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Larry Strauss
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Entries by Larry Strauss

Job Insecurity: The False Dilemma of Teacher Tenure

(17) Comments | Posted July 3, 2014 | 2:13 PM

The principal who hired me for my first and only teaching position introduced me to my new colleagues at a Friday afternoon faculty meeting. She told everyone that she'd interviewed 13 other English teachers before deciding on me -- which I think is a massive exaggeration (I may actually have...

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Tired of the Violence

(54) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 8:34 AM

No, this isn't another call for legislation restricting the sale of fire arms or ammunition. No, right, I understand. Guns don't kill; people do. People with guns kill faster and more effectively than people without guns -- but people with guns also stop other people with guns from killing other...

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Here's What Is Wrong With the Common Core

(5) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 8:48 AM

It's almost laughable to see the same people who used to tell us -- directly and by implication -- that our only meaningful goal (as teachers) was preparing our students to perform successfully on annual standardized tests through the "mastery" of "standards"-- now telling us that we have to teach...

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Is Football Just Too Dangerous?

(73) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 9:55 AM

I put the pads on when I was 9 years old and would have played football in high school if I'd been eligible. I appreciate the game. The excitement of it. The intensity of the battles. The drama of a tight 4th quarter. And the way it tests young men's...

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Who Cares About Other People's Children?

(4) Comments | Posted September 6, 2013 | 11:15 AM

Early last month, when Hannah Anderson was abducted by James Dimaggio, Southern Californians experienced the new Amber Alert cell-phone alert, a text message accompanied by a loud piercing notification sound sent directly from cell-towers to anyone in the vicinity of this abduction. People complained and there was immediately a controversy...

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Data Drunk -- Let's Take the Ass Out of Assessment

(46) Comments | Posted August 23, 2013 | 10:53 AM

Truth -- or the passionate pursuit of truth -- should always be a guiding principle in the educating of our children. So we ought never delude ourselves about whether we are effectively teaching our students.

Without some means of measurement, a belief in our effectiveness can too easily be manufactured....

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Hearing Words In Music

(7) Comments | Posted July 26, 2013 | 8:00 AM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

A teacher where I teach used to tell all the students they were geniuses. He was struggling to get through to them -- to get them...

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The Killing of Trayvon Martin -- A World of Co-Conspirators

(1434) Comments | Posted July 12, 2013 | 10:30 AM

I cannot read about the George Zimmerman murder trial without imagining that Trayvon Martin could have been one of my students. But I also cannot help imagining that George Zimmerman might also have once been one of my students.

I have seen many of the young African American men...

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Drop Out or Opt Out? Let's Not Cop Out

(12) Comments | Posted July 2, 2013 | 10:30 AM

There is an epidemic in my city and probably yours too -- and I'm not too sure that the common core or any other standards are going to help: there are too many children out of school not doing much.

Perhaps it has always been this way and perhaps it...

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Teaching and Learning in Darkness and Light

(14) Comments | Posted May 3, 2013 | 8:00 AM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

I think that the greatest compliment a teacher can pay a colleague is to say that he would want his or her own child in that...

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The Real Racism in Our Schools -- Low Expectations or Delusional Thinking?

(233) Comments | Posted March 29, 2013 | 1:28 PM

In the mid-1990s, the school district I work for informed all the high schools that they were no longer allowed to teach basic math. No student could study anything lower than Algebra 1. Math teachers who challenged the ruling, who asserted that many of their students still could not perform...

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Every Child Should Be Home-schooled

(70) Comments | Posted February 15, 2013 | 12:45 PM

Whenever I read about public schools that are not doing right by their students, I think those children should be home-schooled. And when I talk to students, at the school where I teach and elsewhere -- like when my basketball team is on the road and I chat up the...

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In Twenty Years I've Never Wished I Had a Gun

(565) Comments | Posted January 2, 2013 | 12:29 PM

When I return to work on January 7, students and I will debate the viability of gun control. It is always my goal to apply the study of argument to issues of the highest stakes and the gunning down of first grade students and their teachers and other staff in...

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Break Bread

(10) Comments | Posted November 21, 2012 | 2:20 PM

Designing lessons around Thanksgiving, at least in inner-city Los Angeles where I teach, has for a while been out of fashion.

I used to try in my own ironic, subversive way -- having students read about the politics of hunger (Margaret Atwood's short story, Bread, for example) or having them...

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It's Broken (Not Broke); Fix It

(102) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 12:27 PM

Teaching irony is always easy at an inner-city public high school -- and it has never been easier.

Just last year, one of the very best teachers in my school was laid off because there isn't enough money in the system to pay for all of our teachers anymore. But...

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Who Is Sabotaging Our Schools?

(47) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 9:17 AM

I had a friend, years ago, who interned for a now famous "investigative" TV reporter. The reporter was putting together a story about people freezing to death in their New York City apartments because their landlords had failed to fix broken furnaces and he asked all the interns to find...

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The Teacher's Great Challenge: Staying Neutral with Students during a Contentious Election

(11) Comments | Posted September 12, 2012 | 10:24 AM

At least once a year, one of my students asks me if I'm a Republican.

I am not. In fact, I have never voted for a Republican in any election, though I have considered it at times -- and so I might be offended by that student's assumption -- namely,...

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Is the Silver Bullet a Tic Tac? Improving Education One Mint at a Time (I'm Only Half Joking)

(1) Comments | Posted August 1, 2012 | 3:48 PM

Has the great education reform machine has fallen asleep, ignoring perhaps the greatest impediment to learning (one that is all-too-often, unfortunately, right in front of us)?

Many of our most vulnerable students must endure volatile home lives and perilous streets to get to school and sit in overcrowded classrooms. We...

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Will Teachers Become Obsolete?

(85) Comments | Posted July 6, 2012 | 1:40 PM

In the early 1980s, I was having breakfast with some of my new in-laws. One of them, Uncle Joe DaSilva, was a watch-maker. He had a little shop in a strip mall in Hempstead and he was contemplating his future. At one point he held up a $5 Casio watch...

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The Business as Usual Betrayal of Teachers and Students

(14) Comments | Posted June 23, 2012 | 6:36 PM

It has been 20 years since I began teaching high school in South Los Angeles. Twenty years of the noise, the grit of unwashed old classrooms, the darkness of windowless half-lit buildings, 20 years of gun-shots, lock-downs, helicopters hovering above while we fight battles on behalf of ill-prepared students whose...

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