April 2006 Archives

Ah, the end of the school year. After all the testing bubbles are filled in, it's time for students to relax and enjoy class trips and special milestone events. At least, that's the theory. In practice, students in Atlanta and Reno got less than what they bargained for recently. The Reno students made a four-hour bus trip to Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, Calif., but found the park closed when they arrived. "It was pretty much a fiasco," said a district school spokesman. Apparently no one, including the school district and the tour company that arranged the trip, managed ...


A high school teacher in Chicago finds himself at the center of firestorm after posting vitriolic comments about his students and colleagues on his blog. In writing about his work at Fenger High School, one of Chicago’s worst-performing schools, the teacher described his students as “criminals” given to lewd behavior and referred to their parents as “project” dwellers. He also wrote disparagingly of his co-workers, remarking on “union-minimum” teachers and security officers whose “loyalty is to the hood, not the school.” Titled “Fast Times At Regnef High,” the blog was anonymous, but the author leaked information about it to ...


Whatever your opinion on illegal immigration, it's hard not feel sympathy for Amadou Ly, a Harlem high-schooler who’s facing deportation. The 18-year-old Senegal native's situation didn't become public until earlier this week, as he and 18 other members of the robot-building team from Central Park East High School prepared to fly to Atlanta for a national competition. Because he doesn't have an airplane-friendly ID, Ly had to divulge his status to school officials, who then scrambled to get him a seat on a train. Ly was brought by his mother to the United States in 2001, at age 13, ...


Surprise, surprise: Preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Education reveals that wealthier areas tend to have an easier time attracting qualified teachers. For the 2004-05 school year, 93 percent of core-subject classes in affluent schools were headed by a teacher who met the definition of “highly qualified” under the No Child Left Behind Act, compared to 87 percent of classes in low-income schools. On the other hand, the numbers have improved at a slightly quicker pace for low-income schools than for schools as a whole. Under NCLB, all teachers in core subjects are supposed to be “highly qualified”—generally...


But then, neither is losing school attendance-based state money. And some parents in the Los Angeles Unified School District are more than a little bugged over a policy change in the district that allows children to come to school with nits in their hair. The old policy required that any child with head lice be sent home and not allowed back in class until his or her hair was free of both lice and nits, or lice eggs. But the scrupulous policy kept many kids out of school for days or weeks. The new policy, adopted this year, allows students ...


Considering it's the embodiment of the standards movement, the No Child Left Behind Act can sometimes seem curiously lax. Among the signature provisions of the law—one trumpeted by President Bush—is the requirement that schools report student test scores by racial subgroup. But it turns out that many schools have been able to elude that inconvenience. A loophole in NCLB lets them disregard the scores of racial groups that are considered too small to be statistically significant—a measurement determined by state education leaders. Nearly two dozen states have been granted widely varying group-exemption thresholds by the U.S. ...


Unfortunately, textbook inadequacies are also a part of America. A Chicago Tribune investigation has found that, in Illinois, nearly 80 percent of the districts surveyed are using textbooks that are out-of-date, or at least eight years old. Twenty-two percent of the districts are working with books that are at least 15 years old. The report attributes the problem in part to overreliance on unstable local funding for book purchases. In any case, it hasn't been easy on teachers. Examples of tomes currently in play include a high school contemporary history text that ends amid the Reagan administration and an elementary-level ...


The text of a poem was the subject of a school-based legal battle in Reno, Nevada. A federal judge there granted 9th grader Jacob Behymer-Smith permission to recite W.H. Auden's "The More Loving One" at the state's upcoming poetry-reading competition, over the protestations of his own school. Officials at Coral Academy of Science, a Reno charter school serving grades 6-9, wanted to keep Behymer-Smith from reading the poem because it includes the words "hell" and "damn." The judge, however, wasn't moved by their concerns. He ruled that, in the context of the reading, "the language sought to be censured ...


Some parents of kids at Worthington Elementary School, in Inglewood, California, are more than bewildered by the principal's decision to impose a high-level lockdown during the region's student walkouts protesting immigration legislation. Restrictions were so severe that some Worthington students, who did not participate in the walkouts, were prohibited from accessing restrooms, and had to use buckets placed in classrooms instead. If such a precaution seems extreme, that's because it was. The principal, Angie Marquez, had apparently misread the district's handbook and ordered the wrong kind of lockdown. Inglewood district officials say it was an honest mistake. "When there's a ...


Speaking of honest mistakes, a charter school in Ogden, Utah, thought it had hit the jackpot when it booked Jon Stewart to appear at its annual fund-raiser gala. The DaVinci Academy sold 700 tickets at $50 a pop for the April 20 event. Then school officials discovered that they had landed not Jon Stewart of The Daily Show but Jon A. Stewart, a part-time professional wrestler and former motivational speaker from Chicago. "I thought it was a little elaborate for me," admitted the wrestler, who insists he had asked the school whether they had the right person. The school canceled ...


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