June 2009 Archives

The valedictorian of a charter high school in Los Angeles was barred from making her graduation speech due to her participation in recent school sit-ins organized to protest the direction of the school, according to the Los Angeles Times. Aurora Ponce, the senior class president of the Accelerated School, one of a family of charter schools in South L.A., said the school administration has also taken away her summer tutoring job and other honors. "We, as students, we feel like we are not being heard," said Ponce, who has a near-perfect A average. "The administration treats us like we're ...


In 2007, Greg Craven, a high school science teacher from Oregon, posted a YouTube video titled, “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See,” debating the science behind global warming, according to The Guardian. The video went viral and after millions of views, thousands of comments, and 78 additional YouTube videos, Craven has followed up with a book, What's the Worst That Could Happen?: A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate. The homemade videos (complete with "horns and brimstone") and the book attempt to deconstruct the global warming argument, although Craven claims he hasn’t been completely successful on ...


A recent lawsuit and an upcoming documentary examine Communist allegations made against hundreds of teachers in the 1950s.The lawsuit was filed against the City of New York by Lisa Harbatkin whose parents were school teachers. Harbatkin wants 150,000 documents related to 1,500 teachers who were investigated for Communist ties reopened, according to The New York Times. The 1952 Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which investigated Communist influence in schools, accused two-thirds of New York City teachers of being “card-carrying Communists.” Similar interrogations took place in Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Cleveland, and Buffalo. One accused teacher, Irving Adler, age 96, ...


In California, teachers may not be bound to use printed textbooks much longer. By the fall of 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to provide free, open-source digital textbooks for California high school math and science classes, according to ABC News. Schwarzenegger says the measure will save the state $350 million. Critics, however, doubt that digital textbooks would in fact save money, saying that they would require investing in new technology and teacher training. Either way, the initiative has reignited debate about the use of digital textbooks. Open-source digital textbooks offer more updated information in a timely manner, says Neeru Khosla, ...


A Connecticut middle school’s attempt to create mixed-level, integrated classes is facing a backlash from parents, according to The New York Times. Traditionally, Cloonan middle school in Stamford, Conn., has tracked students and put them in separate classrooms based on academic performance, with students ranked as zeros for highest achievement and ones and twos for medium and lower levels respectively. According to the Times, the system has created an “uncomfortable caste” system in which classes are segregated predominantly by race and socioeconomic level. “Black and Hispanic students … make up 46 percent of this year’s sixth grade [class], but ...


The Equity Project, a charter school in New York City that will open this fall, has attracted a staff of eight accomplished teachers by offering a $125,000 salary with the possibility of a $25,000 bonus, reports the New York Times. Founded by Yale graduate Zeke M. Vanderhoek, 32, the school is rooted in the finding that teachers are the most significant factor in student success. The Equity Project expects 120 5th graders, most of whom are from low-income Hispanic families, in its first year, with plans to expand to the 8th grade. After a 15-month nationwide search—in ...


High School students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg are waging grassroots campaigns to save their favorite teachers from layoffs, reports The Charlotte Observer. The district gave layoff notices to 304 teachers last month as part of budget overhaul, but students hope they can get some of decisions reversed—or at least voice their disapproval—through collective action. “We all know that we have about a .001% chance of winning the fight,” said one student, “but these teachers taught us to take a stand in the face of difficulty, so writing letters is the least we can do.” The protests go beyond letter and ...


A recent New York Times Magazine essay, adapted from Matthew B. Crawford’s book Shop Class as Soulcraft, explores the pressures students face to get a four-year college degree and pursue a white-collar career. Crawford, who has a Ph.D. and a history of white-collar jobs (including heading up a Washington, D.C.-based policy organization), looks at the cultural stigma surrounding careers in skilled-labor. After five months at the policy organization, Crawford quit to open his own motorcycle repair shop, which, he says, has brought him emotional, intellectual, and physical satisfaction. A choice, notes Crawford, that for a “gifted ...


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