October 2008 Archives

More than 2,000 students were bussed to a rally for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain on Thursday morning in Defiance, Ohio, according to The Crescent-News. In a letter sent home with students asking for parental permission to attend the rally, Defiance City Schools Superintendent Mike Struble said the rally offered a historic opportunity in a town not known for being in the national spotlight. “Putting party affiliation aside, I believe that this is a once in a lifetime educational opportunity for our students to see a presidential candidate in person,” Struble wrote. “It is a unique occasion to ...


A California ballot measure, Proposition 8, seeks to overturn same-sex marriage in the state, which has been legal since May 15 of this year. The California Teachers Association has donated $1 million to the No on Proposition 8 Campaign to help defeat the initiative, reports the Union Tribune. In a statement on their Web site, the teachers’ union said, “California’s constitution should guarantee the same freedoms and rights to everyone – no one group should be singled out and have their rights taken away.” Not all members of the union are happy with the $1 million donation. California teacher Randy ...


Dallas schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa apologized to 375 teachers for recent layoffs to help offset an $84 million budget deficit, reports The Dallas Morning News. Critics say that the announcement came too late, and to the wrong audience—a group of business, community, and education leaders at an event sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association. Hinojosa told the group that he wanted “to apologize to all the teachers that left and the teachers that stayed. Everyone was affected." Dale Kaiser, president of the NEA-Dallas employees association, said the apology should’ve been delivered directly to the teachers, parents, and students ...


On Oct. 21, edweek.org provided a live Webcast of a debate at Teachers College in New York between the top education advisers to the presidential candidates—Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond for Sen. Barack Obama and former Arizona schools superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan for Sen. John McCain. The event provided one of the most detailed examinations to date of the candidates' education initiatives and philosophies. Perhaps not surpisingly, some of sharpest exchanges centered on issues related to teachers and, more specifically, boosting teacher quality. (Indeed, "teachers" and "teaching," along with "kids," were the most oft-uttered words in the ...


Teacher pay for performance is no longer just a theoretical idea. USA Today reports that at least eight states, and dozens of districts, are experimenting with basing teacher salary increases and bonuses on student test performance. Some districts are using higher wages to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools and teaching positions. In Chicago, for example, teachers in select schools can earn as much as $8,000 in annual bonuses for improvements in students’ test results; while in Nashville, an incentive of up to $15,000 is being used to target middle school math teachers. More dramatically, teachers in Washington, D.C....


The Community School, a tiny school in Decatur, Ga., with a student body of ten, all of whom have autism spectrum disorder or related disorders, is achieving breakthrough results through use of a relatively new teaching method known as D.I.R./Floortime, according to a recent New York Times Magazine article. D.I.R./Floortime –D.I.R stands for developmental, individual differences, relationship-based approach—was developed by professors of child psychology and behavioral science at George Washington University. The basis of the method is individualized development: Teachers and parents aim to build on an individual student’s interests ...


Faced with the extinction of their language, the Northern Arapaho have opened a language immersion school, reports The New York Times. Only about 200 of the almost 9000-member Wyoming Native American tribe are fluent speakers of their language and none is younger than 55. The Arapaho Language Lodge, now serving 22 students in pre-kindergarten through 1st grade, plans to add classes annually as students graduate. The school's sponsors hope it will help generate interest in Northern Arapaho traditions. The tribe's low fluency is influenced by more than a century of U.S. Native American policy that attempted to “Americanize” native ...


The election can be a touchy subject to broach in the classroom. In Wisconsin, however, teachers are making an effort to discuss the election with their students, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. A recent workshop at the University of Wisconsin exploring how to engage students in healthy political debate drew 180 classroom and student teachers from 30 school districts across the state. David Ross, a government teacher at Madison High School, has his students talking about campaign issues that are not for the faint of heart, including same-sex marriage, abortion, and health care. His students are required to research ...


A Miami-Dade County charter school is reaching out to students in unique ways, from hostage simulations to military-style fitness drills, reports The Miami Herald. Hialeah Educational Academy preps students for careers in law enforcement and fire rescue, one of dozens of public vocational academies cropping up across Florida. “Career academies give students a niche,” said Gene Bottoms, vice president of the Southern Regional Education Board. “They connect them to a group of teachers, to a career focus. It’s very beneficial for the students who have not been able to find a place for themselves in high school.” The students ...


A group of San Francisco 1st graders took a field trip to City Hall with a twist: They went to surprise their lesbian teacher on her wedding day, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The students blew bubbles and tossed rose petals outside the main doors, and then crowded their teacher with hugs as she and her new wife exited the ceremony. The field trip occurred less than a month before voters in California will make a decision on Proposition 8, which aims to outlaw gay marriage and prevent students from learning about same-sex marriage in school. Interim director of ...


A new study has found that the U.S. is not effectively developing strong math skills in boys or girls, reports The New York Times. “We’re living in a culture . . . that’s telling everybody that only Asians and nerds do math,” said Janet Mertz, the study’s lead author. Rather than looking at standardized test scores, the study, which will be published in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, relied on data from prestigious math competitions, such as the International Mathematical Olympiads. The results show that the majority of U.S. participants are immigrants or children of immigrants from ...


Teachers at various points across the country have come under fire recently for showing their support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The Virginia Education Association sent out an e-mail encouraging its members to wear “Obama blue” last week, prompting outrage among state Republicans about political influence in schools. In New York City, meanwhile, the Department of Education has clamped down on a United Federation of Teachers plan to have teachers wear pro-Obama buttons in their classrooms. And a group of teachers at Soquel High School in Santa Cruz, CA chose to wear “Educators for Obama” buttons in school. These ...


Dallas teachers can expect to hear as early as this week whether they are among the nearly 1,100 layoffs approved by the city’s school board on October 2, according to The Dallas Morning News. Teachers will account for half of the layoffs, as the district tries to fill an $84 million shortfall in this year’s budget. Many teachers told the newspaper they felt frustrated by district administrators’ handling of the crisis.“They don’t care about us,” said elementary school educator Kimberly Stephens. “If they did, they would have found another way to help clean up this ...


This Friday marks the end of the 27th annual Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, sponsored by the American Library Association. Having had a week to consider the implications of banning books, it’s worth asking: Why do books come off the shelves in the first place? What are the underlying factors perpetuating censorship? In an NPR story about book banning, Judith Krug of the ALA suggests it’s a matter of fear, and that people who want to ban books are “not afraid of the book; they're afraid of the ideas. The materials that are challenged and ...


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