Friday, September 30, 2011

Rodemeyer Case Highlights Complexities Surrounding Bullying, Teen Suicide

The AP (9/29) reports on the recent suicide of Buffalo, New York, high school student Jamey Rodemeyer, who in the weeks before his death "posted increasingly desperate notes ruminating on suicide, bullying, homophobia and pop singer Lady Gaga." After his death, "activists, journalists and Gaga herself seized on the suicide, decrying the loss of another promising life to bullying." However, "what the incomplete and conflicting portrait of Rodemeyer's life did not convey were the complexities of the teenage mind and the reality that bullying is rarely the sole factor at work. It also highlighted the risk of creating an icon at the price of glamorizing suicide as an option for other bullied or attention-seeking teens." The AP (9/29) runs a sidebar detailing anti-bullying legislation in seven states in the wake of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi's suicide last year.

Obama Tells Students America's Future Depends On Them

President Obama's annual back-to-school speech, delivered at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, receives limited but favorable coverage. Most stories are straightforward accounts of the event, but some point out that there was little of the controversy that greeted the first such speech two years ago. A few other accounts mention that the President alluded to the American Jobs Act, but only briefly.

The CBS Evening News (9/28, story 6, 2:55, Pelley, 6.1M) was the only broadcast network to report on the speech, saying the President "went to a high school in Washington today to deliver his annual back-to-school address. His message to students: Stay in school. He said six out of 10 jobs in the next decade will require more than a high school diploma. These are tough times for America's schools, of course. Since 2008, 300,000 educators have been laid off nationwide due to budget cuts."


The AP (9/28) reports the President told students "that they bear responsibility in helping America get back on its feet." The President said, "You're young leaders. And whether we fall behind or race ahead as a nation is going to depend in large part on you." He "encouraged the students to get an education after high school. He said in tough economic times, the country needs their ideas and passion," and "also confessed that he wasn't always the best student and didn't love every class he took." The Hill (9/28, Wisniewski) reports on its website that the President said, "I was not always the very best student that I could be when I was in high school, and certainly not when I was in middle school. I did not love every class I took. I wasn't always paying attention the way I should have. ... If you'd ask me what my favorite subject was back in eighth grade, it was basketball."

Education Legislation Moving Into State Courthouses

Education Week (9/28, Cavanagh) reports that a slew of states which have seen recent legislative "battles over changes in education" are now seeing those laws being challenged in court "as unions and other critics of new laws challenge them on the grounds that they violate state constitutions and worker contracts." The piece notes that the legislation follows GOP gains in state government in 2010, resulting in "ambitious measures in many states that often drew strong opposition from teachers' unions. Points of dispute include changes in how teachers are evaluated and compensated and expansions of private school vouchers." The piece notes that the Florida Education Association, which is an affiliate of the NEA and the AFT, "is supporting this year's pension and merit-pay lawsuits."

California Districts To Sue State Over Education Funding

The Sacramento Bee (9/28, Yamamura) reports that the San Francisco Unified School District is among California districts that are planning to sue the state "over $2.1 billion in education funding they believe state leaders should have provided in the June budget. The California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators and school districts will hold a press conference Wednesday to explain their case." The piece explains that the controversy stems from "a last-minute deal" between the state and the California Teachers Association which included teacher "job protections and restrictions on how school districts can cut their budgets if the state determines in December that revenues will fall short of expectations."

Laid Off Teachers From Eastern States Looking West (9/28, Wieder) reports that amid stories of widespread teacher layoffs, "a different story has emerged in the few states that have managed to avoid cuts and, in some cases, have even expanded their teacher corps over the past few years. Education leaders in some of these states, many of which are mineral-rich and in the West, say the past few years have brought a dramatic increase in applications from teachers in other states - some who have been laid off during the recession, others who are drawn by the lifestyle and comparative economic stability." Of particular note is Wyoming, Stateline says, adding that the state "has seen the number of out-of-state teaching license applications jump by roughly 70 percent over the last few years."

DC Officials Ponder Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results

Bill Turque writes at the Washington Post (9/28, Turque) reports "DC Schools Insider" blog, "Chancellor Kaya Henderson sketched a bleak statistical picture of life in DCPS middle schools at Tuesday's D.C. Council hearing, including a chilling survey finding that 10 percent of the school system's 4,000 eighth graders have tried to kill themselves." Turque notes that officials are taking this result with a grain of salt, since it is "self-reported by students who filled out the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey administered last fall by OSSE. They said they regard it more as a reflection of the despair that often pervades their world, and of an on-line culture in which stories and images of teen suicide are readily accessible."

OCR Data: Teachers At High-Minority Schools Paid Less

Education Week (9/28, Sawchuk) reports that according to an analysis of OCR's Civil Rights Data Collection from the 2009-10 school year, "in many ethnically diverse school districts across the country, teachers in schools that serve the top quintile of African-American and Latino students are paid significantly less-approximately $2,500 per year-than the average teacher in such districts." Such disparities were found in 59% of the districts that OCR studied, Education Week notes, adding that the "data demonstrate some fairly hefty gaps in spending between schools that serve more students of color and those that serve fewer such students."

New Hampshire District Won't Subject ESL Students To NCLB Testing

The New Hampshire Union Leader (9/28, Hall) reports that the school board in Manchester, New Hampshire, "voted on Monday to end the federally mandated standardized testing of newly arrived immigrants with poor English skills." Foreign students "will not be required for two years to take the annual standardized tests required under the No Child Left Behind law," with that grace period rising to five years if the student has "never been to school before." The Union Leader says that local officials are uncertain what the consequences will be, but hope to work with ED on a compromise.

Seven Arrested In New York SAT Cheating Case

The AP (9/28) reports that on Tuesday, six high school students and one college student have been arrested in Garden City, New York, after the college student "was paid between $1,500 and $2,500 to stand in for at least a half dozen students attending a prestigious Long Island high school and take the SAT exam for them." Prosecutors noted that other students may have been involved as well, the AP adds, noting that the investigation began after "faculty members heard rumors that students had paid a third party to take the SAT for them." A College Board spokesperson praised investigators. A version of the AP (9/28) article published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that the college student, Sam Eshaghoff of Great Neck, New York, is currently a student at Emory University in Atlanta.

