers' lunch breaks are relegated to the end of the...


Testing pressures and curriculum mandates may have "squeezed" current events out of many schools, but a high school teacher in Farmington, Conn., takes it upon himself to teach a five-week course on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars every May, according to an article by New York Times education writer Michael Winerip. Chris Doyle, an Advanced Placement United States History teacher at Farmington High School, turns to the current wars after his students have completed their A.P. exams. He brings in combat veterans to speak to his students, and, since textbook coverage of the wars is nonexistent, assigns readings from ...


The Simpsons' 22nd season's finale began with a pointed—but not-so-timely—education-policy spoof.


For a little Friday fun, check out The Onion's satirical news article about a "budget mix-up" in which the Congressional Budget Office accidentally sent $80 billion earmarked for defense to the Department of Education.


There are two eerily similar stories this morning about students trying to poison teachers by putting things in their coffee.


Gary Rubinstein questions the data undergirding Teach For America's contention that two thirds of its alumni remain in education, with half of those continuing as teachers. He calculates that the number of TFA alums who, like himself, remain in teaching is probably something more like 10 to 15 percent—which he believes is still pretty impressive. The concern is that the higher figure—tantamount, Rubinstein contends, to "PR spin"—can have the effect of swaying education policy against other teachers: Politicians often believe it and then make policies based on it, like "those TFA teachers keep teaching so we can solve...


Noting that 21 slots for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching went unclaimed this year because of a lack of qualified applicants, Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, says that the U.S. desperately needs a "new model" for recruiting and preparing STEM teachers. He points to his own program as a possible example: The fellowships use state, philanthropic, and other resources to support, prepare, and place recent graduates and career changers with strong STEM backgrounds in classrooms where they'll do the most good. Each fellow receives a $30,000 stipend to ...


In a lengthy article published in The Atlantic that's being debated across education blogs, former New York City school chancellor Joel Klein makes the case that "a major realignment of political forces" is needed to improve the nation's education system.


They say that authentic literacy assignments can help prepare students for college. But Tobie Lynn Trachina, a 4th grade English-language learners teacher in suburban New Orleans, is taking the concept to a new level by having her students actually read and analyze college and university informational materials. As part of the project, the students have to write an essay comparing various aspects of three different schools and then, by means of a graphic organizer, choose which one they would attend. Trachina told the The Times Picayune that the project has helped the students better understand what colleges and universities have ...


What do you do when a good and kind student—a teacher's "favorite"—suddenly begins to show signs of disengagement and defiance? The drama teacher who writes at the Apple a Day Project finds herself in this situation. In a thoughful post, she's ponders whether she should swoop in and try to figure out what's going on in the student's life, or whether she needs to stop projecting her own worries and interpretations onto him and just give him space. "Yup," she sighs, "it's always the favorites that really get you ..."...


Recently, amidst teacher bashing, budget cuts, and unimpressive international rankings, it's been hard to feel good about the state of education in this country. But having spent the last week in Nicaragua and seen a slice of the education system there, I have to say I'm feeling a bit better about the way things are going on our turf.


The journal Science is publishing a study finding that, in an introductory college physics course, students placed in an experimental, collaborative-learning class performed significantly better on an end-of-course exam than students who were given a traditional lecture-based class.


Educators are more tech-savvy today then they were just two years ago, according to a survey overseen by Project Tomorrow. The findings, based on feedback compiled from 35,525 teachers, reveal a substantial increase in educators' personal use of smart phones and Facebook, as well as a 50 percent jump in the use of podcast and videos in classroom instruction. Another interesting revelation is that teacher interest in teaching an online class has grown by 76 percent since 2008. Homework also continues to be the number one way that teachers integrate technology use for student learning, above other methods such ...


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