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The Answer Sheet: September 19, 2010 - September 25, 2010

Season of the education film: Do they help or hurt?

We are in the season of the educational documentary. There has been a lot written about several films, including "Waiting for Superman," but the real question is what happens after the final credits roll. Will there be any lasting impact?

By Valerie Strauss  | September 25, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  education documentaries, education films, race to nowhere, school reform, the cartel, the lottery, waiting for superman  
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Lessons from Virginia's shift on Confederate history

Several months after issuing a proclamation about “Confederate History Month” in Virginia without mentioning slavery’s role in the Civil War, the state’s governor, Robert F. McDonnell, has decided to call it “Civil War in Virginia Month” instead. This underscores how the battle to teach the conflict to new generations of Americans continues 150 years later.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2010; 4:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  History  
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Texas education board: Textbooks favor Islam over Christianity

The Texas Board of Education adopts a controversial resolution today that accuses textbook publishers of favoring Islam over Christianity and tells them to stop it. Never mind that the books the board cited as examples of bias were phased out of Texas classrooms long ago.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Curriculum, History, Textbooks  | Tags:  islam resolution, mosque and ground zero, religion resolution and texas, resolution, texas, texas and islam, texas and textbooks, texas board of education, texas resolution, textbook resolution, textbooks and islam  
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The education of Oliver Stone

Here is another in my occasional "Talking Out of School" series in which people from different walks of life remember their education. Movie director Oliver Stone recalls his rigorous boarding school, dropping in and out of Yale University a few times, winding up with Martin Scorsese as a teacher at New York University's film school, why he loved g having film dirMartin Scorsese as nversityP"Talkia series of 'Talking o

By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Talking Out of School  | Tags:  Talking Out of School; Oliver Stone  
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Meier: White knights and false villains in education

Prominent education reformer Deborah Meier writes: "We're now entering the age when "tough love" is the plot when it comes to teachers and parents. Only it's they who we need to be tough on. It's all those smart young people who went into teaching in the late 1960s and '70s (some to avoid the draft) with their permissive spoiled-brat histories who become the villains of the new wave of school-based romances. Neither tough-love imposed by elite Ivy League grads nor the generous-love imposed by elite draft-dodgers—forgive the unfair labels—will do."

By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Deborah Meier, Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  deb meier, deborah meier, diane ravitch, ivy league, school reform, school reformers, tough love, waiting for superman  
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Turning schools into robot factories

Longtime educator Joanne Yatvin writes about how too many public schools are being turned into robot factories.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Elementary School, Learning  | Tags:  joanne yatvin, school reform  
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Report: Gays face high rate of harassment on college campuses

The U.S. military is not the only difficult environment for gay and lesbians. A new research study on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on college and university campuses across the country reveals high rates of harassment and a lack of inclusiveness in policies and programs.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  College Life, Research  | Tags:  LGBT, campus pride, discrimination and gays, don't ask don't tell, gays on campus, harassment and gays, military and gays  
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Ravitch: Why Fenty, Rhee really lost

Diane Ravitch, writing about Mayor Adrian Fenty's loss, says: "Journalists attributed Fenty’s loss to the power of the teachers’ union, but such an explanation implies that black voters, even in the privacy of the voting booth, lack the capacity to make an informed choice. When the Tea Party wins a race, journalists don’t write about who controlled their vote, but about a voter revolt; they acknowledge that those who turned out to vote had made a conscious decision."

By Valerie Strauss  | September 23, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Diane Ravitch, Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  D.C. schools, Diane Ravitch, adrian fenty, bill perkins, democrats for education reform, dfer, fenty loses, gray rhee, gray rhee summit, michelle rhee, school reform, tea party, teacher unions, vincent gray  
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Should colleges stop legacy preference in admissions?

A new book on legacy preference in college admissions says that almost three-quarters of elite national institutions grant legacy preferences in admissions and that the advantage children of alumni can receive is often significant -- even if schools say otherwise.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 23, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  College Admissions, Research  | Tags:  college admissions, ies, legacies, legacy preference, should legacy preference be dropped  
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Schools should teach religion (now more than ever)

The new school year began at a moment when religion was front and center in American popular dialogue. But the one place those issues were least likely to be discussed was in public schools. A professor argues that schools have misinterpreted the concept of "separation of church and state" and says students should learn about religion.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 23, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Curriculum, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  establishment clause, first amendment, lausreligion in schoreligin in, religion and school, separation of church and state, teaching religion  
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College Board vs. FairTest

The College Board takes issue with a post by FairTest's Bob Schaeffer about how the ACT caught up with the ACT. And Schaeffer answers back.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 22, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  College Admissions, SAT and ACT, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  college admissions  
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A critical look at a report on standardized tests

An education research critiques a new report on standardized test scores. It is an issue that is more than academic; the policy implications affect millions of students and teachers.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 22, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Research, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  bluegrass institute, cep report, standardized tests  
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Are charter schools really innovative?

