Education

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  • Too at Home in the Stacks

    It's a core value of public libraries that their doors are open to everyone. But patience is running thin with one group: the homeless. With nowhere else to go, society's down-and-out flock to libraries for clean restrooms, comfortable chairs and a safe haven. More than 100 homeless people a day hang out in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., while librarians in Las Vegas, Detroit and Portland, Ore., estimate similar crowds. According to Loriene Roy, president of the American Library Association, it's a matter of principle versus reality—"the philosophy of serving all people," she says, "and the reality of what happens when we do." Given the prevalence of addiction and mental illness among the homeless, what happens can be unsettling: drug use in the stacks, masturbating at the computers, fouling the grounds. The strain on staff, and other visitors, has become so acute that city library leaders will meet during a conference this week in Minneapolis to...
  • Iraq: A Teacher's Tale

    Even in the sheltered walls of an upscale Baghdad preschool, tragedy and loss are everywhere. A teacher's tale.
  • Decades of Assimilation

    Social scientists rarely get more than a passing glimpse as minority groups struggle to achieve the American Dream. But a pair of UCLA experts have just published a new book that offers a unique, 35-year, time-lapse view of economic and social changes among Mexican-American families. In 2000, Edward Telles and Vilma Ortiz led a team that interviewed more than 1,500 Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles and San Antonio whose families had taken part in a novel, mid-1960s survey designed to gauge how successive generations are assimilating into mainstream America. The short answer: full integration remains a long way off.The original questionnaires that propel the book, titled "Generations of Exclusion," were lost for years before being unearthed during a library renovation project. In some ways, recent generations of Mexican-Americans follow typical patterns blazed by earlier, European immigrants. Countering critics who say Mexican-Americans don't want to learn English, the study found...
  • The Best Way to Teach Math

    A report on math education fuels the debate about the Singapore model.  What is it--and would it work here?
  • Human Nature the World Over? Not So Fast

    Let’s say you’re playing a game with three other people, with each player having 20 poker chips. Each of you decides how many chips to keep for yourself and how many to pool. You get 0.4 chip for each chip tossed into the common fund, even if you yourself kicked in zero....
  • Long-Term Effects of Spanking

    Spanking may lead to aggression and sexual problems later in life, says a new study. So why do so many parents still believe in it?
  • Try Accounting For Taste

    Savoring Cheval Blanc 1982 in your cellar is far superior to guzzling champagne in a VIP lounge.
  • Time to Put the Candidates to the Test

    In this primary season, one major issue has been all but missing in action: education. Most experts agree that No Child Left Behind, President Bush's plan for closing the achievement gap between rich and poor kids, is a noble effort. But it has serious downsides. It punishes struggling schools, turns classes into test-prep factories and has caused some states to lower, not raise, standards. How will the next president fix it? NEWSWEEK asked two experts, the Education Sector's Thomas Toch and Jeanne Allen, chief of the Center for Education Reform, to evaluate each candidate's plan. Then we assigned grades. ...
  • No Child Outside the Classroom

    When no child left behind became law in 2002, teachers suspected there'd be some casualties—they just didn't think field trips would be one of them. Since the federal government's landmark overhaul of U.S. schools, class trips have plummeted at some of the country's traditional hot spots for brown-bag learning. The new emphasis on standardized testing has resulted in "a reluctance to take kids out of the classroom," says Natalie Bortoli, head of the visual-arts program at the Chicago Children's Museum, which has lost more than a tenth of its field-trip business since 2005. At Mystic Seaport, a maritime museum on the Connecticut coast, school traffic has slowed more than a quarter since 2005, while Boston's New England Aquarium has lost nearly the same amount since 2003. Even NASA's Johnson Space Center has started to see its figures stagnate, says marketing director Roger Bornstein, "and stability is not our goal."Teachers blame the bear market in part on No Child Left Behind, which...
  • The Secret Lives Of Teens

    We meet Austin on page 77 of "Class Pictures," a new book of large-scale color portraits by Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey, culled from 15 years that Bey spent visiting high schools across the country. Austin has a blond buzz cut, beefy arms and a flat, tight-lipped expression as he leans forward on his desk. "What up?" Austin writes in his accompanying essay. "My favorite class in school is Science. I like to go out Friday nights and chill." On the next page we meet Carolyn, who rests her head on one hand, letting her dark hair drape onto her desk. Like Austin, she accepts the camera's gaze head on, but there is a wistful look in her eyes. Her father died of Lou Gehrig's disease during her sophomore year, Carolyn explains in her essay. "Your memories are engulfed with all that sadness," she writes. "And you try to get beyond that, but it's so hard."Chilling out on a Friday night, dealing with a parent's death: looking at Bey's photographs reminded me of the vast spectrum of...
  • Lost In Translation

