January 2008 Archives

The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor released numbers late last week from a longitudinal study that might make a high school principal shudder. The likelihood of a 20-year-old in the United States being employed and receiving some form of work training is reduced by almost half if that person is a high school dropout. While the United States is wringing its hands over how to keep its students in school and employable—especially in this tough economy—Britain’s Prime Minister Greg Brown has a plan for making his country and students more competitive. ...


The U.S. isn’t the only country trying to curb childhood obesity. In the UK, teachers are being “urged” in a cross-government strategy to police student lunch boxes for unhealthy choices, including “crisps,” fizzy soda, and chocolate. While schools here in the U.S. also warn of mealtime contraband and many districts are now requiring laps at recess, healthier choices in vending machines and school cafeterias, teachers so far do not typically include lunch box inspections on their list of required duties. And teachers in Britain aren't too wild about the idea, either. The concern is that the burden ...


New York City’s Education Department has been working behind closed doors with 280 principals on a program that would put teachers under greater scrutiny than ever before, according to The New York Times. To date, the pilot program has been examining student test results to evaluate 2,500 teachers, some of whom had no idea they were being monitored. The data from the evaluations would be used to determine benchmarks for pay increases and tenure status for all of New York City's 77,000 public school educators. The teachers are outraged that the education department would collect this sort ...


Should teachers be able to give failing students a grade below a certain percentage? Teacher representatives in Dallas think so, demanding that district trustees reevaluate a policy that restricts teachers from giving students any grade below 50, according to dallasnews.com. The policy is designed to give struggling students a chance to recover from poor work. But at a time when the school system is trying to raise standards and begin awarding teacher bonuses based on student achievement, members of the teacher group Alliance-AFT say the policy is “hypocritical,” and encourages a lax attitude in students. "Teachers need to be ...


There was a time when the high school health class was the exclusive province of physical fitness awareness and reproductive health issues. Things are more complicated now. With the adoption of a new state law by the Texas legislature, health teachers will soon expand their lesson plans to encompass a curriculum on parenting and paternity awareness developed by the state’s Office of the Attorney General. With rates of teenage pregnancies climbing, many educators and parents feel that teens in the state—and particularly boys—need more information about what it means both practically and legally to be a parent. ...


With the primaries in full swing, the leading presidential candidates are straining to show their differences from one another. But according to the Palm Beach Post, there's at least one thing they all seem to agree on—namely, that the nation's main education law "needs some work." All of the candidates want to change NCLB in some way, though in widely varying degrees. Proposals range from scraping the law altogether (Bill Richardson), to radically overhauling it (John Edwards), to improving funding (Barack Obama), to stressing school improvement rather than universal proficiency goals (Hillary Clinton), to giving some states added fexibility...


Bill Gates is leading the philanthropic educational crusade again—and this time it's about political awareness. Bloomberg.com reports that the Gates' foundation is donating $30 million to the bipartisan group Strong American Schools and their “Ed in 08” campaign, whose purpose is to make education a “top priority” in the presidential election. According to Bloomberg.com, a Dec. 11 ABC News/Washington Post poll, in fact, reflects that only one percent of voters chose education as their overriding concern for the presidential campaign. “Ed in ‘08” is hoping the Gates’ financial support will change that. “The Gates name, the ...


Beyond the caucuses, life continues in Iowa with surprising irregularity. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Federal Language Acquisition Program, 230 elementary students in Kalona—population 2,300, 97% white, and historically Mennonite—are learning to speak Arabic, according to Sam Freedman of The New York Times. Kalona teacher Susan Swartzendruber, who learned Arabic while teaching in Egypt as part of a Mennonite social service program, convinced her school district to apply for the funding. Twenty miles north of Kalona in Iowa City, Zahra Al-Attar heard through a posting at her mosque that an elementary school was looking ...


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