Prior to last weekend, Ashburn, Georgia, was known for two things: peanuts and its Fire Ant Festival. Now it’s also the town where Turner County High School, after decades of allowing parents to organize private segregated dances, hosted its first-ever integrated prom. It only makes sense: This is 2007, after all, and the 455-student school is roughly half African American and half white. Upperclassman voted in favor of one official dance. But some traditions die hard, as a 2001 graduate of TCHS made clear: “The white people have [their proms], and the black people have theirs. It’s nothing ...


Is allowing discussion of tolerance a firing offense? Apparently it is if you teach in Woodburn, Indiana. At issue is whether Woodlan Junior-Senior High School English teacher and newspaper adviser Amy Sorrel should have submitted a student opinion piece for her principal’s review before it was published. The column, written by a sophomore whose friend had just told her he was gay, says in part, ''I think it is so wrong to look down on those people, or to make fun of them, just because they have a different sexuality than you.” Sorrell showed the principal several unpublished stories ...


New Orleans needs teachers. Lots of them—at least 650, to be exact. And to fill that need, its traditional public schools and charter schools alike are courting teachers from all over the country. From job fairs featuring jazz bands and beer to partnerships with Teacher for America, New Orleans is appealing to idealistic young people willing to take on the challenges of a fragmented school system and students facing poverty and unstable living conditions. There are certain benefits, though: Because Hurricane Katrina fractured the sprawling public school district, there's no longer a central bureaucracy for potential hires to navigate....


School officials around the country aren't taking any safety chances in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings. At least 10 schools and colleges have been locked down or evacuated temporarily since Monday's tragedy. Several of the threats turned out to be hoaxes, including a note found in a high school bathroom in Great Falls, Montana, that threatened violence "worse than Virginia Tech." Other incidents could be attributed to tightly strung nerves. A private school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, was briefly locked down after unconfirmed sightings of a large man wearing high heels, a skirt, and makeup near the school ...


Last fall, a report from the Education Schools Project found that 62 percent of the graduates of teacher-preparation programs thought they’d been badly prepared. Julia Steiny, a former member of the Providence, Rhode Island, school board, offers this solution: remove the bureaucracy of state certification and instead hold university education departments responsible. Steiny interviewed many education professors and deans over the course of a year, and all said their programs each have at least one current student who they would not personally certify. “Often those less-than-desirable students had poor people skills but were academically high performers,” Steiny explains. The ...


You’d think that a Congress-mandated study—one concluding that kids who’ve taken abstinence-only courses are just as likely, years later, to have sex as those who haven’t—would put the abstinence-vs.-comprehensive-sex-ed debate to rest. But you’d be wrong. The study in question, conducted over the past few years, focused on roughly 2,000 kids from two urban and two rural communities. Half had participated in abstinence-only programs while the other half hadn’t. Still, the findings for both groups were roughly the same: 50 percent of the students had had sex, with similar numbers of ...


Start a charter school focused on medicine, the arts, or business, and people applaud, shrug, or yawn. But a school based on Arabic language and culture? Financed by taxpayers? In the city hardest hit by 9/11’s Islamic terrorists? It’s little wonder the Khalil Gibran International Academy has found itself under fire even before its doors open. "Segregationist" and "Jihadi" are among the epithets that have been flung at the school, which plans to open in Brooklyn, New York, this fall. On the contrary, replies academy principal Debbie Almontaser, a Muslim and a veteran New York City teacher ...


Turnabout is fair play, it seems: Four high school students in Virginia are suing the popular antiplagiarism Web service Turnitin for what they say is copyright infringement. Some 100,000 student papers are uploaded each day to Turnitin, which checks them against other papers and online sources and then adds them to its ever-expanding database. When suspicions of plagiarism arise, teachers can share the papers—without the students' names attached—for further analysis. The four students’ suit, which asks for $150,000 per paper submitted by each of them, argues that Turnitin is essentially profiting from their work and violating...


Young thespians at Wilton High School in Wilton, Connecticut, faced some bad news last month: Their principal was canceling the play about the Iraq War they'd been writing and producing, citing concerns about "balance, content, and copyright." But now several notable theater companies have offered to provide them with a performance venue. They'll be staging their play—a collection of fictional soldier monologues titled "Voices in Conflict"—at the off-Broadway Public Theater in New York City and at the Culture Project, a theater focusing on politically salient works. The students also received moral support from the Dramatists Guild of America,...


Teachers in Tampa are not just angry, they're hoppin' mad. Why? Hillsborough County school officials decided recently to require all high school instructors to teach at least 300 minutes per day—an increase of 30 to 50 minutes. The change is expected to save $28 million in new teacher salaries and benefits, but educators warn that piling on more work will force them to take shortcuts. "I don't know how I can work harder," says Sarah Robinson, an 18-year classroom veteran. "I'm rather insulted that I'm being asked to." Is the 300-minute requirement unreasonable?...


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