Administration Releases Details Of NCLB Waiver Plan

Education Week (9/28, McNeil, Klein) continues coverage of President Obama's announcement last week of a plan to "waive cornerstone requirements" of NCLB "including the 2014 deadline for all students to be proficient in math and reading/language arts, and will give states the freedom to set their own student-achievement goals and design their own interventions for failing schools." The piece notes that the waivers will be tied to reforms focusing on "standards for college and career readiness" and "improvement efforts on 15 percent of the most troubled schools." Student-based teacher evaluations will also be required. The article notes that Education Secretary Arne Duncan "has declared that the nearly 10-year-old NCLB law is 'broken' and warned that if nothing changed, 80 percent of schools this year would not make adequate yearly progress, or AYP, the key yardstick under the law, and could be labeled as failing."


Alexander Seeking Bipartisan Path On NCLB Reform.Politico (9/28, Mak) reports that Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) says "federal requirements for evaluating students and teachers set out in No Child Left Behind should be scuttled in favor of state-set standards," presenting his comments as bipartisan in tone. Alexander, who Politico notes "resigned from Republican Senate leadership last week in a bid to get his 'independence back' and work with members of the other party," wrote in a New York Times op-ed [included in yesterday's Department of Education News Briefing] about the connection between education and jobs, praised Education Secretary Arne Duncan as "excellent" and called for a bipartisan approach to crafting education reform legislation by the end of the year. Of the plan to issue waivers, Alexander urged Congress to "relieve Mr. Duncan of the need to consider waivers" by addressing the flaws in NCLB itself.


Editorial: Alexander's Move Reflects High Level Of Partisan Gridlock.Jackson (TN) Sun (9/28) reports that Alexander's departure from his position as Senate Republican Conference chairman "caught the political world by surprise," and suggests that it means that "Alexander is as tired of the extreme partisanship in Washington as we are." The piece notes that Alexander does not appear to be abandoning his Republican ideals, but rather is making a statement "about the atmosphere in Washington [in which] a senior party member believes he has to leave a party leadership position to get things done."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Record Number Of California Students Entering School Without Vaccinations

The AP (9/27, Mohajer) reports that California public health officials are concerned that a record 11,000 kindergarten students in California last year were missing "at least one vaccine" because "of parents who used a personal belief exemption to avoid immunization requirements." The piece notes that this constitutes almost 2.5% of the cohort, calling it "California's highest rate of declined vaccines since at least 1978, the year before the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was required."

New York Times Hosts Online Debate On Length Of School Day

In an online "Room for Debate" feature, the New York Times (9/27, Subscription Publication) asks a number of education experts and others about whether the traditional school day should be longer. The piece features responses from Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone, filmmaker Vicki Abeles, sleep researcher Mary A. Carskadon, and KIPP Foundation CEO Richard Barth, among others.

Many Teachers Have Limited Experience

MSNBC (9/27, Omer) reports that according to statistics, the number of "new teachers" in the US workforce has "increased dramatically over the past two decades. In 1987-'88, the most common level of experience among the nation's 3 million K-12 public school teachers was 14 years in the classroom. By 2007-'08, students were most likely to encounter a teacher with just one or two years of experience." The piece cites such factors as the retirement of many baby boomer teachers, a decreased appeal to the profession from NBLB and other programs, and low pay.

ED, FCC Switching From Funding To Facilitating Education Technology

Education Week (9/27, Quillen) reports that ED and the FCC "both have helped launch initiatives that were billed as major breakthroughs but involved the two organizations as agents of collaboration, not primary funders," for education technology. "Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski attended as Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. officially announced its Internet Essentials program, which will give families of students who receive free school lunches access to broadband Internet service for $9.95 a month, before taxes." The previous week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan "launched the Digital Promise center, a congressionally authorized clearinghouse dedicated to identifying, supporting, and publicizing the most effective education technology innovations." After initial funding, Education Week notes, ED will shift to a role focused more on linking stakeholders' ideas.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Career Switchers Face Dwindling Job Supply

The AP (9/26) relates the story of a South Carolina woman with "a degree in early childhood education and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to repay, but no teaching job," noting that the decades-long trend of high teacher demand has fallen victim to the recession, which has "upended the conventional wisdom that a teaching job is a golden ticket to career stability." Meanwhile, "a national survey of school districts in June by the Center on Education Policy estimated that 48 percent of them cut teaching jobs last school year." The AP notes that this trend of increased job scarcity applies to recent graduates as well as career switchers, "because of school district rules that require administrators to lay off the most recently hired teachers first, meaning some graduates lucky enough to find a job are out of work within a year."

ED's Ali Hails End Of Arizona Teacher Accent Rules

The New York Times (9/25, Lacey, Subscription Publication) reports on Arizona's nearly decade-long policy of "sending monitors to classrooms across the state to check on teachers' articulation," noting that the state "recently made a sharp about-face on the issue. A federal investigation of possible civil rights violations prompted the state to call off its accent police. 'To my knowledge, we have not seen policies like this in other states,' Russlynn H. Ali, the assistant federal secretary of education for civil rights, said in an interview. She called it 'good news' that Arizona had altered its policy." The Times describes the complaint field with ED alleging unfair treatment of teachers with accents, but notes that state officials say they were investigating fluency in English rather than accents.

Illinois Districts Moving Away From Cursive Writing

The Chicago Tribune (9/26, Black) reports on the "shocked" reactions of parents in DuPage County, Illinois, to news that the school district is dropping cursive writing from its curriculum "in order to squeeze more 21st century lessons, such as keyboarding, into the classroom day." The Tribune notes that across the state other districts have "begun to downplay cursive to conform to a new set of 'common core standards' adopted last year. At least 44 other states have signed on to the new standards, which dictate the skills students should learn at each grade level."

Virginia District Elementary Schools Ending Letter-Grading

The Washington Post (9/24, Sieff) reports on a "bold change" in the Fairfax County, Virginia, school district, which is ending the policy of issuing letter grades. "For years, anxiety and ambition have hung on the letters, but educators now say that the metric is imprecise and does little to reflect a student's progress, especially in the early years of schooling. In Fairfax, officials will soon implement a detailed report card that instead uses numeric values from one through four and adds dozens of new categories in which progress will be measured." The Post notes that DC schools began dropping letter grades "years ago."

