NELMS NEWS Node 2012
An annotated list of current events &
issues related to the middle level


5 States to Hike Class Time in Bold Experiment

Open your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. School for thousands of public school students is about to get quite a bit longer.
Five states announced Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level. The Massachusetts districts that will be participating are Fall River and Lawrence.
The Telegram 12/3

Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning

In 1979, when Jim Stigler was still a graduate student at the University of Michigan, he went to Japan to research teaching methods and found himself sitting in the back row of a crowded fourth-grade math class.
"The teacher was trying to teach the class how to draw three-dimensional cubes on paper," Stigler explains, "and one kid was just totally having trouble with it. His cube looked all cockeyed, so the teacher said to him, 'Why don't you go put yours on the board?' So right there I thought, 'That's interesting! He took the one who can't do it and told him to go and put it on the board.' "
NPR 11/12

Obama's Reelection Is Opportunity For 4 More Years of Building On Education Policy
President Barack Obama's victory on Tuesday gives him a chance to build on the education policies he has pushed since 2009 and ensures that the federal government's role in education will not diminish over the next four years.In his victory speech, he promised to expand "access to the best schools and best teachers" and spoke broadly about hope for America's future, particularly for children, but did not offer specific policy ideas.
Huffington Post 11/7

George Lucas' Promise to Invest in Education Prompts Speculation

George Lucas' announcement that a majority of the proceeds from the sale of his film company will be funneled into education philanthropy has sparked speculation among educators about where the new influx of money might be directed.
The creator of "Star Wars" has a history of involvement in education, and it may provide some clues for those who hope to gain financial support for innovative ideas and for those who believe particular topics in education, such as technology or the arts, need additional emphasis.
Education Week 11/13

Hurricane Sandy Shutters Thousands of Schools
As Hurricane Sandy began unleashing its fury on the East Coast Monday, the storm shuttered thousands of schools across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, with millions of students to be out of school for at least two days, state education officials said.
Education Week 10/31

Student-Loan Borrowers Average $26,500 in Debt
The average student-loan debt of borrowers in the college class of 2011 rose to about $26,500, a 5 percent increase from about $25,350 the previous year, according to a report by the Institute for College Access and Success's Project on Student Debt.
NY Times 10/18


Lawrence School Steps Toward Better Learning
Mid-morning on Tuesday at the South Lawrence 5th Grade Academy in Lawrence, Mass., a row of students prepares to learn science more efficiently…by stepping. At this kind of school within a school, the daily schedule for these fifth graders includes not one physical education class, but three. The students break during the day for physical activity, which, according to Kevin Qazilbash, the school's principal, is not to say academics are being de-emphasized.
Only A Game (WBUR) 10/13

It's Not Me, It's You

We've all been there: you feel especially smart and funny when talking to a particular person, only to feel hopelessly unintelligent and inarticulate in the presence of another.
You're not imagining things. Experiments show that when people report feeling comfortable with a conversational partner, they are judged by those partners and by observers as actually being more witty.
N.Y. Times 10/6

Romney 'Not Going to Cut Ed. Funding'

In his first debate with President Barack Obama, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he would not slash education aid if elected..
Education Week 10/5

October is the Month of the Young Adolescent

October is Month of the Young Adolescent, an annual international collaborative effort of education, health, and youth-oriented organizations. Initiated by the Association for Middle Level Education (formerly National Middle School Association), Month of the Young Adolescent brings together a wide range of organizations to focus on the needs of this important age range, ages 10 to 15.
Association for Middle Level Education 10/12

Middle Schools Add a Team Rule: Get a Drug Test

As a 12-year-old seventh grader, Glenn and Kathy Kiederer's older daughter wanted to play sports at Delaware Valley Middle School here. She also wanted to join the scrapbooking club.
One day she took home a permission slip. It said that to participate in the club or any school sport, she would have to consent to drug testing.
"They were asking a 12-year-old to pee in a cup," Kathy Kiederer said. "I have a problem with that. They're violating her right to privacy over scrapbooking? Sports?"
NY Times 9/22/12

Are We Asking Too Much From Our Teachers?

THE Chicago teachers' strike, which appears to be winding down, may be seminal, but for reasons that are not necessarily apparent. It came as a surprise. In July, the city had agreed to hire more teachers to accommodate a longer school day. Last Sunday, the city agreed to a substantial pay raise. The following day, teachers walked off their jobs for the first time since 1987.
NY Times 9/14/12

Teachers' Strike in Chicago Tests Mayor and Union

CHICAGO — This city found itself engulfed on Monday by a sudden public school strike that left 350,000 children without classes, turned a spotlight on rising tensions nationally over teachers' circumstances, and placed both the powerful teachers' union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a risky, politically fraught standoff with no clear end in sight..
NY Times 9/10/12

