Wednesday, February 16, 2011

PBS spotlights education

As the United States debates how to get the best performance out of students and teachers, the Need to Know program on PBS presents an hour devoted to success stories in teaching. The program highlights three dramatic stories of academic transformation, focusing on literacy, physical education and science education. To learn more and view the program, click here.

New report analyzes state of American education

The 10th edition of the 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education, written by senior fellow Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution, analyzes the state of American education using the latest measures of student learning, uncovers and explains trends in achievement test scores, and identifies promising and disappointing educational reforms. The report contains three sections. Part I presents the latest results from assessments and alerts readers to important trends in the data. Part II explores an education issue in depth. Part III analyzes a current or impending question regarding education policy.

For a more complete overview or to view the full report and its findings, visit this page of the Brookings Institution website.

Graphic novels gain in popularity

After years of lurking on the fringes of mainstream literature and seeking acceptance from a broader audience than teenagers and die-hard fans and collectors, graphic novels finally seem to have gained general approval. The popularity of the illustrated books has soared, with comic and book stores and even libraries devoting large amounts of shelf space to them. To learn more, read the full article by Adam Tedder in the News section of The Courier-News.


The evolution of encyclopedias

From Roman naturalist Pliny's papyrus sheets covered in notes to the Encyclopaedia Britannica to Wikipedia, encyclopedias and the thirst to categorize knowledge have fascinated people for centuries, writes Samuel Muston in The Independent. Drawing from Too Much to Know by Ann M. Blair (Yale University Press), Muston's article gives a fascinating overview of the development of encyclopedias over the years, along with a number of fun facts. To learn more, read the full article

iPad storybook apps loved by kids

"Do you want to read regular books or iPad?" I ask my daughter, Lilly. "iPad!" is her reply.

In November, I started reviewing children's iPad apps for Kirkus Reviews. Lilly is my review partner. We've gone through 50 apps in two months. Like much of the Apple App Store, the quality of what's available runs the gamut from crude cash-ins with ugly illustrations, barely worth their 99-cent price tag, to lavish productions with top-notch voice talent and 3-D pages. The priciest can cost up to $10.

To learn more about the iPad Storybook Apps and what they offer, read the full article by Omar Gallaga in the Technology section of the NPR website.

Obama proposes moderate hike in education spending

The Obama administration just released its spending proposal for fiscal year 2012, which begins October 1. And once again, education is a bright spot in an otherwise tight budget year.

The Obama administration is keeping domestic discretionary spending level, but it is asking $77.4 billion in education funding, including $49 billion excluding Pell Grants, for fiscal year 2012. That's a roughly 4%  increase in non-Pell discretionary funding over fiscal year 2010, the most recent budget enacted. To learn more, read the full article by Alyson Klein in the Politics K-12 section of Education Week's online blogs.

Teaching Tolerance seeks nominees for new award

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program is seeking nominations for a new award that will honor educators who excel at teaching students from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

The Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Culturally Responsive Teaching has been created both to recognize these teachers and to promote their practices in the nation's schools. Five winners will be selected to receive $1,000 at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in December. They also will be videotaped in their classrooms to allow educators across the nation to learn from their teaching. To learn more about the award and to apply, visit the Teaching Tolerance website.

Obama's Education Budget Faces Uphill Climb

AP (2/16, Amario) reports, "President Barack Obama's budget request for increased spending in education is likely to face a tough fight against Republicans - and even if ends up being approved, the extra money wouldn't stave off another round of layoffs and classroom cuts expected this year as federal aid dries up and states struggle to recover from the recession. ... 'There's no question these are some of the toughest budget times we've seen in decades,'" said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "'We've called this the new normal.'"

PA teacher strikes nerve with 'lazy whiners' blog

FEASTERVILLE, Pa. – A high school English teacher in suburban Philadelphia who was suspended for a profanity-laced blog in which she called her young charges "disengaged, lazy whiners" is driving a sensation by daring to ask: Why are today's students unmotivated — and what's wrong with calling them out?

As she fights to keep her job at Central Bucks East High School, 30-year-old Natalie Munroe says she had no interest in becoming any sort of educational icon. The blog has been taken down, but its contents can still be found easily online.

