April, according to all the baby-name websites, has Latin roots and means ‘to open.’ It’s a time of emergence and renewal for many, notwithstanding T.S. Eliot. In recent posts, our TLN bloggers open hearts and minds and place some serious and sensitive topics before their readers.

When Nancy Flanagan (Teacher in a Strange Land) participated in a community forum on rebuilding Michigan’s economy (and education system), she was surprised to hear the enthusiasm for increasing competition in school. Let’s cut out those no-loser games in gym class and harden up those spelling bees (maybe a little “Weakest Link” tough love?). Nancy’s observation: There are plenty of kids in our schools who already think they are losers.

Bill Ferriter (The Tempered Radical) borrows a theme from TLN blogger Renee Moore as he explores the question: What do we mean by “being on grade level?” Bill’s a middle school teacher and one thing he’s learned is that the brains of early adolescents develop at significantly different rates. So he wonders: “Are the hard (grade-level) targets expected of students and schools by many advocates for ‘reform in education’ plausible? Or do they ignore what we know about human development?”

Meanwhile, Renee Moore (TeachMoore) is feeling mixed emotions following the annual observance of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. Her husband, active in the civil rights movement himself, is disappointed with the progress he sees 40 years after King’s assassination — and especially the progress in schools. “It is painful today,” she writes, “to see so many of our children so disinterested in education, so disrespectful of educators and other elders, and so disconnected from the lessons of Dr. King.”

Susan Graham (A Place at the Table) blogs at Teacher Magazine under the TLN logo. She’s knee-deep in guilt after leaving her classes with a long-term substitute while she recovered from urgent knee-replacement surgery. Even though her close friend Beth is doing the substituting, and Susan knows the kids are okay, she’s still feeling negligent. “I wish I could do my physical therapy and take a nap without wondering what fifth period is up to and worrying that I’m leaving them stranded.”

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