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October 17, 2017

OP-ED | Misperception Of Urban Schools And Educators Is Pervasive, But Baseless

by Jason Courtmanche | October 17, 2017 4:30am

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Each fall I take first-year students interested in English education on field trips to museums in Connecticut. Last year, on a trip to the Wadsworth Atheneum, several students expressed surprise at the loveliness of the area — the Wadsworth, City Hall, the Public Library, the under construction Hartford Times building, even Bushnell Park in view in the distance from Wells Street or Gold Street. I concurred, and asked if any of them had ever been to the Wadsworth before. All shook their heads no. Then I asked if any of them had ever been to Hartford before, and, again, all of them said no. One young woman said her parents claimed it was too dangerous. Several others said they had heard the same thing.

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October 13, 2017

OP-ED | Connecticut Schools Face Uncertain Future

by Barth Keck | October 13, 2017 4:30am

The ongoing state budget mess in Hartford has implications beyond the fiscal fallout at the state level. As my colleague Terry Cowgill outlined last week, the future could be bleak for many of Connecticut’s towns if the state ends up foisting drastic changes upon Connecticut’s public schools.

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October 5, 2017

OP-ED | Universities Need to Prepare Teachers to Help ESL Students

by Chelsea Schonvisky | October 5, 2017 4:30am

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I am fortunate to work in a school district that prides itself on being one of the most diverse in Connecticut. Our school is home to students from all over the world, with over 30 different languages spoken at home. Many of our students are learning English as a second language, often starting that process when they arrive. As this happens more across this country, as educators, we need to ask ourselves: Are our teachers ACTUALLY prepared to support the needs of students who come to our schools with varying levels of English proficiency? This past year, I began to really consider this question.

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September 25, 2017

OP-ED | In Defense of Creative Writing

by Deb Weinberg | September 25, 2017 1:00pm

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Budget cuts and a push for a STEM or career focus can put soft courses such as Creative Writing on the potential chopping block, but humanities classes teach students the skills to see past the obvious, dig for deeper meaning, create innovative solutions, or even give life to a rock.

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September 21, 2017

OP-ED | Put Smartphones on Pause

by Gerry Navarra | September 21, 2017 9:00pm

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As a teacher of nearly 20 years, I gave up the notion of being able to control educational policy writ large a long time ago. Often telling my students, “If I were king of the world, things would be different,” I have been content to control what happened in the sanctuary of my classroom. However, recent societal trends snapped me out of my apathy and, rather than challenge policy makers, I want to appeal to parents.

So, to the moms and dads out there — please — do not buy your children smartphones.

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September 19, 2017

OP-ED | Teacher Choice in a Standards-Obsessed Era

by Nikki Milewski | September 19, 2017 10:30am

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In recent years, educational policy has moved toward increasingly common curricula in an attempt to ensure high-quality standards for all students. The Common Core State Standards caused many states and districts that wanted to compete for federal funding — “Race to the Top” grants under President Obama’s administration — to entirely revamp their current practices. Almost all of the states that rushed to meet the deadline did not win the funding … so was the redesign worth it?

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September 12, 2017

OP-ED | The Classics Don’t Matter

by Sarah Forte | September 12, 2017 11:28am

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At the start of each school year, many students tell me that they hate reading. Many say that they haven’t read a book since elementary school. Part of the problem lies with what we’re asking students to read in high school. Students need relevant young adult literature, not the classics. The classics, or the traditional literary canon, tend to be texts that are praised by scholars, stand the test of time, and, as a result, are often taught in classrooms. Young Adult literature, or YAL, is written about young adult situations, with young adult characters, with a young adult audience in mind. YAL is better suited to turn reluctant readers into lifelong readers.

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September 7, 2017

OP-ED | Basic Misunderstandings Pervade Public Opinion About Teaching of Writing

by Jason Courtmanche | September 7, 2017 9:00am

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In early August, Dana Goldstein published a back-to-school op-ed in the New York Times that explored the question of why students can’t write well. In her piece, Goldstein examines two national models for writing instruction — the National Writing Project and a newer program called the Writing Revolution.

• EDITOR’S NOTE: English and Social Studies teachers from Manchester High School are working with the Connecticut Writing Project-Storrs at the University of Connecticut as part of the National Writing Project’s College, Career, and Community Writers Program, learning how to better prepare their students for the writing demands they will encounter beyond high school. This is the first in a series of essays from participants in this year’s program.

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