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This Third Edition of TAKING SIDES: TEACHING AND EDUCATIONAL PRACTICE presents current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructor’s manual with testing material is available for each volume. USING TAKING SIDES IN THE CLASSROOM is also an excellent instructor resource with practical suggestions on incorporating this effective approach in the classroom. Each TAKING SIDES reader features an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites and is supported by our student website, www.mhcls.com/online.
UNIT 1 EDUCATIONAL POLICIES AND PRACTICES Issue 1. Is It Time for National Standards in Education?
YES: Chester E. Finn Jr., Liam Julian, and Michael J. Petrilli, from “To Dream the Impossible Dream: Four Approaches to National Standards and Tests for America’s Schools,” The Thomas B. Fordham Institute (August 2006)
NO: Lawrence A. Uzzell, from “No Child Left Behind: The Dangers of Centralized Education Policy,” Cato Institute (May 31, 2005)
Chester E. Finn, president, Liam Julian, associate writer and editor, and Michael J. Perilli, vice president for national programs and policy, all of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, state, “National standards and tests may no longer be politically taboo.” Lawrence A. Uzzell, an independent researcher and former staff member of the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. House and Senate committees on education, believes that “the key to rescuing our children from the bureaucratized government schools is radical decentralization.”Issue 2. Is Home Schooling a Good Idea?
YES: Thomas W. Washburne, from "The Boundaries of Parental Authority: A Response to Rob Reich of Stanford University," Paper of the National Center for Home Education (April 22, 2002)
NO: Rob Reich, from "The Civic Perils of Homeschooling," Educational Leadership (April 2002)
Thomas W. Washburne, director of the National Center for Home Education, suggests that as the home-schooling movement continues to grow, the educational establishment will become increasingly troubled. Rob Reich, assistant professor at Stanford University, states that schooling should not be “customized” to the point that students only encounter materials, ideas, and people and that they or their parents have chosen or selected in advance.Issue 3. Has the Middle School Concept Failed?
YES: Cheri Pierson Yecke, from “Mayhem in the Middle: Why We Should Shift to K–8,” Educational Leadership (April 2006)
NO: Sue Swaim, from “Strength in the Middle,” Education Week (April 21, 2004)
NO: National Middle School Association, from "This We Believe: Successful Schools for Young Adolescents," Position Paper (2003)
Cheri P. Yecke, chancellor of K–12 public schools for the Florida Department of Education, contends that radical advocates of the “middle school concept” turned middle schools into “havens of socialization.” Sue Swaim, executive director of the National Middle School Association, suggests, “The middle school movement cannot be faulted for educational deficiencies it did not create and practices it did not recommend.” In a position paper her organization also stresses that in successful middle schools, “human relationships are paramount.”Issue 4. Should Religious Content and Concepts Be More Evident in Our Schools?
YES: Michael W. McConnell, from “Testimony before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary” (June 8, 1995)
NO: Annie Laurie Gaylor, from “The Case Against School Prayer,” A Brochure of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (1995)
Michael W. McConnell, Judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that “[M]any parents have come to believe that the First Amendment is stacked against them” with respect to their desire to see more religion in the schools. Annie Laurie Gaylor, editor of the anthology Women without Superstition: No God, No Master, states that “Public schools exist to educate, not to proselytize.”Issue 5. Is Drug Testing of Students a Justifiable Practice?
YES: Clarence Thomas, from the Majority Opinion, Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County, et al., Petitioners v. Lindsay Earls et al., Supreme Court of the United States (June 27, 2002)
NO: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, from the Dissenting Opinion, Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County, et al., Petitioners v. Lindsay Earls et al., Supreme Court of the United States (June 1, 2002)
Justice Thomas presents the legal justification for a urinalysis drug test and states, “Given the minimally intrusive nature of the sample collection and the limited uses to which the test results are put, we conclude that the invasion of students’ privacy in not significant.” Justice Ginsberg, in opposing the majority position, states “schools’ tutelary obligations to their students require them to ‘teach by example’ by avoiding symbolic measures that diminish constitutional protections.”Issue 6. Have Charter Schools Fulfilled Their Promises?