Author Seeks Learning Assessment Focused On Information Age

Author Cathy Davidson writes in the Washington Post (9/24, 572K), "We have teachers, out of self-preservation and to protect their schools and their students, teaching to a test that was designed in the era of the Model T. We are 15 years into the information age. Now is the time to begin to rethink how we assess learning for the challenges of the digital world that lie ahead. It's not as simple as filling in the bubbles."

New Season Of Sesame Street To Teach Young Children To Think Like Scientists

USA Today (9/26, Toppo) reports, "In a bid to give young viewers a leg up in math and science, the producers of Sesame Street this fall want to help the very young think like scientists." In the children "show's 42nd season, which debuts today, so-called STEM skills - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - are front-and-center. Characters build bridges, launch rockets and think through problems that require trial and error, observation and data." USA Today notes, "In the latest rankings, US 15-year-olds, on average, were just that: average. Among 65 industrialized nations, they placed 23rd in science and 30th in math in the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment."

Researchers: Adults Must Adapt Anti-Bullying Efforts To Teen Culture

Duncan Calls For Head-On Approach To Bullying.

The Buffalo News (9/23, Zremski, 174K) reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan, speaking Wednesday at ED's anti-bullying summit, discussed correspondence from students who feel helpless in the face of bullying at school, noting that "in the wake of the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of Amherst, Duncan and other education experts said schools must confront the bullying problem, lest they risk more young lives. 'You have to take these tough issues on openly and honestly,' Duncan said in a brief interview at a conference his department is sponsoring on prevention of bullying. 'It's painful. It's difficult work. It's tough stuff. But ultimately it saves lives.'" Duncan stressed that ED is working to help districts prevent bullying, and touted some successes.

Rutgers Student's Death One Year Ago Resulted In Anti-Bullying Legislation.The AP (9/23) reports on the anniversary of the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi who had been harassed over being gay, noting that after his suicide, "New Jersey's legislature passed anti-bullying legislation. ... The state attorney general earlier this week distributed new guidelines to school officials and law enforcement about the law."

Law's Implications For Special Needs Students Considered.The Record and Herald News (NJ) (9/23, Hughes) reports on the concerns voiced by New Jersey special education stakeholders over the impact that the New Jersey Anti-bullying Bill of Rights could have on such students, noting that they "have long been victims of bullying, but impulse control problems or other issues could cause them to be seen as aggressors."

After Fan's Suicide, Lady Gaga Calls For Meeting With Obama About Bullying Concerns.The AP (9/23) reports that singer Lady Gaga "wants to meet with President Barack Obama about her concerns over bullying," noting that she "expressed sadness over Twitter Wednesday about" Rodemeyer's suicide. "The pop singer tweeted to her 13.7 million followers: 'I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end.'"

Researchers: Adults Must Adapt Anti-Bullying Efforts To Teen Culture.

In a New York Times (9/23, Subscription Publication, 950K) op-ed, Microsoft researchers Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick write that Rodemeyer's death "is appalling. His story is a classic case of bullying: he was aggressively and repeatedly victimized." The writers detail the national debate that has stemmed from similar cases, but warn that "adults need to start paying attention to the language of youth if they want antibullying interventions to succeed." They suggest that high school students are often reluctant to admit that they are being bullied, and that concerned stakeholders must rely on their own observations. "Antibullying efforts cannot be successful if they make teenagers feel victimized without providing them the support to go from a position of victimization to one of empowerment."

Striking Tacoma Teachers Vote To Approve Contract

The AP (9/23, Valdes) reports that teachers in Tacoma, Washington, voted on Thursday to approve a new contract, "ending a 10-day strike that had kept Tacoma's 28,000 students at home for more than week. Nearly 99 percent of teachers voted to approve a deal brokered Wednesday night by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who called representatives from the district and the teachers union to her office in Olympia after negotiations stalled." The piece notes that classes are scheduled to resume today, noting that "teachers were told the three-year contract would keep basic salaries and class sizes the same." The contract however does not resolve the biggest sticking point, a controversial teacher transfer policy, relegating the issue to a new advisory committee made up from members of the union and the district.

Study Questions Validity Of Single-Sex Education

The Washington Post (9/23, Chandler, 572K) reports that according to a new study, single-gender education is "based on weak, 'misconstrued' scientific claims, not solid research." The study concludes that such "sex segregation increases gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutionalized sexism," and its authors "call on President Obama to rescind regulatory changes spurred by the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law that made way for more single-sex classes in public schools." The Post describes the civil rights-centered debate over same-gender education, and notes that the "study represents a new front in the battle by challenging varying interpretations of burgeoning brain research."


Noting that the study will be published in Science magazine, and that its authors have founded the nonprofit American Council for CoEducational Schooling, the New York Times (9/23, Lewin, Subscription Publication, 950K) reports that the study is "likely to wrangling about the effects of single-sex education. It asserts that 'sex-segregated education is deeply misguided and often justified by weak, cherry-picked or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence.'" The study stresses that single-sex education "reduces boys' and girls' opportunities to work together, and reinforces sex stereotypes." The Times notes parenthetically that Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Chicago's Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, while former ED official Diane Ravitch criticized the school's low test scores.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Teen Commits Suicide Months After "It Gets Better" Posting

The suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old high school freshman in Buffalo, New York, who had spoken out in the past against anti-gay bullying generated significant press coverage, including a total of 4:40 on two network news broadcasts. Much of the coverage presents this news within the context of the push to control bullying in schools. Noting ED's anti-bullying summit taking place this week, the CBS Evening News (9/21, story 9, 2:30, Pelley) reported that Rodemeyer "had been bullied relentlessly since fifth grade. His parents, Tim and Tracy, found his body on Sunday." The piece relates his parents' descriptions of the bullying that Jamey faced over perceptions among his classmates that he was gay, and notes that earlier this year, he "posted [a] message as part of an online support group for gay teens. ... But just weeks ago, he posted [an] online plea for help."


NBC Nightly News (9/21, story 6, 2:10, Williams) also reported on Jamey's bullying and subsequent suicide, adding, "Dan Savage created the 'It Gets Better Project,' messages to gay teens submitted by celebrities and ordinary people like Jamie." Columnist Dan Savage is shown saying, "Even in his pain, and he must have been in terrible pain, he was reaching out and trying to help others."


