Anyone who’s seen the film or stage version knows that The Fully Monty isn’t so much about seeing naked men as it is witnessing out-of-work guys finally find employment—in a strip show. But the opposite is true for Jason Brenner, a music teacher at Lemon Bay High School in Florida, who was told by school officials to either remove himself from the show’s nude scene or resign. Brenner plans to do the latter after he finishes the show’s run at a local theater March 18. School officials claim their decision is a moral, not an ...


Remember that Houston merit-pay mess a couple of months ago? It’s just gotten messier. In January, under the largest merit-pay program of its kind, school officials doled out $14 million to almost 8,000 staffers. Exactly who got what became public record—and a public outcry—after a local newspaper printed names and dollar figures. Perplexingly, some teachers of the year were not among the recipients, who got anywhere from $100 to more than $7,000. So then administrators gave out $1 million more to cover the hundreds of overlooked teachers. Now comes word that 99 teachers will have ...


You could argue that one thing worse than being attacked by a student is being told by administrators to keep quiet. But that may be happening in Baltimore, Maryland, where supposedly gang-affiliated middle-schoolers recently burst into two classrooms, cut the lights, and then pummeled the teachers. Although these and other attacks have been reported, the Baltimore Teachers Union claims that many similar incidents have not because administrators are seeking to avoid a school label of “persistently dangerous.” Pat Ferguson, chair of BTU’s school safety committee, says that, while 25 official complaints have been logged this year, an additional 50 ...


Sometimes education is uncomfortable. That's what a group of middle-schoolers in Anderson, Indiana, found out when each student was tagged with a randomly assigned black or white sticker representing race as part of a Black History Month exercise. The students wearing black stickers were segregated into separate classes and had to use the "Colored" water fountain, which only dispensed warm water. The simulation included sessions where teachers and volunteers acted out some of the social scenarios that would have been commonplace before the civil rights era. "This would be pretty bad day in and day out, " said one 7th grader, ...


So your district's students aren't performing well on state standardized tests? Here's one way to motivate them: Allow students who pass the state tests to skip their in-class final exams. That's what's planned for spring semester at Cypress-Fairbanks district high schools in Houston, Texas, where students who pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and have at least a D average can say "no thanks" to several final exams. But some parents and education experts are uneasy about the plan and the message about mediocrity that students might take away. "Who wants their kids going to a district who ...


Two National Assessment of Educational Progress reports were released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education. One found that students who graduated in 2005 had racked up more high school credits, more college-preparatory classes, and markedly higher grade-point averages than students 15 years ago. The other report showed that 12th grade reading scores on standardized tests have generally been dropping since 1992, which throws into doubt what students are actually learning in those ostensibly college-prep classes, but also whether two decades of education reform have actually made any significant headway. Math scores were also low—fewer than one-quarter of the...


This year’s winner of the highly coveted Newbery Medal, The Higher Power of Lucky, is a book you may not see on your school’s library shelves. Why? Because of one word that refers to a part of a male dog’s anatomy that’s been bitten by a snake. The book’s 10-year-old eponymous heroine, after hearing the word, thinks it sounds “like something green that comes up when you have the flu.” And on one of the many school-library-affiliated mailing lists abuzz with debate over Lucky, the reference is compared to “Howard Stern-type shock treatment.” As school ...


Most people agree that teachers should not be allowed to turn their classrooms into forums for their personal and political beliefs. But where is the line? Legislators in Arizona are working on a proposed law that would prohibit instructors in public schools and colleges from expressing opinions on politically contentious issues. "In any class, any issue could be discussed as long as the instructor is neutral on the issue and not telling you what your conclusion should be," said the bill's author. But some worry the law would discourage classroom discussions on controversial subjects, or require educators to bend over ...


It’s perhaps a sign of the times—when public schools are being pressured to pour every available resource into acing standardized tests—that the Scotts Valley Unified School District in California is asking parents to donate $36.13 for each school day a student is absent. The exception: sick days. “If a child is sick, we want that child to stay at home,” Superintendent Susan Silver explained. “But if a child is out skiing or going to Disneyland or whatever, that has a financial effect on other children in the district.” That’s because California funds schools according to ...


Just when you were getting used to the idea of a Highly Qualified Teacher requirement, a high-profile panel comes along and says what we really need is a Highly Qualified Effective Teacher requirement. A much-anticipated report by the Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel convened by the Aspen Institute to advise Congress on refurbishing NCLB, recommends that states be required to set up systems to track teachers’ effectiveness based on student achievement data over time, as well as principal and peer evaluations. Under the plan, if a teacher does not achieve “HQET status” after five years (including ...


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