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American Educator
Winter 2011–2012


Table of Contents


The Cult of Success
By Diana Senechal

Over the past few decades, success has too often been defined as whatever we can see and measure, be it individual wealth or corporate profits, school test scores or student rankings, Facebook friends or Twitter followers. As Senechal writes, "In research studies, newspaper articles, and general education discussions, there is far more talk of achievement than of the actual stuff that gets achieved." Such talk has resulted in a cult of success that, in its preoccupation with image, money, and power, has distorted what it really means to succeed.

The Practice of Solitude

Republic of Noise

Bipartisan, But Unfounded
The Assault on Teachers’ Unions
By Richard D. Kahlenberg

Despite scant evidence that collective bargaining is to blame for the problems plaguing public education, the long-running Republican assault on teachers’ unions has taken a surprising turn: it has become bipartisan. If teachers’ unions really are a problem, why aren’t the states that forbid collective bargaining performing better?

Invisible Wars
Iraq, Afghanistan, and Teaching Insurgencies in Public Schools
By Christopher L. Doyle

To prepare students for life in a democratic society, we must engage them in the most important issues of the day, not teach them to mistake test prep for learning.

First, Do No Harm
Children’s Environmental Health in Schools
By Kevin M. Chatham-Stephens, Mana Mann, Andrea Wershof Schwartz, and Philip J. Landrigan

As institutions vital to the health and safety of children, schools can take important steps to minimize students’ (and adults’) exposure to toxins found in the school environment.

Meaningful Work
How the History Research Paper Prepares Students for College and Life
By Will Fitzhugh

Writing a history research paper requires extensive research, careful analysis, and academic writing that informs and persuades. Here, the founder of a journal for students’ papers discusses their importance, and a teacher who has been assigning such papers for 40 years explains how he guides students through the research and writing process. Lastly, but in this case most importantly, an excerpt of a student essay shows the real benefits of this traditional, but disappearing, assignment.

A Closer Look at Meaningful Work
Q&A with Richard Luther

Young Hickory: The Life and Presidency of James Knox Polk
By Rachel Waltman

Read more: Read the full student essay as published in the Spring 2011 issue of the Concord Review here

All articles available in PDF format only.

Previous Issue

Fall 2011

Next Issue

Spring 2012


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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