Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quick Hits

STEM-focused charter sees success after many challenges: A charter school near Boston has overcome many challenges -- from parental opposition to high staff turnover -- on its path to becoming a successful school focused on science, technology, engineering and math. The Advanced Math and Science Academy was founded in 2005 by educators and parents seeking a higher academic standard for students. The school now has a long waiting list and is recognized for high test scores, a rigorous computer-science program and an integrated middle-school curriculum. (The Boston Globe)

How schools can handle questions about bin Laden's death: Educators across the country are integrating the news of Osama bin Laden's death into classroom lessons for many students -- many of whom were not yet born on Sept. 11, 2001, or are too young to remember the terrorist attacks. Discussions at many schools focused on the history of al-Qaida, President Barack Obama's speech and the appropriateness of celebrations, although some educators said they steered away from the topic with younger children. Experts advise parents and educators to tailor discussions according to a child's age. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) (Chicago Tribune) (WSPA-TV)

Summer plans - Two different approaches to academic success: The different summer plans of two high-performing middle-school students in San Marino, Calif., highlight a debate over how students should spend their downtime. One student takes advanced classes and spends hours studying to get ahead academically, while another visits museums and libraries and pursues nonacademic activities, such as sports and summer camp. (Los Angeles Times)

Duncan to teachers - I appreciate you: To mark Teacher Appreciation Week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has released an open letter to teachers in which he expresses appreciation for the work they do. He writes that he wants to work with teachers to improve and rewrite the federal No Child Left Behind Act and develop fair and accurate methods for evaluating teacher effectiveness. "As that work proceeds, I want you to know that I hear you, I value you, and I respect you," he writes. (Education Week)

Why appreciation should be an ongoing endeavor:
School leadership coach Elena Aguilar writes in this blog post that teachers should be appreciated more regularly -- rather than once a year. She offers suggestions to foster appreciation in the classroom, asking students to recognize positive qualities in each other. Aguilar writes that the activity also is a powerful exercise for educators, and she encourages schools to develop structures that promote a culture of appreciation throughout the year. (Edutopia)

Widespread changes are coming to Indiana schools:
Indiana education officials soon will begin implementing four ambitious education reforms approved recently by the state's legislature. A new school-voucher program must first survive a legal challenge, but it is expected to transform private education in the state. Other initiatives include the development of a new system for evaluating teachers, limits on teachers' collective-bargaining rights and a law that is expected to allow more charter schools in the state. (Courier-Journal)

Should students use their own mobile devices in the classroom?:
School policies that allow students to use their own mobile-technology devices in the classroom are becoming more popular as educators look for ways to introduce one-to-one computing. Research on one-to-one laptop programs suggests the benefits of mobile-learning initiatives might include better attendance, more educational resources and improved achievement. Some educators are concerned about students becoming distracted by the devices, but others say the novelty wears off and is replaced by higher engagement in academic uses. (eSchool News)

New Project to Safeguard Students' Constitutional Rights in Hard Economic Times:
Seeking to protect students’ rights to a sound basic education in a time of diminished state resources, the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University is embarking on a new project that will document the impact of state funding cutbacks, develop a concrete, operational definition of the resources, supports and conditions that are needed to provide all students a meaningful opportunity for a sound basic education, and then determine the actual cost of providing that opportunity to all students in New York State in a cost effective and cost efficient manner. (ACCESS)

Michigan Law Review Sets Up “Battle of the Education Heavy-Weights” in Book Review of Courts & Kids and Schoolhouses, Courthouses and Statehouses:
Referring to two major books that take opposing positions on the role of the courts in education adequacy decisions, Stanford Law Professor William S. Koski sets up his analysis of the two texts as “a bout between contenders for the school-finance-reform-litigation heavyweight championship.” [see full review here] The two works he considers are Courts & Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts, by Michael A. Rebell, Executive Director of the Campaign for Eduational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University and Schoolhouses, Courthouses and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America’s Public Schools by Eric A. Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and Alfred A. Lindseth, counsel at the Atlanta-based law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. (ACCESS)

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