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Are Early Interventions the Key to Ending the Black Male Education Crisis?

Scholars say we need to focus intervention efforts for black boys on pre-K through third grade, but the methods raise plenty of questions.

With only eight percent of black male eighth graders enrolled in schools in urban areas scoring "proficient" on reading tests, and only 10 percent scoring "proficient" in math, intervention programs usually focus on boosting black male middle and high school results and improving high school graduation rates. However, a solution to the black male education crisis offered at a recent symposium held by the Education Testing Service and the Children's Defense Fund suggests a different approach: Reaching young black males when they're much younger—between pre-K and third grade.

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L.A. Schools Get Serious About Rehabbing Lunch Menus, But Will the New Food Help Kids Learn?

The debate about cafeteria food shouldn't just focus on health. It also affects whether teachers can do their jobs effectively.

Chocolate and strawberry milk? Gone. Chicken nuggets and corn dogs? They're also being kicked to the curb. Chalk it up to spending months in the hotseat after clashing with chef Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution reality show, but the Los Angeles Unified School District is putting the kibosh on sugar-filled flavored milk and fast food staples. Great, but are the new optionsvegetable pad Thai, California sushi rolls, and spinach tortellini in butternut squash saucegoing to help kids learn? That may seem like an odd question, but here's why I'm asking: If students don't eat, they come back to class after lunch, sit at their desks, and stare into space like zombies. They can't concentrate.

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Adults Who Participated in High School Extracurricular Activities Earn More Money

Don't be embarrassed if you went to band camp. It turns out being in clubs raises future earnings by almost 12 percent.

Were you one of those students who signed up for every high school club under the sun? A proud attendee of band camp? If so, chances are you're making more money than your peers who skated through school without participating in extracurricular activities. Recent research by Cleveland State University economics professor Vasilios D. Kosteas shows that participation in clubs correlates with higher future earnings, and might increase the likelihood that a student will end up becoming a supervisor.

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Mock Slave Auctions: How Not to Teach Kids About America's History

When it come to educating kids about slavery, teachers should think twice about the appropriateness of their hands on learning activities.


When it comes to educating kids about the Civil War and slavery, teachers might want to think twice about the appropriateness of their experiential learning activities. According to the Washington Post, Jessica Boyle, a fourth grade teacher at Sewells Point Elementary School in Norfolk chose to teach a lesson on the Civil War by turning her classroom into a slave auction. Boyle segregated her students—black and mixed race students on one side of the room, and white students on the other. The teacher then had the white students, all around ten years old, play the role of slave master and take turns purchasing their black and biracial peers.

The incident came to light after parents, understandably, complained. The school's principal, Mary B. Wrushen, sent a letter home stating that although Boyle's "actions were well intended to meet the instructional objectives, the activity presented was inappropriate for the students." Wrushen said the lesson was not supported by the school or district and acknowledged that it "could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation."

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Can We Improve Education By Increasing Class Size?

Bill Gates says that smaller class sizes aren't necessarily the answer. How about we pilot his idea at private schools?


Microsoft genius Bill Gates has a counter-intuitive, money-saving idea that he says might just boost student achievement: strategically raise class sizes. In advance of a national governors gathering, Gates expressed his concern over looming education budget cuts. But he's not convinced that education cuts necessarily have to harm students. Gates says that instead of using seniority to lay off teachers, school districts could save money by firing bad teachers and putting more students into the classrooms of teachers who get stellar student achievement results.

What's in it for the high achieving teachers? Financial incentives. But, even with teachers getting a bonus for taking on more students, Gates says school districts would still save money because they'd have fewer teachers overall. And, students might benefit and actually learn more from being in the room with a great teacher instead of languishing in the classroom of someone who's incompetent. "There are people in the field who think class size is the only thing," Gates said. "But in fact, the dominant factor is having a great teacher in front of the classroom."

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