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The Answer Sheet: January 10, 2010 - January 16, 2010

Teachers, students and sex

A 29-year-old female teacher and track team coach in Anne Arundel County in Maryland has been charged with three counts of fourth degree sex offense--a misdemeanor--for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male student. But if that had happened in Georgia, the teacher wouldn’t have broken any laws. Student-teacher sexual relations are disturbing in all cases, but they are not necessarily illegal.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 15, 2010; 3:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  teacher-student sexual relationships  
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Best education blogs for 2010

Here we go. My esteemed blogging Post colleague Jay Mathews--the author of Class Struggle, books and other online features too numerous to count--present our choies for the best education blogs for this year. Jay is quite certain that these choices will undoubtedly alter the course of the Internet, and it is generally a bad practice to bet against Jay.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 15, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  education blogs  
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Schools help Haitian relief effort

Students young and old, teachers and administrators quickly jumped into the Haiti relief effort in the greater Washington D.C. region and around the country today with donations of food, money and medical care. Countless tweets on twitter.com are urging people to donate small amounts by texting on their cell phones, prayer services are being held and kids are bringing in canned food to send to the shattered island nation.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 14, 2010; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  haitian relief  
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Talk to kids about Haiti tragedy

Every time there is a massive loss of life somewhere in the world, and pictures are being beamed on television and over the Internet, the question arises about how and when to talk to kids about the tragedy. Today the news is about the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Trying to keep bad news away from children (except especially young ones) is an exercise in futility. Here are some tips about how to address the issue--inside and outside of school--according to the age of the child.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 14, 2010; 9:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Parents, Teachers  | Tags:  talking to kids about tragedy  
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Saturday detention at Langley H.S.

"The Breakfast Club” it’s not. Danielle Burger, executive editor of the Saxon Scope, the student newspaper at Langley High School in McLean, Va., makes that clear in a story about kids ordered into Saturday detention. She wrote: “Students don’t dance around to music and attempt to break out. No sleeping, no talking, no hall privileges, no tardiness--Saturday school is serious business.” What does a kid have to do to go to Saturday detention?

By Valerie Strauss  | January 14, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Fairfax County Public Schools, Student Life  | Tags:  detention  
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Maryland tops other states on ed report card

And the 2010 rankings keep coming....The nation earned a “C” on Education Week's 14th annual "Quality Counts" report card that measures how well states have delivered a high-quality education to all students. Maryland was the top state with a “B+” and was followed by Massacussetts and New York, both of which earned a “B.” Virginia earned a "B-" while most states got grades of “C” or lower. Virginia earned a "B-" while most states got grades of "C" or lower.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 14, 2010; 3:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Tags:  state education rankings; Education Week  
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What makes an effective teacher?

"Teach for America" founder Wendy Kopp is going to Capitol Hill later today to explain the qualities that her organization believes make the most effective teachers in low-income communities. Those qualities don't include knowing the subject matter. Not everybody agrees.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 13, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  Teach For America, teaching  
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Class helped 'Queen Bees' author

Best-selling author Rosalind Wiseman got help for her new novel for young adults from an unusual source: a high school class of seniors at a school in Virginia. The Washington D.C.-based Wiseman is a teacher and author best known for her non-fiction book “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” which was about high school social cliques and was largely the basis for the movie “Mean Girls," starring Lindsay Lohan and written by Tina Fey. Yesterday her first novel for young adults was published. To make sure the events would ring true to young people, she tested it out on some of them, chapter by chapter.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 13, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Reading  | Tags:  rosalind wiseman  
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All-Day or Half-Day Kindergarten?

By Debra Viadero. In my Fairfax County neighborhood, there are two elementary schools within half a mile of each other. The school that my children attended has an all-day kindergarten; the other one offers kindergarten half a day. The school with the half-day program, however, has other benefits, though, such as smaller class sizes in the early grade. So, I’ve often wondered, which students were better off in the long run: the full-day program graduates or the half-day students who got more individual attention from their teachers?

By Valerie Strauss  | January 12, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Early Childhood, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  kindergarten; guest bloggers  
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Costs of public vs. private college

Let’s do a little price comparison, now that Kiplinger Personal Finance has named its best values in both public and private colleges and universities for 2010. As you might expect, the sticker price difference is enormous (depending on your definition of enormous). Kiplinger, which offers financial advice, reported that 39 of the top 100 four-year public institutions of higher education charged about the same or less than the average annual in-state full price, which was $15,213. Many were a lot lower. The average total per year for a student in a private school is $35,600, according to the non-profit College Board, which owns and administers the SAT.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 12, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  College Costs, Higher Education  | Tags:  college costs  
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Willingham: The zeitgeist of reading instruction

By Daniel Willingham. I have written (on this blog and elsewhere) about the importance of background knowledge and about the limited value of instructing students in reading comprehension strategies. To be clear, I don’t think that such instruction is worthless. It has a significant impact, but it seems to be a one-time effect and the strategies are quickly learned. More practice of these strategies pays little or no return....As a researcher, I have a hypothesis: People think strategies are important because most of the reading research is on strategies. But that’s an accident of the way research is done.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 11, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Reading  | Tags:  Daniel Willingham, reading instruction  
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How do schools spend AP fees?

Ever wonder what your local high school does with the money it makes from the Advanced Placement tests its students take? Did you even know your local high school can make money on each AP exam it administers, sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars?

By Valerie Strauss  | January 11, 2010; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  AP tests  
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School seizes 9/11 shirts of Arab-American students

Some Arab-American students at Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Michigan--home to the country’s largest community of Arab-Americans--designed and had made sweatshirts that referenced the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. According to the Detroit Free Press, the sweatshirts had these words, “You can’t bring us down.” Above those words is the number “11” intended to be the twin towers of the attacked World Trade Center, with little windows drawn in each digit. To the right is a thunderbird, the mascot of the school, flying toward the “11.” Other people at the high school were insulted.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 11, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Civics Education  | Tags:  confiscated sweatshirts  
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'Word of decade': Google? 9/11?

Since the American Dialect Society named "google" as the word that best describes the past decade, I keep asking people if they agree or would have picked one of the contenders: “9/11,” "green," "blog," "text" and "war on terror." Some liked “google” best defined the period, others “9/11” and one said “global warming,” the “word of the decade” picked by the Global Language Monitor, which analyzes and tracks language trends. Opinion was not unanimous either, on some of the other words selected by the society, including the decade’s most creative word word--“Dracula sneeze”--and the most euphemistic--“the Appalachian trail (see explanations below).

By Valerie Strauss  | January 11, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Reading  | Tags:  literacy  
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School snow delays -- Part 2

Many of your comments about the wisdom of opening schools late on Friday because of snow served to solidify my thinking that complainers should give it a rest. In fact, I wish I had thought about some of the points you made.

By Valerie Strauss  | January 10, 2010; 8:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Health  | Tags:  school delays, weather  
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