The Buffalo News (9/22, Tan) reports that local officials are investigating whether any bullying-related crimes may have been committed against Jamey prior to his death. Potentially, the News reports, "school bullies could be charged with harassment or hate crimes."


The Washington Post (9/22, Hughes) also covers Jamey's suicide, noting, "after years of being called gay slurs at school and being told by anonymous people online that he should die, he killed himself Monday." His mother said that despite his seeing a therapist and a social worker, "that didn't stop the bullying, and it didn't ease Jamey's pain, which spilled onto his Tumblr account. 'No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you're the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down,' he wrote on Sept. 8. He said the next day: 'I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. ... What do I have to do so people will listen to me?'"


ED Holds National Anti-Bullying Summit.WUSA-TV Washington, DC (9/22, Fox) reports, "The second national summit on bullying brought together families of kids who committed suicide after being bullied. Since last year's first national summit, there are now laws in several states requiring school districts have anti-bullying policies." The piece relates the stories of attendees, noting that ED held the summit in part because "with the explosion of social networking sites like Facebook, more than 40 percent of young people report cyberbullying....sometimes leading to depression and even suicide."

Charters Criticized For "Shunning" Special Needs Students

Bloomberg News (9/22) reports that complaints voiced by the family of a special needs student at New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy, which received a $1 million check from media mogul Oprah Winfrey last fall, that the boy has been denied vital services and improperly excluded from school events represent "a common complaint about privately run, taxpayer-financed charter schools: They often exclude children with serious disabilities or deny them the help they need, violating federal laws. ... Shunning special-education students helps school budgets since the average disabled child costs twice as much to serve as a nondisabled one, said Thomas Hehir, who oversaw federal special-education programs under President Bill Clinton."

California District Looks To Improve ELL Teacher Instruction

The San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune (9/22, McCray) reports, "The Chula Vista Elementary School District is sprucing up teacher training this year in an effort to improve education for English- and Spanish-language learners." The district launched a collaborative educator training program with the San Diego County Office of Education last year "with a document called Side by Side, which helps teachers plan instruction by breaking down language standards - the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire - by grade level," the Union-Tribune reports. The piece describes the philosophy behind the program, noting that it also has benefits for native English speakers.

Philosophy Professor: Low Test Scores Not Justification For Drastic Reforms

University of Notre Dame philosophy professor Gary Gutting writes at the New York Times (9/22) "The Stone" blog that disappointing scores on standardized tests are increasingly being used by proponents of education reform to bolster their arguments, but notes that it is "not immediately obvious what follows from poor test scores." He notes that standardized tests are limited in their ability to gauge students' actual proficiency, especially regarding critical thinking and other higher order intellectual skills. He concludes, therefore, that "negative test results should never be presented as reasons for immediate and drastic action," but should rather become part of a more complicated conversation about "what, if anything, needs to be done."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Villaraigosa Meeting With NEA Head

The Los Angeles Daily News (9/20) reports Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is scheduled to meet with National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel while in Washington, DC. He also will speak at the American Enterprise Institute "on how mayors can influence public education." His "speech will be a call-to-action for leaders to get past partisan and political differences to help failing public school systems" and include "the need for unions to be open to more flexible contracts than in years past."

Federal Government Mandating Increased School Lunch Fees

The New York Times (9/20, A12, Santos, Subscription Publication) reports that "a little-noticed provision of the child nutrition bill" from December requires school districts "to start bringing their prices in line with what it costs to prepare" meals, "eventually charging an average of $2.46 for the lunches they serve." The price increase is "the first time the federal government has gotten into the business of cafeteria prices since its school lunch program was established in 1946," and was a reaction to a study that suggested federal money was subsidizing meals for children who it wasn't intended for. However, critics say the increased prices will hurt those who don't quality for subsidies but still need help. Additionally, the prices could cause more parents to send lunches to school with their children or not pay cafeteria lunch fees at all.

English Language Learners Place Demands On Rural Schools

On its website, CNN (9/20, Holland) reports the National Center for Education Statistics says "9% of students in the US are considered to have limited proficiency in English," and about 11% of them attend school in rural settings. Elena Silva of Education Sector, a think tank in Washington, DC, said that "rural schools in particular have difficulty with English language learners," not having "have the resources, training, funding and infrastructure to support English language learners." The article illustrates the issue using Columbus Junction, Iowa, as an example.


Study: California English Proficiency Test Labels Most Student English Learners. According to the Huffington Post (9/20), a study by the University of California, Berekely's Center for Latino Policy Research found that "taking the California English Language Development Test 'almost guarantees' a student will be classified as an English learner." Only 12% of the four- and five-year-olds who took the English proficiency exam before kindergarten "in the 2009-2010 school year were considered English language proficient, misidentifying the many others as English learners, according to the study." Lead researcher Lisa GarcĂ­a Bedolla, an associate professor at Berkeley's Graduate School of Education, "notes that schools have incentives to consider students English learners -- like receiving $5 from the state for each test administered, recognition for improving students' English abilities and receiving extra federal funding."

Georgia School Develops IPad Lab

The Savannah (GA) Tribune (9/21) reports, "The May Howard Elementary School announces the launch of a high tech iPad lab to advance learning through the use of technology." The Tribune quotes Leslie Taylor, Principal of May Howard Elementary School, "The new iPad lab is a great addition and will assist our teachers in providing high quality instruction for students."

Documentary Explores Difficulties Faced By Teachers

The New York Times /WNYC (9/21, Phillips, Subscription Publication) "School Book" blog reports on "American Teacher," a documentary film "that will debut in New York City this Sunday" and "is a rebuttal of sorts to the pundits and politicians who are eager to battle unions and write teachers off as the over-protected recipients of Cadillac benefits, extended summer vacations and low expectations." The Times notes that the film, "which was independently made, now has the backing of both major teachers unions, as well as praise from United States Education Secretary Arne Duncan."

School Garden Fosters Learning

The Midland (MI) Daily News (9/21) reports on a "learning garden" that was moved from Cook School, which closed two years ago, to Adams School. The Daily News describes how the garden is used to complement teaching and quotes the garden's founder Teri Bickmore, "We wish this garden concept could be in all the elementary schools. All of the Master Gardeners have (to perform) volunteer hours and would love to be involved with the students."

