You are here


The names of professional sports teams like the Washington Redskins have generated national controversy in recent years—to the point that three news publications will no longer publish the word “Redskins,” and instead refer to the team as “Washington.” In this political climate, some states have enacted laws to ensure K12 school mascots are culturally sensitive.

Pekin Community High School District No. 303 in Illinois changed its mascot in 1980 from a derogatory term for Chinese people to the dragon.

Mascots with names like the Orientals and the Redskins will no longer be cheering on student athletes in some schools. Districts across the county are coming under fire from civil rights groups for perpetuating negative cultural stereotypes that could impact students’ view of a diverse society.

Tracey Green is substitute teacher for second graders at Bryan Elementary School in the Jefferson County School System in Birmingham.

The substitute teacher just became more valuable.

Economic struggles and new federal education guidelines over the past five years have changed the environment for substitute teachers. When economic difficulties led to staff cutbacks in almost every industry, many laid-off workers signed up to be substitutes, allowing districts to be more selective.

When students are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), approaches that were once excluded from the classroom are now considered a valid option for helping them focus and learn. 

Linda Gojak, NCTM president, speaks at last year’s NCTM Annual Meeting & Exposition.

Giving math teachers the training and classroom tools to effectively implement the Common Core is the biggest challenge school districts face when it comes to improving achievement.

That’s why making teachers comfortable with the new standards will be a driving force in many of the sessions at this spring’s National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (NCTM) conference.

David Evans, executive director of NSTA, leads a discussion with educators about the new science standards and what it will mean for districts.

A new approach to assessing students’ three-dimensional learning should soon give teachers a clearer picture of the reasoning their students are using to grasp key science concepts. This more intensive level of assessment will be a critical tool for schools implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that are designed to boost STEM scores.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers to offer health insurance to 95 percent of employees who work more than 30 hours per week. In some districts, that may include substitute teachers, who may teach from eight to 35 hours per week.

“Substitute teachers are right on the margin between full-time and part-time,” says Geoffrey Smith, director of STEDI, the substitute teaching institute based at Utah State University. “Districts traditionally haven’t offered health care for substitutes, but that may change for some of them.”

Online literacy programs are made more engaging by interactive activities and can personalize learning by tailoring reading assignments to students’ interests. Here are some programs to help struggling readers reach grade level:

Professor Tim Shanahan, director of the University of Illinois’ Center for Literacy, is keynote speaker at the IRA conference in May.

Take it from one expert: Implementing Common Core literacy standards will be “hell” if district administrators can’t answer questions from educators, parents and policymakers about how the new standards will help students learn.

Matt Saferite, principal at Ramay Junior High School in the Fayetteville Public Schools, meets with ninth grade teacher Susan Whitley, using a new teacher evaluation system to start beneficial conversations with teachers.

As secondary school principals guide their schools and teachers through a myriad of changes, it’s becoming necessary for these leaders to reinvent themselves. No longer can principals succeed by operating only as a manager—the evolving school environment requires a more extensive approach.