YES: The Center for Education Reform, from "2007 Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools," (2007)
NO: Bella Rosenberg, from "America's Charter Schools: Results from the NAEP 2003 Pilot Study," American Federation of Teachers (December 15, 2004)
The Center for Education Reform states that results of its survey “highlight the innovation and progress that charter schools have made.” Bella Rosenberg, assistant to the president of the American Federation of Teachers, responds that results from a study conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress belie the claims of charter school advocates.Issue 7. Has the "No Child Left Behind" Legislation Created Good Educational Policy?
YES: Margaret Spellings, from "Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening The No Child Left Behind Act," U.S. Department of Education (January 2007)
NO: James H. Lytle, from "The Snake in the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Woodpile," Education Week (February 7, 2007)
NO: Ann McColl, from "Tough Call: Is No Child Left Behind Constitutional?" Phi Delta Kappan (April 2005)
Margaret Spellings, U.S. Department of Education Secretary, states, “The No Child Left Behind Act is challenging our students to succeed and our schools to improve.” James H. Lytle, former superintendent of the Trenton, N.J., Public Schools and a practice professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate school of education argues that NCLB’s rigid timelines for progress and threats of sanctions are misguided and will not be successful in bringing real improvement. Ann McColl, an attorney and associate professor of education at the University of North Carolina, suggests that the courts may need to decide the constitutionality of the Act.Issue 8. Should School Discipline Policies Be Stricter and Include "Zero Tolerance" Provisions?
YES: Public Agenda, from "Teaching Interrupted," Public Agenda (May 2004)
NO: Russell Skiba, from "Zero Tolerance: The Assumptions and the Facts," Center for Evaluation & Education Policy (Summer 2004)
The Public Agenda in reporting on a survey of parents and teachers regarding school discipline states, “70% of teachers and 68% of parents strongly support the establishment of ‘zero tolerance’ policies.” Russell Skiba, professor of counseling and educational psychology at Indiana University, posits that “violence is not rampant in America’s schools” nor is there credible evidence to confirm the effectiveness of zero tolerance policies.Issue 9. Can Large High Schools Provide a Quality Education?
YES: Rick Allen, from "Big Schools: The Way We Are," Educational Leadership (February 2002)
NO: Tom Vander Ark, from "The Case for Small High Schools," Educational Leadership (February 2002)
Rick Allen, a staff writer and editor for ASCD, notes that, “More than 70 percent of U.S. high school students attend schools of more than 1000 students.” Tom Vander Ark, former executive director for education of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a senior fellow at the foundation, charges, “Large, comprehensive high schools shortchange too many students.”UNIT 2 TEACHING AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES Issue 10. Should the Teaching of American History Focus on a Critique of Past Events and Individuals?
YES: Pedro Noguera and Robby Cohen, from "Patriotism and Accountability: The Role of Educators in the War on Terrorism," Phi Delta Kappan (April 2006)
NO: David McCullough, from "Knowing History and Knowing Who We Are," Imprimis (February 15, 2005)
Pedro Noguera and Robby Cohen, professors in the Department of Education at New York University, assert that students need to be taught skills to critically analyze historical events in order to challenge “the patriotic assumptions and biases” of our country. Author, historian and Pulitzer Prize–winner David McCullough suggests that it is easy to “second-guess” our past because we do not have to confront it as our present.Issue 11. Should Comprehensive Sexuality Education Be Taught in Public School?
YES: SIECUS Report, from "Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten through 12th Grade," (2004)
NO: Robert E. Rector, from "The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs in Reducing Sexual Activity Among Youth," Heritage Foundation (April 8, 2002)
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of The United States (SIECUS) believes that all students should receive instruction in “comprehensive school-based sexuality education” in all grade levels. Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, argues that abstinence-only education will help young people to develop the “foundations of healthy marital life” that will serve them well as adults.Issue 12. Do Single-Sex Classrooms and Schools Provide a Better Learning Environment?
YES: Leonard Sax, from "What's the Evidence? What Have Researchers Found When They Compare Single-Sex Education with Coeducation," National Association for Single-Sex Public Education (May 2007)
NO: American Association of University Women, from "AAUW Position on Single-Sex Education" (January 2007)
Leonard Sax, founder and executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Single-Sex Public Education, argues that students in single-sex schools not only do better academically, but they also have more positive attitudes about education. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) counters that gains in women’s rights are endangered by recent political moves to allow more single sex education.Issue 13. Is Grade Inflation a Problem?
