Category Archives: School Daze

Are we confused yet? The students obviously are.

Why Note-Taking by Hand Is Better for Your Brain

In a groundbreaking study, researchers have shown that handwriting is better than typing as a means of retaining information.

We all know Aesop’s fable about the Tortoise and the Hare but few of us really believe, in the real world, that slowcoaches like the tortoise have a cat in hell’s chance of beating those in life’s fast lane. Few really believe, with John Milton, that “they also serve who only stand and wait.” Those who stand and wait get left behind, stupid. You snooze, you lose.

Those of us who believe that time taken is time well spent are in a minority in our frantic and frenetic world. We are an endangered species. Continue reading

K-12: Sight-Words are Hoax Words

Hundreds of websites broadcast the same misguided message: children must memorize Sight-Words.

This message is false. Probably the most aggressive falsehood is that such memorization is easy to do.

One popular site proclaims this malarkey: “Because many Sight-Words are phonetically irregular, tend to be abstract, have limited visual correspondence, or even easily understood definitions, students must memorize them to read quickly and fluently.”

The children do not typically know the alphabet, which is considered irrelevant. Children are not pronouncing the letters.
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The best reason not to home-school your children

After conducting a multi-center, phase-3, double-blind, placebo controlled, independently reviewed study, encompassing 39 countries, various undersea kingdoms, and the moon, I’ve concluded that the best reason parents shouldn’t home-school their children is:

They can’t.

They can’t, because the public education they received was so wan and thin and bereft of substance, they’re unfit to teach.

For those parents who did receive a decent education, and who can handle the schedule, home schooling is a rational decision.

At minimum, it removes them and their kids from a system designed to impart values, values that should be taught at home.

Sex. Politics. Mental health. Vaccination. Gender. Contraception. Abortion. Diversity. These are a few issues schools now consider “public.” Schools become society’s parents. It takes a village. Their kind of village. They run it. They own it. “For the children.” Continue reading

Teacher Resignation Letters Show Why Public School Teachers (Myself Included) Quit

I became a conservative after a year teaching 4th grade at a public school in the inner city. Before that, I probably would have said I was a liberal. I wasn’t really interested in politics, but all my friends were liberals, so I figured I must be one too.

When I got my teacher’s license, the first thing I did was go looking for the most challenging teaching situation I could find. I had just completed a two-year Masters program at a prestigious teaching school in New York City and was filled with idealism, determination, and a cocky conviction that I would succeed where so many others had failed. (Think Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.) Continue reading

Schrock-Taylor: Just Stop Teaching Reading

Once again, Metropolis Café returns to its roots – the ‘Village of the Damned’ so to speak. Shortly after The Federal Observer went on-line in July of 2001, we began posting columns from a very accomplished, learned and opinionated (rightfully) teacher – Linda Shrock-Taylor. Linda is now retired, but her words and her ‘lessons’ have not retired. We are thankful to still have a selection of her archives and will continue to post them on this site. After all – her words are the KEY to the future. ~ J.B.

Hear ye, hear ye! The 2009 award for the most Stupid Educational Fad goes to all schools where spelling is no longer being taught; with special “Fickle Finger of Failure” prizes to administrators, school boards, state school boards, departments of education, and all others who believe that teachers should officially stop teaching spelling as if trashing of the last vestige of actual academic instruction in America should be celebrated.

I suggest that in the last 50 years, American public schools have not taught enough spelling to even make a ‘stoppage’ worthy of media coverage. Instead of making announcements, these criminals should sign confessions down at their local police departments. Frankly, schools have long been attempting to hide their educational crimes of omission, and of teacher inefficiency, by forcing students to memorize lists of spelling words for Friday tests. Continue reading

Kids Write the Darndest Things…

Hilariously literal test answers prove that children are a LOT more intelligent than they appear (and their creative responses will make you laugh out loud)

Every adult will recall that sinking feeling that came with turning over a test paper at school and realising you don’t know the answer to the question.

But as these laugh-out-loud pictures prove, children can sometimes come up with the most genius responses when left stumped.

