While high-profile court cases and acrimonious school board debates grab the headlines, the individual classroom battle over teaching evolution is what resonates most. Take the case of Pat New, a 62-year-old middle school science teacher in Georgia. She’s won several outstanding-educator awards and is one of only two teachers in her school to hold national board certification, but during 2004-05, she was barraged with complaints about her Darwin-friendly lessons. After students and parents asked when she’d stop wasting time and end the unit, she politely pointed out that evolution is central to biology as well as featured prominently ...


Could it be that, despite all the talk of a “war against boys” and a generalized “boy crisis,” today’s schools are actually serving the male half pretty well? A new study by Education Sector, a Washington think tank, suggests as much. The study surveys test results and academic achievement over the past 30 years and finds that, on the whole, boys’ scores have improved significantly in that time and that more boys are getting college degrees. However, black and Hispanic boys still lag far behind their white peers academically—a disparity that the report suggests should be the real ...


They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but Boston school officials hope an expensive blitz of image advertising will be enough to win over a public more accustomed to school horror stories than fairy tales. The district is planning an extensive PR campaign for the coming school year, including professional photographs of teachers and students interacting; "ambassadors" to share good news about the school district with the public; and two newly hired communications professionals who will "manage negative stories" and "set the record straight" in the case of unfavorable press. All this comes with ...


You want to travel the world in style, and not pay a dime for it? All you have to do is be appointed U.S. secretary of education—which, at the moment, is next to impossible, seeing as Margaret Spellings holds that post. Since landing the gig 18 months ago, she’s traveled abroad seven times, which is more than Rod Paige did during his four years as secretary. Among other countries, the Spellings World Tour has stopped in Egypt, Italy, Japan, and Afghanistan, and it’ll touch down in Greece and Spain this month. The ed department has shelled...


Back in the days when 3x5 cards were the standard in research tools, the term paper was the core of secondary education. But now it may be facing the same fate as those index cards. Thanks to the Internet's facilitation of plagiarism, more and more high school teachers are cutting back or eliminating required research papers. Anti-cheating software such as TurnItIn.com finds that about one-third of all K-12 and college papers are at least partially plagiarized. Facing those odds, teachers are leaning toward in-class writing exercises and oral presentations to measure student learning. But these assignments tend to be ...


Receiving any teaching award is a boost to a teacher's ego. And a surefire way to make that success even sweeter is to add award money. So things were looking very good this week for Linda Alston of Denver, whose receipt of the Kinder Excellence In Teaching Award came with $100,000— the most money ever awarded to a K-12 educator. The award, which seeks to recognize exceptional teachers in schools where at least half the students receive free or reduced-price meals, required a nominating essay from someone who knew the teacher well, and the award committee visited the 10 finalists...


These days, students are at least as likely to turn to the Internet as a library book when their science project or history report is due. But exactly what goes on inside kids' heads when they’re trolling the Web in search of information about magnetism or Frederick Douglass is still a mystery. Researchers at the University of Connecticut want to change that. In a $1.8 million, three-year study, Professor Donald J. Leu is leading a team that’s investigating exactly how kids learn online. In studying the “new literacies” needed to navigate the Internet, Leu’s team has ...


A high school math teacher in Florida has found that using a computerized random-name generator to call on students in class helps improve their preparation and focus. The finding came as part of a graduate school research project in which the teacher, Paige Allison, was originally looking for a way to make sure math teachers called on girls as often as boys. With the help of a programmer, she developed an Excel-based name-generation program that could be used on a handheld computer. She then compared 15 math classes in which the device was used against a control group of 11 ...


From the questionable-career-moves department: Two middle school teachers in Hillsborough County, Florida, have resigned after a couple of students reported seeing them having sex inside a locked classroom. The students told school officials that they observed the educators, a Spanish teacher and a coach, through a hole in a piece of paper covering the classroom window. The teachers originally denied the allegation, but, according to a district report, later admitted that this wasn’t the first time. The district’s report also says that one of the teachers tried to keep the students from reporting the incident, pulling one of ...


Now’s your chance to finally get that smaller class—and maybe a sweet location to work in, too. In an upmarket twist on home schooling, a growing number of families are hiring teachers to work privately with their children in their own homes. The trend seems to stem mainly from a pair of factors: Parents’ desire for a more individualized form of education for their children and jet-setting lifestyles that make traditional schooling impractical (or, in some cases, just rather inconvenient). Bob Harraka, president of Professional Tutors of America, says he has to turn down many requests for in-home ...


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