When students across the country go back to school this month, the vast majority will have an inexperienced rookie teacher. It’s startling but true. The teaching workforce is “greening” and the most common teacher this year is a beginner in the first year of teaching, a TakePart columnist reports. Despite the current focus on making sure all educators are effective, we are not setting up most new teachers to make a difference, and their students pay the price. I don’t know any successful businesses that would hire entry-level grads for the most difficult positions, isolate them from coworkers, and then expect them to perform as well as more experienced colleagues. But that’s exactly what we do with many new teachers who often receive the most challenging teaching assignments in the classrooms and schools whose students need the profession’s best teachers. Each fall, thousands of bright and energetic beginning teachers receive little more than a student roster and a classroom key. Many struggle, in isolation, planning ways to meet the profound and distinct needs of their students. They work long hours to put an unwieldy array of resources to use, or even to access these resources in the first place. Even the most promising new teachers, who learned a lot about effective teaching, can’t fathom how to put that learning into practice. They know their students deserve more. It’s a sink or swim experience….…Read More
Forget the days of bringing an item for show and tell. These days, with most everyone having video capabilities on some sort of technology device, students illustrate their lives and class projects with video, TakePart reports. SchoolTube, a company based in St. Louis, assists in this phenomena. SchoolTube may not be as well known as YouTube, but in school districts across the United States, it is. The company is the nation’s largest teacher moderated video sharing website and was the first of its kind when it launched in 2006 as an academic answer to YouTube, which is often blocked by school administrators. SchoolTube allows videos created by students to be uploaded and shared in a safe environment.
“Every kid that has a cell phone, they can shoot video, so every student is a potential content creator,” Andrew Arizpe, SchoolTube co-founder, said in a statement. “They need a safe place to share that video. Everyday, as technology enhances, SchoolTube becomes more and more relevant.”
In the United States, the website is used by 40,000 schools for free. That number will dramatically increase this year, according to the company’s website, as more members of Generation M (for media) becomes deeper involved in filming their worlds……Read More
Corporal punishment is still surprisingly legal in many Southern public schools, Takepart.com reports. The Forrest City, Ark., School Board voted on Monday night to reinstate corporal punishment in its schools. The measure was strongly advocated by School Superintendent Dr. Jerry Woods. Many parents in the rural impoverished community near Memphis support the action, saying that children are out of control and need spankings either by paddles or rulers. Parents can tell school administrators, however, that they do not want corporal punishment used on their children. Corporal punishment is legal under Arkansas law. It states “Any teacher or school principal may use corporal punishment in a reasonable manner against any pupil for good cause in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools.” During the 2010-11 school year, Arkansas educators used corporal punishment 31,847 times, according to the website Never Hit A Child. Large county school districts such as the one that contains the state’s capital of Little Rock have banned corporal punishment……Read More
The truth was revealed when Donald’s teacher, Samuel Klein, decided to follow him. Klein was one of the very best teachers at Frederick Douglas High School, a challenged school in a challenged urban neighborhood, Takepart.com reports. Mr. Klein was popular with his students not just because they learned in his class, but, more importantly, because they knew he cared. For weeks, Mr. Klein noticed that Donald was always at the school. For instance, Donald never missed band practice even though he wasn’t in the band. He was always at the girls’ basketball practice. And he even attended the neighborhood community meetings that took place in the school, despite the fact that he was the youngest person at those meetings by about 20 years. It was at the end of one of those community meetings when Mr. Klein decided to follow Donald, one of his favorite students, who came from an abusive and troubled home. Totally undetected, Mr. Klein followed Donald to his locker, where Donald gathered his books and his backpack before walking down the hall……Read More
I am old enough to remember when America’s K-12 public schools were the best in the world, says Eli Broad for Takepart.com. I am a proud graduate of them, and I credit much of my success to what I learned in Detroit Public Schools and at Michigan State University. When I was in high school, not long after World War II, the United States had the top graduation rate. Since then, we have dropped behind 20 other industrialized nations. In less time than you just spent reading the last few sentences, another American student has dropped out of school. American students today rank 31st in the world in mathematics and 23rd in science. If the academic rankings of our most precious resource — our young people – were the rankings of our Olympic athletes, it would be a source of major national embarrassment. The most shameful part of the picture — the one that, by my count, is the civil rights issue of our time — is the dramatically lower graduation rates for poor and minority students. These students are far less likely to have access to the best teachers. By any measure, America’s schools are in the grip of a profound crisis……Read More
Almost half of Americans believe that “dramatic changes” would be necessary to bail a school district out of a serious budget deficit, according to a new survey from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, TakePart reports. On the whole, “Americans are pretty sensible about how to slim down public education,” wrote institute president Chester E. Finn, Jr. and vice president for research Amber M. Winkler in the report. Conducted to figure out the best way to patch up the public education system in the U.S., researchers interviewed 1,009 randomly selected adults across the nation. Findings show that the public is aware of the serious economic crisis and the problematic consequences for public schools. About 77 percent said they expected the financial challenges to last for quite a while. More than six out of 10 people approve of cost-cutting measures such as cutting district-level administrators, closing schools with low enrollment, freezing salaries and merging small districts……Read More
Education secretaries are seldom household names. Arne Duncan, the current secretary, is no different. While the man on the street in Peoria may not know Duncan, plenty of opinions exist about the man, known as a policy pragmatist, in the education world, TakePart reports. Some critics want Obama to ditch Duncan if he is re-elected in November. Others praise Duncan, the eighth education secretary since Jimmy Carter created the cabinet position in 1979, saying he has done a good job under trying circumstances. Obama picked Duncan, a long-time friend, soon after he was elected president in 2008. From 2001 until then, he worked as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools.
“When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners,” Obama said when announcing Duncan’s appointment. “He’s not beholden to any one ideology, and he’s worked tirelessly to improve teacher quality.”
That same day, Duncan said, “It [education] is the civil rights issue of our generation.”…Read More
Teachers may need to rethink their wardrobe choices this fall. Due to complaints about teachers dressing inappropriately, school districts across the country are pushing for stricter dress codes, TakePart reports. Most schools uphold a dress code for students — in fact, 56 percent of public schools enforce one, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, appropriate apparel for teachers has yet to be defined. In June, Litchfield Elementary School District in Arizona introduced a policy that would “prohibit rubber-sole flip-flops, visible undergarments, any visible cleavage, bare midriffs, clothes that are deemed too tight, too loose or transparent, bare shoulders, short skirts and exercise pants.” The board also suggested guidelines for hair color, piercings, and tattoos—all of which can allegedly come across as unprofessional. Elsewhere in the state, Peoria Unified School District proposed collared shirts for men and thicker tank-top straps for women. Jeans are restricted to only once a week, since they appear too casual……Read More