Her comments and her suspension by the middle-class school district have clearly touched a nerve, with scores of online commenters applauding her for taking a tough love approach or excoriating her for verbal abuse. Media attention has rained down, and backers have started a Facebook group.

Click here to read the full article courtesy of Associate Press

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lessons In Online Safety A School Staple In Illinois

The Daily-Journal (IL) (2/10, Zambo) reported, "Experts say there is no surefire way to protect children from online predators, inappropriate Internet content and other dangers lurking in the shadowy corners of cyberspace. But a year after Illinois law required schools to incorporate Internet safety education into the curriculum, they agree that teachers and parents can work together to help keep children safer." According to the Daily-Journal, "Since the start of the 2009-2010 school year, educators have been required to teach Internet safety at least once a year to children in grades three and up."

Ravitch: School Turnaround Efforts Have Failed To Improve Schools

Helen Gym wrote in a blog for the Philadelphia Public School Notebook (2/10), "Turnaround is a failed measure that's led to instability in schools and 'massive demoralization' among teachers and school officials, said New York University professor and author Diane Ravitch Monday night in New York City. Ravitch was the featured speaker along with a dynamic panel of parent activists from across the country in an event sponsored by Parents Across America to launch a new national network of parent leaders." Ravitch "said policies thrust onto urban education - including privatization, school turnaround, standardized testing, and test-based merit pay for teachers - are unproven," citing "Chicago's Renaissance 2010, initiated by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when he was in Chicago."

Bennet Proposes National "Teachers Corps" In Letter To Obama

The Denver Post (2/11, Sherry) reports that Sen. Michael Bennet (D) "wrote in a letter to President Obama today that he will propose the 'Presidential Teachers Corps' to craft an army of 100,000 new mobile teachers in the next five years. ... The plan would start with teacher preparation schools - like the University of Northern Colorado - which would dole out a certain number of these special 'Presidential Teachers Corps' teaching licenses every year to students who want to go for them." According to the Post, these teachers "would be funneled to high-need, lower-income schools" and their national license would allow them to "move anywhere - from Florida to Colorado to Washington, D.C." and "not have to navigate burdensome certification differences in states."

Rhee Faces Renewed Scrutiny Over Depiction Of Students' Progress

The Washington Post (2/11, Anderson) reports, "Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, known for her crusade to use standardized test scores to help evaluate teachers, is facing renewed scrutiny over her depiction of progress that her students made years ago when she was a schoolteacher. A former D.C. math teacher, Guy Brandenburg, posted on his blog a study that includes test scores from the Baltimore school where Rhee taught" and "Brandenburg contended that the data show Rhee 'lied repeatedly' in an effort to make gains in her class look more impressive than they were. ... Rhee, who resigned last year as chancellor, denied fabricating anything about her record" yet "she acknowledged this week that she could have described her accomplishments differently."

Obama wants to create new ed-tech agency

President Obama will request fiscal 2012 funding for an educational technology agency within the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The new agency would bring resources and funding to schools and colleges, while some ed-tech advocates warn that the government's support might not reach teachers and professors, according to an article by Dennis Carter at the eSchool News website.

On February 7, the White House announced that its 2012 budget requests would include an agency called Advanced Research Projects Agency–Education, which would "support research on breakthrough technologies to enhance learning." To learn more, read the full article.

Education: Next test for political civility?

President Obama and Republican leaders are moving toward a possible compromise relating to education reform, report Christi Parsons and Lisa Mascaro in the Los Angeles Times. Democrats and Republicans alike express dissatisfaction with the No Child Left Behind Act passed during the George W. Bush administration, but finding a solution that can stand up to the extremes of both parties' wings will be challenging. To learn more, read the full article.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Podcast: Private Power, Public Schools

Against the Grain has a podcast that may be well worth listening to.

Here is the synopsis:

Private foundations, including Bill Gates's, are pouring billions of dollars into market-based initiatives to remake our public schools. According to Joanne Barkan, the foundations have successfully shaped the national debate on education and have influenced, and in many cases effectively set, government policy. What hasn't been shown, Barkan points out, is that the "reforms" they're pushing actually work.

Click here to link to the downloadable/playable podcast.

