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American Educator
Summer 2003

 

Table of Contents

Notebook

Thin Gruel
How the Language Police Drain the Life and Content from Our Texts
By Diane Ravitch

The Right wants texts to reflect their idealized world of the past: only two-parent families, mothers at home, no disobedient children. The Left wants texts to reflect their idealized world of the future: old people aren't frail, neither race nor gender is an issue, and blindness is not a disability. To please both sides, publishers now censor themselves, using "bias and sensitivity" guidelines that would make you laugh, except for the result: textbooks drained of life and delight, filled only with thin gruel.

Banned Words, Images, and Topics
A Glossary That Runs from the Offensive to the Trivial

Excised by the Language Police!
Items Deleted from a Doomed Fourth-Grade Reading Test
By Diane Ravitch

At the Starting Line
Early Childhood Education Programs in the 50 States
By Darion Griffin and Giselle Lundy-Ponce

The educational odds are against children who enter kindergarten already far behind. What are states doing to help equalize children's chances at the starting line? Which states provide preschool? Which prioritize enrollment for the most needy children? The AFT's new report on the status of states' early education efforts offers answers. Plus, a sidebar on the content that all early education programs should offer.

Content Matters

Now That I'm Here
What America's Immigrants Have to Say about Life in the U.S. Today
By Steve Farkas, Ann Duffett, and Jean Johnson with Leslie Moye and Jackie Vine

Nearly 12 percent of the U.S. population were born elsewhere. Many are our students—or our students' parents. What do they think of America? It's not perfect, and their lives are often hard. But they have a special perspective on the country's freedom and opportunities.

Ask the Cognitive Scientist
Students Remember ... What They Think About
By Daniel T. Willingham

You are what you eat. What you see is what you get.... Based on decades of research on learning and memory, Willingham offers another simple truth: What you think about is what you remember. The implications for teaching and assignments are substantial.

Thinking about September 11
Defining Terrorism and Terrorists
By Jean Bethke Elshtain

The second anniversary is arriving. How to remember it? What to teach? There are many good answers. But they all start with getting the facts right, says this distinguished scholar—in particular, that the perpetrators were terrorists, not martyrs, not freedom fighters.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

 
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