Giving teachers pay hikes of at least $20,000 and turning schools over to private contractors were two of the recommendations put forward this week by the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, an independent group of high-level government and business leaders (including, for example, Michael Bloomberg and Rod Paige). Tasked with creating a plan to make U.S. schools more competitive, the commission also proposed switching teachers' retirement benefits from pensions to 401k plans and allowing students in vocational programs to enroll in trade schools or community colleges after 10th grade. The plan would take an ...


How much is too much? That's the question in one Boston-area district, where a committee is considering a $50 limit on gifts from students (and their parents) to teachers. The new policy at schools in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, would not cap group gifts. In other nearby districts, gifts to teachers are frowned upon or banned, and grateful students are encouraged to write letters of appreciation or make donations to the school instead. Concerns include conflicts of interest and inappropriate gifts, like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar one teacher received. And at some schools, wealthy parents go overboard with large cash gifts ...


Forget laptops for every student. A private school in Edinburgh, Scotland, believes the secret to boosting achievement lies in teaching students to write with fountain pens. “The pens improve the quality of work because they force the children to take care, and better work improves self-esteem,” explains Bryan Lewis, principal of Mary Erskine and Stewart’s Melville Junior School (for children ages three through 11). Students at Melville—which charges $12,500 a year in tuition—are given regular lessons in a special handwriting style developed by the school, and they are expected to do most of their work with...


In 2002, the French movie Amélie (also known as Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film. In Heather Salazar's classroom, though, the quirky love story was a flop. The French teacher from Orange, Texas was placed on unpaid administrative leave after showing the film to her students at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School. The movie is R-rated and reportedly contains nudity and sexual content. The district's superintendent said Salazar failed to follow official procedures for screening films with such content. Should Salazar have known better?...


A Pavlovian-sounding experiment is being conducted in Massachusetts, where several high schools have done away with bells. That’s right: When a class starts or ends, there’s no more beeping, buzzing, or clanging—just a teacher, saying something like, “You guys can go.” In at least two schools, recorded music is played instead, but school officials argue that, overall, the new practice helps students better manage their time and prepare for the real (bell-less) world. Reactions among students and staff have been mixed. A janitor at Dedham High, where “silence” now reigns, says the boxing-ring-like bell used to startle...


It’s not often you hear that students are getting too much math in school. But in a way, that’s the message from a set of guidelines recently published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Titled “Curriculum Focal Points,” the report makes the case the math curricula in the United States generally try to cover too much ground, leaving students with an imperfect grasp of essential skills. As opposed to the 40 to 70 yearly “learning expectations” found in some states’ math standards, the NCTM recommends that schools zero in on a few broad topics in each ...


Even as educators throughout country strive after innovative new strategies to improve the literacy skills of low-income and minority students, a small middle school in the Bronx is banking on an old one: teaching Latin. The three-year-old Bronx Latin School is premised on the notion that studying the classical language, with its intricate grammatical system and building-block vocabulary, will bolster kids’ knowledge of English. And there’s some evidence to suggest that the plan might be working: On a recent state English exam, Bronx Latin 7th graders outscored their neighborhood peers by nearly 20 percentage points. Skeptics question the long-term ...


The real meaning of “highly qualified” teacher may just have gotten a little murkier. A new study by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University has concluded that, on the whole, teachers without certification are just as effective as their certified counterparts. Looking at the standardized test scores of students in New York City, the study found that, by their third year on the job, both uncertified and alternatively certified teachers perform just as well as traditionally certified teachers. The moral, according to the researchers, is that school systems should spend less time focusing on teachers’ certification status and more on ...


The days of quaint school Thanksgiving assemblies featuring pint-sized Pilgrims and Indians breaking bread together may be on the way out. Increasingly, school and teachers are taking a harder look at the traditional Thanksgiving celebrations and turning a critical eye to what might have been left out. San Francisco Teacher Bill Morgan, for example, walks into his 3rd grade classroom and takes away students' pencils and backpacks, saying he's "discovered" them. When the kids protest, he uses it as a jumping-off point for a lesson on the complexities of Pilgrim/Indian relationships. Some American Indian organizations are embracing such methods, ...


The new Democratic-majority Congress will have a lot ponder when it takes up reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act next year. Drawing on a range of different student-performance measures, a number of recent studies have concluded that little progress has been made toward the law’s central goal of closing the achievement gap between minority and white students by 2014. “Poor and minority students are doing very poorly, and in most states are not making significant gains—and this in spite of NCLB and all the other reforms of the past 15 years,” commented Chester Finn Jr., president ...


Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Nancy Flanagan: A team of NEA-affiliate consultants: Ellen Holmes (ME), Jim Meadows read more
  • Tisha Rinker: Who was the presenter? read more
  • Susan Morrison: PD several times per week? Gasp! Are teachers to read more
  • Nancy: What a fantastic story! I hope the students are enjoying read more
  • Sclgoya: Education change, like fossil formation (http://www.k5geosource.org/content/dd/fossil/pg1.html (first page only)), can read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here