When the Wasilla (Alaska) High School symphonic jazz choir's plan to sing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" at this year's graduation ceremony was suddenly cancelled due to parental complaints about the Freddy Mercury's sexual orientation, an angry—and resourceful—choir member took the matter to a local gay and lesbian support group and thence to the ACLU. The performance is back on again (although the lyrics about killing a man have been excised). "We were joking about singing Elton John's 'Candle in the Wind,' instead," noted one choir member. "I guess no matter what you do, someone's feathers are going to...


Prior to its semi-controversial Evening of Poetry event last night, the White House held a poetry workshop yesterday afternoon in which poets Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, and Alison Knowles (among others) discussed their craft and took questions from students. The video is now available....


With some 6,000 New York City teaching jobs on the chopping block, Chester E. Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, reassures Gothamites that teacher layoffs aren't necessarily bad for education, so long they aren't seniority-based. Resulting increases in class sizes, he argues, can be outset by improvements in teacher quality and technology. NYC teacher Ms. Eyre—who, despite a distaste for crowds, was planning on attending a rally for public schools this afternoon—is considerably less sanguine: I'm rallying for the kids in my class who already get too little of my time one-on-one and who desperately...


An editor in Minnesota recalls his time working as a volunteer in a struggling inner-city Minneapolis high school and what it taught him about the difficult odds teachers face in working with impoverished students. There is a great deal going on in poor students lives, he stresses, that is almost nighmarishly out of educators' control: In a sense, the reformers are right: Teachers are often the most important people in these kids' lives -- no one else is helping. But I felt these kids slipping from my grasp one by one, even when they were sitting right in front of ...


In case you missed the fireworks last week, Diane Ravitch recaps the negative reaction to Education Secretary Arne Duncan's open letter to teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. A memorable way of putting it: It [the letter] should have been about as controversial as the president's annual Thanksgiving message, but in this case the letter backfired. Teachers reacted to the letter with outrage, as if it were addressed to the turkey community on Thanksgiving Day. As Ravitch notes, the department insists that the negative feedback does not represent the views of the majority of teachers or at least teachers as a ...


Are the nuns ahead of you? Contributing to Powerful Learning Practice's "Voices from the Learning Revolution" feature, Sister Geralyn Schmidt, wide area network coordinator for the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., explains how the diocese's recent integration of Web 2.0 technology into instruction is helping teachers enhance essential skills and further the schools' educational mission of outreach and discovery. She also has some advice to teachers who are wary of technology and new approaches to pedagogy: As educators in the 21st century, we must model lifelong learning, and not be reluctant to say to our students (who often understand more ...


This past Sunday, the Los Angeles Times released a major update to its elementary school teacher value-added ratings, much to the chagrin of many teachers, administrators, and civic leaders in the community. The teachers' ratings are determined by their students' progress on the California Standards Tests for English and math. This is the second time that the Times has caused a stir related to teacher ratings. Last August, the newspaper released teacher performance data for about half the number of teachers that were released on Sunday. When the Times invited teachers to view their scores before publication, only a few ...


Hot on the heels of the release of an updated set of teacher standards, a different consortium has released a similar set for teacher-leaders—those teachers who now serve in the coaching, mentoring, curriculum writing, and other roles that have proliferated over the last decade.


Yesterday I had the chance to speak with several Teacher Ambassador Fellows at the teacher town hall meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of Education.


Political blogger Matthew Yglesias points to a new report showing that nearly half of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate. In that light, he contends, it's hard to argue against the need for standardized testing in schools: Under those circumstances, I find it difficult to be seized with worry that schools are going to be ruined by teachers "teaching to the test" too much. It is true that school districts that have started taking testing more seriously now need to step up and also take the possibility of outright cheating more seriously. But the fact that huge numbers of kids ...


The White House hosted a 30-minute webinar yesterday directed at students and teachers about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Ben Rhodes, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting, began by recapping the tragic events of 9/11 and the raid on the compound last Sunday, during which Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. Students were also briefed on Bin Laden's involvement in al Qaeda, and were shown a map of Pakistan that indicated where Abbottabad, the town in which he was hiding, is located. A couple of photos were ...


The Economist provides some fascinating—and starkly depressing—data on male employment levels in the U.S., finding that, among the so called G-7 nations, America has the lowest percentage of "prime-age" males in the workforce. Along with race, low education levels appears to play huge part in this: If you adjust official data to include men in prison or the armed forces (who are left out of the raw numbers), around 35% of 25- to 54-year-old men with no high-school diploma have no job, up from around 10% in the 1960s. Of those who finished high school but did ...


Loudoun County, Va., one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, is developing its own corps of teachers through an initiative it started eight years ago called the Teacher Cadet program. According to the Washington Post, Loudoun created the program in order to recruit and train a new generation of Loudoun natives who could fill some of the several hundred teaching positions that open up in the jurisdiction each year. Currently, there are about 200 students participating in the program, a jump from the 34 students who participated the first year. Students in the program get first-hand teaching experience when ...


The Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Pa., reports on a young elementary school librarian who has transformed his facility into an invaluable technology resource center for teachers and students. But that still might not save his job: He is among 20 school librarians the district is planning to furlough next fall. "It's difficult to think how different this place is going to be next year," says the school's principal, who credits the library in part for a recent jump in students' literacy scores. (HT: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, from Facebook)...


Gary Weddle, a middle school teacher in Ephrata, Wash., shaved for the first time in nearly 10 years on Sunday night, according to numerous news reports. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Weddle vowed not to shave until Osama bin Laden was captured or killed. He thought that would be a matter of a couple of months. Alas, his beard eventually grew to 14 inches at some points, giving him, as the Huffington Post remarks, a distinct ZZ Top look. At the start of each school year, Weddle would explain to his new class of students that ...


In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Dave Eggers and Nínive Clements Calegari, the founders of the tutoring organization 826 National, highlight the need to recruit and retain a new generation of talented teachers, with 3.2 million K-12 teachers expected to retire in the next 10 years.


Last night's killing of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. military is a momentous—and complicated—event that will shape our nation's history.


Michelle Shearer, a chemistry teacher at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Md., has been selected as the 61st National Teacher of the Year, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.


Just when you thought everyone was against teachers: We just got a press release informing us that, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6), Red Roof Inn is offering teachers (with, ahem, proper documentation) a 15 percent discount during May. Bonus: The release specifically notes that many Red Roofs are conveniently located near auto racing sites—not something you typically associate with Teacher Appreciation Week, but good to know I guess. You can thank me later....


The White House just announced the names of 85 kindergarten through 6th grade teachers who will receive the 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, which is awarded each year to outstanding science and mathematics teachers throughout the nation. The award alternates between being given to kindergarten through 6th grade and 7th-12th grade teachers. This year's primary and middle school winners were first selected by their states, and from there chosen by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators. The recipients, as named by President Obama, will receive a $10,000 award from the National Science ...


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