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Reading this story in the New York Times the other day about the Concordia Review -- the journal devoted to showcasing serious research papers by high school students -- I was struck by how little money (relatively speaking) it takes to fund such a worthy venture, while all sorts of other education dollars are thrown around mindlessly. I only hope that the publicity from the NYT piece brings in the money needed to continue it.

William Fitzhugh, the journal's publisher, describes how unpopular it has become to assign students research papers. He recently asked the head of a history department at a New Jersey high school if he assigned research papers. “Not anymore,” Mr. Fitzhugh quoted the teacher as saying. “I have my kids do PowerPoint presentations.”

How utterly depressing. The article goes on to explain his rationale for asking students to write such papers:

Researching a history paper, he said, is not just about accumulating facts, but about developing a sense of historical context, synthesizing findings into new ideas, and wrestling with how to communicate them clearly — a challenge for many students, now that many schools do not require students to write more than five-paragraph essays.


Despite the support of luminaries like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Mr. Fitzhugh has had trouble putting together the less than $120,000 per year necessary to publish and distribute the journal. This year he couldn't even publish hard copies. It was only online. The Times says that Albert Shanker, former head of the American Federation of Teachers, sent letters to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the MacArthur Foundation asking them to support the Concordia Review. The piece doesn't say whether either decided to give him funding, though.

Well, there's always next year.

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