Study Finds Children Of Illegal Immigrants Struggle With Social Development

The New York Times (9/21, A17, Preston, Subscription Publication, 950K) reports a study published in the Harvard Educational Review has found that children whose parents are illegal immigrants or are themselves undocumented face "uniformly negative" effects on their social development. The study, conducted by researchers at New York University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, "concluded that more than five million children in the United States are 'at risk of lower educational performance, economic stagnation, blocked mobility and ambiguous belonging' because they are growing up in immigrant families affected by illegal status."

New York Schools Chancellor Announces Plan For Middle Schools

The New York Times (9/21, Subscription Publication) reports, "In his first policy address since becoming schools chancellor in April, Dennis M. Walcott announced on Tuesday that New York would open 50 new middle schools in the next two years, many in the city's poorest neighborhoods." Walcott also said New York would "apply for about $30 million in federal money to replace teachers and leadership, while keeping students in place, at five struggling schools for each of the next two years." The Times notes, "While the plan, outlined in a speech at the Kimmell Center of New York University, got a warm welcome from educators in the audience, it drew a more guarded response from others, including the president of the teachers' union, Michael Mulgrew, who said Mr. Walcott was not going far enough."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Most Agree NCLB Isn't Working, But Divided On How To Address It

The AP (9/18) reported "a decade after its passage, most educators and politicians agree that No Child Left Behind...isn't working." With no immediate legislative solution to NCLB in sight, Education Secretary Arne Duncan "said he would waive the proficiency requirements for states that are working to improve their schools and have adopted their own testing and accountability programs." The Administration also wants to "provide competitive grants" for STEM education. Experts agree that change is needed, but disagree on the specifics. Donna Harris-Aikens, director of education policy and practice for the National Education Association, "remains hopeful that Congress will reauthorize the law but with some changes." And Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education, "said that instead of punishing schools for poor performance with sanctions, testing should be used to identify those that need additional support."

Study Suggests Driver's Ed Cars May Be Unsafe

The USA Today (9/19) "Drive On" blog reports that schools offering driver's ed may be using "unsafe cars," according to a Chicago Tribune and study that found that Chicago-area districts teach driver's ed "in smaller, cheaper cars that wouldn't hold up as well in a crash as big vehicles" and have received poor to fair safety ratings -- for example, Chevy Aveos and Cavaliers. The AP (9/19) notes that "some districts don't opt for side air bags when they're available," and that CPS students are using "some of the oldest and worst-rated cars in the state -- cars sometimes older than their student drivers."

Digital Promise Will Focus On Improved Academic Technology Use

The New York Times (9/17, A15, Dillon, Subscription Publication) reports, "The White House on Friday announced the creation of a national research center that will focus on developing new technologies like software and games for teaching and learning in public schools. The center, called Digital Promise, was created with bipartisan Congressional support and is to be an independent nonprofit organization, overseen by a board of leaders in education and technology appointed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan." Digital Progress "will work with researchers, entrepreneurs and schools."

Teachers At High-Performing Schools Share Strategies

The Jackson (MS) Clarion Ledger (9/18, Brown) reports that standardized test scores have improved in Mississippi, and credits the change to "individual classrooms" and teachers. The article profiles several teachers at high-performing school, as well as the methods that have shaped their success. Kristin Brown of Timberlawn Elementary, for example, "incorporates other subjects such as math and history into her lessons" on English, while Canton math teacher LaTanya Sanders "takes her students outside the classroom, letting them do measurements in the hallways or go on nature walks, as long as it's relevant to the skill she is teaching." Sanders said "credits Nichols Middle School Principal Cleveland Anderson, who had been her math teacher in seventh grade and a mentor, with giving teachers the freedom to get outside the classroom."

Elementary School Receives Grant To Expand Gardening Program

The Star-Ledger (NJ) (9/17) reported, "Tamaques Elementary School has received a 'Learning Through Gardening' grant from the New Jersey Agricultural Society" that "will allow the school to expand its garden program," which "encourages students to eat their fruits and vegetables, provides them with lessons about growing plants and encourages them to live an active life through planting and maintaining gardens." The grant will allow the school to expand the program to all grades, and provide it "with gardening supplies, instruction for teachers and consultations with master gardeners to aid in expansion."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Critics Seek Changes To NCLB

A McClatchy (9/16, Vickers, Arkin, Bansal) article about the impact of No Child Left Behind over the past decade presents the views of a number of education experts on the disconnect between the law's intentions and its actual results. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, McClatchy reports, says that while the law had laudable goals, it failed to adequately fund its mandates, leading to hardships for districts. Meanwhile, education historian and former ED official Diane Ravitch argues that the law's "unrealistic" requirements of universal student proficiency-in addition to its narrow curricular focus- "has been detrimental for schools." McClatchy notes that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has moved to lessen the punitive impact of the law, but has been criticized by Ravitch and others for tying relief to his own education agenda. Meanwhile, Donna Harris-Aikens, director of education policy and practice for the National Education Association, dismissed the law's benchmarks as "arbitrary."

Psychiatrist Association Publishes Study On Bullying Prevention

The Los Angeles Times (9/16, Healy, 657K) reports on a new comprehensive study of anti-bullying programs published by the American Psychiatric Association which describes bullying as "a process that arises out of toxic group dynamics, not a problem originating with a single troubled person." For this reason, the study concludes, "that virtually none of the hundreds of anti-bullying programs marketed briskly across the world has a record of consistent, well-documented success." The Times notes that the study's lead author believes this is "because they are devised outside of the school system in which they're implemented and because they're imposed, usually from the top down, by well-meaning school committees or administrators without a wellspring of community support."

Baby Boomers Using Alternative Certification To Launch Teaching Careers

The New York Times (9/16, Olson, Subscription Publication, 950K) reports that many "baby boomers" are "enrolling at community colleges and in state-approved or private programs to convert their professional expertise to the classroom," after having completed their previous careers. "Even the recent public criticism of teachers and cuts in school budgets have not deterred retirees from getting teaching credentials - and finding paying jobs, especially in math, science and special education." Noting that the Department of Education's website "lists each state's alternative certification programs," the Times adds, "'There is an incredible opportunity here for those who are pursuing encore careers,' said Brad Jupp, senior program aide to the education secretary, Arne Duncan, who helped start the site."

