Teachers respond to Mitt Romney on class size

Does a smaller classroom really translate to a better education for public school students? In late May, Mitt Romney said fewer students aren’t really the key, citing research that indicated some smaller classrooms performed worse, Yahoo! News reports.

“The schools in the district with the smallest classroom sizes had students performing in the bottom 10 percent. Just getting smaller classrooms didn’t seem to be the key,” Romney said.

But some teachers will tell you (perhaps not surprisingly) that their students, the parents and the schools do benefit from more one-on-one attention. Yahoo! News asked teachers for their takes……Read More

Microsoft Windows 8 release preview available for download

The final test version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is available for download Yahoo! News reports. The Release Preview build of Windows 8 features new apps, richer experiences, tens of thousands of refinements and a touch-friendly Adobe Flash Player in Internet Explorer 10.
“We’re thrilled to be at this milestone with the Windows 8 Release Preview,” said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, marking the operating system’s final stage of development before being rolled out to PC and tablet manufacturers.
Microsoft released the previous Windows 8 Consumer Preview build of the operating system (OS) back in February. The OS was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first 24 hours and has since become the company’s most tested operating system of all time. Since then, Microsoft has made a number of improvements to refine the Windows 8 experience…

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Son of mogul receives full ride to UCLA despite dad’s fortune

The debate over America’s love-hate relationship with higher education has increased a notch with news that an expensive full-ride scholarship to UCLA has been awarded to a teenager who hardly needs the cash: Justin Combs, Calvin Wolf for Yahoo! News reports. Combs is the son of hip-hop mogul Sean Combs (Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, etc.), and received a $54,000 per annum football scholarship, reported the day after his high school graduation on May 24 by Britain’s Daily Mail. The editorial staff of The Week are all over the debate, with proponents and critics of wealthy kids receiving merit scholarships arguing over various issues, including whether or not the funds come from taxpayer sources or private donors.  While Justin Combs certainly put in lots of hard work to land his scholarship and may well be deserving of it, his lack of financial need does highlight an important issue that has been gnawing at the financial efficiency of higher education: Should rich kids get scholarships at all and instead follow the mantra success is its own reward? Basically, is it right to reward poor, working-class and lower-middle-class teens for their efforts while expecting their wealthier peers to labor simply on the merits?

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Opinion: Shame on teachers who mock students

When Christina Valdez’s daughter came home from school with an award certificate for presenting the most homework excuses, Desert Springs Academy tried to pass off the teacher’s in-class announcement of the child’s “award” as joking, she told KGUN TV. Valdez quite rightfully was not amused, says Carol Bengle Gilbert for Yahoo! News. Jokes at the expense of 8-year-olds aren’t funny to mature adults and are developmentally detrimental to kids. The dual message the teacher, Ms. Plowman, delivered was powerful: to Valdez’s daughter, the message was be fearful of mistakes; to the class, Plowman endorsed making fun of others for their perceived deficiencies. This is no message for teacher and role model to deliver. Mocking a child- and encouraging other children to join in- is wrong and harmful. Slapping the label “humor” on it doesn’t change that. The immaturity and ignorance inherent in Plowman’s creation and presentation of a humiliating award to a captive and defenseless 8-year-old unfortunately is shared by too many teachers…

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Is college still worth it? Teachers react to unemployment statistics

For Ohio high school teacher S. Alexander Cooke, the end result of college shouldn’t be about the employment waiting after graduation, Yahoo! News reports.

“The most successful college graduates use college to better themselves. Life is about more than a job, and education is too,” he wrote Thursday in a commentary about the state of American education and employment.