YES: Perry A. Zirkel, from "Grade Inflation: High Schools' Skeleton in the Closet," Education Week (March 2007)
NO: Alfie Kohn, from "The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation," The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 2002)
Perry A. Zirkel, university professor of education and law at Lehigh University writes that, “If a majority of students . . . are in the honor society, it is no longer an honor.” Alfie Kohn, author and educational commentator, avers that there are no data to support the claims regarding the existence of grade inflation.Issue 14. Does Homework Serve Useful Purposes?
YES: Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering, from "The Case for and against Homework," Educational Leadership (March 2007)
NO: Diane W. Dunne, from "Homework Takes a Hit!" Education World (2005)
Robert J. Marzano, president of the Marzano and Associates educational consulting firm, and Debra J. Pickering, director of staff development in Littleton Pubic Schools, believe that homework is a “powerful instructional tool.” Diane W. Dunne, a writer for Education World, interviews author and freelance journalist John Buell, who believes that homework places inordinate burdens on children and families, especially those who are poor.Issue 15. Does Participation in Sports Provide Positive Benefits to Youth?
YES: Jordan D. Metzl and Carol Shookhoff, from "The Benefits of Youth Sports," eNotAlone (2002)
NO: Josephson Institute of Ethics, from "What Are Your Children Learning? The Impact of High School Sports on the Values and Ethics of High School Athletes," Survey of High School Athletes (February 2007)
Jordan D. Metzl, medical director of the Sport Medicine Institute for Young Athletes and Carol Shookhoff, an educational writer, propose that youth sports are not only fun but also “offer benefits and lessons that carry over into all aspects of life.” The Josephson Institute of Ethics presents results from a national survey of over 5000 high school athletes including a finding that athletes “cheat in school at a higher rate than their non-sport classmates.”Issue 16. Will Increased Use of Computer Technology and Games Be Beneficial to Students?
YES: David Williamson Shaffer, Kurt R. Squire, Richard Halverson, and James P. Gee, from "Video Games and the Future of Learning," Phi Delta Kappan (October 2005)
NO: Lowell W. Monke, from "The Overdominance of Computers," Educational Leadership (December 2005/January 2006)
Associate professor David W. Shaffer, assistant professors Kurt R. Squire and Richard Halverson, and professor James P. Gee, of the school of education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, suggest that schools need to catch up with other sectors of society in using technology and video games as tools for improvement. Lowell W. Monke, assistant professor of education at Wittenberg University, states “nearly everything children do today involves technologies that distance them from direct contact with the living world.”Issue 17. Is the Practice of Providing Accommodations to Children in Special Education a Good Idea?
YES: MaryAnn Byrnes, from "Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Removing Barriers to Learning," National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin (2000)
NO: James M. Kauffman, Kathleen McGee, and Michele Brigham, from "Enabling or Disabling? Observations on Changes in Special Education," Phi Delta Kappan (April 2004)
MaryAnn Byrnes, associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Massachusetts and president of the Massachusetts Federation of the Council for Exceptional Children, argues that fairness and equal educational opportunities mandate that students with special needs be provided appropriate support. James M. Kauffman, professor of education at the University of Virginia, and special education teachers Kathleen McGee and Michele Brigham believe that the inappropriate use of accommodations denies special needs students the opportunity to achieve greater independence.Issue 18. Are Character/Moral Education Programs Effective?
YES: Tom Lickona, Eric Schaps, and Catherine Lewis, from "CEP's Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education," Character Education Partnership (2003)
NO: Patriotism For All, from "The Problem with Character Education," (2004–2006)
NO: Patriotism For All, from "Responsibility? You've Got to Be Kidding," (2004–2007)
Thomas Lickona, professor of education at the State University of New York, Eric Schaps, president of the Developmental Studies Center, and Catherine Lewis, author and character educator, present a number of basic principles that undergird successful character education programs. The “Patriotism for All” organization states “character education is not a verifiable scientific concept.”