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The Strategic Question of Class Size In his new edited volume, Stretching the School Dollar, Frederick Hess notes that teacher ranks have grown twice as fast as student enrollment over the past several decades, sharply increasing what has always been the single largest expenditure in district budgets. In times of limited resources, the essential question for policy makers should be how to save money while also maximizing teacher productivity.
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Rating Teacher Education? A Fork in the Road In the old days, before caller ID and no-dial lists, victims of obscene phone calls faced a difficult choice: hang up in hopes the perp would go away, or try to trace the origin and press charges (or at least stay on the line and persuade the caller to get some therapy). Police psychologists usually recommended the more passive strategy, but that was never entirely satisfying because the dilemma evoked a deeper conundrum. From operant conditioning one could hope that ignoring bad behavior would extinguish it, but from our 16th president we learned that "to sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men..."
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How Change Really Happens: The Hidden Potential of Social Networks When I was a teacher, a colleague of mine wanted to try a new reading program. He had done his homework and carefully examined the research base upon which the program was grounded. Moreover, he even went to visit schools that had successfully implemented the approach, carefully noting strengths and necessary modifications for our school. As he presented the approach at a staff meeting, he was convinced he had constructed a very powerful, balanced, rational argument for the program. I was quite impressed with the work he had done and the persuasiveness of his line of reasoning.
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School Boards and Adult Issues Anyone who is interested in school governance should check out the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Atlanta School Board. In brief, all its high schools were put on probation this month by an accrediting organization due to dysfunctional behavior on the APS school board.
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Let’s Leave No Child Inside Our country has a growing problem--our kids are spending less time outdoors learning and exploring and more time inside hooked up to video games or surfing the web. Lucy Hood's recent piece, "The Greening of Environmental Ed," provided a good look at how science teachers are combating this problem through their curricula and teaching methods. I'd like to offer an additional viewpoint.
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Five Easy Ways to Connect with Students In theory and rhetoric, the notion that teachers must build relationships with students is logical and well accepted. In my work in schools, I rarely, if ever, hear practitioners contest the idea that relationship building is a critical aspect to their success with students in any classroom or school.
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Q&A with Jeffrey R. Henig Jeffrey Henig, coeditor with Katrina Bulkley and Henry Levin of the new Harvard Education Press book, Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform, discusses the book's subject--the new Portfolio Management Model (PMM) for district management--and its implications for school improvement in four urban districts.
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Equal Opportunity in Higher Education Arizona is the latest state that voted to end affirmative action in higher education (and other public domains). Earlier this month, voters in Arizona passed Proposition 107, titled the Arizona Civil Rights Amendment, making it the fifth state banning the use of race in consideration for higher education admission through public referenda.
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School Choice, Race & Democratic Schooling The Obama Administration has endorsed school choice--in particular, the promise of charter schools--as a strategy to reform urban education. An army of policymakers, private foundations, education leaders, and parent groups that has long championed school choice has amplified the Administration's assertions with an arsenal of rhetoric related to the purchase power of choice: innovation, accountability, and results.
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The Promise of New State Tests: Two consortia plan better tests, but will they lead to better instruction? Beginning in 2014, students in nearly every state will take assessments on computers that will measure their ability to answer complex problems in reading and mathematics. The results will indicate whether they are on track for college and career readiness, and will be compared across state lines. And teachers will have access to a wide range of tools to help them prepare students to meet challenging standards.
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