A key school reform is driven by an assumption that charter schools are wellsprings of new ideas. Unfortunately, with rare exceptions, that’s not the case, writes educator Marion Brady.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 22, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Charter schools, Guest Bloggers, Marion Brady  | Tags:  charter networks, charter school movement, charter schools, charters and innovative, expanding charters, marion brady, school reform  
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Oprah and her warrior woman, Michelle Rhee

When Oprah Winfrey aired “Waiting For Superman - The Movie That Can Transform America’s Schools,” on her television show, viewers should have realized that they were watching an entertainment show with a show woman -- not an educator -- as host. Guests Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates and Davis Guggenheim all played their parts, not letting facts get in the way.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 21, 2010; 1:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (192)
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  bill gates, bill gates and oprah, d.c. schools, davis guggenheim, guggenheim film, michelle rhee, michelle rhee and oprah winfrey, oprah, oprah and gates and rhee, oprah and rhee, oprah show, oprah winfrey, rhee on oprah, school reform and rhee, waiting for superman, waiting for superman and rhee, will rhee go?, will rhee stay?  
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RIF study: Access to print materials helps student achievement

A comprehensive new study shows that children's book lending and ownership programs were shown to have positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 21, 2010; 12:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Reading, Research  | Tags:  guest bloggers, reading, research  
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World Bank invests more in education; big gap remains

The World Bank announced that it will make $750 million in additional investment through 2015 to achieve universal primary education. The additional funding of $150 million per year over the next five years represents less than 1/100 of the total global need.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 21, 2010; 11:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Equity  | Tags:  education, education funding, education investment, fu, oins summit, united nations summit, world bank  
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Too many curricular aims creates assessment problems

A v eteran teacher says that the curriculum for many courses of study in American public schools tries to cover too much, and this creates serious problems for how students are assessed.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 21, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Curriculum, Guest Bloggers, Research, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  curriculum, curriculum and assessment, kenneth bernstein, value added  
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The danger of blaming schools for economic woes

Principal George Wood writes: "It’s funny how the start of school also marks the unofficial start of the fall campaign season. What isn’t funny is how so many politicians running for office blame kids for our faltering economy."

By Valerie Strauss  | September 21, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  George Wood, Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  a nation at risk, blaming schools, blaming teachers, george wood, gulf oil spill, public schools, schools and economy  
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Willingham: Left/right brain theory is bunk

Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham explains why the left brain/right brain theory is pure mythology.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 20, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Research  | Tags:  brain research, daniel willingham, left brain/right brain, mike gazzaniga  
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What Americans really think about public schools

In an era of unrelenting bashing of public education by “experts,” a new poll shows that most Americans actually like their neighborhood public schools -- though they don’t seem to like public schools in general -- and they have trust in teachers. And the Obama administration’s education agenda gets mixed reviews in the 2010 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 20, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Research, School turnarounds/reform, Teachers  | Tags:  content standards, failing schools, gallup poll, kappan magazine, obama and education, obama and school reform, pdk poll, phi delta kappa, public schools, school funding, standardized tests, teacher quality, teachers and pay, teachers and respect, what americans think about education  
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Has education reform jumped the shark? A teacher says 'yes'

A veteran teacher looks at recent events in the education world and concludes that yes, indeed, education reform has jumped the shark, and the signs of its collapse are everywhere.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 20, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anthony Cody, Guest Bloggers, Race to the Top, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  anthony cody, arne duncan, bill gates, education nation, gates on oprah, michelle rhee, nbc education nation, oprah, race to the top, rhee on oprah, teachers and reform, teachers town hall  
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Teacher: What my evaluation must include

A veteran California teacher writes an open letter to California law makers about his own teacher evaluation, telling them that if they insist on using standardized test scores, they must also look at other factors that he details here.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 19, 2010; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  accomplished california teachers, california schools, californiai and education, schwarzenegger and education, teacher assessment, teachers, value added  
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Ravitch: Why civil rights groups oppose the Obama agenda

Education historian Diane Ravitch looks at the Obama administration's insistence on embracing competition in federal education funding and more.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 19, 2010; 12:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Diane Ravitch, Guest Bloggers, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  | Tags:  arne duncan, bridging differences, civil rights groups, civil rights report, diane ravitch, equity in education, guest bloggers, no child left behind, race to the top  
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