Diply has shared a collection of the cheeky, imaginative and downright comical wrong answers given by clueless students when faced with a tricky question.
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The Art of Teaching

Publisher’s Note: At Metropolis Café, we are fans of neither Horace Mann nor John Dewey. Although Mann had some interesting opinions (and some were damned good), the direction of both of these individuals – were of a Socialistic bent toward Indoctrination – not Education. ~ J.B.

Horace Mann

Getting your picture on a U.S. stamp, even a one cent one, requires that you have accomplished something significant. In the case of Horace Mann of Franklin Mass., he accomplished notable things in the early 19th century in three different fields— law, politics, and finally education,only to return to politics once more, this time as a U.S. Representative (previously he had only been involved in Mass. politics). In 1837, Mann became the president of the Massachusetts Board of Education, which was in fact the first such Board in any state in the U.S. and he served on that Board for twelve years. In his fourth year, he produced the essay now known as ‘the Art of Teaching’ which in fact was part of his report to the Board of Education. The essay is about educating children, but it has in some respects a quality to it that would apply to any sort of education and any age of student in any day and age. I intend to review some of the major points of the essay in this post. Continue reading

3 Reasons One Public School Advocate is Giving Up on the System

When it comes to discussion of public schools, all too often battle lines seem to be drawn between those on the inside and outside of the system: the teachers and the parents. The teachers understandably want to defend the job they do, while the parents want to ensure that their child doesn’t become another dismal statistic.

But every once in a while an individual comes along with credentials to look at the issue of public education from both viewpoints. Such is the case with Erin Brighton, who recently wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post entitled, “Goodbye, Public School. It’s Not Me, It’s You” Brighton starts out by saying: Continue reading

K-12: ‘Alien Covenant’

If you watch TV, you are seeing ads for a new Alien movie (i.e., Alien Covenant). All hail Ridley Scott. This will be the sixth in the franchise. One thing all of the entries have in common is that a ghastly alien emerges, often with pointy teeth and covered in drool, from an egg or an astronaut’s chest.

This signature sudden, unforgettable moment is the essence of the cinematic covenant. An entirely hostile organism will burst out somewhere when you least expect it and kill you.

That has to remind us of the year 1931, when the Education Establishment sprang its own alien on the country. With no testing, no proof of concept, no incremental introduction, and certainly no humility or shame, a small clique of education professors abolished common practice and, almost overnight, forced an alien method upon this country. Thus began the appropriation (that’s Commie euphemism for conquest) of the U.S. via illiteracy.

If you want to understand what we are up against when it comes to improving our schools, you have to reflect on how far a small group of ideologues will go to impose their destructive theories. Apparently, there’s no limit. Continue reading

This 1886 Cornell English Syllabus May Explain Why College Students Can’t Write

According to the Nation’s Report Card, only 27 percent of 8th graders attain proficiency in writing. But no problem, right? They’re just leaving middle school. Give them a few years under the instruction of high school English instructors and all will be well.

That seems to be wishful thinking, for the Nation’s Report Card shows that writing proficiency is still 27 percent by the time students head to college. Unfortunately, college doesn’t improve the writing woes of American students either. As writing expert John Maguire explains in The Washington Post:
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Children Have Amazing Powers of Memorization… So Why Aren’t Schools Using Them?

According to a recent article in the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, preschool-age children have a special talent for memorizing and remembering rhymes. As the Digest explains, a recent study found that, compared to their parents and other older adults, young children are able to recall “nearly twice as many correct words” from the rhyming stories they hear, all while making “far fewer errors.”

Anyone who has been around children for a time would readily affirm such findings. Children, as Oxford scholar Dorothy Sayers noted in 1947, follow three stages of development, the earliest of which she calls the “Poll-Parrot” stage: Continue reading

We Already Have School Choice

Although it is often viewed as a radically new idea, the vast majority of parents in this country have been participating in a system of school choice for years.

