Saturday, March 06, 2004

Charter Schools: Are They Needed? Looking at Both Sides of the Debate

Charter Schools: Are They Needed? Looking at Both Sides of the Debate. I know which side of the debate I am on here. My job is on the line. Libraries get cut first when funding drys up.

From the site:

Most reform concepts work by making changes within schools. However, a newer reform idea works by creating entirely new schools. The charter school movement seeks to improve public school by creating new, rival, and competing public schools. The hope is that competition for students will force public schools to improve. However, many do not believe the free market will actually bring this about and may actually harm public schools. Despite the relative newness of the charter concept, the ideas behind it are not new and an examination of education literature can shed a lot of light on the concept.

Description of charter schools

The pro-charter school group, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), defines on their web page that, "Charter Schools are public schools-free and open to all. They are started by interested parents, educators, and business and community leaders. Each school is created with its own unique curricula and is licensed by a school district, community college or, most often, a state university."

The mostly anti-charter National Education Association, (NEA) furthers the definition by writing on their web site, "These school are deregulated, autonomous and independent of the rules and regulations that govern traditional schools…The theory that underlies the charters is that such freeing of some public schools will hasten educational innovation, improve student achievement, create greater parental involvement, and promote improvement of public education in general. And the theory follows that if there's no educational improvement, the school will be held accountable and the school's charter won't be renewed."

A description of the charter school concept can be constructed including both of the above descriptions and using other sources. Charter schools are public schools that are free from some, but not all, of the regulations that govern most public schools. Any person or group may start their own public school if they can get a charter from an approving educational institution, which is normally a state university. These schools, which are free from many regulations and teachers unions, can attempt to innovate curriculum and learning in ways that traditional public schools can not or will not try.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Law-Related Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools

Law-Related Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools. This is an essay which looks at programs which teach students about the law. It is a good read on this topic.

From the site:

Law-related education (LRE) in elementary and secondary schools has grown remarkably since the 1970s. A nation-wide curriculum survey (Hahn 1985) reveals that, since 1975, LRE has been added to the curriculum in more than half of the forty-six states involved in the study. Respondents in Hahn's study (state-level curriculum specialists and supervisors) mentioned LRE more frequently than any other curriculum theme as new to the social studies program since 1975. They also ranked LRE fourth as a priority in social studies education; it ranked eleventh in 1975.

It seems that teaching and learning about law in elementary and secondary schools is an important trend in social studies education. This ERIC Digest treats (1) the meaning of law-related education, (2) reasons for including LRE in the curriculum, (3) ways to include LRE in the curriculum, and (4) characteristics of effective LRE programs in elementary and secondary schools.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Foundation for Children's Books

The Foundation for Children's Books. Works to help teachers, librarians, and parents select and use quality children's literature. It includes a calendar of events, information about programs, newsletter, and award information. Located in Boston, Massachusetts.

From the site:

We believe . . .

In order for children to become fluent readers they must want to read. But how do we instill in children the enthusiasm for reading good books? We believe teachers, librarians, and parents are key.

Good books, properly shared in school and family settings, help children develop a love of reading and learning. Good books also offer an invaluable introduction to language, literacy, values, critical thinking, and cultural diversity


In 1983, a group of educators and children's literature advocates founded The Foundation for Children's Books (FCB), a nonprofit, educational organization. The mission they established endures: to help teachers, librarians and parents select and use quality children's literature in order to instill in children the joy of reading as a prerequisite for literacy and lifelong learning.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Whole Language in an Elementary School Library Media Center.

Whole Language in an Elementary School Library Media Center. This is a good article on how school librarians can help teach whole language in the elementary grades. As a school librarian, I appreciate the content here.

From the site:

In a traditional or basic skills approach to education, learning is broken down into small pieces. Children are asked to learn these pieces and are rewarded for their behavior. Teachers diagnose what children know and then remediate by teaching them what they do not know. Social constructivism, reflected in the whole language approach, is very close to the opposite in its philosophical stance. Learning occurs through use of language and literature, not as a separate part of it. Texts are kept whole, not broken down into parts. Teachers observe and assess what children know and build upon their knowledge, designing a classroom environment and learning activities cooperatively with children so that they become internally motivated to learn. The goals of instruction are broader and address affective considerations. Whereas in a basic skills program the goal is to teach children how to read and write, the goal of a whole language curriculum is to help children become avid readers and writers, to develop a love of learning.

The change from a basic skills to a whole language approach precipitates vast changes in the school library media center. This digest will examine these changes, specifically at the elementary school level, in terms of three curricular foci: theme studies, process writing, and literature-based reading. It will also discuss the new demands placed upon the collection and the school librarian.


Theme studies are not unlike the units of study many teachers have taught for years. The main difference is that theme studies rely upon children's literature instead of textbooks. Children explore a topic in far more detail and spend much longer on each theme than in a textbook-driven program. Children engaged in a theme study use the school media center to seek information about specific topics. They also use works of various genres to supplement their research. Fiction, for example, demonstrates attitudes and behaviors, the reasons to use the information found in nonfiction books. Poetry can provide an aesthetic dimension to the theme study topic.