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The Answer Sheet: January 3, 2010 - January 9, 2010

Tread carefully when snow flies

A few words to those parents who are griping because their kid’s school opened late this morning or was closed for the day: Knock it off. It has become almost a sport among people I know to complain every time the weather turns lousy and school system officials decide that conditions are severe enough to alter the regular school routine. “The snow barely touched the ground,” you might hear.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 8, 2010; 1:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
Categories:  Parents  | Tags:  school closures, weather  
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P.E. humiliations can be lasting

Were you ever humiliated in gym class when you were a kid, and do you remember the episode as if it happened yesterday? Well, according to one researcher, phys ed humilitations are so powerful that they can keep someone from pursuing active physical fitness later in life.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 8, 2010; 12:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health  | Tags:  physical education  
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How one university (using an ibis) handled the swine flu outbreak

By Donna E. Shalala. Beginning in the spring of 2009, when we first heard about the threat of an outbreak of swine flu (H1N1), the University of Miami began planning for a pandemic and working diligently according to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Miami-Dade County Health Department in order to prepare for mass immunization. This was especially important for a university campus, since we were warned that college-age students were among the populations that were most vulnerable to be affected by a potential pandemic.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 8, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Health  | Tags:  swine flu, university of miami  
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Top 10 education issues for 2010

Here is a list of the 10 most important education policy issues with which we all will wrestle in 2010. It comes courtesy of the non-profit American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The list includes fiscal crises facing the states, student readiness, teacher effectiveness, and education for veterans.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 8, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  education policy  
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U-Alabama by the numbers

We know the University of Alabama has a great football team; last night the Crimson Tide won the national championship with a win over the Texas Longhorns. But here are some things you may not know about the school: You need four years of high school English but one of history to be admitted. Most undergraduates live off-campus and last year, the school handed out exactly zero bachelor's degrees in math or the social sciences but a lot in business/marketing.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 8, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  university of alabama  
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Sheepskin vs. Pigskin

Here’s another way of looking at schools with big-time football programs: How well the institution does in graduating its students--regardless of race or ethnicity. That’s what the non-profit Education Trust did and found some mixed results among football powers. For example, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats went undefeated in the regular season, and took the field at the Allstate Sugar Bowl ranked third overall in the Bowl Championship Series standings. But the school doesn't do so well with its graduation rates. An interactive tool called College Results Online lets you look up graduation rates at schools across the country.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 7, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  graduation rates, higher education  
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11 public colleges in Va., Md. called great values

Public colleges and universities in Maryland and Virginia did exceptionally well in Kiplinger's new listing of best values in public higher education. Virginia has six schools in the top 100 and two in the top 10, while Maryland has five schools in the top 100 and one in the top 10.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 7, 2010; 4:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  College Costs  | Tags:  Kiplingers, cost of education  
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Should parents volunteer at affluent schools?

So a mother writes a blogpost saying that she is sick of volunteering at her sons’ school. Why? Not because she does it too much and nobody says thank you. Because the school is relatively affluent and, thus, parents who volunteer in places like this are ignoring real social problems. AND because schools requests for volunteers most often fall on women and thus are “cavalier about women’s time and worth.” Hmmm.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 7, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Parents  | Tags:  volunteering in school  
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What Gilbert Arenas should do now: Help schools

The real shame of the Gilbert Arenas mess isn’t that the Washington Wizards are going to be indefinitely losing his talents. (They weren’t winning much with him anyway). And it isn’t that anybody is losing an exemplary role model. If anybody had actually looked up to this clown in any heroic way, well, they need to get glasses. No, the real shame is that the D.C. area public schools won’t be getting any more of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Arenas and the owners of the Wizards have donated over the past few years through a formula based on the number of points Arenas makes during games. So here's an idea of what the NBA should really do with Arenas that would keep helping the schools.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 7, 2010; 8:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Tags:  gilbert arenas, public schools, tiger woods  
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Are sweatpants too sloppy to wear to school?-- Report from Walt Whitman High

They certainly are comfortable, especially when the temperature drops outside, but are they acceptable for students to wear to school? One student at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda doesn’t think so--at least not for boys--and wrote about it in the student newspaper black&white.... So do clothes affect the way a student approaches schoolwork?