The Schools of Tomorrow

It's back-to-school season in Vermont and around the country. But closely observe classrooms around the state, and it's hard not to notice that school is beginning to look dramatically different from the institution we once knew.
Twelve years into the 21st century, teachers and administrators are still figuring out what the classroom of the future might look like. Their most exciting ideas boil down to a few simple, interconnected principles: Give students a voice. Recognize the benefits of real-world learning. Let students' interests drive educational inquiry.
Seven Days 8/29/2012

The Bad Habits You Learn in School

It can be tough to help new college graduates adjust to the real world. Joey, a 22-year-old, Ivy League graduate who joined one of my consulting teams, was a great example. He was bright, hardworking, and motivated. But he had bad habits that were hard to break. Joey would become so focused on the perfect answer to a problem, he wouldn't consider implementation. He feared failure so much that he would hide his mistakes until they grew worse. He was only interested in getting his own work right — rarely helping the rest of the team proactively. And he saw the world in terms of hierarchy: I was his "boss," and no one else's opinion really mattered.

Harvard Business Review 8/22/2012


Education Aid Emerging as Campaign Issue

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's selection as the Republican vice-presidential candidate could spark a national debate about the future of education spending, an issue that's gotten short shrift in the presidential campaign so far.
As the two national party conventions approach, Democrats are already charging that the Wisconsin lawmaker's controversial budget blueprint, which presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has largely endorsed, would scale back college financial aid and slash other funding for education..

Education Week 8/20/2012


Study: Junk food laws may help curb kids' obesity

Laws strictly curbing school sales of junk food and sweetened drinks may play a role in slowing childhood obesity, according to a study that seems to offer the first evidence such efforts could pay off.

The results come from the first large national look at the effectiveness of the state laws over time. They are not a slam-dunk, and even obesity experts who praised the study acknowledge the measures are a political hot potato, smacking of a ''nanny state'' and opposed by industry and cash-strapped schools relying on food processors' money. 8/14/2012


To Increase Learning Time, Some Schools Add Days to Academic Year

It was the last Sunday in July, and Bethany and Garvin Phillips were pulling price tags off brand-new backpacks and stuffing them with binders and pencils.

While other children around the country readied for beach vacations or the last weeks of summer camp, Bethany, 11, and Garvin, 9, were preparing for the first day of the new school year at Griffith Elementary, just six weeks after the start of their summer vacation.

N.Y. Times 8/5/2012


Enrollment Off in Big Districts, Forcing Layoffs

Enrollment in nearly half of the nation's largest school districts has dropped steadily over the last five years, triggering school closings that have destabilized neighborhoods, caused layoffs of essential staff and concerns in many cities that the students who remain are some of the neediest and most difficult to educate.

N.Y. Times 7/22/2012


'No Child' Law Whittled Down by White House

In just five months, the Obama administration has freed schools in more than half the nation from central provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law, raising the question of whether the decade-old federal program has been essentially nullified.

N.Y. Times 7/6/2012


Health-Care Ruling Has Implications for Education Spending

The part of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision upholding the new federal health-care law which also held that its Medicaid expansion was unduly coercive on the states likely has implications for federal education spending programs.

Education Week 6/28/2012


Summer Activities Build Résumés for College

From academic programs to overseas adventures, the opportunities for high school students to build their college résumés in the summer are plentiful. While such experiences can boost a student's chance to get accepted at some schools, volunteering at a hospital or scooping ice cream for the minimum wage can as well.

Education Week 6/5/2012


Readers: Six ways to rate a high school's quality

TIME magazine, U.S. News, and other publications have begun to release their "best" school rankings for 2012. Many of these rankings rely on two key factors in particular: standardized test scores and high school graduation rates. But are these the best criteria?

The magazines' annual rankings of the best American high schools have been criticized for relying too heavily on data that are skewed by the abilities of students entering these institutions to begin with.

Education Week 6/8/2012


Districts Gear Up for Race to Top Scramble

Leaders of some large-city school districts say they are prepared to jump into the competition for nearly $400 million in new Race to the Top grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
But the head of a coalition of rural districts said that while the money would be welcomed, it may require too much effort from small district staffs to apply for and to administer.

Education Week 6/2012


Studies Illustrate Plight of Introverted Students

Educators often look for ways to bring quiet children out of their shells, but emerging research suggests schools can improve academic outcomes for introverted students by reducing the pressure to be outgoing and giving all students a little more time to reflect.

Education Week 5/2012


'Chronically Absent' Students Skew School Data, Study Finds, Citing Parents' Role

Up to 15 percent of American children are chronically absent from school, missing at least one day in 10 and doing long-term harm to their academic progress, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

NY Times 5/17


New Advocacy Groups Shaking Up Education Field

A new generation of education advocacy groups has emerged to play a formidable political role in states and communities across the country. Those groups are shaping policy through aggressive lobbying and campaign activity—an evolution in advocacy that is primed to continue in the 2012 elections and beyond.