Despite Judge's Ruling, Tacoma Teachers Vote To Continue Strike

AP (9/16) reports that despite a court order to return to the classroom, striking teachers in Tacoma, Washington, "voted overwhelmingly" to remain on the picket line on Thursday. "Some 93 percent of the nearly 1,600 teachers gathered at the Tacoma Dome arena said they wanted to keep picketing." Tacoma teachers are striking "over issues including pay, class size and how job transfers are handled." The AP places the story in a national context, noting that ED "wants every state and school district to update the way they evaluate teachers, and a weak economy has most states struggling to find enough money to pay teachers." Noting that the strike by 1,900 teachers is cancelling school for some 28,000 students, Reuters (9/16, Gorman) reports that district officials expressed disappointment, and the superintendent referred to the strike as illegal.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bachmann's District, School District Being Investigated Over Bullying

Education Week (9/15, Shah) "Politics K-12" blog reports, "The Minnesota school district under investigation for how it handles bullying is largely contained within Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's congressional district." The district's policy, which states that "if the subject of sexual orientation comes up in class, teachers must take a neutral stance on the topic," was shortly followed by lawsuits from the Southern Poverty Law Center and others after claims of harassment and related suicides. The Department of Education's office of civil rights investigation is also looking into the district. "Now, the school district's website prominently displays a link to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered issues, training and awareness," although "the change in the district's attitude is unwelcome by" the Minnesota Family Council, to which Ms. Bachmann belongs.

Los Angeles School Board Passes LGBT Curriculum, Anti-Bullying Measure

The AP (9/15) reports that on Tuesday the Los Angeles school board "approved an anti-bullying program that promotes positive images of homosexuals and their contributions in the classroom."

Judge Orders Striking Washington State Teachers Back To Work

According to Reuters (9/15, Myers), on Wednesday a judge in Tacoma, WA, ordered the 1,900 public teachers in Tacoma who went on strike Tuesday to go back to work, effective immediately.


The AP (9/15, Subscription Publication) reports that "Tacoma School District officials said classes will resume Thursday, with the district's 28,000 students to report two hours later than normal," and that both sides, as part of the judge's order, will go back to the bargaining table as soon as they can. Although some "teachers boasted to reporters that they would not follow the judge's order," the union's leaders and other union members said their focus was on getting negotiations to resume.

DC To Implement Sex, Drug Standardized Tests

The Washington Post (9/15, Turque) reports that starting next spring, the DC Public Schools will implement standardized tests to determine what students "know about human sexuality, contraception and drug use starting this spring. The 50-question exam will be the nation's first statewide standardized test on health and sex education, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which developed the assessment for grades 5, 8 and 10." The tests are intended to help officials examine "student attitudes toward risky behavior." The Post notes that the plan "combines two political and cultural flash points in American schools: sex education and standardized testing."


Standardized Testing For Sex-Ed Seen As Indicative Of Larger Problem. Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post (9/15) "Answer Sheet" blog that she "can just imagine the skit Jon Stewart and his crew at The Daily Show will put together" based on reports that "D.C. schools officials have written the nation's first statewide standardized test on sex education, drug use and health." D.C. Council member Mary Cheh, who sponsored the legislation, "says she didn't anticipate" that the requirement to report on the district's progress on improving student health would lead to standardized testing. Strauss uses this example and others to frame a larger argument questioning the usefulness of testing. In defense of the DC measure, one supporter said that "what gets measured gets done." But Strauss argues that "he should probably take note of the new SAT scores that show a downward spiral over years in reading despite obsessive testing over the last decade in the subject."

Study: Copious Homework Does Little To Promote Learning

The New York Times (9/15, Ojalvo) reports that a new study from the Program for International Student Assessment "suggests that a lot of assigned homework amounts to pointless busy work that doesn't help students learn, while more thoughtful assignments can help them develop skills and acquire knowledge." The Times adds that the research suggests that the quality of the assignments is much more important than the quantity, and describes the methodology behind the study.

"Whole Classroom Instruction" On The Rise

The Deseret Morning News (UT) (9/14, Lenz) reports that during the past decade, especially since No Child Left Behind, more attention has been paid to "whole classroom instruction" that helps low performing students in classes get caught up. Under this type of instruction, rather than letting more advanced students "read or work on their homework while the rest of the class catches up," leading to potential for boredom, teachers try "to help every child excel individually in one classroom."

Washington State Teachers Remain On Strike

Reuters (9/14, Myers) reports that Tacoma, Washington's 1,900 public school teachers began their first day of a strike on Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of Tuesday classes for the district's 28,000 students.

New Tablet Geared Towards Elementary-Aged Children

The Wall Street Journal (9/14, D2, Boehret, Subscription Publication) reports that there is a new tablet for children ages 4 to 9, the LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog Enterprises, and the tablet includes a microphone, camera, video recorder and stylus, costs $100, and has downloadable apps, all dedicated to introducing children to learning through new tablet technologies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Study Finds Many Michigan Teachers Need Autism Training

The Detroit News (9/13, Lewis) reports that according to a study from Michigan State University, "nearly half of Michigan educators aren't using some of the most effective teaching methods for students with autism," noting that the study found that teachers' experience and training regarding the "most effective teaching methods" have failed to keep pace with the growth in autism diagnosis.

Florida Group Looking At Standards For Principals, Teacher Schools

Leslie Postal writes at the Orlando Sentinel (9/13) "Sentinel School Zone" blog that in accordance with Florida's Race to the Top commitments, a state panel is scheduled to meet "to discuss standards for school principals," noting that next month, the committee will "look at ways Florida can evaluate its teacher preparation programs. Already, the Florida Department of Education has been crunching FCAT data and tying student test scores to their teachers - and then back to the teachers' college or university (or alternative teacher-prep program)." Postal notes that two years ago, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the "country needed 'revolutionary change' in its teacher prep programs."

Tacoma, Washington Teachers Vote To Strike

The AP (9/13) reports that on Monday night 87 percent of teachers in Tacoma Washington voted to strike, meaning that after just a week of school, "28,000 children in Washington state's third-largest school district will be staying home Tuesday." KING-TV Seattle, WA (9/13) notes that there are three main issues leading to the strike -- "pay, class size and the method in which teachers can be reassigned or transferred within the district." This is the first strike for the district since 1978.


