In an effort to squeeze every possible ounce of the day into test preparation, many schools have reportedly cut back on arts and enrichment programs. The Houston Independent School District, however, is taking the opposite approach. The district has launched a $1.75 million initiative to increase arts offerings in its schools. The money, according to HISD superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, will be used in part to train teachers to integrate music, dance, and other arts into core academic courses like math and science. In announcing the program, Saavedra pointed to research showing that, in fact, arts education boosts student engagement ...


What's a sign that your curriculum might not be effective? Well, if the subject in question is sex ed, then the finding that 13 percent of your high school's female population was pregnant last year could be a hint. The Canton, Ohio, school board has decided to rethink its abstinence-only sex ed curriculum after reviewing statistics showing that 65 of the 490 female students at Timken High School were pregnant in 2005. The new curriculum, which was developed by a committee that included a minister, "moves beyond the 'Just Say No' approach." Among the priorities were replacing circa-1988 health textbooks ...


At one time, "neatness counts" was as common a classroom phrase as "raise your hand," and penmanship ranked right up with math and spelling on the weekly educational roster. But in an increasingly digital world, the skill—or art—of neat handwriting may be going the way of the ditto machine. Some educators are bemoaning penmanship's fall from grace in the face of increasing testing demands and ubiquitous computer use. The concern is especially strong among occupational therapists who work in public schools. "Handwriting is the number-one way elementary school students provide feedback to their teachers about what they've ...


If, with each generation, the bar that’s set for a child’s welfare is raised just a bit higher, today’s parents may have nowhere to put it—at least in the Atlanta region. “We are living in a society where the parents want to create a perfect world for their children,” says one public school principal there. Hard to argue when you consider the Jacksons, who moved to a specific neighborhood so that 6-year-old Will could attend the same elementary school his mother, Alicia, did. The Jacksons then went teacher-shopping at Sarah Smith Elementary, looking for someone like ...


Education officials in Pinellas County, Florida and across Virginia have been trying to answer some very difficult questions: At what point in an avian flu pandemic would they close schools? Should schools be used as temporary health clinics, or even as orphanages? What about morgues? Could the districts offer online learning in the meantime? And how would schools communicate with parents? The prospect of a pandemic—which experts say could occur in the near future—is a topic few people enjoy discussing, especially on a clear summer day. But a particularly virulent strain of bird flu, known as H5N1, has ...


Want to help your students remember tough concepts? Have you tried bustin’ some rhymes, professor? Alex Kajitani, an 8th grade algebra teacher at Grant Middle School, in Escondido, California, swears it works—at least for him. Donning a pair of sunglasses and an oversized necklace, Kajitani performs math-infused rap songs in class. His piece on the decimal point, for example, gets started like this: “Now what in the world is that itty-bitty dot? Yo, I just can't remember, and it's making me distraught. I saw it in the price of the item I just bought. It's the decimal point, yeah, ...


Anyone game for a longer school year? An op-ed published on washingtonpost.com argues that, for many children, summer vacation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense anymore. Author Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute, says the extended summer break is a relic of the 19th century—“when academic achievement mattered less, an absence of air conditioning or modern hygiene turned crowded schools into health risks, and children had moms who were home every day.” Fast forward 100-plus years: Students must now be prepared to compete for “brain-based” jobs in the global economy, ...


Next time you’re giving an exam, just to be safe, you may want to check whether any of your students’ hairstyles look … different. Police in Hanoi, Vietnam, have uncovered a scheme in which more than 20 students wore intricately wired wigs and shirts to cheat on their college entrance exams. The students were allegedly supported by a cheating “ring” to which they paid as much as 50 million dong ($3,125) for equipment, a training course, and, ultimately, wired-in answers. A weekend raid on the ring, according to police, netted a bounty of cell phones, earphones, and smart cards, ...


It’s hard not to think that Robb Hedges is somehow emblematic of the kind of extreme but quiet dedication exhibited by many teachers. Hedges, a middle school science teacher, is the 2006 Teacher of Year in Carmel, Indiana—and he wakes up at 2 a.m. every day to deliver newspapers. Hedges says taking a second job was the only way he could continue teaching and support his family, which includes two sets of twins, ages 6 and 8. After the younger twins were born, Hedges gave in and took a job in finance for a couple of years. (“My...


English is not an easy language to learn. Linguists say there are more than 40 distinct sounds in English that can be spelled out in 400 different ways. It's no wonder that shorthand spellings like "thru," "U" and "thanx" are becoming standard in e-mails and text messages. And that kind of spontaneous language degeneration is why a small but persistent group of simplified-spelling advocates wants to create a new, mostly phonetic, system of written English. They argue that both children learning English as their native tongue and second-language learners would have fewer linguistic headaches and could master the language more ...


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