Six Education Stories to Watch in 2016

EDUCATION What will the top education stories in 2016 be? Keep your eye on Common Core, and check out the new Every Student Succeeds Act. (NPR) Want to keep track of the latest in education? Join your local Alliance for Geographic Education. Teachers, scroll down for a round-up of the 2016 presidential candidates’ words and deeds on education. Discussion Ideas Watch the nice overview video. … Continue reading Six Education Stories to Watch in 2016

D.C. Area Principal Hits the Roof for Pledge


I came across this comical, yet thought-provoking article in the D.C. Washington Post Metro newspaper this morning:

D.C. Area Prinicipal Hits the Roof for Pledge

It seems an elementary school principal in Hyattsville, Maryland, has taken to extreme measures to motivate students to perform on standardized tests.

Two years ago, Lewisdale Elementary was placed on the state’s “school improvement” list, meaning that it had failed to meet standards of “adequate yearly progress.” AYP, as it is referred to in education circles, is a construct established under the 2001 congressional No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act that requires each state to set standards for public school accountability, along with timelines for meeting those standards.

When Lewisdale made the grade to improve off the “school improvement” list last year, Principal Glee-Woodard and testing coordinator James Green celebrated by allowing students to submerge them in a dunk tank, carnival-style.

This year, the two adventurous administrators raised the stakes. They encouraged teachers and students to don military fatigues in their
quest to “win the war against the MSA [Maryland School Assessments].” And when the student body did achieve AYP, Glee-Woodard and Green spent an entire day this fall working from the school’s rooftop.

What do you think of these administrators’ approach to school improvement?

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Arne Duncan: Good for Geography?

In January, President Obama appointed the young superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, to be the next United States Secretary of Education. (Well, I’d call him young; we are very nearly the same age and I’d feel pretty youthful to be heading the US educational system.) Although never a teacher, Duncan is an experienced administrator and he embodies Barack Obama’s educational goals. What does his appointment mean for Geography education?

First off, Duncan would not likely have gotten much geography in college at Harvard. While he made it to be co-captain of the varsity basketball team, his Ivy League alma mater doesn’t even field a geography department. In fact, of all the Ivys, today only Dartmouth retains a geography program. This is a terrible situation for the country, since many of the emerging leaders who graduate from these august institutions are underexposed to the spatial perspective and tools.

However, Secretary Duncan does have a lot of hard-won experience about the importance of “space and place,” as geographers say. His senior thesis was based on research conducted in the Chicago inner-city Kenwood neighborhood. After college, he lived abroad and played ball in Australia. And, as past CEO of Chicago’s Public Schools, Duncan has an acute understanding of the import of where schools are placed,  which communities they serve, and how geographic issues such as demographics, tax base, and racial distribution affect a school system.

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