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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Gene R. Carter is a veteran educator with experience as a private and public school teacher, public school administrator, university professor and author. In 1992, he became executive director and CEO of ASCD, an educational leadership organization with members in more than 145 countries. As ASCD’s leader, Carter has participated in educational seminars all over the world. In 1988, he was selected the first National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

In Garrison, N.Y., along the banks of the Hudson River, lies a renovated monastery that is home to the Garrison Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to contemplative teaching, which focuses on inner healing and awareness. Over 150 teachers from around the U.S. gathered in early November at this scenic retreat for a symposium, “Advancing the Science and Practice of Contemplative Learning.”

The lack of stem [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] educators is a national crisis, according to education leaders such as Martha Cyr, executive director of the newly created STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts. So WPI is one of many higher education institutions nationwide focusing on preparing its undergraduates to teach STEM topics inside the classroom and, ultimately, prepare students for careers in science or math.

The concept of an open-door policy has deep meaning in the school district serving Mason County, a large pocket of northeastern Kentucky that comprises everything from rural farms to low-income housing projects in Maysville, the county seat. Each of Mason County School District’s 2,900 K12 students can expect an informal visit at home, every summer, from their teacher, or “advocate,” for the upcoming year.

In 2009, a year after joining Illinois School District U-46 from his previous post as regional superintendent for Chicago Public Schools’ Area 14, Jose M. Torres made unprecedented cuts to his district’s budget and personnel.


Typical public school revenue streams such as state money and property taxes were decimated by the recession nationwide, and districts across Chicago faced deficits worse than U-46’s anticipated $60 million hole in the coming years. It wasn’t a surprise that cuts in U-46 were necessary, but Torres’ tactics were.

Of American teens, 78 percent have broadband Internet at home, while 62 percent of all Americans have broadband at home.
—Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project

On a district-wide professional development day, a consultant presents to an auditorium of 250 teachers and conducts follow-up sessions with smaller groups throughout the day. The event is chock-full of information, and the teachers feel good about the resources and skills they have learned. The consultant departs at the end of the day knowing she has done her job. However, the teachers do not get the time to reflect and practice the skills learned, and their excitement about the new information soon wanes.

Rather than outsourcing special education services, districts such as the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Unified School District and the Simsbury (Conn.) Public Schools have been scrutinizing the scope and duration of the services they provide.

An old saying goes, “When an irresistible force meets an immovable object, something has to give.” That adage is taking on new urgency for school districts as they grapple with the burgeoning costs of their special education programs.

Teachers are more likely to stay in a school run by a principal of the same race as they, according to a new study released by the University of Missouri (UM). The study also reports that when teachers share the same race as their principal, they experience higher job satisfaction in terms of compensation and intangible benefits such as administrative support and encouragement. The study, published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management in September, used data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Paul Romero, CIO of Rio Rancho (N.M.) Public School District, underlines the importance of constant communication with his superintendent, IT staff and principals for his district’s success. Romero has been with the district, which is 20 miles north of Albuquerque with 15,000 students across 19 schools, for four years, but he has served in other districts in different capacities, including teaching. Romero believes that his firsthand knowledge of what goes on inside the classroom enables him and his team to tackle any IT problem, large or small.

Educators at the Los Angeles United School District face a unique challenge. The second largest school district in the country is home to more than 670,000 students and 1,092 school campuses where more than 100 languages are spoken.

This article is a republication with permission of "Effective Teaching as a Civil Right: 
How Building Instructional Capacity Can Help Close the Achievement Gap," by Linda Darling-Hammond, Voices in Urban Education no. 31 (Fall 2011), published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University in collaboration with the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Rebuilding relationships with parents is the central concern, says author Soo Hong, who cautions that achieving understanding between schools and parents “does not happen overnight.” Hong, who wrote A Cord of Three Strands about the Chicago immigrant parent program, suggests opening up school buildings to parents beyond traditional open house and back-to-school nights to allow them opportunities to help in classrooms.

Proliferating across the country at what seems lightning speed is a law that grants parents an unprecedented degree of power to intervene in the fate of underperforming schools. First adopted in California in January 2010 and spurred by the Parent Revolution group out of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), what’s become known as the “parent trigger” law says that when a majority of parents with children in schools designated “failing” under No Child Left Behind demand administrators be replaced or that the school reopen as a charter, the district must comply.

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