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools

By Joanne Barkan


The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

Click here to read the full article

Duncan Criticized For Backing NCLB Testing Components.

Monty Neill, interim executive director at The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, wrote in a blog for the Washington Post (2/9), "A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that a strong majority of Americans support a major overhaul of No Child Left Behind or total elimination of the law." However, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan "pays lip service to the public desire to overhaul the law. He recently said that NCLB has been too narrowly focused on standardized testing, yet keeps pushing for states to use student test scores as a 'significant factor' in evaluating, tenuring, firing and paying teachers."

New York City Schools Facing Cuts if Lunches Aren't Paid For

The New York Times (2/9, Santos) reports on its front page, "Since 2004," New York City "has absorbed at least $42 million in unpaid lunch fees," yet amid a budget crunch, the city Education Department "has been telling principals to collect overdue lunch money or risk having it docked from their school budgets." According to the Times, "The economy has school administrators all over the country scratching for savings even as more parents are falling behind in lunch fees. A September survey by the School Nutrition Association, a professional organization, showed that in 2009-10, 34 percent of school districts saw an increase from the previous school year in the number of meals not paid for."

Education Stimulus Funds Dwindling

The National Journal (2/9, Edwards) reports, "When Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the slice of the economic-stimulus package to be served to each state's school system in 2009, he said, 'The single best way to stimulate the economy - short-term and long-term - is to keep teachers teaching and keep kids learning.' But many of the states with the toughest budgets to balance this fiscal year have already depleted most of that federal lifeline, making cutbacks in education spending all the more painful." According to the National Journal, the US Department of Education "recapped the state of the stimulus money periodically until September 30, 2010, but it has since stopped updating its tables and has no plans to add to the draining sums. Despite two rounds of federal money to prevent teachers from being laid off, many states have used up most of their money and have begun to cut school spending, raise tuitions at state universities, and scale back on school employment and salaries."

Snow Days Virtually Eliminated With Web Tools.

USA Today (2/9, Marklein) reports, "Despite winter storms that forced schools and colleges across the nation to cancel classes, tech-savvy educators are turning to Facebook, podcasts and other Web tools to keep students on track." USA Today notes that "an Ohio pilot study that allows Cincinnati's McAuley High School to hold virtual classes on what the state calls a 'calamity day' was put to the test for the first time Jan. 20. In St. Louis, where blizzards have closed public schools for six days already this year, math, English, Chinese and history classes met via the Internet as usual Wednesday at the Mary Institute Country Day School."

Los Angeles School Devotes A Day To The Battle Against Bullying

The Los Angeles Times (2/9, Rivera) reports that Hale Middle School "is one of the first schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District to focus on the" bullying "issue with a comprehensive, daylong program that officials hope can be used as a model." The program, dubbed "Stand Tall Day," "is part of a nationwide drive to stem bullying on campuses and in cyberspace after a spate of suicides of gay and straight teenagers who had been harassed." The Times adds that ED "announced recently that it may withhold federal funds from schools that fail to stop bullying of gay and other students. Although many states have anti-bullying laws, several, including New Jersey, have moved recently to make them tougher."

Fiction still beneficial to students

In an article for The Providence Journal, Julia Steiny recalls that her ninth-grade English teacher assigned the class James Agee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Death in the Family. "She explained, memorably, that her duties as our teacher included exposing us to difficult experiences, including the strong emotion of grief," writes Steiny. "Inevitably, she asserted, every one of us would experience deep sadness in our lives. Of course, she was not wrong."

Like her teacher, Steiny believes that fiction combines literacy skills with stories that broaden our understanding. She laments the replacement of challenging fiction in many schools with informational texts and popular novels such as the Twilight series. To learn more, read the full article.

Criticism of U.S. public schools is nothing new

Relentless criticism of today's public education system has generated the perception that schools were better in the past, according to The Golden Age of Education That Never Was, an article by Walt Gardner in his Reality Check blog at the Education Week website. The truth is, there has never been an "educational Eden" in the U.S. and public schools have always been the subject of complaints that are very similar to what we hear today. In fact, as early as 1845, criticism in of public schools centered on standardized test scores. Gardner's rewind through the decades provides an instructive lesson, with today's parallels noted in parenthesis. Read the full article here.

