Education

Helloween, Too Much of a Good Thing, and a Rank Odor

By Scott J. Cech — November 03, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s not the goblins, ghouls, and ghosts that scare teachers when October draws to a close—it’s The Day After, when those trick-or-treaters show up back at school either stoked on caffeine and sugar or about to crash from the same. “Sugar rush day” is what English teacher Melanie Ontiveros calls it. Her Morrill Middle School students in San Jose, California, who’ve been up all night demanding junk food and gobbling it wholesale ever since “are going to be antsy and inattentive,’’ she adds. Strategies for dealing with a class full of juiced-up kids vary. “Some teachers will hand out leftover Tootsie Roll Pops to serve as a kind of methadone,’’ says Robert Wright, a Morrill colleague. Although he hopes for the best each November 1, Wright and others tend to put it in the same “probably going to be unproductive” category as the day before winter break and the last day of school. Some districts, such as nearby Milpitas Unified, don’t even try to educate children on Halloween Hangover Day, instead making it a teacher-training period.

Also under the heading of “too much of a good thing,” two new studies show that while preschool accelerates children’s language and math skills, preK kids left overlong in such settings suffer lingering socialization problems. “A lot of preschool staff are underpaid and overworked. After six hours, the quality of activity may get sort of petered out,” says Bruce Fuller, a University of California-Berkeley sociologist who cowrote one of the reports. The results come amid a push in the state and elsewhere to make early education universally available, and advocates of that movement were quick to pick at the studies’ faults. “What they are calling preschool is basically any kind of classroom, most of which are not very good,” notes Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

Another study finds that parents and children both worry about what happens at school, but they’re concerned about very different things. While adults fret most about what peer pressure and bullies are doing to their kids, students are more concerned about homework and grades. According to a poll of 9- to 13-year-olds by the nonprofit KidsHealth, 36 percent of the 875 kids surveyed cited academics when asked what made them feel stressed. Notably, only 22 percent of the children said talking to a parent about their problems is something they do “a lot”—possibly because, besides school, their biggest source of stress is family.

Teachers in Denver may also be feeling more stress, depending on how comfortable they are with the idea that their students’ classroom performance will help dictate their pay. With the passage of a
$25 million property tax increase this week, the Mile High City’s public school system became the largest district to adopt a form of merit pay. As of January 1, new classroom hires will be automatically enrolled in the setup, which rewards teachers not for their seniority but for professional development, student achievement, and a willingness to work in tougher schools. National teacher associations have frowned on the Denver plan, but the local affiliate worked with the district to design and promote it. Former union activist Brad Jupp, who’s worked on the plan for six years, happily drank a beer at the campaign’s victory celebration. “We’re ready,” he said. “I feel great.”

The same cannot be said for those whose peculiar burden it is these days to teach—or attempt to teach—biology in Kansas. The task was ranked Number 3 on the magazine Popular Science’s 2005 list of the worst jobs in science. “The evolution debate is consuming almost everything we do,” says Brad Williamson, a 30-year science educator at Olathe East High School and a former president of the National Association of Biology Teachers. “It’s politicized the classroom. ... Students will say things like ‘My grandfather wasn’t a monkey!’ ” There’s apparently not much more support from colleagues in places where education officials aren’t debating whether “intelligent design”—the conjecture that an unnamed supernatural being dreamed up the universe—is a viable alternative to evolution. “I get calls from teachers in other states who say things like ‘You rubes!’ ” Williamson says. The job could be worse (the list ranks “manure inspector” and “human lab rat” as Numbers 2 and 1, respectively) but it says a lot that scientists consider the Kansas job seven rungs more repugnant than Number 10: “Orangutan-pee collector.”

Sources for all articles are available through links. Teacher Magazine does not take credit or responsibility for reporting in linked stories. Access to some may require registration or fee.

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Close the Gender Gap: Getting Girls Excited about STEM
Join female STEM leaders as they discuss the importance of early cheerleaders, real life role models, and female networks of support.
Content provided by Logitech
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 18, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Letter to the Editor EdWeek's Most-Read Letters of 2022
Here are this year’s top five Letters to the Editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Education In Their Own Words Withstanding Trauma, Leading With Honesty, and More: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our journalists highlight why stories on the impact of trauma on schooling and the fallout of the political discourse on race matter to the field.
4 min read
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
Education In Their Own Words Masking, Miscarriages, and Mental Health: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our reporters share the stories they wrote that rose above the fray—and why.
5 min read
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Allison V. Smith for Education Week