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Closing schools has become an almost reflexive, corporate solution to a complex fiscal and social problema problem to which no one has found a satisfying answer.

Districts shutter, sell, or destroy physical properties typically for fiscal reasons. Districts also terminate contracts of poor-performing service providers to make way for new leaders who most often radically rearrange the organs of a schoolmaking it in essence a new school. In either case for students, alumni, and family members, closing a school can feel like excommunicating a grandfather to the wilderness to save money.

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Best of 2013: 9 Organizations Changing the STEM Equation

100Kin10 is working to persuade STEM majors that teaching is an awesome way to start their careers.


In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama named one challenge as central to our country's future and issued a call to action: prepare 100,000 new, excellent science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers over the next 10 years. 100Kin10, launched in 2011, is a national network designed to address that call, bringing together committed stakeholders to address the need for excellent STEM teachers for the nation's K-12 classrooms.

100Kin10 challenged a broad cross-section of organizations, including federal agencies, states, school districts, universities, nonprofit organizations, corporations, and foundations, to take a fresh look at their resources and consider how to apply them strategically to improve STEM teaching and learning. To date, more than 150 vetted, best-in-class partner organizations have made commitments in three categories: increasing the supply of STEM teachers, retaining excellent STEM teachers, and building the 100Kin10 network. These 150 have together trained more than 12,000 teachers in the two years since 100Kin10's launch and have committed to recruit and prepare 37,000 STEM teachers over the first five years of the effort.

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What If It Took 13 Years to Become a Teacher?

It takes 13 years to become a doctor. What if we had the same trajectory for becoming a teacher.

I am a teacher and my older sister Renée is a gastroenterologist. She studied molecular and cell biology for four years as an undergraduate and then went to medical school for four years. Directly after, she did a three-year residency and then a two-year fellowship. After 13 years of schooling, hands-on learning, and guidance from experienced and board-certified practitioners, she was prepared—and allowed—to practice as a physician. What would our society be like if we created the same type of training trajectory for teachers?

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Is an 'Occupy Teach For America' Movement Brewing?

Influential Teach For America alumnus Gary Rubinstein is calling for current teachers and other alumni to demand change in the organization.


Influential New York City educator Gary Rubinstein has long been critical of Teach for America, the organization that brought him into the classroom 21 years ago. In a blog post last fall, he argued that people should no longer sign up to join the organization. Now, he's asking TFA teachers and alumni to take action against what he calls "the corporate reform movement for which TFA is the poster child."

"Now you’ve experienced how difficult teaching is. You've seen, also, how complex the achievement gap is too," Rubinstein writes. He goes on to ask some tough questions that challenge key tenets of the TFA philosophy: "So do you really believe that the issue is 'bad teachers' who need to be motivated through fear of being fired or through cash bonuses? Is that really what you determined after working in a school alongside people who elected to become career teachers? Those of you who worked in charter schools, do you really believe that they are providing an excellent education to all students?"

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Should Elementary School Teachers Become Single-Subject Specialists?

A math major might be better at teaching fractions to third graders than someone who majored in art history.


Converting public schools into charters and increasing standardized testing are go-to approaches for closing the achievement gap here in the United States, but education reformers across the pond in the U.K. are taking a radically different approach. According to The Telegraph, British Education Secretary Michael Gove recently announced plans to change the number of subjects elementary school teachers are required to teach. Grade school educators will no longer be generalists who teach English, math, science, and history, but will become more like high school teachers—specialists trained in a particular subject.

Gove says the reform will help level the playing field between students attending public school and those enrolled in private school, where teachers often are single-subject specialists. The idea is to ensure that teachers are well versed in the content they're teaching and can focus their efforts on one academic area.

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Can These Two College Students Solve the Carpooling Puzzle?

Two students from the University of Costa Rica want to reduce the number of wasteful solo car trips by making carpooling with strangers safe and easy.

Last December two computer science majors from the University of Costa Rica, 22-year-old Mario Alberto Barrantes Quesada and 23-year-old Wagner Alberto Alvarado Quesada, were stuck in a traffic jam. As they inched along in their car, they heard a radio program talking about the benefits of carpooling. The duo decided to put their tech skills to good use and designed Carpooling Mate Finder, a mobile phone app that will make it easier to find someone to ride with based on common routes and schedules. Their app won a finalist spot in Microsoft's Imagine Cup, the world's premier technology competition for socially conscious high school and college students happening next month in New York City. I caught up with Mario and Wagner via Skype.

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