Weekly Roundup for March 9, 2012

Jess Tonn>   A new survey finds that phys ed is the most popular subject among middle schoolers, followed by art and math. Not surprisingly, kids also said they prefer “hands-on, interactive activities or computer-based lessons to more traditional approaches to learning such as studying textbooks or listening to their teacher lecture,” according to Education Week.

>   Met Life released their survey of American teachers this week, revealing that teacher satisfaction is the lowest it has been in more than two decades. Teachers with lower job satisfaction are more likely to be in schools that have had layoffs, or the reduction or elimination of arts or music programs, after-school programs or health or social services.

>   Any good news out of the Met Life survey? Yes, parent engagement is on the rise.

>   Speaking of parents, in TIME’s School of Thought column this week, Andy Rotherham asks: If your child’s school is lousy, would you want the option to band together with other parents and take it over? But what happens once you do?

>   The Civil Rights Data Collection finds that minority students are disproportionately punished in school, and are “less likely to be exposed to high-level curriculums and experienced teachers,” Anna Phillips writes in SchoolBook. I couldn’t agree more with John Payton of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who told CNN, “We cannot suspend, expel and arrest our way out of our nation’s education problems.”

>   All the world’s a stage for the kids in Shakespeare High, a new documentary about an annual theater competition in Southern California and the power of arts education to transform kids’ lives. Among the students featured in the film: a former drug dealer, the son of former neo-Nazis, and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Check it out in New York this weekend.

>   For more inspiration, check out Brooklyn Castle—the story of the top junior high school chess team in the country, Brooklyn’s own IS 318. It will premier at SXSW in Austin on Sunday.

>   Wouldn’t it be cool there was a contest challenging kids ages 10-15 to dream up invention ideas and pitch them to a panel of awesome and inspiring judges? There is, thanks to Time Warner’s Connect a Million Minds and i.am FIRST.

>   The Knight Foundation recently interviewed nine library directors to find out how their institutions are are becoming centers of civic engagement, digital access and education. “This is not your grandmother’s library,” Thomas Jones from the Middle George Regional Library System says.

Featured Friday Funding Opportunity:

Unsung Heroes
Are you an educator with a class project that is short on funding but long on potential? Each year, ING selects 100 educators to receive $2,000 to help fund their innovative class projects. Three of those will receive the top awards of an additional $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000.

Deadline: April 30

And now for something completely different:

Even if college basketball isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy March Madness with The Morning NewsTournament of Books. Their panel of judges are debating the merits of 16 books published over the last year, which will culminate in a Championship Round on March 30.

Still trying to get caught up on the top books from 2010? Check out last year’s champion, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, which also won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award for Fiction. Maybe these folks are onto something…