May/June 1996

Teacher, Vol. 07, Issue 08
Education Presumed Guilty
An off-campus rock-throwing incident in San Marcos, Texas, has turned into an important legal battle over school discipline and the constitutional rights of students. At issue is a provision in last year's rewrite of the Texas education code that is designed to keep students suspected of serious off-campus crimes out of regular classrooms.
May 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Where The Jobs Are
Bob Vidal is looking for teachers, and he needs a lot of them. The assistant chief operating officer for the Denver public schools has 450 classroom positions to fill by the fall, and he knows that finding that many new teachers isn't going to be easy.
May 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Bullish On Education
Earlier this year in New York, Lehman Brothers, the venerable investment house, held what it described as its first annual education-industry conference to introduce investment clients to promising companies that focus on education. "Investment opportunities start as a solution to a problem," said Michael Moe, a first vice president of Lehman and the firm's lead analyst on education-related companies. "There's no question that in education today there is a problem."
May 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Bibliography
The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Weiner. (Random House, 1994.) Available in paperback, $13; to order, call: (800) 793-2665.
May 1, 1996
1 min read
Education The Jungle Gym
Returning to the playground this September after a 20-year hiatus, I got a chance to watch the lives of children through the bars of the jungle gym. I have lunch and recess duty with the 1st and 2nd graders one day a week. This playground duty gives me an opportunity to meet students who do not fall into my basic job as part-time 10th grade English teacher and assistant teacher for students with learning differences.
May 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Choice Evidence
Indianapolis public school children who have used privately financed vouchers to enroll in private schools eventually outperformed those who stayed in public schools, according to a new study from the Hudson Institute, a conservative organization known for its support of vouchers and other forms of educational choice.
May 1, 1996
2 min read
Education Books
Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, by Geoffrey Canada. (Beacon, $20.)
May 1, 1996
5 min read
Education Deadlines
Keywords:
Following is a list of application deadlines for grants, fellowships, and honors available to individuals. Asterisks (
May 1, 1996
22 min read
Education Report Roundup
Following is a guide to recent reports in education and related fields and information on how to order copies.
May 1, 1996
5 min read
Education Court Deadlocks On Vouchers
Both sides in the debate over government vouchers for students at religious schools are scrambling to put the best face on the Wisconsin Supreme Court's 3-3 deadlock over the expansion of Milwaukee's voucher program.
May 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Taking On The Test
Sitting in the empty library of San Leandro High School on a recent sunny Saturday morning, Bob Williams struggles to remember the first time he took the California Basic Educational Skills Test. "I want to say, maybe August 1989," he finally says. "It was at San Francisco State University." When you've taken the CBEST as often as Williams has--10 times over the course of five years--it's hard to keep all the details straight.
David Hill, May 1, 1996
30 min read
Education Pushed Together
Buffi Sawyer never wanted to spend her senior year at North Cedar High School. She had planned to graduate from Clarence Junior-Senior High School, where students from her central Iowa hometown had always gone. But the school district in Clarence merged last fall with its rival six miles away. Her old school is now a middle school.
May 1, 1996
5 min read
Education Cuts Strike Sour Note
In recent years, supporters of the music program in Roselle (Ill.) School District No. 12 have gotten used to disappointment. Since 1994, the local band boosters have rallied behind four separate referendums for property-tax increases in their 725-student K-8 district. Voters shot them down each time.
May 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Paradise Lost
For most adults, their kindergarten experience is a vague dream from which emerge singular details of great clarity. People will tell you they can't remember anything, and the next moment they're inspired poets, telling you of glass milk bottles jingling notes in the milkman's crate, or of the cool thinness of the vinyl mats they floated on during nap time, or of the huge afternoon sun carving out pockets of the room.
David Ruenzel, May 1, 1996
29 min read
Education A Balancing Act
Sitting in a jumbled semicircle on the floor around Laura Grenon's rocking chair, the 1st graders listen raptly as their teacher reads The Old Man's Mitten, a big book resting on a nearby easel. During the course of the story, one forest creature after another tries to wriggle into a lost glove.
May 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Connections: Right From The Start
Taken together, two of this month's features and the research section dramatize the importance of early schooling. What we do with children in kindergarten and the primary grades can determine the course of their entire academic careers--for good or ill.
May 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Current Events

