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Hundreds of Teachers Agree: Budget Cuts Are Gutting American Education

At a town hall event, teachers were honest about how budget cuts make it harder to close the achievement gap.


Put 350 Los Angeles teachers in one room and the conversation is guaranteed to get heated. It certainly did at Sunday's taping of Education Nation, the four-part NBC news special focused on figuring out how to improve schools in America. Veteran NBC reporter Raheema Ellis moderated, and although she did her best to steer three sets of panelists and the audience toward hot-button ed reform issues—teacher tenure, using test scores to evaluate educators, training students for the jobs of the future, and closing the achievement gap—it was clear that the crowd was fired up about the implications of making long-term policy decisions about those issues at a time when education budgets are being gutted.

Ellis set the tone by sharing dismal statistics about how California has defunded education—$20 billion slashed from schools and 30,000 educators laid off over the past three years. Ninety-six percent of the teachers in the audience said more cuts will have have a "huge" impact on their ability to succeed with their students and will keep America from being globally competitive.

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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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