KIRO-FM Seattle, WA (9/13, Haeck) reports that the district's teachers have been without a contract since their old one expired September 1, but the initial vote to strike two weeks ago "fell just a few votes short of a strike." Right now, district officials have "a couple of salary proposals on the table, neither of which involves a pay raise for teachers."The Tacoma News Tribune (9/13, Cafazzo) notes that this time, more than "200 teachers who were unable to make Monday night's meeting were allowed to cast ballots early, on Thursday and Friday last week," enabling a vote for the strike to pass.

New Lobbying Groups Attempt To Offer Teachers Union Alternatives

Education Week (9/13, Sawchuk) reports that "new efforts have sprung up purporting to give teachers a say in policy, and their emergence is extending discussions about 'teacher voice' in unexpected ways," including Los Angeles-based NewTLA, a group operating like "a caucus within the city teachers' union," and New York City's Educators 4 Excellence, a group working outside the city's teachers' union. The article also notes Teach Plus in Boston and Center for Teaching Quality in Carrboro, NC, as groups working with educators in several cities.

Following Federal Probe, Arizona Halting Teacher Accent Monitoring

In the "WSJ Blogs" blog in the Wall Street Journal (9/13), Nathan Koppel writes that Arizona is now abandoning measures to monitor state teachers to see if they use proper grammar and pronunciation of English in the classroom.


In the "On Deadline" blog in USA Today (9/13), Douglas Stanglin notes that the reversal in policy comes as the US Departments of Justice and Education both began investigating the state's policy following "a civil rights complaint by unnamed parties in 2010 alleging that the state's on-site monitoring reports led to teachers being removed from classrooms based on their accents."


The Tucson (AZ) Citizen (9/13, Kossan) reports that last November, during the investigation, federal officials told Arizona the accent monitoring might "violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against teachers who are Hispanic and others who are not native English speakers." Now, Arizona's Education Department will take out the fluency portion of the form used by classroom monitors, and also will make schools "file assurances with the state that their teachers are fluent."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Special Needs Students Gaining Education Access Through Tablet Computers

USA Today (9/12, Boyd) profiles Anthony Leuck of Berkeley, New Jersey, disabled 18-year-old student whose disabilities "make speech and muscle control extremely difficult," noting that "on a recent afternoon at the Lehmann Center, a special-needs school in Lakewood, N.J., Leuck was able to make music" through a program on an iPad tablet computer. "Leuck is among a growing number of special-needs students nationwide who have gone back to school this year with tablet computers. The tablets are growing in popularity for special-needs students because they can be customized to each child's needs, are lightweight and mobile, and give the kids the sense they're plugged into a larger, high-tech community, educators and parents say."


Florida District Sees Glut Of Teachers Departing

The Lakeland (FL) Ledger (9/12, Green) reports on an exodus of teachers from the Polk County, Florida, school district, noting that many teachers are leaving to teach at local charters or neighboring districts. The Ledger adds that "union officials say frozen salaries, talk of furloughs and state mandates are causing an exodus of many of the district's 12,000 employees. The biggest impact to the Polk County School District is new legislation that ties student performance to teacher salaries, said Marianne Capoziello, the president of the Polk Education Association. She said there are a lot of teachers who have left the state and left education completely."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Van Roekel Backs Obama Plan To Prevent Teacher Layoffs

Alyson Klein, writing at the Education Week (9/9, 39K) "Politics K-12" blog describes President Obama's calls for "$30 billion in new money to stave off teacher layoffs-and $30 billion more to revamp facilities at the nation's K-12 schools and community colleges" in his jobs speech Thursday. She quotes NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, "I think the American people are saying to Congress, it's time that you start caring about us. We have stories coming from the field, classes as large as forty or forty-five students in the elementary grades ... that's just wrong." She notes that the NEA "has already endorsed Obama's re-election campaign, but teachers are still skeptical of his policies."


The Huffington Post (9/9, Resmovits) adds that both the NEA and the AFT "praised the president for including $60 billion in relief for cash-strapped school districts in his jobs package announced Thursday evening. 'We have for months been talking about jobs jobs jobs jobs jobs,' Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Huffington Post." The Post adds, "Vice President Joe Biden called both Weingarten and Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, earlier Thursday to brief them on the plan. 'I told him I was pleased with the things they were mentioning,' Van Roekel said."

Michigan Program Seeks To Teach Young Students About 9/11

NPR's "Tell Me More" (9/8) ran a segment on the efforts of schools and teachers across the country to integrate the events of September 11, 2001, into their curricula, especially as regards students too young to remember the attacks. "The teachers and administrators at Unis Middle School in Dearborn, Michigan have thought a lot about this. The school is taking part in what is known as the Living Textbook Project. That program, put together with the help of the Asian American Journalists Association, allows students to play the role of journalist and to report about the terrorist attacks and other events through many different perspectives."

Fourth Chicago School Votes To Extend Length Of School Day

WLS-TV Chicago, IL (9/9) reports that Benjamin Mays Academy has become the fourth school in Chicago to vote "to expand its classroom time by 90 minutes a day." The piece notes that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard are backing the longer school day, though "the issue has strained relations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union, which says there hasn't been enough focus on how the extra time will be spent."


The Chicago Tribune (9/9, Ahmed-Ullah, 475K) also covers the school's decision, explaining that "to add more time to the school day, a majority of teachers at the school have to approve the change in schedule."


Teachers Wary Of "Defying" Union. Meanwhile, in a separate article, the Chicago Tribune (9/9, Ahmed-Ullah, 475K) reports on the controversy over whether to vote for the additional time at Chicago's Disney Magnet School, where Principal Kathleen Hagstrom suggested that for teachers, "adopting a longer day means waiving their contract - and defying the Chicago Teachers Union," making it "perhaps the biggest hurdle, she said."

Duncan Supports Push For Longer School Day In Chicago

The Chicago Tribune (9/9, Hood, 475K) reports that in advance of his visit to Chicago on Friday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sided with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in backing his push for a longer school day, calling the city's "short school day a 'disgrace.'" The Tribune reports that Duncan "said he wished he had had the groundswell of public support to extend the school day while he was in charge." Tomorrow, the article notes, Duncan "will lead a panel discussion on education reform beginning at noon Friday at Schurz High School on the Northwest Side."