Ed Week 5/14


School Bake Sales Draw Fire In Obesity Battle

An American tradition is in jeopardy.

The bake sale, a staple of school fundraising for generations, is getting squeezed. The epidemic of childhood obesity is leading some districts to restrict the kinds of foods sold or to ban the sales altogether, Bloomberg Businessweek's Stephanie Armour explained on Friday's Morning Edition.

The obesity rate for children and adolescents has tripled since 1980, she told host David Greene. So in some districts, she said, "the thought is if they can get healthier food or no bake sales that perhaps they can lower that rate."

NPR 5/4


Will 'emoticon defense' disprove cyberbullying?

Even if three Indiana girls were just kidding around and used emoticons and LOLs when they discussed killing classmates on Facebook, their talk still could be considered cyberbullying if it inflicted emotional harm, experts say.

Education Week 4/27


Advocates Worry Implementation Could Derail Common Core

In less than three years, the Common Core State Standards have vaulted over three key hurdles, surprising more than a few naysayers. In June 2009, governors and education chiefs in 46 states pledged their support for the idea. A year later, panels of experts unveiled the completed standards. By last November, all but four states had formally adopted them.

Education Week 3/23


Access to Teacher Evaluations Divides Advocates

As the movement to overhaul teacher evaluation marches onward, an emerging question is splitting the swath of advocates who support the new tools used to gauge teacher performance: Who should get access to the resulting information?

Education Week 3/27


Technology Changing Lives Of Students With Disabilities

Kyle Beasley is a smart second grader with an infectious grin.

He is also functionally blind…

eSchool News 4/12


'Pink Slime' Is Vanishing From School Cafeterias

Andy Gomez, a ninth grader at Brighton High School, was not sure why hamburgers and meatballs had disappeared from the cafeteria, but he was not happy about it. "Today I just ate peanut butter and jelly," he said. "I don't like the chicken patty."

NY Times 3/24/12


ESEA Outlook Murky, Despite House Panel's Vote

The future of Republican-backed legislation to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act remains cloudy—even after the House education committee gave a pair of measures its seal of approval last week.

Education Week 3/6/12


Policymakers Weigh Gathering More Data for NAEP

As many experts raise questions about the future of "the nation's report card," the governing board for the assessment program is exploring changes aimed at leveraging the achievement data to better inform education policy and practice.

Education Week 3/13/12


New Study Finds Parent Engagement on Rise

While teacher satisfaction has declined to its lowest point in more than two decades, parent engagement is climbing to new heights across America, a new survey reports.

Education Week 3/12/12


Obama to Governors: Quit Cutting K-12, College Funding

President Obama was visited at the White House by the nation's governors today, and he used the occasion to chide them for making what he sees as harmful cuts to K-12 and college spending.

State EdWatch (an Ed Week blog) 2/27/12


New Rules Planned for School Vending Machines Nationwide

Not everyone loves the policies — or the commercials — but Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's emphasis on healthier living habits seems to have had some impact on New Yorkers, who now have a life expectancy of 80.6 years compared with 78.2 years for the United States as a whole.

N.Y. Times 2/23/12


Obama Budget Touts Selective Boosts in Ed. Funding

Education takes a marquee spot in President Barack Obama's last, otherwise austere, election-year budget request, with his spending plan calling for new investments in community colleges, money to prevent teacher layoffs, investment in school facilities, and funds to spur state action on teacher quality.

Education Week 2/14/12


Feds' challenge to schools: Embrace digital textbooks

Are hardbound textbooks going the way of slide rules and typewriters in schools?
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Feb. 1 challenged schools and companies to get digital textbooks in students' hands within five years.

eSchool News 2/1/12


National PBS Survey Finds Teachers Want More Access to Classroom Tech

PBS LearningMedia announced today findings from a national survey of teachers grades pre-K-12 that sheds light on the rising role of technology in America's classrooms, as well as barriers teachers face to accessing the "right" digital resources.

PBS 1/23/12


Apple Starts Selling Interactive IPad Textbooks

Apple Inc. on Thursday launched its attempt to make the iPad a replacement for a satchel full of textbooks by starting to sell electronic versions of a handful of standard high-school books.

NPR 1/21/12


N.H. Parents Gain Leverage to Challenge Curricula

Overriding the governor's veto, New Hampshire's Republican-led legislature has enacted a new law that requires school districts to give parents the opportunity to seek alternatives to any course materials they find objectionable.

Education Week 1/18/12


Literacy Wins, History Loses in Federal Budget

The budget compromise recently hammered out in Washington breathes new life into a major literacy initiative at the U.S. Department of Education, but wipes out federal aid for some other department programs targeting aspects of the curriculum, including instruction in American history and foreign languages.

Education Week 1/1/12


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