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Students in Seattle Will Have More Art in Their Futures

Kate Baker is a celebrity of sorts. Every day when she walks into her place of employment, she is greeted by delighted screams from her fans: a group of elementary school students at Beacon Hill’s Maple Elementary in Seattle, Washington. Why is Baker so popular with her students? It’s very simple: she’s the art teacher.

“They’re always so excited,” Baker said about her students. “They want to know if they have art that day. Because they get joy from it.”

So it seems somewhat wrong and confusing that one of the most popular teachers at Maple Elementary is fearful for her job due to budget cuts in the district. Also, many schools are feeling the pressure to place more emphasis on math and reading skills, which means that any extra funds go to these programs instead of to the art programs.

“If your school has money or if you have a principal who’s a real proponent of the arts, then you get it,” said Baker about which schools have arts departments. “And if you’re not in one of those two groups, then you don’t.”

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Black Students Are the Most Likely to Be Suspended or Expelled

According to the Department of Education, black male students who attend public schools are more likely to receive harsh punishments at school than other students.

The Department of Education released data that shows that black students make up 35 percent of the students who have been suspended once, 46 percent of the students who have been suspended more than one time, and 39 percent of students who have been expelled. Interesting enough, the black students were only 19 percent of the total population at the schools that were sampled in the 2009-2010 school year. The surveys also show that black students are 3.5 times more likely to face suspension or expulsion than white students. Black boys were twice as likely as black girls girls to receive an out-of-school suspension as a punishment.

“Education is the civil rights of our generation,” said Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education. “The undeniable truth is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.”

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Louisiana Ready for Change in State School Districts

Louisianians are ready for some fundamental changes in their state’s school systems, as reported in a recent poll from LSU. Fifty-two percent of those who responded to the poll said they were in favor of “fundamental” changes, while another 34 percent said they wanted the school system to be “completely rebuilt.” While it is obvious that these people want to see some changes, many do not know what form that change should take.

According to the poll, many Louisianians (58 percent) are in favor of paying teachers based on their performance in the classroom, instead of based on the number of years they have been teaching (32 percent). I think this change would a great idea and should be implemented across the nation, but many teachers unions tend to disagree on this touchy subject.

Another area that received much attention in LSU’s poll of more than 700 residents was charter schools. Seventy percent of the residents said they were in favor of opening new charter schools in the state. Many were also in favor of expanding existing charter schools as well. Louisianians want to allow charter school operators who have been successful in the past to open new schools; currently, this ability is reserved for the local and state school districts only. Read the rest of this entry »



Hugging Banned at New Jersey Middle School

In an attempt to keep students from engaging in “unsuitable, physical interactions,” Tyler Blackmore, the principal at Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School in New Jersey, passed a new rule, which forbids the 900 students who attend the school from hugging each other. Yes, that’s right, the middle school is now a “no hugging school.”

Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School isn’t the first school to institute such a rule, but they are certainly receiving quite a lot of attention for it. They are also the only school in their district to institute such a rule, but the school superintendent David Healy is supporting them. Healy has said that the school has the responsibility to teach students about proper behavior and that the principal has acted responsibly.

“There is no policy specific to hugging, and we have, nor will we be, suspending students for hugging,” Healy said. “It is unfortunate that there are those who find purpose and humor in sensationalizing such a routine school-related issue at the expense and inconvenience of our children and our school community.” Read the rest of this entry »



President Obama Waives No Child Left Behind Requirements in 10 States

U.S. Department of Educaiton No Child Left Behind SealWhen No Child Left Behind was first created, everyone thought it would be a great thing and would really accomplish its goal of getting every child in the USA up to par in the fields of math and reading by 2014. However, with the deadline drawing closer and closer, it is becoming obvious that many schools are going to fall short. This is the reason why President Barack Obama recently let 10 states off the hook and freed them from the requirements that the program enforced on schools. The states are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

President Obama said that he took action and released the states from their contracts because Congress has not updated the law, even though many agreed that it desperately needed to be fixed.

“If we’re serious about helping out children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone,” Obama said. “Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

These 10 states aren’t the only ones who asked for a waiver to free them from No Child Left Behind. There are 28 other states that have plans on seeking waivers. Under the new waivers, the schools no longer have to prove that every student is proficient in reading and math; instead, the school must prepare students for either a higher education or a career, develop evaluation systems for teachers and principals, and establish new target goals for improvement among all students.

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Technology in the Classroom Might Not Be the Answer

typingFor almost 100 years, people have been predicting the end of the use of textbooks in public schools. The cause for the decline of textbook use is often due to some new technology that will forever change classrooms.

For example, in 1913, Thomas Edison was a nay-sayer concerning the future of textbook use.

“Books will soon be obsolete in the schools,” he said. “Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.”

Edison was talking about replacing textbooks with videos to teach students. Sure, we do use videos today in our classrooms, but textbooks are still the main source of information in most cases.

So, should we be surprised that many education leaders, such as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, are now pushing for the use of laptops and digital books in the classroom? Using history as our source, the answer is no.

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Schools Must Buy Larger Desks to Accommodate Larger Students

class room with desksSeventeen percent of American children are considered to be overweight or obese. Of course, this statistic in and of itself is disturbing, but the manifestations of this fact are also quite mind-boggling. For example, there was recently an advertising campaign in Georgia that targeted these overweight children. Now, many schools are having to make big changes in their classrooms in order to make sure these students are comfortable.

In many schools across the nation, bigger and stronger chairs and desks are being put into classrooms for the overweight children to use because they cannot fit in normal-sized school desks. Even in schools where this is not an immediate problem, it probably will become one in the future, and because of this, furniture manufacturers are increasing the standards size of their school desks in order to accommodate the growing students.

Taylor LeBaron was an overweight child who dealer with ridicule from his classmates about his weight. When he had trouble getting out of his desk, the situation just got worse.

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Verizon Wireless Awards Kansas Department of Education a $30,000 Grant

moblie communications companyIf students in Kansas are about to sign up with a cell phone provider, they should probably consider signing on with Verizon Wireless. This isn’t based on the cost of quality of cell phone service that the provider offers in the state, but instead it based on a somewhat strange factor. What is this factor? The fact that the cell phone company recently announced plans to donate $30,000 to the Kansas Department of Education in a grant.

The grant will be given to the state in order to help fund the training of teachers on the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards were adopted by the state of Kansas in October 2010 and the funds will be used in the implementation of the plan.

“Verizon Wireless is proud to support the Kansas Department of Education and its undertaking to implement the Common Core Standards in classrooms across the state,” said Brendan Fallis, the Verizon Wireless president of the Kansas/Missouri region. “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

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