Evolutionary Idea


Alabama Gov. Fob James Jr. announced recently that he had spent $2,967 in state money on 900 copies of the book Darwin on Trial and sent one to every public school science teacher in the state. The book, which questions evolution theory, was given to teachers as a "resource tool," a spokeswoman for the governor explained. But some see the gesture as part of a push to stifle the teaching of evolution in schools. Last fall, the state school board voted to include a message in new biology textbooks stating that evolution is a theory, not a fact. "If the intention is to stimulate dialogue on what science is, I approve," said Ron Dobson, president of the Alabama Science Teachers Association, of the governor's gift. "But I think the intention is to attack evolution as a valid idea."
May 1, 1996
6 min read
Education Ideas & Findings
Mixed-Age Classrooms
Although multiage and multigrade classrooms are increasingly common in schools around the world, teachers and parents generally oppose the arrangement, arguing that overall learning suffers when teachers have to contend with such a wide range of student abilities. A new European study, however, published in the Winter 1995 Review of Educational Research, suggests that these concerns are unfounded. Simon Veenman, a researcher at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, analyzed 56 studies from 12 countries. He separated the research into two groups--studies involving schools that were mixing grades for economic reasons and those involving schools trying out the idea for pedagogical reasons. He labeled the two groups "multigrade" and "multiage," respectively. Veenman found that, for the most part, students in multigrade classrooms do not learn more or less than students in single-grade classrooms. What's more, their attitudes toward school and themselves are no different than those of their peers in more homogeneous settings. Veenman also found that multiage classrooms do not have any real effect on student achievement. They do, however, produce a slight improvement in the way students feel about school and themselves. "These classes are simply no worse, and simply no better, than single-grade or single-age classes," Veenman concludes. Still, he calls for better training for teachers who have to work in these reconfigured settings. "Teacher training institutions should acknowledge that the multigrade/multiage class is a present and future reality," he writes.
May 1, 1996
3 min read
Education Words That Hurt
Despite a sign that warns of "strong language and experiences," visitors to the "Prejudice Bus" at the Chicago Children's Museum exhibit about discrimination are still taken aback. "Nigger." "Dingo." "Chop Suey." "Fairy." "Retarded." Children's voices repeat these and other epithets over and over on a continuous tape.
May 1, 1996
6 min read
Education The Best Of Both Worlds
Jack sits at his desk and ponders the work sheet his 1st grade teacher has handed out. He is supposed to circle all the words on the page that contain the "at" sound. After 20 minutes, his teacher collects the work sheets and passes out a new set with a similar task. When that work is completed, the class moves on to a science lesson.
May 1, 1996
14 min read
Education Opinion Reality Bytes
In their recent book, Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public Reform, two Stanford University education professors, David Tyack and Larry Cuban, discuss the impact of technology on American education
Brian Jacob, May 1, 1996
6 min read
Education Opinion Driven To Distraction
Once again, I'm up for relicensure as a teacher in the state of Vermont. I must fill out a form and send it to the state department of education, along with a statement that I don't owe any child support, evidence of courses I've taken, and a check for $175.
Maggie Brown Cassidy, May 1, 1996
4 min read
Education Letter to the Editor Letters

Homeschooling


The picture David Hill paints of homeschoolers in your April issue [Homegrown Learning] has them either still living in the 1960s or teaching their children for religious reasons. When you stereotype, you reduce individuals to caricatures. This kind of reductionist thinking pervades the schools. People are either stupid, smart, or mediocre. Quick, label them; then you can dispense with them.
May 1, 1996
6 min read
Reading & Literacy Summer Reading
There is no silence quite like the one that fills an empty classroom on the last day of school, when all the children have gone. The stillness settles over the stacked books and rows of desks and echoes down the lifeless halls. For many teachers, that silence holds a golden promise of long, sleepy summer weeks ahead. Of time to reflect, to relax, and to catch up on things. Of whole hours, even days, without interruptions, when there's plenty of time for diving into a good book.
May 1, 1996
22 min read