Most middle- and high-schoolers may know algebra, but can they balance a checkbook? Or compare prices? Or even earn money? “They’re purchasing a lot of their immediate wants, not practicing delayed gratification,” says one high school business teacher. “They don’t think about the long-term effects of their spending.” Because those effects include unmanageable credit-card debt and bankruptcy, some schools insist that students become financially literate. They’re a minority, though: Of the 38 states that, in 2004, included personal finance in curriculum standards, only eight required a course with such content. Leading the way is Utah, where Gayle ...


Is it immoral to be pregnant without being married? What if you’re a teacher? In a lawsuit filed against her former public school district in North Carolina, teacher Heather Zampogna claims an assistant superintendent accused her of “immorality” for being an unwed mother-to-be. He told her "this was a 'Baptist community' where people go to church," and said she might be fired, according to the lawsuit, which alleges a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. A month later, the former Tryon Elementary School Teacher of the Year was reassigned to tutor failing 5th graders in a trailer. The fact ...


U.S. teachers aren’t the only ones concerned about the potential negative effects of too much standardized testing. In Britain, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, a 160,000-member union, is warning that trickle-down testing pressures are taking the joy out of learning for students as young as five. Among other things, the group says that important educational play activities are being crowded out by formal class time—which, according to one teacher, is a “good model for how to switch children off and create failure.” Children in England are tested in English and math at age seven, and ...


Republican Warren Chisum's crusade may not have biblical proportions, but it could help public high school students in Texas understand what the term "biblical proportions" means. The state legislator is drafting a bill that would require all public school districts to offer an elective course on the history and literature of the Old and New Testaments. "There's a lot of stuff in the Bible that finds its way into our dictionaries, into our art, into all of our literature and into our laws," Chisum says. Many, including clergy members, worry that a lack of resources and teacher preparation would make ...


Are students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses really tackling college-level material? That question is the focus of an audit by the College Board, which owns the AP label. College admissions officers consider AP coursework an indicator that students have challenged themselves in high school—but they seem increasingly uncertain about how much weight to give such classes. Now, all educators who want to use the AP tag must turn in a syllabus and course audit form by June 1. The College Board will decide by November which classes make the grade and post a list of authorized courses on its ...


Considering the age group, stories about violent middle- and high-schoolers are to be expected. But the news that schools are dealing with an increasing number of violent elementary-schoolers is tough to swallow. These kids aren’t disabled; they just don’t have the coping skills to deal with frustration and disappointment. In the New Britain, Connecticut, district, for example, suspensions given to 1st through 5th graders rose from 254 to 346 in one year. Among the offenses: hitting classmates without provocation; physically attacking teachers and principals; and removing clothes in class. Most schools put these kids in separate classrooms, where ...


If you’re tired of people blaming teachers for the country’s educational ills, you may want to avoid this week’s issue of Science magazine. It reports on an extensive study of elementary schools funded by the National Institutes of Health that isn’t exactly glowing in its assessment of teachers’ work. Among other things, according to a summary by USA Today, the researchers say teachers focus too much time on basic reading and math skills and too little on science and social studies, and don’t do enough to engage students or foster critical thinking skills. According to ...


It’s an irony of the testing era that many educators have pointed out: As fateful as standardized tests have become for schools, they generally have little significance for the kids who actually take them. The San Marcos Unified School District in California wants to change that by implementing a “grade bump” program that would enable high school students to boost their course grades by scoring well on state tests. The idea is to give transcript-conscious students a reason to take the tests more seriously. “It’s demoralizing when you know that the school is being graded and the student ...


As tech-savvy as Americans like to think they are, a new report by the World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. 7th in terms of its development and use of technology. At the top of the heap is Denmark, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Finland, and Switzerland. Although the U.S. is still technologically formidable, according to the forum, its pesky regulatory rules and the snail’s pace at which individuals and organizations adopt new technology is allowing other countries to pull ahead. The forum’s report echoes assertions made in a recent study by the U.S.-based AEA (formerly ...


After the death of a star student last spring, Florida high school teacher Paul Moore got to thinking about accountability. The student, Jeffrey Johnson, was the third at Miami Carol City Senior High School to be shot to death that academic year. Moore drafted a petition to governor Charlie Crist demanding that he make the state's schools and their surrounding communities safer. He concluded: "You are accountable to us for it!" Moore's petition, which several thousand people have signed, focuses on tightening Florida's gun laws, which are among the most lenient in the country. "I see these kids as the ...


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