Education News: November 20, 2009
Following are some of the top headlines from the world of education for the week ending November 20, 2009.
The Gates Foundation Unveils Grant Winners
(Washington Post, November 20) The Bill & Melinda Gates have awarded $335 million in grant funding to three large school systems and a network of charters. The initiative will invest $290 million to the winning school systems and the remaining $45 million will fund a study measuring teacher effectiveness. The foundationís effort is being compared to the $4.35 billion in federal grant money designed to push education reform. The winning school systems include: Hillsborough County (located in the Tampa area), Memphis schools, Pittsburgh schools and five Los Angeles charter networks.
Alternative Teacher Training on the Rise
(New York Times, November 15) A proposal to the New York State Board of Regents may result in an expanding role of alternative teacher training programs. The proposal, along with several other recommendations, will be reviewed by the board on Monday. The goals of the proposal align themselves with the views of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has emphasized the need for more hands on classroom work. The proposalís intent is to recruit more teachers and improve methods of getting quality educators into struggling school systems.
Health-Care Bill Accounts for Sex Education
(San Francisco Chronicle, November 20) With the passing of a national health-care bill, the United States House of Representatives begins to focus on sex education. $50 million of the health-care bill has been designated to support sex education. The funding will only be awarded to programs that advocate comprehensive sex education and will not fund abstinence only programs. In addition, two Senate committees have adopted health-care bills which plan to invest an additional $75 million towards comprehensive sex education and $50 million towards abstinence only programs.
Teachers Sell Lesson Plans Online
(New York Times, NNovember 14) With growing online markets, teachers have turned to the Internet to earn extra cash. The website Teachers Pay Teachers, allows educators to buy and sell lesson plans. The website, one of the largest of its kind, has recorded $600,000 in sales since 2006. The evolving market has attracted both practicing and retired teachers, with some websites including online tutoring.
Bonuses for Teachers at Struggling School
(New York Times, November 19) On Thursday, the New York Department of Education awarded a total of 3.5 million in teacher performance bonuses. While many of the bonuses were awarded to schools with low progress report scores, the DOE defended the discrepancy explaining that many schools had started from lower thresholds. Michael Mulgrew, head of the United Federation of Teachers, emphasized that there are quality teachers in both high ranking and low ranking schools. The bonuses reflect a policy shift towards determining teacher compensation based on their performance.
Teacher Replaces Chairs with Exercise Balls
(Los Angeles Times, November 16) Donna Yehl, an elementary school teacher from Chicago, has replaced her fourth grade studentís chairs with exercise balls. The 21-inch balls, commonly used in yoga, are said to improve both student posture and concentration. Harvard University professor, Dr. John Ratey, says that the balls require students to make small movements in order to maintain balance. The movements are mentally stimulating and can be especially beneficial for students with attention disorders. Use of the balls has received favorable reviews from teachers and students alike.
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Welcomes Competition
(San Francisco Chronicle, November 20th) The University of California regents have elected to raise tuition by 32 percent next fall. The decision comes in response to Californiaís financial struggles amidst a national recession. The regents meeting was held on the UCLA campus, with nearly 2,000 students protesting outside. Although the protest was primarily peaceful, riot police escorted the regents out of the building.