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Equity of Test Is Debated as Children Compete for Gifted Kindergarten [New York Times]

This week, Bloomingdale marks its 50th year by graduating 100 4-year-olds, 98 percent of them black and Hispanic and all poor (to qualify, a family of three must earn less than $18,300).

Not one of the 100 will be attending one of the city’s gifted kindergarten programs in the fall, according to Bloomingdale officials.

In contrast, in 2007, Ms. Mims says, when she was a teacher, she knew of a half-dozen who were accepted. Back then, under a decentralized selection process, teacher assessment, classroom observation and interviews all played a role.

There’s Only One Way to Stop a Bully [New York Times]

Yet, in American curriculums, a growing emphasis on standardized test scores as the primary measure of “successful” schools has crowded out what should be an essential criterion for well-educated students: a sense of responsibility for the well-being of others.

What’s more, the danger of anti-bullying laws, which have now been passed by all but six states, is that they may subtly encourage schools to address this complicated problem quickly and superficially. Many schools are buying expensive anti-bullying curriculum packages, big glossy binders that look reassuring on the bookshelf and technically place schools closer to compliance with the new laws.

But our research on child development makes it clear that there is only one way to truly combat bullying. As an essential part of the school curriculum, we have to teach children how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on and how to stand up for what is right.

Great Children’s Books About Princesses [our little Tongginator]

The Tongginator is obsessed with All Things Princess, as I’m sure are many of your girls. And it’s not that I mind the pink frills and fru-frus, the tiaras and tutus… but seriously, y’all, do princesses really need rescuing? The message broadcast by The Disney Princess Machine (as well as other assorted retailers) is often one of helpless females and of beauty trumping character.


That is NOT the message I want to send to the Tongginator. Now I’m okay with a Disney princess here or there, although I prefer Mulan over Cinderella, and Belle over Ariel. But I also want the Tongginator to realize that life is more than waiting around for some guy to come along and sweep her off of her feet. (Although the Husband DID sweep me off of my feet when I first met him. But that’s entirely beside the point. Ahem.)


I also want the Tongginator to realize that being a good princess is a difficult JOB, not simply an opportunity to wear beautiful clothes and primp in front of a mirror. I greatly admire those who have used their Princess Power to improve the world, most especially the late Princess Diana and Queen Rania of Jordon. Princess Diana? Publicly touched people diagnosed with AIDS before 1990, at a time when British royals didn’t touch anyone, much less someone with a disease everyone feared might be transmitted through casual contact. Sit with that for a minute. And Queen Rania from Jordon? Works tirelessly to see that every child receives an education – EVEN GIRLS – all around the world, including the Middle East. Again, sit with that for a minute.

 Top Ten Books Recommended for Elementary School [American Indians in Children’s Literature]

If I was starting a library in an elementary school, these are the first ten books I’d buy. In reading these books, students would be reading stories Native writers create about Native people and places. The books I list here include fiction, historical fiction, traditional story, and poetry. [Editor’s note: See site also for book recommendations for middle school and high school students.]

Teaching Culture [An Apparent Intensity]

White teachers need to remember that we are observers of people in other cultures, not active participants (most of the time).  If we are active participants, it is for a moment and it should be by invitation only.  One or even a few experiences in other cultures does not make us a part of that culture.

We can’t be experts ON cultures or the ways of certain cultures.  As teachers, we can give just enough information on things to illustrate how a culture or some of its beliefs/ways should be respected, but we’ll never know more about it than the people who come from that culture.   So in the event that a person from another culture offers their expertise on an aspect within their culture, find a way to facilitate that interaction with your students.** Cultures are not subjects for us to learn.  They’re ways of life for us to recognize and understand as normal.   Give your students the tools to understand, not the tools to dissect, pick apart, and pin to a board with labels pointing out all the things they know about something.

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