Laurie Levy

Homework for Young Kids: 4 Questions for Parents to Ask Teachers

After two weeks of school, the dreaded notice arrived: homework was on its way. Beginning in a few days, my friend’s first-grade son would receive daily math assignments. She turned to Facebook to ask her friends what they thought of this expectation that she knew would turn into a daily battle with her child. 

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No More Paper Turkeys: What Preschoolers Really Need to Succeed

Our youngest learners will soon be entering a new school year. Yet, despite all of the attention devoted in recent years to rigorous, standardized education, especially for our youngest learners, a sizeable achievement gap still exists between white children and children of color. Recently, a group of professors from Stanford and Harvard Universities shared data from new studies on racial disparities in American education. They focused on the achievement gap between black and white fourth grade students across the country, using the NAEP assessment as their guide.

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The Cruel and Pointless Push to Get Preschoolers 'College and Career Ready'

In case you missed it, April 21 was officially Kindergarten Day. This obscure holiday honors the birth of Friedrich Frobel, who started the first Children’s Garden in Germany in 1837. Of course, life has changed tremendously in the 179 years since Frobel created his play-based, socialization program to transition young children from home to school — and so, too, has school itself. But what hasn’t changed in all this time, not one iota, is the developmental trajectory of the preschoolers Frobel was thinking about when he created what we now call kindergarten.

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8 Reasons My Family Decided to Opt out of Meaningless High-Stakes Testing

In state after state, parents of all political persuasions are coming together over the issue of meaningless standardized tests whose sole purpose seems to be rating schools and teachers. These tests have become the performance review of childhood. The results matter—not for learning, of course, but to measure how well kids are doing their job as consumers of information. Since we can’t fire kids from being students if they don’t measure up, we penalize their teachers and close their “underperforming” schools. Because these test scores carry such huge consequences, we spend vast amounts of time and money teaching kids how to get the right answers. What we don’t teach them is how to actually think, or how learning can be rewarding for its own sake.

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An Elementary Student's Bill of Rights

I recently read a blog post in which a mother and former teacher, Laura Eberhart Goodman, details putting her young children on the school bus everyday with one, simple wish: that they have a good day. But she knows that is not what will happen.

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Is There Hope for a Return to Common Sense in Early Childhood Education?

I have been involved in education long enough to know that, much like the children riding the painted ponies on the carousel of time in Joni Mitchell’s song "The Circle Game," educational trends often go round and round. So after years of (erroneously) pressuring early childhood programs to prepare children for college and career, perhaps we are finally seeing the light at the end of what I view as a very long and dark tunnel of developmentally inappropriate expectations and instruction for our youngest learners.

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Think Homework Is Important? Here's Why You're Wrong

Should kids in elementary school have a homework packet to complete over winter "vacation"? Should children in kindergarten, first, and second grade even have homework? A homework packet that was "gifted" to every student over winter break in an elementary school in my community set off a firestorm of controversy as parents took sides in the great homework debate.

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Do We Really Need to Test Special Needs Children More Than We Already Are?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan thinks our schools are shortchanging students with special needs or disabilities. The truth is, he’s right — he’s just not right about how our schools are failing them.  

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It's Time for Schools to Rethink the Benefit of an Extended Summer Break

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks. 

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Can Good Teaching Be Measured By a Formula?

What is a good teacher? I think most of us could probably list the qualities possessed by the teachers who have touched our lives most profoundly. My own Top 10 List of the characteristics of a good teacher looks something like this:

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