Supporter of Common Core Standards urges early implementation

Forty-three states have already adopted the new Common Core Standards as part of their application for "Race to the Top" funds. Many states, however, have pushed implementation far down the road because of the huge commitment of time and funds that implementation requires. This is a mistake, says Jack Farrell, retired teacher, teacher researcher, and current president of the school board in Mammoth Lakes, CA. 


In an article posted in the The Answer Sheet, an education blog at the Washington Post online, Farrell maintains that the new Common Core Standards are not just another set of high standards--they are the first to focus on how students learn, not just on what they learn. An enthusiastic supporter of the standards, he has done extensive classroom observation as a consultant teacher and maintains a blog and website where he writes about current instructional issues related to the standards. Read his full article at the Washington Post website.

Redwall creator Brian Jacques dead at age 71

British author Brian Jacques, creator of the popular Redwall series, died in Liverpool on February 5 of a heart attack. The 21-book series has sold an estimated 20 million copies worldwide. Listen to a piece about Jacques on NPR.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Idiom and Phrase Online Quiz

Once again, Kenneth Beare offers a great interactive quiz on his ESL website. The quiz would be a great refresher for older students.

Thanks, Kenneth!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

School Put Girls On Wrong Bus, Yet Father Nearly Arrested

The Washington Post (2/4, Ruane) reported, "A Laurel [MD] minister whose two young daughters were placed on the wrong bus and left unaccompanied at a stop on Thursday says their elementary school called the police on him after he went to the school and became agitated. Pastor C.J. Blair, 38, said he went to Brock Bridge Elementary School in Laurel after his children, 7-year-old Tatianna, a first-grader, and 5-year-old Gabrianna, who is in kindergarten, were not dropped off at their bus stop at the usual time." According to the Post, "Bob Mosier, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County school system, confirmed much of Blair's account but said that he had been told police were called both to help look for the children and because Blair was very agitated." However, Blair "said the officers threatened to arrest him and told him that they had been summoned because he was upset:"

Study: Lack Of Paternal Attention May Contribute To School Bullying

The New York Times (2/4) reported in a "Freakonomics" blog, "Busy fathers, pay attention: a new study finds that if your kids think you're not spending enough time with them, they're more likely to exhibit bullying behavior at school. C. Andre Christie-Mizell, Jacqueline M. Keil, Mary Therese Laske and Jennifer Stewart examined both parents' working hours and children's perception of time spent with their parents (i.e. do your kids think you work too much?), finding that 'it was children's perception of how much time they spent with their fathers that had the most impact on bullying behavior.' Interestingly, mothers' working hours didn't seem to have much of an effect on bullying behaviors."

Teachers Say Obama Education Policy Stymies Science Fairs

The New York Times (2/5, Harmon) reported that though President Obama said last week "that America should celebrate its science fair winners like Sunday's Super Bowl champions, or risk losing the nation's competitive edge," participation among high school students in such competitions "appears to be declining. And many science teachers say the problem is not a lack of celebration, but the Obama administration's own education policy, which holds schools accountable for math and reading scores at the expense of the kind of creative, independent exploration that science fair projects require."

Center for American Progress issues new report

The Center for American Progress released a new report last week that identifies steps districts can take to help turn around low-performing schools. Across the country, states and school districts have been focusing on improving the nation's lowest-performing schools.

"Turning Around The Nation's Lowest-Performing Schools: Five Steps Districts Can Take to Improve Their Chances of Success," by Karen Baroody, managing director of Education Resource Strategies, Inc., outlines five steps to lasting improvement: understand what each school needs, quantify what each school gets and how it is used, invest in the most important changes first, customize the strategy to the school, and change the district not just the schools. To learn more and view the full report, read Karen Baroody's article in the Education Issues section of the Center for American Progress website.

Monday, February 7, 2011

iPads coming to Georgia classrooms?

Georgia legislators and educators are currently considering an offer from Apple Computers to substitute iPads for textbooks in some middle school classrooms.