    Does the next generation of American executives have what it takes to lead the rest of the world?
  • Antidepressants: Beware the File-Drawer Effect

    Here in science-writing land, when it comes to biomedicine we try hard to stick to rigorous, vetted evidence. That means studies published in reputable journals by, ideally, scientists with no financial or ideological stakes in what they’re investigating. Testimonials and anecdotal reports of patients who swear by some new remedy don’t count (except when we need a “real person” to liven up a dry medicine story)....
  • Go Stand in the Corner

    Disciplining kids can be tricky. Parents try the old star chart, then scolding, punishing, maybe even a swat or two. Bad news: Alan Kazdin, the new president of the American Psychological Association, says none of it will help much. His new book, "The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child: With No Pills, No Therapy, No Contest of Wills," in stores this week, lays out a different approach. He spoke with NEWSWEEK'S Peg Tyre. ...
  • Preschool Expands Nationwide

    The states are spending more and more money to educate children before they start kindergarten. But one expert warns that not all programs are created equal.
  • College Admission Gets Tougher

    The children of the baby boomers are flooding colleges with applications, making the process more competitive than ever.
  • Michelle Rhee: Unconventional, Bee-Swallowing Reformer

    Michelle Rhee got a reality check in her first year of teaching, in 1993. The second graders at Harlem Park Elementary in a tough neighborhood in Baltimore were hard enough to keep in their seats, let alone teach anything. One day a bumblebee got into the classroom and the students were more out of control than ever. The daughter of Korean immigrants wasn't about to let a bunch of rowdy 8-year-olds trample her aspirations to get them to learn. When the bee landed on Rhee's desk, she swatted it, popped it in her mouth and gulped it down. For the first time, it seemed, her students were quiet. After that day they paid more attention, even if they were just waiting to see what she'd do next. "The kids were, like, 'Oh, my God, she's crazy! Who is this woman?' " Rhee says.That's precisely the question being asked in Washington, D.C. Rhee, 37, has taken on the city's most unruly job: reforming the D.C. public schools. When the city's new mayor, Adrian Fenty, asked her to be his schools...
  • How to Prevent a Tragedy

    Tucked away in rural Southwest Virginia, remote Blacksburg is an unlikely spot for the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Nevertheless, an April 16 rampage by a mentally disturbed student, Seung-Hui Cho, left 32 people dead. In the wake of that tragedy, Virginia Tech has begun to make changes in its campus security, student-privacy policies and mental-health services. But it's not the only one. Here's what some institutions around the country are doing: ...
  • The 1,440-Minute Cycle

    Is there a dirtier phrase in politics than "the media"? Some days it's hard to see why you hate us—"you" being liberals, conservatives, candidates and all other carbon-based life forms. There's as much good journalism getting done now as, say, 40 years ago. But other days, I get it. Take Nov. 20, 2007. At 9 a.m., Barack Obama launched a comprehensive education plan at a Manchester, N.H., high school; an hour later he told students that he "got into drinking," "experimented with drugs" and "wasted a lot of time" as a teenager. Obama had already written about his wayward youth. But the press perked up. "That's going to be the story of the day," said one reporter. By noon, OBAMA ON PAST SUBSTANCE ABUSE was atop the Drudge Report. Education, to say the least, was not.This is the first presidential election to move at the speed of the Internet. After years of dismissing bloggers as peanut galleryists in pajamas, every major media outlet is requiring reporters to provide a daily play-by...
  • Ornish: Forget About Willpower

    The real secret to sticking to your New Year's resolutions is knowing you want to lose weight and live healthier. Fear of dying is not sustainable; joy of living is.
  • Talk About It

    With what words does Leticia Salais begin her essay?What does this tell you about her?As a young person, what feelings did she have about the language of her culture?How did she act out those feelings?How did those feelings follow her into adulthood?What decisions did she make as a result?How did those decisions affect her role as a parent?What caused her to rethink those decisions?What changes did she make in her life?How did those changes affect her?How did they affect her children?
  • Work It Out