It might not surprise you to hear a teacher extol on the virtues of college education. However, it might come as a shock to hear this: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says, for the first time ever, there are more jobless Americans who attended or graduated college than unemployed who never enrolled. According to BLS stats cited by Investors.com, of the 9 million unemployed in April, 4.7 million went to college or graduated and 4.3 million did not. We asked high school teachers: Would you recommend college for your students when confronted with numbers like this? The overwhelming response was yes……Read More

Opinion: Angry mom deserved taser shocks at son’s school

Here’s a classic case of she-had-it-coming: Michele Lee Eaton, 39, got shocked by Taser twice at her son’s Guntown, Miss, middle school, says Reuters. The oxymoron is that mom had gone in to complain that her son was disciplined (it wasn’t corporal, the principal says). Unhappy with the result of her convo with the principal, mom got mad, loud and foul-mouthed. The police officer assigned to the school told her to simmer down or he’d Taser her, says Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben for Yahoo! News. She didn’t and he did. Eaton has only herself to blame. Note this irony — the police officer was on-site. A middle school needs police protection? That school must have some serious behavior issues to warrant that. Makes me wonder just what Eaton’s kid did to get disciplined in the first place…

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Group sues state of California to undo teacher job protection

Students Matter, a non-profit group dedicated to changing the way the Golden State hires and fires teachers, issued a press release alerting of a lawsuit it filed on behalf of eight minors who are students in California public schools. The defendants include the Los Angeles Unified School district and the Alum Rock Union School District, Yahoo! News reports.

What does the lawsuit allege? The complaint filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that “California’s public schools are failing the very children whose interests they are meant to serve.” It cites outdated laws that make it difficult — if not impossible — for school administrators to improve education quality by making “teacher employment decisions driven by the needs of their students.”

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California schools warn of grim future for students

California’s public schools released a report that shows an increase in stress levels even as they must reduce staff levels, Yahoo! News reports. The state’s university system, too, revealed that continued funding cuts are damaging the Golden State’s ability to provide an affordable higher education to its students.

What stresses does the public school system face? The Oakland Tribune cited an increase of children living in poverty. Cases in point are children attending the Oakland school district. Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of children living below the federal poverty level increased by 8 percent, reaching 33 percent. This figure points to stress factors the schools face when working with youngsters to succeed academically, which include the local unemployment rate and budget cuts due to the state’s deficit. “They try to teach an increasing number of children in poverty with fewer employees and a continual threat of cutbacks,” the report notes…

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Opinion: Two important ways Arne Duncan showed teachers true appreciation

My morning started with a free bagel. It wasn’t much — no five-figure bonus or anything like that — but I’m a teacher. It’s the thought that counts. I’ll take whatever free food you’re willing to give, but I’m most interested in what you’re thinking, says S. Alexander Cooke for Yahoo! News. That’s why this year Teacher Appreciation Week has the makings to be truly special. Yes, I enjoyed a free bagel. But more importantly, our nation’s educator-in-charge, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, said two things that show me his thoughts are in the right place. First, in a piece for the Huffington Post, Secretary Duncan cautioned that in pursuing education reform, “We should bear in mind that reforms that fail to heed the voice of teachers are doomed.” Ask just about any public school teacher whether top-down reforms such as the much-ballyhooed No Child Left Behind Act are worth the paper they’re printed on, and you’ll get a sarcastic chuckle in response. Teachers know that legislating educational progress is a bad — and depressingly expensive — joke…

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Don’t believe the outrage: First grader rightfully suspended

According to ABC News, a first grader in Aurora, Colo., was suspended for singing “I’m sexy and I know it” during school. , quoting a lyric from a popular LMFAO song. Though many are outraged D’Avonte Meadows was banned for three days from Sable Elementary, the move is justified and Meadows was a repeat offender, says Calvin Wolf for Yahoo! News. Meadows was not just singing the song. He had been antagonizing a girl with the song and apparently had done so multiple times. The incident that landed him the suspension involved “shaking his booty” near the girl’s face. A three-day suspension was necessary to convey the seriousness of harassment, especially since previous disciplinary actions apparently didn’t take. While D’Avonte’s mother thinks the school went too far, many schools do not go far enough. As a high school teacher, I deal with several students who behave in ways that will earn them pink slips as adults. They think their lewd comments, innuendos and hands-on behaviors are in fun but fail to recognize they are unacceptable on the job…

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