September 2008 Archives

In PE class, Oregon students are handing in their dodgeballs for hiking boots, compasses, and table tennis paddles, according to The Oregonian. The state is getting serious about gym, making curriculum changes aimed at teaching specific skills, building self esteem, and reducing obesity rates. Traditional team sports leave too many students standing around, and promote competition instead of exercise, according to proponents of the new standards. The state deparment of education added PE to a list of subjects that must have textbooks, in an effort to provide consistency statewide and prepare districts for a new state law doubling the amount ...


Education reform has been in the shadows of the economy and foreign wars during this presidential campaign, but, according to Bruce Fuller, University of California, Berkley education and public policy professor and New York Times blogger, education is the key to attracting the Hispanic Vote. More specifically, how the candidates handle the issue of transitional bilingual classrooms, a language-learning technique Fuller advocates, could have a large impact on the outcome of this election. Barack Obama supports transitional bilingual education, where students transition to English by building on their knowledge of their native language. Fuller supports Obama’s position saying, “Transitional ...


No one knows what the future of the economy holds—government bailout notwithstanding, times are tough. In New York, Reuters reports, Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said on Thursday, “We know the economic situation has to be solved. But we want a responsible rescue, not an opportunistic bailout and that means, just like every single boss says to me, that there should be accountability for teachers, then there should be accountability for Wall Street.” According to Reuters, the UFT was one of many unions protesting the government’s proposed bailout on Wall Street this week—steps...


With companies spending billions to ensure the health and safety of products before they reach the market, one Harvard economist is puzzled that little is spent on researching educational theories before they reach our kids, according to The New York Times. Instead, says Roland G. Fryer, Jr., too many districts are using the blind approach when it comes to implementing school policies and plans. “If the doctor said to you, ‘You have a cold; here are three pills my buddy in Charlotte uses and he says they work,’ you would run out and find another doctor,” Fryer told the newspaper. “Somehow,...


Though still apparently dismissed by some administrators as the online equivalent of “faculty bathroom graffiti” (huh?), teacher blogs are becoming increasingly influential in the education community and beyond, according to an article in U.S. News and World Report. Many teacher blogs—there are as many as 6,000, according to Technorati.com—are now being read not just by other teachers but by parents, elected officials, and policy wonks, the article notes. They “raise important issues and give the rest of us a peek into a world that we see and hear about very rarely or only anecdotally through...


A prominent English school is radically cutting the amount of homework assigned to students, the BBC reports. The Tiffin Boy’s School in southwest London was piling on up to four hours of homework a night, but a new rule caps out-of-class work at 40 minutes. “The more we looked at what was being set, it came over as quite mechanistic and repetitive,” Head Teacher Sean Heslop explained to the news service. “We thought, if there’s one way to put students off learning, that’s the way to do it.” While some groups, like prominent English educators’ union the ...


Earlier this week, 35 Denver public schools launched the Mile High Parents campaign, which asks parents to commit to spending 30 minutes each school day with their children. According to Rocky Mountain News, Mayor John Hickenlooper was among the first to sign the “5280” pledge, vowing to spend what adds up to 5,280 minutes a year with his 6-year-old son. The campaign was conceived by Marlene De La Rosa, chairwoman of the DPS Parent Empowerment Council and the mother of twin 9th graders, as she was doing homework with her son one evening. "I told him what I was ...


As the current financial crisis thickens, teachers are worrying about their pensions. According to Fox Memphis, Tennessee’s Shelby County school district, which recently went to a single retirement plan with American International Group Inc., received a deluge of phone calls last week from teachers concerned about AIG’s massive losses. On Tuesday, David Pickler, president of the local school board, assured teachers that “if the worst happens, and AIG files for bankruptcy, our teachers, our policyholders, are still secure.” The California State Teachers' Retirement System had up to $216 million exposed to the falls of Lehman and AIG, reports ...