    1. This week's "My Turn" column includes several words and phrases in Spanish. Based on your prior knowledge or translation skills, guess what each of them means. Check your answers, using a dictionary or the feedback of a teacher of the language.2. Leticia Salais makes the argument that being bilingual is a service to our ever-diverse society. Identify her examples of such service. What does this say about the importance of effective communication in all aspects of our lives? Respond to her column—and to two other classmates—in a blog entry, either in English or Spanish.
  • Work It Out

    1. At a recent campaign stop in New Hampshire, one candidate said, "I'm electable if you vote for me." Define the term electability. As a class, discuss: Who decides whether a candidate is electable? Have each person in your class ask five voters whether assertions of electability or unelectability will affect how they vote. Report your findings to the class. Compile your data, and write a summary of it.2. This article suggests that candidates need to possess certain qualities in order to succeed as candidates. With a small group, list those qualities. What qualities does a president need? List them. Make a Venn diagram that compares and contrasts the qualities a candidate needs to possess with the qualities that a president needs to possess. Write a letter to the editor summing up your thoughts on the subject.
  • You’re a Liar, Obama! A Liar!!! (Just Kidding.)

    The Hillary Clinton campaign attacks Barack Obama's denial of lifelong political ambitions by digging up his kindergarten essay "I Want to Become President." Uh, gotcha? Score: 45... Then, two days later, after Hillary's campaign gets roasted on a spit for behaving like kindergartners, a spokesman claims it was all just "a joke." Those Clintons. Such kidders. Score: 50TV host Glenn Beck says fellow Mormon Mitt Romney's faith is "a nonissue ... Who cares?" This is the same guy who once asked a Muslim U.S. congressman to prove he wasn't a terrorist. Score: 62
  • U.S. Kids Lag in Reading

    U.S. education statistics show improved literacy for fourth-graders. But a new global study finds more countries jumping ahead of the United States.
  • Marketing School to Jaded Kids

    In an age of media saturation and ubiquitous advertising, some schools are trying professional marketing campaigns to sell the notion that 'school is cool.'
  • In Trouble For Show And Tell

    For Demarcus Blackwell, having the "sex talk" with his 15-year-old son was "kind of embarrassing." But that was nothing compared with the idea of explaining sexual harassment to his preschooler. "He doesn't have the slightest clue about sex anything," says Blackwell, of Waco, Texas, whose 4-year-old son Christopher was suspended last year for sexual harassment when a female school aide reported that the child buried his face in her chest when she hugged him. "How do you explain what's a better kind of hug?"Blackwell is one of a number of parents whose kindergartners and first graders are being suspended, often for days at a time, for sexual misconduct based on behavior like hugging, poking and pinching classmates or school staff. In Ohio, 74 first graders were suspended for "unwelcome sexual conduct" last year, up from 52 in 2005. In Virginia, at least 13 kindergartners have been suspended in each of the last three years for "sexual touching." Massachusetts and Maryland also note...
  • New Research on Teen Sex

    New research questions whether early warning signs such as teen sex inevitably lead to problems.
  • Vaccine Debate Heads to Court

    Maryland school officials are taking parents to court for refusing to inoculate their kids. Could other districts follow suit?
  • A, My Name is Alice: Moniker Madness

    You know the old children’s game (excellent for long car trips) where you think of a name, place, and item for sale beginning with the same letter: “P my name is Paul, and I come from Poughkeepsie and I sell potatoes.” Turns out there may be more to it than we thought: People like their names so much that they unconsciously opt for things that begin with their initials. Tom is more likely to buy a Toyota, move to Totowa and marry Tessa than is Joe, who is more likely to buy a Jeep, move to Jonestown and marry Jill—and Susie sells seashells by the seashore. Even weirder, they gravitate toward things that begin with their initials even when those things are undesirable, like bad grades or a baseball strikeout....
  • Tooning In

    Who are the two characters in the cartoon? How would you describe each one's emotions? What is going on in the cartoon? What is the cartoonist's point? Take a look at the Newsweek Education Program's Political Cartoon resource if you need some help. Pay particular attention to the sections on symbols and irony.
  • The Writing On The Wall

    Good penmanship is more than just a quaint skill. A new study shows that it's a key part of learning.
  • Teacher Boycotts 'No Child' Law

    A Wisconsin middle school teacher opposed to No Child Left Behind explains why he refused to administer a state exam to his students.