January 2009 Archives

Money is tight everywhere (look no further than your school district), but the teaching profession recently got a financial boost from billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, according to eSchoolNews. His foundation is funding $10 million in grants to study teacher effectiveness and its bearing on student achievement. The grant recipients include Educational Testing Service ($7.3 million); ACT, Inc. ($579,000); and Teach for America ($1.9 million). Gates also hopes to post videos online of the "best" teachers at work to provide a model for other educators. One of the new focus areas for his foundation, explained Gates in a ...


According to a new study published in the February 2009 Pediatrics journal, there is a strong connection between recess time and elementary students’ good classroom behavior, the Washington Post reports. Many students aren’t getting recess time due in part to No Child Left Behind consuming more classroom hours. This, says Romina M. Barros, who published the study, needs to change. “When we restructure our education system, we have to think that recess should be a part of the education system…if they could have 15 minutes indoors. Unstructured time, that’s all they need.” Barros and her colleagues looked ...


When Frank Wilson found out that he would need six weeks to recover from his knee-replacement surgery, the 47-year veteran teacher decided to get tech-wise, according to the Columbus Local News. Rather than canceling his Advanced Placement government classes at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, Wilson sought his administration’s approval to conduct classes from his home via Web cam. "My students all have Tablet PCs, and our government classes are almost paperless," Wilson said. "We have the technology to pull this off and my students were receptive to the idea." Wilson set up the camera in his ...


A high school English teacher in Ridgefield, Wash., has created a literary firestorm by writing recently that, now that we have an African-American president, it’s time to drop The Adventures of the Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum. In an op-ed piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier this month, John Foley said that it was increasingly difficult to downplay or contextualize the novel’s often demeaning racial content. “And,” he added, with what sounds like the voice of experience, “I never want to rationalize Huck Finn to an angry African-American mom again as long as I breathe.” Foley also said ...


At least some students in the Keller Independent School District, near Ft. Worth, Texas, will be tuning in to Tuesday’s inaugural festivities, as officials reversed an earlier announcement saying students and teachers would be barred from watching during instructional time. Dallas / Fort Worth’s CBS 11 reports that the district will now allow students to watch the swearing-in ceremony after widespread outcry from parents—but only if the ceremony occurs during students’ social studies or U.S. history classes. District officials said they never intended to imply the inauguration wasn’t a historic event, saying the previous decision to ...


The 95-member Blue Eagles marching band, from South Cobb High School in Austell, Ga., is getting the opportunity to do what very few people do: represent their state and march in the 2009 Presidential Inauguration parade, according to the New York Times. But the band wasn’t sure they could even make it to Washington. The $85,000 in transportation costs for the band, chaperones, and equipment was a daunting hurdle for the school, where more than half the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. “Tears started running down my face,” said Megan Lightcap, captain of the band’s ...


One cash-strapped school district in Georgia is considering an unorthodox way to avoid budget cuts—asking teachers to donate their raises. Officials in Fayette County, Ga., might ask teachers to voluntarily donate a pay raise to aid their cash-strapped district, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The local school board decided they had nothing to lose when writing the letter asking for the donation this week. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” board member Dr. Bob Todd told the newspaper. Board Member Janet Smola added, “I think it’d be silly if we didn’t ask the question.” The proposal asks teachers to ...


California public school teachers have at least one piece of job security in these turbulent economic times. A new state law took effect on January 1 protecting teachers from “being dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred or otherwise retaliated against for acting to protect a student's speech,” according to The Sacramento Bee. The Journalism Teacher Protection Act comes after First Amendment advocates documented 16 instances in two years in California of newspaper advisers being disciplined for student content. The law closes a loophole to a 2006 bill that protected students from censorship and punitive measures by administrators, but provided no protection ...


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