For example, there are more than 40 school districts in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Assuming each district has at least two campuses at each grade level, a typical family has a choice of about 80 public schools — provided the parents can afford to buy a house in any neighborhood and are willing to drive a considerable distance to work.

How well does this system work? Better than you might think. Two decades ago, a study by researchers at Southern Methodist University and the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank found that North Dallas houses near higher-ranking elementary schools sold for about 20 percent more than houses near lower-ranking schools. The authors concluded that the market for education works surprisingly well. Parents can discern quality and the market charges a premium for it. Continue reading

Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing

New Orleans is the nation’s largest and most complete experiment in charter schools. After Hurricane Katrina, the State of Louisiaana took control of public schools in New Orleans, and launched a nearly complete transformation of a public school system into a system of charter schools. Though there are spots of improvement in the New Orleans charter system, major problems remain.

Many of these problems were on display in New Orleans when the NAACP, which last year called for a moratorium on charter schools until issues of accountability and transparency were addressed, held a community forum in New Orleans on charters. The New Orleans hearing, which can be viewed here, featured outraged students, outraged parents, and dismayed community members reciting a litany of the problems created by the massive change to a charter school system. The single most powerful moment came when a group of students from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools took the podium and detailed the many ways the system has failed and excluded them from participating in its transformation. Continue reading

Arizona Board of Education adopts A-F grading system for schools

Arizona public schools will get new letter-grade ratings for the first time in three years this fall, and the state will calculate them in ways both different and similar.

Schools will still be graded on an A-F scale under the new accountability system adopted by the Arizona State Board of Education on Monday. The grades, particularly for elementary schools, still will be largely tethered to standardized-testing results.

But the added wrinkles to the new grading rubric — such as including career-technical program completion rates for high-school students — are ones education leaders hope to build on in the coming years to lessen a perceived over-reliance on student test scores. Continue reading

Go to Bad Schools, Go to Prison

The Teacher Union’s Dirty Little Secret

For those of us old enough to remember its beginnings, the United Negro College Fund’s iconic “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” campaign is still haunting. It began in 1972 with images of black students shut out of college classrooms, and ended with an almost undeniable appeal: donate to UNCF so that black kids can get an education.

But 45 years later, we’re still wasting minds. Many are black, but almost just as many are brown. In any poor California community, kids trapped in teachers-union-dominated classrooms are the least likely Californians to read or perform basic math at grade level. They are also the least likely to graduate from high school, much less go on to college. And now we have learned that beyond “terrible,” a mind is undeniably a dangerous thing to waste. Continue reading

Texas school triples playground time in an effort to solve ADHD

…and what could be the cause?

Proving once again that medication is not the answer to getting inattentive kids to perform well in school, four Fort Worth area public schools are finding success with the LiiNK program. This revolutionary approach to schooling and counteracting ADHD is based on the idea that offering kids more unstructured play can help them focus and perform better in the classroom. Continue reading

Some on the Left Now Criticize the Students They Created

In the last few weeks, there has been a spate of columns by writers on the left condemning the left-wing college students who riot, take over university buildings and shout down speakers with whom they differ.

These condemnations, coming about 50 years too late, should not be taken seriously.

Take New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. His latest column is filled with dismay over the way Middlebury College students attacked Charles Murray and a liberal woman professor who interviewed him (she was injured by the rioters).

I have no doubt that Bruni is sincere. However, sincerity is completely unrelated to wisdom or insight. Continue reading

Why D.C. Wants to Teach Every Kid How to Ride a Bike

Starting in the fall of 2015, all second graders in D.C. public schools were required to learn to ride in PE class.

Before the start of the new school year in Washington, D.C., as families were buying supplies and teachers were drafting their lesson plans, Miriam Kenyon was spending her days in a warehouse in the city’s Northeast quadrant, surrounded by bikes.

She and a group of volunteers were building them: Diamondback Vipers and Mini Vipers, 16- and 20-inch kids’ models. “They’re BMX bikes, so they’re really sturdy and they’re made for multiple uses,” explains Kenyon, the director of health and physical education at District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Continue reading