August 2007 Archives

Nashville’s 75,000 public school students must now adhere to a strict dress code. Collared shirts are mandatory; hoodies and jeans are no longer acceptable. But what about teachers? Nashville parent Rebecca Willocks thinks there’s a double standard. "I saw a teacher’s navel piercing last year and was surprised," she says. "Students can’t get away with that." Nashville’s school board doesn’t think teachers should either. They’ve suggested a teacher dress code, but some, including the union, think it’s excessive. Lisa Soronen, an attorney with the National School Boards Association in Alexandria, Va., ...


Vocation programs in New York public high schools have sharply decreased over the past decade due to a lack of funding and an NCLB-driven curriculum. In 1992, 41 percent of the state’s public high school students completed at least one vocational course, compared with 25 percent last year. “We started raising standards and adding more requirements, and something had to fall off the plate,” Buffalo Schools Superintendent James A. Williams told the Buffalo News. The Buffalo school system has seen a drop of 29 percent enrollment in vocational classes since 1999, forcing local businesses to fill apprentice positions with ...


NPR’s recent series on autism included a visit to the May Institute outside of Boston where specialized teachers work with children living with the disorder. A year’s tuition at May now runs $75,000 and parents have pushed hard for their school districts to foot the bill. Massachusetts is feeling the pinch. As the number of diagnosed cases rise—more than half a million children have been diagnosed nationally—superintendents are taking notice and preparing their teachers to work with autistic children in their classrooms. “It’s an unbelievable explosion of kids,” said Newton, Mass. superintendent Jeff Young. “It’s...


California’s standardized test scores are in and the news isn’t good. The scores reveal that the performance gap between ethnic groups is more than just a question of wealth vs. poverty. On state math tests, white students who qualified for subsidized lunch scored two and eight percent higher, respectively, than their Latino and black peers who did not qualify for subsidized lunch. Scores on the standardized English tests were about equal for low-income white students and their non-poor Latino and black peers. “These are not just economic achievement gaps,” said state schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell. “They are ...


Christmas comes early for vocal parents concerned about what’s happening in their children’s schools. The Washington Post is running a series that takes an in-depth look at “interesting cases in which parents feel school officials froze them out of the process of dealing with their children's teachers.” The first column in the series concerns Soon-Ja Kim, a teacher of 20 years from Montgomery County, Md., who was fired for “incompetence.” Kim agreed to have her file opened, giving outsiders a rare opportunity to follow the dismissal process that began when her principal recommended she be fired. The Peer ...


The New York Teaching Fellows program was the subject of a tell-all article in The Village Voice last week. The fast-track certification program, founded in 2000, offers provisional certification, a subsidized master’s, and the opportunity to teach in the country’s biggest school system. This year 20,000 prospective teachers—among them many career changers—applied to the program, with roughly 2,400 earning a spot at the blackboard. Fellows comprise 20 percent of the fall's new hires, but half will most likely quit by their fifth year, according to Department of Education statistics. Why? According to the article, ...


A new study says schools should rethink rules preventing students from using social networking Web sites and instead consider employing the sites as educational tools. The National School Boards Association released a report this week concluding that accounts of cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and unwelcome encounters through the Internet are more limited than is commonly assumed and that students often use social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook for educational purposes. The study, sponsored in part by MySpace owner News Corp., Microsoft, and Verizon, suggests that school districts explore ways to integrate social networking sites into schoolwork. Of the 1,200 students ...


In 1984, when NASA announced they would send a teacher into space, 10,000 applied for the opportunity. New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe was selected, but lost her life in the tragic 1986 Challenger explosion. Two decades later, teacher-turned-astronaut and McAulliffe’s alternate, Barbara Morgan gets her chance. Sixty teachers, who competed for the chance 20 years ago and were present for McAuliffe’s launch, have reunited in Florida to watch Morgan’s take-off. Said teacher Pat Palazzolo, “What a chance for an ultimate field trip. Who wouldn’t apply for that?” NPR spoke to a number of the reunited ...


In Ohio and other states, an increasing number of school districts are requiring teachers to pay more for health coverage, angering underpaid teachers and generating talks of strikes. According to an article in Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal, several Ohio districts are scrambling to settle negotiations with teacher unions over higher health costs before the school year begins. According to the Ohio Education Association, Ohio's largest teacher union, some districts' additional medical costs are offsetting teacher raises, resulting in pay cuts. But, Renee Fambro, an Ohio School Board Association official, is unsympathetic. She says requiring teachers to cover up to 10 ...


According to a Washington Post article, research shows that educators who use hand gestures while teaching are more likely to convey their ideas to their students. And, students who make hand movements while thinking about new ideas have a better chance of retaining information. Researchers today are looking beyond the dated perception that the brain functions like a computer, and instead exploring the pathways that link the body and mind—and their findings are influencing education. Neurologists have determined that the segment of the brain responsible for speech is engaged when people are gesturing. They have also found that the ...


According to a New York Times article, Austin Lampros, a New York City math teacher, resigned from his teaching post at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan this year after the school’s principal altered a student’s grade so she could graduate. Lampros told the Times that, although the student rarely attended class, failed to turn in homework assignments, and even missed the final exam, a school administrator gave her special treatment and a passing grade. When a representative from the teachers’ union complained, Lampros was permitted to fail the student. Using an override privilege granted ...


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