The new movie “Freedom Writers” has received critical and popular acclaim for its portrayal of a courageous young teacher who changes the lives of students in a troubled inner city school. But in an ">opinion article published in the New York Times, a 10th grade history teacher in the Bronx argues that such Hollywood depictions create a distorted and potentially harmful image of the teaching profession. Apart from glossing over the harsh conditions in which teachers in urban schools often work, writes Tom Moore, films like “Freedom Writers” promote the message that “what schools really need are heroes”—or teachers ...


Apparently, some Kansans’ idea of classroom management hasn’t evolved much, either. Propelled by a series of newspaper articles describing teachers’ difficulties in maintaining classroom order, a Kansas state senator plans to propose a bill that would make it less inconvenient for educators to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool. Specifically, legislation being by put forth by Republican state Senator Phil Journey would protect teachers who spank students from lawsuits and criminal charges if the local school board allows corporal punishment and parents provide written permission. “When all else fails, time outs and privilege restrictions and things like that, ...


The author of To Kill a Mockingbird is famously reclusive. She rarely speaks in public, and her novel—about Atticus Finch’s defense of a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman in the segregated South—is the only work she’s ever had published. But a high-school stage version of Mockingbird, in her home state of Alabama, was evidently enough to bring Harper Lee out of hiding. The play was mounted just across the street from the Montgomery bus stop that made Rosa Parks famous, and Lee had been invited by arts and education officials seeking to ...


The No Child Left Behind Act turns five this week, but it appears many teachers won’t be celebrating. Among the ways the NCLB Act has changed schools since its enactment, according to an overview by USA Today, is by “driving teachers crazy.” Teachers have been most frustrated by the curricular constraints the law appears to have fostered and by its emphasis on standardized tests. “I am well on my way to becoming an embittered and mediocre teacher who heretofore considered teaching to be a profession, not a job,” one educator is reported to have written on an online petition ...


In America's ongoing war against obesity, schools are only one battleground. But they're a controversial one, especially as districts adopt the unproven practice of sending home obesity report cards listing students' body mass index. While the practice is mandated in only a few states—in Pennslyvania, for example, the cards are required for K-8 students—many individual districts have embraced it after hearing about positive results from a small number of programs. But there's more to raising healthy kids than simply reporting obesity, critics contend. In many districts that report BMI to parents, children continue to face inadequate PE time ...


We already know that kids who stay in school will have better jobs and earn more money. But new research indicates that education actually contributes to longer life. That's right: Stay in school and live longer. And, as a bonus, those extra years will be marked by better health. "If you were to ask me what affects health and longevity, I would put education at the top of my list," says Michael Grossman, a health economist who studies the factors that affect human life expectancy. The question of how education is related to longevity was originally tackled by a graduate ...


Thanks to the efforts of an enterprising parent, teachers in the Bloomington, Minnesota, district may not have to dip into their own pockets for school supplies much longer. Next month, Cary Weatherby, 49, plans to open a 6,700 square-foot store that will provide school supplies to local educators for free. Weatherby has spent two years preparing for the opening—a process that involved rummaging around company loading docks and garage sales. (“I saw what was being thrown away,” she says.) Along the way she also created Companies to Classrooms, a nonprofit that enables local businesses to donate excess supplies ...


Not allowing kids to bring weapons to class is a no-brainer. But Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island has gone a step further: It’s nixing senior Patrick Agin’s plan to run a yearbook photo of him in medieval garb, complete with chain mail and broadsword. “Students wielding weapons is just not consistent with our existing policies or the mission of the school,” explains PHS’s principal, Robert Littlefield. But, as expected, the local chapter of the ACLU has stepped in, defending the right of Patrick (card-carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronism—a group that promotes medieval ...


The Cobb County, Georgia, school board has decided that it's time to evolve. Four years after the school board ordered that stickers declaring evolution to be "a theory, not a fact" be pasted into all science textbooks, the board yesterday settled a lawsuit and agreed to put the issue to rest. The lawsuit, which was filed by district parents unhappy with the evolution stickers, was the final step in a drawn-out saga that was widely ridiculed on late-night TV and the Internet. School board chairwoman Teresa Plenge said the board felt "the need to put this divisive issue behind us," ...


This spring, Florida's 8th graders will have to choose a "major area of interest,"—a course of study similar to a college major, only for high school. The majors may be as specific as forestry or digital imaging, or cover more general academic areas, such as social studies. State officials say the plan should help boost Florida's sagging graduation rate and send the message that "your high school is interested in accommodating your dreams and your goals." But what about those middle-schoolers who haven't yet figured out what they want to do with the rest of their lives? Or those...


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