June 2008 Archives

An Indianapolis teacher who bucked school orders by allowing her high school English students to read The Freedom Writers Diary was suspended for a year without pay for insubordination, according to a cnn.com video report. The Freedom Writers Diary, a book-turned-movie, contains journal-style musings of California high school city students. Expletives and violent images often accompany their reflections of personal tragedies, troubled homes, and impoverished neighborhoods. Perry Township School Board officials say teacher Connie Heermann’s decision to teach the book was inappropriate. “The people … looked at this content and said that it will do more harm than good,” ...


In low income areas across the country, economic pressures can force parents to house hop and their children to school hop, and Flint, Mich. is no exception. The city loses 1,000 students annually, and half of all students switch schools, according to the The New York Times. In 2004, the State Department of Human Services began an experiment to combat the problem: They would offer a $100-a-month rent subsidy (paid directly to landlords who promise not to raise their rent) for parents at the two most afflicted elementary schools. The Genesee Scholars Program also intended to keep students with ...


Instead of graduating this year from high school in Las Flores, Calif., 18-year-old Omar Khan sat in prison with 69 felony charges for hacking into school computers. If convicted, Khan faces up to 38 years in prison, the TG Daily reports. School officials allege that Khan broke into computers and altered his AP test scores, changed his subpar grades to A’s, and altered the grades of 12 other students. He is also accused of e-mailing tests and answer keys to friends. Khan was caught after requesting an official transcript for a university he was applying to. The stacked charges ...


After the formal dance (complete with limousines), the elaborate class trip, and the catered parties, the students proudly cross the stage in their caps and gowns and shake hands with beaming school administrators. A typical rite of spring for high school graduates, right? Sure, except that this is a description of a ceremony for 8th graders. Across the country, reports the New York Times, 8th grade graduations are increasingly being treated with ever greater significance and leading some educators and public officials to ask whether all the pomp fits the circumstance. In Arizona, legislators have gone so far as consider ...


In schools across the UK, teaching assistants present math and literacy lessons and grade class work and earn only £50 ($77.5 U.S.) per day—about half of what “supply” or full-time teachers are paid, according to BBC news. Assistants also serve as cheap cover in case of teacher absences, which can mean “putting people in front of children who may not have the right qualifications or experience to do this,” says Christine McAnea, head of education for Unison, the UK’s largest public sector union. Currently no guidelines exist for the role of the teaching assistant, leaving their ...


Toledo, Ohio, has the longest history of teacher peer reviews in the country, having started almost thirty years ago, according to National Public Radio. A "consultant" (or master teacher) studies a colleague's preparation, planning and presentation of lessons, knowledge of material, engagement and discipline of students, even dress and punctuality. Poor performance can result in job termination—a decision that once rendered is rarely overturned or appealed. According to the NPR piece, special education teacher Joshua Singer started teaching in Toledo in 2000 and left the position after a positive peer review. He went on to earn a master's degree...


Karen Salazar is a second-year English teacher with a master’s degree in education from UCLA. She teaches at Jordan High School in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles and, according to LatinoLA, her class is popular, regularly drawing students better known for their imperfect attendance. She has been asked not to return in the fall. Observed 15 times in the past year, Salazar was criticized by an administrator for teaching The Autobiography of Malcolm X—a sanctioned L.A. Unified School District book—to her class. A union official shared a critique against Salazar with the Los Angeles Times ...


Parts of the Midwest experienced the worst of Mother Nature’s temper in the past several weeks. A tornado ravaged the 1,900-person town of Parkersburg, Iowa—less than 100 miles away from where another tornado took the lives of four boy scouts and injured dozens Wednesday night—with a violent force the state hadn’t experienced in over 30 years. Despite the ruin, one teacher insists on saving tradition and picking up where he left off, reports The New York Times. The storm killed eight people and leveled hundreds of buildings, among them Aplington-Parkersburg High School. Minutes later, Aplington-Parkersburg ...


A kindergarten teacher of 27 years in Columbia, TN, has decided to retire rather than accept her school board's ultimatum of leaving her church. Sandra McCarthy and four other teachers at Columbia Academy Christian school were told by school officials that, under a board resolution, they would lose their jobs unless they signed a pledge to end their relationship with a local church where musical instruments were used. Columbia Academy is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, which historically has not allowed musical instruments during worship services. Two of the teachers reportedly resigned and took new positions, while two others ...


This year gym teachers in Hopedale, Massachusetts introduced non-conventional ways for students to improve their physical and psychological health, according to Milford Daily News. Thanks to a $40,000 two-year federal grant, local teachers already started using unorthodox fitness activities like rock climbing, stability balls, riding fitness bikes, and dancing to the trendy video game “Dance, Dance, Revolution.” Next year, they plan to introduce the Nintendo Wii game system, which was created to let gamers physically move by playing tennis, bowling, or boxing against a computer simulator. The fitness program promotes physical health and focuses on the “intangibles” of school ...


Navigating a school system is not always easy, especially, parents claim, when it comes to voicing a complaint. Following Washington, DC and the state of Washington, about a dozen Texas school districts have hired ombudsmen to assist parents with their grievances —often a source of tension for teachers and principals. Greg Gibson, the superintendent of Crowley, Texas, notes that since hiring an ombudsman in December, the number of formal grievances filed with the district have “significantly declined.” Even with the $75,000 annual price tag, Gibson is convinced he’s on to something, “I had a light bulb go off ...


A group of teenagers who were arrested for breaking into and partying hardy in Robert Frost’s farmhouse in Middlebury, Vt., have been given a punishment that will make English teachers proud: Along with paying for the damage and doing community service, they are being required to take two classes in Frost’s poetry. Explained prosecutor John Quinn: “I guess I was thinking that if these teens had a better understanding of who Robert Frost was and his contribution to our society, that they would be more respectful of other people’s property in the future and would also learn ...


As one of the longest Democratic Party presidential nominations draws to a close, teachers and students are finding lessons of their own this election season, reports USA Today. At Chicago’s Senn High School, where most of teacher Jesse Sharkey’s juniors and seniors are Obama supporters, students wanted to know why Obama won 14 out of 22 delegate votes on Super Tuesday, but barely outscored Hilary. Sharkey said that student interest in the candidates and the election process created many “teachable moments.” The apathy that previously enveloped students in recent elections has been replaced with a new sense of ...


With fuel costs and general expenses at an all time high, school districts across the country are being forced to save money by cutting teaching positions, raising the cost of school lunches, and curtailing school-bus expenditures. However, Liberty Park Elementary in Greenacres, Florida, which is a low-income school that did not meet federal academic benchmarks, will be sending 15 teachers and their principal to the National Conference for Differentiated Instruction at a cost of $17,000 courtesy of a grant. The 5-day professional development teacher-training excursion to Las Vegas is a use-it-or-lose-it deal. If the school doesn’t use the ...


It’s that time of year again when most high school students are focused on fun in the name of proms, picnics, and beach weeks. Three years ago Helen McCormick, a former teacher from Arkansas, decided it was time for students with disabilities to have their own party and so she organized the Cinderella Ball at her northern Virginia youth center. This year when McCormick began knocking on doors for donations, she traveled to Washington, D.C.’s Willard InterContinental Hotel to ask for left-over decorations, including “almost-dead flowers.” Instead, they offered her their ballroom, according to the Washington Post. ...


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