Schools across Texas’ Gulf Coast are still recovering from Hurricane Ike, which devastated the region when it struck Saturday. The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston’s schools will be closed for a week, due to power outages, but reopening dates for other districts in the area remain unclear. The Texas Education Agency hasn’t encouraged school districts to start enrolling the thousands of displaced children across the state, as it did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to the Dallas Morning News. Since it is uncertain when schools that suffered damage from Ike will reopen, the decision to enroll ...


Senators John McCain and Barack Obama need to bring education to the forefront of their campaigns, according to Aleta Margolis, executive director for the Center for Inspired Teaching. Margolis, whose center provides professional development for educators, aired her editorial Monday morning on NPR’s Washington, D.C. affiliate, WAMU. Margolis offers what change would look like when students are held to a higher standard: Yes, they will do well on standardized tests, but they will also be "prepared to engage fully in civic life.” Margolis wants 21st century skills folded into the classroom. Students should be able to “think critically, ...


A Texas education commissioner has ruled in favor of a dismissed Dallas teacher, who says she was fired because of an unfair rating based on student test scores, according to The Dallas Morning News. Sharon Toussaint, a math teacher at low-scoring Kimball High School, was terminated when the school’s faculty was reconstituted last year. Toussaint claimed the reason she was let go was because of a low Classroom Effectiveness Index rating, a formula-based system that determines teachers’ success in the classroom. Robert Scott, a Texas Education Agency commissioner, ruled on Tuesday that the rating did not take all conditions ...


Parents of homeschooled students are bristling at a pending bill in the Michigan legislature that would require families to register with the local school district, according to The Detroit News. Backers say the bill is the best way to calculate the number of students being educated in the state. Critics see it as a slippery slope towards more state involvement and regulations for homeschooling. Homeschooling is one the rise nationally. The Home School Legal Defense Fund Association told The Detroit News that the number of students being educated at home rose from 1.1 million to 2 million since 2003. ...


Today’s high school students were in grade school on September 11, 2001. For many of them, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 are a distant memory, informed more by outside sources than their own recollections. Despite the difficulties of teaching the subject as national debates rage on about Iraq and Middle East politics, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah high school teachers have taken it upon themselves—9/11 is not in the state’s social studies curriculum—to teach 9/11 in a historical context. Bingham High School history teacher Charron Mason not only approaches the subject ...


In Britain, doctors and psychologists are seeing a significant increase in school phobia, reports London weekly The Observer. Alternately known as "school refusal," the disorder causes students to experience severe anxiety while at school, manifesting itself in physical symptoms like vomiting, headaches, fatigue, and panic attacks. One in every 20 students in the U.K. is estimated to suffer from the disorder. Similar figures exist for students in the U.S.—between 2 and 5 percent of school-age children are affected by school phobia, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. The disorder is common at times of transition, ...


With one-third of their state’s eligible voters still unregistered, according to WSPA News Channel 7, South Carolinians are steering efforts toward getting one group specifically to the polls: teachers. Former state Teacher of the Year, Tracy Young Cooper, asks “How can we sit by and neglect our civic duty when we stand in front of South Carolina’s most impressionable citizens, our students, each and every day and work with them to instill the values of democracy?” Earlier this week, the advocate group RISE SC (Reform, Improve, Support, Public Education) launched Goal: 100%, an incentive plan to increase voter ...


This June, Susan Romanyszyn, a veteran 4th grade teacher, was convicted of 11 counts of terrorist threats. Alleged to have been angry about her 5th grade classroom assignment, Romanyszyn was accused of making violent threats, which mentioned bombs and death, to her Longstreth Elementary School in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania. Today she is hoping three anonymous notes will persuade the judge to throw out her conviction, according to The Philadelphia Enquirer. Two of the notes, which were purportedly handwritten by students--complete with spelling and grammatical errors--were sent to Romanyszyn’s attorney’s office. “we were tired of getting yelled at ...


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