For $500 per child per year, Apple's program would provide each child with an iPad that includes Wi-Fi, all the student's books, upgrades, and teacher training. With textbooks becoming outdated, the state is looking into their education budget to fund the programs. To learn more, read the full article by Jim Galloway in the Political Insider section of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution website.

Summer education opportunity for teachers

America's Industrial Revolution at The Henry Ford museum is a nationally-recognized NEH Landmarks of American History Teacher Workshop that will draw together K-12 educators from around the country.  Participants will experience unique enrichment exercises centered on the impact of industrialization, explore the diverse ways that Americans experienced social change between the 1760s and the 1920s, explore archival sources in the Benson Ford Research Center, and visit the Ford Motor Company's Rouge industrial complex.

Workshop dates are July 17-22 and August 7-12, 2011 with each workshop limited to 40 participants.  The deadline for applications is March 1, 2010. Participants will receive a stipend of $1,200 following the sessions and will have a chance to earn continuing education, undergraduate, and graduate credit. To learn more or apply, visit the Henry Ford website.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Documentary explores use of digital media to empower students to learn

"Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century," a one-hour PBS documentary produced by tpt National Productions and Mobile Digital Arts, takes viewers to the frontlines of what is rapidly becoming an education revolution. The film explores how exceptional instructors increasingly use digital media and interactive practices to ignite students' curiosity and ingenuity, help them become civically engaged, enable them to collaborate with peers worldwide, and empower them to direct their own learning. The film premieres on PBS on February 13th––check your local listings for times. The documentary also will be available on-demand for a limited time. For more information, visit the tpt website.

Texting improves children’s spelling skills, some experts say

The use of "textisms" can improve literacy among pupils by giving them extra exposure to word composition outside the school day, some experts say. Critics have suggested that text messaging can blur the boundaries between colloquialisms and standard English, with some teachers claiming that slang is now creeping into children's school work.

But academics from Coventry University said there was "no evidence" that access to mobile phones harmed children's literacy skills and could even have a positive impact on spelling. To learn more, read the full article by Graeme Paton in the Education section of The Telegraph online.

Teachers help kids cope with families' hard times

While Wall Street is pumping, Main Street bleeds. In Worthington, a middle- to upper-middle-class suburban town of 14,000 bordering Columbus, Ohio, 22% of its students are getting subsidized lunches. That's up from 6% in 2005, when the economy was booming.

Statewide, 43% of Ohio public school students are disadvantaged, as measured by free and reduced lunches, compared with 33% in 2005, according to a recent survey by KidsOhio, a nonprofit educational organization based in Columbus. Teachers are facing the challenges of coping with children's fears about their families' struggles to survive and thrive during these tough economic times.

Read the full article by Michael Winerip in the Education section of The New York Times online.

New apps let readers read Web articles whenever....

The DVR rocked the world of television by letting viewers skip commercials and build their own home viewing schedules. Now a handful of Web services and applications are starting to do much the same thing to online publishers.

Nate Weiner, founder of Read It Later, a Web and mobile service that saves articles to be read offline, said there was a larger shift under way, one that mirrors the move to digital from print. Instead of thumbing through the newspaper over breakfast, he said, people like to read articles from many sources on their commutes or in the evening, often using mobile devices. "People don't really want to have to be confined to a specific place, time, site or device to read content," Weiner said.

To learn more, read the article by Jenna Wortham in The New York Times

Can Kindle Singles revolutionize reading?

The essay, the short story, the novella, and long-form journalism finally have a place to call home. It's called Kindle Singles, and it's Amazon's latest program designed to showcase shorter works left behind by traditional publishers.

Amazon hopes it will bring new revenue streams and offer something neither Apple's iPad nor Barnes & Noble's Nook can – but will it catch on with readers already deluged with a glut of reading material and a half-dozen platforms on which to read it? To learn more about Amazon's Kindle Singles, read the full article by Husna Haq in the Books section of The Christian Science Monitor.

Many School Districts Do Not Receive Federal Aid They Qualify For

USA Today (2/4, Schweers) reports that school "districts suffer when they don't get the full amount they're entitled to under a 60-year-old federal program designed to ease the burden of having military bases or tribal reservations that pay no local property taxes within the districts' borders, yet send hundreds of students to their schools. ... The Lawton [OK] School District is among the more than 1,300 school systems nationwide eligible to receive Impact Aid, and among the majority that each year receives less aid than it qualifies for." According to USA Today, the Impact Aid Program "has distributed $896 million in Federal Impact Aid for the 2010-11 school year, according to the Department of Education -- $1 billion less than what those school districts were entitled to receive under the funding formula."

