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  • Originally published 07/08/2014

    Good Riddance to Common Core Testing

    So far, at least 17 states have backed away from using the federal tests this spring, and some are determined not to use them ever.

  • Originally published 05/24/2014

    Lost in the Past

    Ask a high school senior what the Great War was all about and you’re likely to get a shrug or a stab based on a recent episode of “Game of Thrones.”

  • Originally published 01/16/2014

    The Secret Life of Teaching

    The first in a series: In which we finesse the occupational hazard of keeping student names straight.

  • Originally published 09/10/2013

    The Great Stagnation of American Education

    For most of American history, parents could expect that their children would, on average, be much better educated than they were. But that is no longer true.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Kansas official stands by use of 'N-word'

    Kansas State Board of Education member Steve Roberts came under fire Tuesday for using the “N-word” at last month’s board meeting.Roberts, R-Overland Park, who used the word during a discussion of African-American history, stood by his choice of words “100 percent.”But board member Carolyn Campbell, D-Topeka, along with two members of the NAACP, called Roberts’ comments offensive.Roberts said the word on April 16 in the context of a vote on history standards....

  • Originally published 05/14/2013

    Hunt doubts Gove on history evidence

    Tristram Hunt, a Labour education spokesman and historian, has attacked Education Secretary Michael Gove over his use of evidence.It follows a Freedom of Information request showing Mr Gove's claim about children's lack of historical knowledge had been based on a UKTV Gold survey.Mr Gove had been setting out the need to raise standards in history.A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "There is plenty of other evidence to support this argument."Mr Hunt, taking up last week's attack by the education secretary on the use of Mr Men characters in teaching history, accused Mr Gove of being "Mr Sloppy"....

  • Originally published 05/10/2013

    Michael Gove attacks use of Mr Men in iGCSE history lessons

    The education secretary, Michael Gove, has attacked a "culture of low expectations" in English schools, criticising the use of Mr Men characters in teaching 15 and 16-year-olds about Hitler.Too many teachers were treating "young people on the verge of university study as though they have the attention span of infants," Gove said. He said worksheets, extracts and mind maps had replaced whole books, sources and conversation in history and other subject lessons."As long as there are people in education making excuses for failure, cursing future generations with a culture of low expectations, denying children access to the best that has been thought and written, because Nemo and the Mr Men are more relevant, the battle needs to be joined," Gove said.

  • Originally published 05/10/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: The Prom -- An American Relic

    Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is writing a history of sex education around the world.In 1954, American Girl magazine published a book of beauty tips for young women. It included helpful suggestions about preparing for the ultimate American beauty contest: the high school prom.“This is the moment to slip into your dress . . . Put your hair in place again, fasten your necklace or bracelet, and step into your pumps,” the book advised. “And wheee! Look now! There really is another you in the mirror. A you that is practically exuding a subtle new fascination, a wonderful femininity.”I’ve been thinking about this passage as I watch my own daughter get ready for prom, which seems like a relic from another age. And maybe that’s the whole point of it. In a time of enormous flux and ambiguity in gender relations, this ritual returns us to a time when men were men and, yes, women were women.The first recorded reference to a prom is from a student at Amherst College, who wrote in 1884 about attending prom at nearby Smith. But as more Americans joined the middle class, prom left the elite precincts of private colleges and filtered into the nation’s burgeoning secondary schools....

  • Originally published 05/05/2013

    The Problem with School "Accountability"

    Image via Shutterstock.As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century two seemingly mutually inclusive factors are becoming prominent in the debate about improving public education: the high-stakes testing movement and paying and retaining teachers based on test results. These "solutions" have become popular across the political spectrum and while it may sound logical to people outside of the education, those of us on the inside know that this is a simple answer to a complex problem.

  • Originally published 03/29/2013

    Civil Rights Groups: School Safety Not Dependent on Guns

    In a pre-emptive move against a school safety proposal from the National Rifle Association that is expected to include a call for more people trained and approved to carry guns at schools, a coalition of civil rights groups unveiled its own safety plan Thursday. It seeks the creation of positive school climates, thoughtful and comprehensive crisis plans, and improved safety features that don’t turn schools into fortresses....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Adam Laats: Get In Line, David Barton

    Adam Laats researches and writes about conservative educational activism.What history books should American school children read?Most recently, the history darling-in-chief among many conservatives has been Wallbuilders’ David Barton.  Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, and other conservative politicians have praised Barton’s vision of American history.

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Educators push to bring Haiti’s native Creole language to the front of the class

    ...[L]ess than 10 percent of [Haiti]’s 10 million people speak French fluently, and in most schools, even the teachers don’t understand it very well although they’re asked to teach in it.The private Louverture Cleary School has already broken from that linguistic tradition and is instead emphasizing the Haitian Creole children speak at home. The school is also introducing students to Spanish from other parts of the Caribbean and the English they will likely need in the future....Haiti’s 1805 Constitution declared that tuition would be free and attendance compulsory for primary students. But the quality of education lagged through the years, and plunged during the 29-year-long dynasty of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc,” which ended in 1986. Haiti’s professionals fled into exile to escape political repression, spawning a major brain drain the country has never bounced back from....

  • Originally published 01/30/2013

    Could We Actually Learn Something from '50s-Style Civics Education?

    During last year's presidential campaign, I asked a class of freshmen students to keep track of each candidate's references to history. They needed a basic knowledge of history -- enough to code each historical mention according to the time period referenced. I was prepared to be distressed by my students' ignorance of history, and I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't as prepared, however, for the much greater ignorance of and disinterest in the election. In September, few could name both presidential candidates; none could name a candidate for any other office; only two or three evinced much interest in civic life.

  • Originally published 01/09/2013

    How to Revitalize Public Education

    P.S. 9 in Brooklyn, New York. Credit: Flickr/calculat0r.I have a very different vision of what public schools should be doing than Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg and the current generation of “school reformers.” My vision involves making schools centers of community revitalization where young people's curiosity and creativity are nurtured, where student differences are recognized and respected, where the physical and emotional health of children is promoted, where teachers have long careers, and where parents and community members are welcome.