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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Many language advocates are hoping to see the Elementary and Secondary Education Act promptly picked up by the 112th Congress in January—with a new bill included. The Excellence and Innovation in Language Learning Act, introduced in July 2010 by Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), proposes $400 million in funding to teach world languages to K12 students.

From dating violence to sexting and social networking, districts are struggling to address a number of sensitive and relatively new health education issues that are aggravated by students' increasing access to computers, cell phones and other digital devices. Through new or revised curricula, administrators are attempting to deal with these and other issues. Their efforts sometimes become contentious when parents object to language or materials used in a curriculum and even threaten lawsuits to force changes.

Not all public school districts in the country provide sex education, and those that do are torn between emphasizing abstinence or recognizing that sex between teens occurs, so they should also focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Back in the 1990s, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in Charlotte, N.C., were plagued with racial equity issues and low academic performance. In 1996, only 66 percent of the students met state reading standards and just 40 percent of the district's black students performed at grade level in reading and math.

That same year, the board of education and school administrators started to map out a turnaround plan to ensure that all CMS students would have the chance to receive an education that would prepare them for college or for success in the workforce.

"We are knowingly administering tests to children that we know cannot do well on them because they don't speak English," says Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), echoing the concerns of many administrators nationwide regarding assessment tests for English language learners (ELLs).

After the release of the iPad, 3 million of which were sold in just 80 days, Apple received an unanticipated reaction from the autistic community. Unknowingly, the company may have stumbled upon a revolutionary framework to change the future of special education technology.

On the heels of a Florida pastor's announcement of an International Burn a Koran Day this past September and protests over a planned Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York City, the topic of teaching Islam in public schools is gaining more attention—but this attention is yielding different results in different places.

One of the fringe benefits of editing District Administration is that I'm able to attend conferences and events and meet in person some of the rock stars of education, as I've come to think of them. Rock star status, by my definition, tends to be conferred upon people who are able to reach a large number of people with their work and, as a result, affect change.

Gifted students may just be among the most underserved students in the nation. They are one of the few special populations with no funding mandates and no legal requirements to serve their special needs. Yet every author and researcher who forecasts the global economy indicates that the best and brightest students in India and China are being provided the best education those nations are able to provide.

It's a familiar refrain in American education: African-American children score lower on standardized tests, graduate high school at lower rates, and are considerably more likely to be suspended or expelled than the general population.

 

With computers and interactive whiteboards becoming more prevalent in classrooms, districts are looking for tools to help maximize the technology's benefits and improve educational results.

The responsibilities of the modern school superintendent may already seem boundless, from making the most of shrinking budgets, to working 21st-century skills into the K12 curriculum, to meeting the escalating standards of NCLB testing. But thanks to the initiatives of two national organizations dedicated to improving the use of educational technology in schools, the job description just got longer.

Last year, 15 students in the Montpelier (Vt.) High School's advanced placement Spanish class paid class-time visits every week to a nearby dairy farm. They interacted with the Mexican laborers by conversing with them in Spanish, having picnics together, and playing cards and soccer. as the students advanced their Spanish verbal skills, they also befriended the workers, helping to ease their feelings of loneliness.

I'm not your typical parent in this age of Race to the Top and Common Core Standards. I don't care so much how my kids do on the test, whether they can remember the names of Columbus' three boats (it was three, wasn't it?) or how many AP courses they are going to take in high school. I'm not much concerned with the traditional ways that my kids' school or their teachers are being evaluated.

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