2011 best high school rankings released by Newsweek

These are challenging times for secondary education. Cash-strapped school districts are cutting back; No Child Left Behind mandates test results; parents and students stress unabated. NEWSWEEK, which has been ranking the top public high schools in America for more than a decade, revamped its methodology this year in hopes of highlighting solutions. We enlisted a panel of experts—Wendy Kopp of Teach For America, Tom Vander Ark of Open Education Solutions (formerly executive director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford professor of education and founder of the School Redesign Network—to develop a yardstick that fully reflects a school’s success turning out college-ready (and life-ready) students…

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Can you build a better brain?

This would be a whole lot easier—this quest for ways to improve our brain—if scientists understood the mechanisms of intelligence even half as well as they do the mechanisms of, say, muscular strength, says Newsweek. If we had the neuronal version of how lifting weights increases strength (chemical and electrical signals increase the number of filament bundles inside muscle cells), we’d be good to go. For starters, we could dismiss claims for the brain versions of eight-second abs—claims that if we use this brain-training website or practice that form of meditation or eat blueberries or chew gum or have lots of friends, we will be smarter and more creative, able to figure out whether to do a Roth conversion, remember who gave us that fruitcake (the better to retaliate next year), and actually understand the NFL’s wild-card tiebreaker system. But what neuroscientists don’t know about the mechanisms of cognition—about what is physically different between a dumb brain and a smart one and how to make the first more like the second—could fill volumes. Actually, it does…

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Can legislation fix America’s science and technology gender gap?

A slew of recent studies show that the problem for women in math and science is related to something both larger and more nuanced: culture, Newsweek reports. In 1972, when Mae Jemison was just 16 years old, she arrived at Stanford University, where she intended to pursue a degree in engineering. But it wasn’t long after arriving in Palo Alto that she learned that the university’s science departments weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about her as she was about them. In one of her freshman science classes, she recalls, the professor looked at her like she was “bonkers.” “I would ask a question, and he would look at me like it was the dumbest question and then move on,” she says. “Then a white guy down the row asks the same question, and he says, ‘Astute observation.’ It makes you start to really question yourself.” In the nearly four decades since, Jemison has proved repeatedly that she deserves a place at the table. She graduated from Stanford with a double major in chemical engineering and African and African-American studies, got a medical degree, and eventually became the world’s first woman of color to go to space. She is, without a doubt, exceptional…

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