The Chicago Sun-Times (9/9, Rossi, 241K) adds that Duncan said that the CPS deserves "the 'badge of shame" for having such a short school day, and he wished he could have lengthened it while he was Schools CEO here. 'Chicago has had the shortest day and year among [large] urban districts for far too long," Duncan told the Chicago Sun-Times." The article details the Chicago Teachers Union's opposition to the move.

Just Over Half Of Students Show Up For First Day In Detroit

The Detroit Free Press (9/9, Dawsey, 226K) reports that "a little more than half of enrolled Detroit Public Schools students attended the first day of school on Tuesday," noting that low enrollment could threaten the district's funding. The piece notes that the district "has lost about 100,000 students during the last decade, costing the district millions and leading to closures of half of the district's schools. Last year, DPS enrolled about 74,000 students."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Florida District To Close For Entire Week Of Thanksgiving To Save Costs

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel (9/8, Fitzpatrick) reports on the "extended break" that students in Broward County, Florida, will have on the week of Thanksgiving, noting that the "cost-saving measure will cut pay for school employees and could create a child care crunch for thousands of working parents." The school board approved the "employee furlough plan" this week, the Sun-Sentinel reports, continuing to focus on the impact on families and the financial constraints which prompted the district to take this step.

Heavy Superintendent Buyouts Raise Controversy

An Education Week (9/8, Samuels) article discusses a number of recent cases in which superintendents and high-ranking education officials have left their positions with hefty severance packages, noting that "Arlene Ackerman's $905,000 settlement with the Philadelphia district grabbed headlines, but she isn't the only Pennsylvania superintendent who has been shown the door in recent months with a generous settlement in hand. According to media reports, William Hall, who led the 3,050-student Gettysburg district, left in February with $542,000." The piece details a number of similar cases in districts nationwide, explores the impact of ironbound contracts in superintendents' compensation, and steps that are being considered to limit the escalation in high-level administrator pay.

Schools, Teachers Work To Craft Lessons Around 9/11 Anniversary

Several media outlets are reporting on the effort to develop lessons related to the upcoming anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. The Baltimore Sun (9/8, Toth) reports on a pair of "new initiatives implemented by Howard County schools this year to honor the victims of Sept. 11. As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, teachers are preparing lessons and the central office has issued recommendations to schools and staff to commemorate the occasion." The article describes the two programs and lists other activities and lessons that are being planned.


The Ithaca (NY) Journal (9/8, Stern) also reports on local educators' preparations for the commemoration, noting that "teachers around Tompkins County are grappling with how to teach students about 9/11 -- if at all." The piece notes that as time passes, the attacks become less fresh in students minds, and details the concerns teachers express about students taking divisive lessons from the attacks. The Everett (WA) Herald (9/8, Muhlstein) and the Norristown (PA) Times Herald (9/8, Rotenberg) also cover this story.


Meanwhile, the AP (9/8, Stacy) runs an article profiling "the students who were with President George W. Bush in a southwest Florida classroom on Sept. 11, 2001." The piece describes the students' memories of the event, and their reflections on how it may have impacted them.

Philadelphia School Violence Report Prompts New Safety Measures

The Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer (9/7, Snyder, Graham) reports that "a long-awaited report on violence in Philadelphia schools found that the district failed to report crime consistently, offered too little counseling for children traumatized by violence, and failed to implement solutions in all schools," and the district "has begun implementing the report's recommendations, including establishing a new protocol for reporting serious incidents and crime in the 155,000-student school system."

Evidence Of Systemic Cheating Found At Two Los Angeles Schools

The Huffington Post (9/7) reports that a number of teachers at two Los Angeles-area schools are being accused of correcting students' answers on standardized tests at two schools, resulting in neither school. Receiving "Academic Performance Index scores, which were released last week and are state measures of school performance. Both schools are among the state's top performers." The Post describes the nature of the irregularities and the steps that officials took to investigate, presenting the story within the context of other cheating scandals in Los Angeles and districts across the country.

Editorial: Philadelphia Superintendent's Departure Magnifies Schools' Challenges

An editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer (9/7) addresses the "crucial leadership void" left by the departure of former Philadelphia Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman, who recently "accepted a generous $905,000 buyout package." The piece also criticizes school district CFO Michael Masch for allowing a $650 million deficit to develop during his tenure. The Inquirer urges teachers and administrators to "make sure that all the uncertainty...doesn't filter down to their No. 1 priority - the children," and urges support for interim Superintendent Leroy Nunery, II.

Study: Lack Of Minority Teacher Retention To Blame For Gap

The Deseret Morning News (UT) (9/7, Lenz) reports that despite Education Secretary Arne Duncan's plans to recruit "more African American and Latino teachers in hopes to narrow the achievement gaps between students," new research published in the September issue of Kappan Magazine "shows that it's not recruitment that's lacking but retention of minority teachers." The study acknowledges a "significant gap between the percentage of minority students and the percentage of minority teachers," but indicates that "from 1998 to 2008, the number of minority teachers in the classroom nearly doubled." However, minority teachers leave the profession in even higher rates.

Recession, End Of Stimulus Bring Massive Teacher Layoffs

The CBS Evening News (9/6, story 6, 2:30, Pelley, 6.1M) ran a segment on the roughly 200,000 teachers and other education professionals who have been laid off due to state and local budget cuts resulting from the recession and the drop-off in Federal stimulus funding intended to preserve those jobs. "Back in 2009," CBS notes, "$97 billion in federal stimulus to states saved an estimated 325,000 school jobs. But that money is now gone. ... Gym, music, and art teachers are often the first to go." The piece focuses on the impact on teachers and their families, adding that some districts are now facing critical teacher shortages and are recalling limited numbers of teachers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Two ELL Links from Kenneth Beare

Modal Verbs Grammar

Most students eventually have difficulties with grammar and usage when using modal verbs. A good example of this is the difference in usage between mustn't and don't have to... Read more


Points of View

Points of View is an intermediate to advanced level discussion lesson that asks students to rate their opinions from one to ten (1 - strongly agree / 10 - strongly disagree) on a number of controversial issues... Read more