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The Answer Sheet: November 29, 2009 - December 5, 2009

Blasingame: Vampires vs. angels in adolescent lit, why schools are removing Laurie Halse Anderson books--and more

Will angels displace vampires in adolescent literature? Why is author Laurie Halse Anderson so popular with kids and why are some school libraries removing her books from shelves? How different are “Twilight” and “Hush Hush?” James Blasingame, associate professor of English Education at Arizona State University, and the 2010 president of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, takes on these issues and more in a long, fun piece. Take the time to read it.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 4, 2009; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Reading, Teachers  | Tags:  James Blasingame, adolescent literature  
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Giving back the panda is a good lesson

Let’s look at it this way: Returning Tai Shan the panda to China--as we promised--will be an excellent way to teach kids the principle of borrowing. Loving it and even venerating it (the fan club, the tatoos, the stamp, the inexplicable statement by Mayor Adrian Fenty that Tai Shan is the most important citizen in the U.S. capital) doesn’t change the terms of the loan agreement we made with China in which his parents came to the United States: We would give him back.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 4, 2009; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Tags:  National zoo, pandas  
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Holder, Duncan hear bad news about domestic violence-and good things teens are doing to help

With domestic violence among young people on the rise and the nation fascinated by real and rumored acts of violence among the celebrity set, it seems like a perfect time for a public discussion about domestic violence and healthy relationships with teenagers. And that’s what Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan held at the Justice Department when they sat down with teens who are part of a nonprofit organization called "Start Strong."

By Valerie Strauss  | December 4, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Health  | Tags:  domestic violence, teen violence  
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School bathrooms staying closed for now

Yesterday many of you discussed the closure of some bathrooms at Montgomery Blair High School during lunch because there are not enough security folks to patrol the facilities. Today we learned that the bathrooms are not immediately reopening.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 3, 2009; 6:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Montgomery County Public Schools  | Tags:  Montgomery County Public Schools  
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The case of a boy punished for wearing braids in school as a religious expression

Should a 5-year-old American Indian boy be allowed to wear his hair in long braids in school as an expression of his heritage and religious beliefs? The Needville, Texas, Independent School District said the boy had violated the district’s dress code and placed him in in-school suspension. A U.S. District Court judge ruled early this year that the boy be allowed to wear his hair as an expression of his religious heritage. The school district appealed and the appellate court will hear the case tomorrow in New Orleans.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 3, 2009; 1:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Tags:  religious expression in school  
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Brady on Education Reform: Ignoring the Obvious

By Marion Brady. Any serious attempt to improve the quality of American education surely ought to take major account of the expertise of W. Edward Deming. He’s the American the Japanese credit with making the quality of Japanese manufactured products the envy of the world.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 3, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Marion Brady, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  | Tags:  school reform  
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Inequity in special education: One family’s story in Virginia

Educating a child with special needs isn’t for the weak or the weak-hearted. That’s what Sid Hagan and his wife Cassie learned soon after their boys were born in 1990 with Asperger’s Syndrome--though the couple didn’t learn for years what plagued their sons.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 3, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Tags:  special education  
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A teachable moment for and about the Secret Service

I’m feeling a little sorry for the Secret Service. Every second of every day its agents put their lives on the line to protect our federal officials and, out of nowhere, up comes a super tall super thin super blonde woman to a White House state dinner and is allowed in by Secret Service agents even though she and her husband aren’t on the official guest list. Scandal ensues. Michaele and Tareq Salahi become household names (actually I had to look them up; I know them only as “the gatecrashers”). The reputation of the Secret Service is sullied.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 2, 2009; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Tags:  White House gatecrashers  
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School closes bathrooms because of security shortage

In the category of “it makes you wonder,” the student newspaper at Montgomery-Blair High School reports that bathrooms on the second and third floors are now being locked during lunch. Why? The school has a security shortage and couldn’t figure out a better way to deal with it.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 2, 2009; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
Categories:  High School, Montgomery County Public Schools  | Tags:  Montgomery Blair High School, Montgomery County Public Schools, high school  
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The grades it takes to get into college, and why an ‘A’ isn’t always an ‘A’

Let’s suppose your child is in high school and you want to know whether you should worry because: --You advised your kid that taking the most challenging courses was more important than getting straight “A”s; --Your child has a 3.1 grade point average while his/her best friend has an “A plus” average after taking much easier courses; --You want your child to go to the University of Michigan but learn from a Post education writer that more than 94 percent of the accepted freshmen in fall 2008 had GPAs of over 3.25. Yes. Go ahead and worry.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 2, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  College Admissions, Grades, High School  | Tags:  college admissions, grades  
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Cuban: 'The Leave No Pound Untouched' Act and how NOT to reform schools

By Larry Cuban. What might policymakers do if they were dead-set in reducing the number of fat kids? Imagine civic, business, and foundation leaders so worried about the social and individual costs of health problems that overweight children would face as adults that they wanted schools to fight a war on fat. Imagine, further, that these policy elites, riding the current moral crusade against fat children, wanted to solve the problem now.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 1, 2009; 11:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  No Child Left Behind, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  school reform  
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‘The Book Whisperer’ reveals how to get kids to read

Meet Donalyn Miller, a sixth-grade language arts teacher in Texas and author of "The Book Whisperer." Here she tells us exactly how to get kids who would never voluntarily pick up a book learn to love to read. And she explains what a 14-year-old boy told her about reading "Twilight," and why she told, "No nobler reason for reading a book has ever existed."=

By Valerie Strauss  | December 1, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Early Childhood, Reading  | Tags:  literacy, reluctant readers  
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Telling teens not to drink isn't enough: One story

It was a typical high school party in Montgomery County: Dozens of teenagers got together one recent night to have fun, and as always seems to happen, kids started to drink. In fact, most of them did, and a decent number got good and drunk. Some were doing shots, including one girl who became miserably sick, more so than the some of the others who just became mildly ill and threw up. It took the wits of one sober boy to get her adult help. Unfortunately, a lot of teens are only told not to drink by adults, not what to do if they or their friends do.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 30, 2009; 12:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Tags:  teen drinking, underage drinking  
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Should two-year community colleges offer bachelor's degrees?

Community colleges are big news these days. With skyrocketing enrollments, declining state funding and a high profile champion--Second Lady Jill Biden, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College--the schools that educate almost half of the country’s undergraduates are finally getting the attention they deserve. There is another change on the community college landscape that is causing controversy: Whether the two-year schools should be allowed to offer four-year degrees.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 30, 2009; 10:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Community Colleges  | Tags:  bachelor's degrees, community colleges  
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More standardized testing nightmares

A story I told recently about getting all of the answers on a standardized test wrong and being diagnosed with “overcomprehension” when I was in second grade elicited some great responses from dozens of you. Here are some of your test horror stories about testing--and at the end, one that the author calls “the ultimate” such disaster.

By Valerie Strauss  | November 30, 2009; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Standardized Tests  | Tags:  standardized tests  
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