The state House in Kansas on Thursday advanced proposed legislation that would free 10 school districts from state rules so they would have more freedom to implement ideas that could benefit students. The so-called "innovative districts" would be able to avoid the "red tape" that can slow innovation, supporters say. Critics, however, question whether the bill is necessary. "We're trying to fix a problem that does not exist by creating one that could be far worse," said Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield.
Students from Mechanicsburg Area Middle School in Pennsylvania returned to school after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., poised to take action on behalf of the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The middle school eventually decided to take on NBC correspondent Ann Curry's 26 Acts of Kindness Challenge. So far, students have been making changes in their school and community by donating to a food bank, plus donating toys and other items for patients at a children's hospital and even carrying out personal acts of kindness within families.
Teaching students how to assess their own learning in class can help build their confidence as learners, National Board Certified Teacher Bill Ferriter writes in this blog post. Ferriter shares one exercise in which he had students review past tests and assignments to identify patterns in their mastery. "If my students are TRULY going to reflect daily on their progress towards mastering essential outcomes, they HAVE to become skilled at spotting trends in their OWN learning," Ferriter writes.
Education historian Diane Ravitch and National Board Certified Teacher Anthony Cody have co-founded the Network for Public Education -- an advocacy group aimed at evaluating school-reform efforts and candidates for political office. The group, which will rely primarily on social networking to advance its message, will provide political opposition to efforts by Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee and others who are helping support -- and fund -- political campaigns and ballot measures.
National Board Certified English teacher Ray Salazar writes that, after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., he felt compelled to address the issue of guns in the classroom. Salazar writes that he instructed students to try to take emotion out of the debate and think critically about what both sides have had to say about gun control. Students watched speeches, read reports and analyzed the issue -- forming their own views on whether proposals will be effective, writes Salazar, who teaches in Chicago.