Classroom-Tested Tech Tools Used To Boost Literacy

Education Week (2/4, Ash) reports, "Instead of investing in prepackaged software programs, many teachers are harnessing the technology they already have-such as webcams, audio recorders, blogs, and other Web 2.0 tools-to boost literacy in students." According to Education Week, Adina Sullivan, a 4th grade teacher at San Marcos (CA) Elementary School, "who is a lead technology teacher at her school, works with English-language learners to help build vocabulary and fluency." Education Week adds, "in her classroom, Sullivan uses photos licensed under creative commons, an alternative to copyright that allows varying degrees of sharing, as a jumping-off point to start a conversation with her students. .. Sullivan also uses audio recorders to have student-teachers read sets of vocabulary words, then she creates matching PowerPoint presentations with the words and burns them onto DVDs for the students to take home and listen to."

Maryland School Experiments With Team Teaching

The Baltimore Sun (2/4, Hare) reports, "St. Ambrose Academy in Park Heights [MD] is trying out a new education model developed at Harvard University that has two teachers sharing a classroom, students and lessons in the Catholic elementary school's kindergarten and first-grade classes. The teaching team can offer more individualized instruction, break off to work with groups of students with similar skill levels and provide more hands-on learning." According to the Sun, "The program is one of several that grew from recommendations of a committee of local education, business and community leaders appointed by Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien. Faced with declining enrollment and rising costs, the Archdiocese of Baltimore closed 13 of its 64 schools last year" which "led to innovations in several other schools, including St. Ambrose."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Principal Shot, Killed At California Elementary School

The AP (2/3) reports, "A school janitor was arrested Wednesday in the killing of" Sam LaCara, "a Northern California elementary school principal who was hailed as a role model for other educators. No children were hurt in the late-morning shooting in the office at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School in Placerville, but one student may have witnessed the shooting, Police Chief George Nielson said." The AP adds that Police "commended the school staff for quickly locking down the school and protecting the children. Students were taken to the county fairground, where they were released to their parents."

Teachers Submit Education Reform Ideas To Duncan Via VIVA Project

Valerie Strauss wrote in a blog for the Washington Post (2/2), "More than 150 public school teachers from 27 states, seeking to get their voices heard by education policymakers in this let's-bash-teachers era, collaborated to devise solutions to problems that most affect their profession. They wrote their conclusions in a paper called 'Voices From the Classroom,' and then, in a town where such reports are constantly released and then forgotten, they got to do something unusual: present them to Education Secretary Arne Duncan." According to Strauss, "The effort is called the VIVA Project -- Voices, Ideas, Vision, Action -- which was created to give classroom teachers a chance to share ideas and take a role in making state and national policy decisions involving public schools."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Should teachers’ data be kept private?

Slate ran an article defending several media outlets in New York that want to publish, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg's education department, value-added assessment data of the city's teachers. As Slate notes, this "data ranks fourth through eighth grade math and English teachers, purportedly based on how much progress their students have made on standardized tests from year to year."

Value-added is a controversial way of evaluating teachers because the results are just estimations; in reality, a teacher's rank falls within a percentile range that is often very large. To learn more, read the full article by Seyward Darby in the Opinion section of the NPR website.

Kindle books surpass paperback books in sales

When Amazon announced that its third-generation Kindle "eclipsed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as the bestselling product in Amazon's history," we knew it'd only be a matter of time before we heard the announcement that Kindle books outsell paperback books. And now, about a month after that Kindle announcement, it's here, from Jeff Bezos: "Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on"

This comes six months after Amazon announced Kindle book sales had overtaken hardcover sales and had predicted Kindle books reaching this milestone in the second quarter of this year, so it's ahead of schedule. Not only that, but the company announced that its fourth quarter sales topped $10 billion for the first time. To learn more, read the full article by Athima Chansanchai at MSNBC's Technolog.