By Valerie Strauss  | January 7, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Montgomery County Public Schools, Student Life  | Tags:  clothes at school, school uniforms  
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The link between sports titles and college applications

Tomorrow night the national collegiate football championship will be decided in a Bowl Championship Series contest at Pasadena's Rose Bowl Stadium. The Longhorns of the University of Texas and Alabama's Crimson Tide will be battling for the title. What will a victory do for the winning school? Among other things, it will mean that more students will send in applications--almost 10 percent more than the previous year. It doesn’t sound like rocket science, but two brothers researched the link and found a substantial connection between college applications and success of that college’s major sports teams.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 6, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  college admissions, sports  
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Good news: College financial aid form gets easier

Sometimes there is good news about the process of getting educated. As of this month, it is going to be easier to fill out the form required to obtain financial aid for college, it is going to be easier to apply for financial aid for college.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 5, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  College Admissions, College Costs, Education Secretary Duncan, Higher Education  | Tags:  college costs, financial aid  
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Berliner: Why we are ‘smart’ about evaluating athletes and ‘dumb’ about assessing students, teachers and schools

By David C. Berliner Americans are smart about evaluating athletes and sports teams, and dumb about evaluating students, teachers and schools. Let me explain. Recently, two NFL teams were unbeaten after more than a dozen games into the 2009 season. Then both lost. Suppose that you were observing them on the day they lost, rather than on the 13 or 14 times they had previously won. Given the circumstances, we might all agree that the day you watch a team matters, and thus a single observation can lead to a big mistake in judgment about a teams’ proficiency. Suppose on the day you watch one of these teams the quarterback threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns. If that were all you were assessing that day, and reported the quarterbacks’ performance to others, it would sound impressive. But the team you watched actually lost their game because the quarterback threw two interceptions, fumbled once, and had minus rushing yards.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 5, 2010; 12:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  David Berliner, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  evaluating teachers, standardized tests  
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Teaching philosophy in school

If educators/politicians who dictate education policy were serious about teaching young people how to be analytical and think beyond the obvious, then philosophy would not be relegated to an extracurricular club that meets at lunchtime. Where, you ask, would it be squeezed into a school day that is jam-packed with math and reading and science and history? How about dropping the hours too many kids take getting teacher-led standardized test prep?

By Valerie Strauss  | January 5, 2010; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Learning  | Tags:  philosophy  
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Are American students lazy?

A teacher at Babson College in Boston wrote a guest column in the Boston Globe complaining about how lazy her American students are and saying that international students are generally much harder working. Her contention that American students are, essentially, lazy, sparked a heated on-line discussion. The question is whether the discussion has any merit.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 5, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  achievement, higher education  
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U-Va, U-Md at College Park, William & Mary among Kiplinger’s top 10 best values in public higher ed

The new year has just begun and already we have the first of what is sure to be a mountain of lists ranking schools in one way or another. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, which offers financial advice, today released its newest list of what it says are the best values in public higher education. The greater Washington region has three schools among the top 10.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 4, 2010; 5:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  education costs, higher education  
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Willingham: The value/problem of showing popular movies of historical events in class

By Daniel Willingham. Should history teachers show popular movies of historical events? On the one hand, movies might get students interested in historical events in a way that books and other resources do not. On the other hand, screenwriters and directors are often willing to sacrifice historical accuracy for the sake of a good story. What if students learn from the movies, but what they learn is inaccurate? If teachers warned students about the accuracy problem, would that be enough, or would the movie be so vivid that students would still learn the inaccuracies?

By Valerie Strauss  | January 4, 2010; 11:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, History  | Tags:  history, history class  
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Should kids take physical ed every day?

I don’t quite understand how anybody can argue that young people should not be taking a well-designed physical education class every day in school. Yet that’s what’s happening now that two D.C. Council members have submitted a Healthy Schools Act that calls for, among other things, 30 minutes of physical education a day for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade and 45 minutes a day for sixth- through eighth-graders. The bill’s sponsors have been criticized by some, including my colleague Jay Mathews, who say that there isn’t enough time in the D.C. school day now to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, science, etc. Forcing schools to offer physical education would be, they say, a distraction. They are wrong.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 4, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Health, High School, Middle School  | Tags:  health, physical education  
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