Oregon ranks 49th in 2013/14 Public High School 4-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, tied 45th with Colorado for economically disadvantqges, tied for 40th with North Carolina for students with limited English proficiency, and 45th with students with disabilities.
in 2020 vs. 2010: A Look Back at the
Assessment (16 page PDF)
Taking a Long Look at Schools and Work
What Happens to Academic Gender Gaps When Students Grow Up?
How BHSD Students Fair - 2014-2016-2018
Student Behavior Be Factored Into Teacher Evaluations? Study
Social-Emotional Learning: What is it?
Insanely useful apps for students
Oregon Cities Ranking: Port Orford Ranks in Top 21% (54th), Brookings Ranks in Bottom 28% (153rd) and Gold Beach Ranks in Bottom 16% (178th) of 213 Oregon Cities. (http://bit.ly/vesaXV) (See Dropout Rates)
Oregon School Districts Ranking: Port Orford 2cj Ranks in Top 21% (32th); Brookings 17c Ranks in Bottom 27% (111th); and Central Curry 1 Ranks in Bottom 13% (133th) of 153 Oregon School Districts. (http://bit.ly/t4wWwb)
Oregon School Ranking by type:
Brookings: Kalmiopsis Ranks in Bottom 36% (461st) of 721 Oregon Elementary Schools (http://bit.ly/olgRQ), Azalea Ranks in Bottom 32% (255th) of 376 Oregon Middle Schools (http://bit.ly/sXLWxs); and BHHS Ranks in Bottom 36% (200th) of 311 Oregon High Schools (http://bit.ly/uPTV6e).
Happens to Academic Gender Gaps When Students Grow Up?
By late adolescence, men and women show roughly the same literacy skills on the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies, effectively closing earlier gaps favoring girls in reading documented by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But in numeracy skills, girls trail boys at every age group from 16 through 65, the data show:
That's starkly different from gender gaps in K-12 grades. A recent Stanford University study comparing gender gaps in the NAEP across nearly 10,000 districts nationwide found no average gender gap in math, but a gap of nearly three-quarters of a grade level favoring girls in reading. And the Program for International Student Assessment suggests the United States has gender gaps among 15-year-olds in both subjects that are smaller than the international average.
The Stanford study found gaps favoring boys were more common in wealthier districts and communities where there are big gaps in income between men and women generally. In low-income communities, girls tended to outperform boys in both reading and math.
The PIACC data showed men ages 16-65
outperformed women in math skills regardless of their
education level. Men with less than a high school diploma
outperformed women of the same education level by 15 points,
while men with a postsecondary degree outperformed women by
States With The
Best Public School Systems - Forbes, 7/31/18
Massachusetts ranked as the No. 1 state for public schools, taking the lead in both quality and safety. New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Virginia followed behind. Some of the worst ranked states for public schools included New Mexico, Louisiana, Alaska and Arizona, along with District of Columbia.
The study broke results down by additional categories, such as states with the lowest dropout rate, or the highest SAT and ACT scores. States such as Iowa, New Jersey, West Virginia, Nebraska and Texas have the lowest dropout rates, whereas the highest dropout rates can be found in Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico and District of Columbia.
In Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin, students have the highest median SAT scores. The lowest scores can be found in District of Columbia, Delaware and Idaho.
With safety as a major consideration in the quality of public schools, states such as Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Vermont, California and Pennsylvania reported the lowest percentage of threatened or injured high school students, whereas Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi reported the highest percentage. And while bullying is low in D.C. and Delaware, its quite high in Arkansas and Idaho.
I will say that from literature I have read, more than any factor, teacher quality seems to be the strongest predictor of student achievement, says Laura Hsu, assistant professor at Merrimack College. Thus, recruiting and retaining strong teachers would ideally be the priority for every school. This is, of course, linked to budgets, she explains.
Budget cuts surely have an impact on the quality of public school education, with funds declining over the past decades. Educators are asked to do morefederal and state mandateswith less funding, says Barbara Jeanne Erwin, clinical associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington.
Erwin cautions that measuring the best and worst states for public schools certainly isnt easy, since they all have different funding systems and state required tests. Unfortunately most parents do not understand that education in one state usually has different state funding mechanisms than the state they are in living in, she adds.
Heres WalletHubs rankings of states with the best and worst school systems.
Transform: Teach Teens Social Emotional Skills (SEL)
Elementary School Teachers
A: Great questions. The gender gap in education is thriving, and doesnt seem to be getting any better. 97.5% of preschool and kindergarten teachers are women, as are 78.5% of elementary school teachers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
There are a few factors that contribute to the absence of male teachers, most of which are the result of overt sexism. Teachingespecially in primary schoolsis notoriously low paying. And since we still put a huge amount of pressure on men to be the primary breadwinner (even a majority of supposedly open-minded Millennials agree with that 50s-era sentiment), men are less likely than women to look at teaching as a viable career option. Worse still, a number of studies have found that male elementary school teachers (and those who consider teaching) are made to feel un-masculine. Others are afraid of being perceived as pedophiles, particularly if they were to touch a child. And of course, theres something of a vicious circle, where boys, most of whom rarely ever have a male teacher, eventually come to see teaching as something thats done by women. Not surprisingly, that makes them less likely to want to become teachers themselves than pursue some other career in which theyve seen men succeed and make a difference.
Its widely accepted these days that gender and racial diversity are essential, in large part because they expose kids to a variety of different viewpoints and experiences. As the father of three daughters, I find it really annoyingand sadthat our quest for diversity doesnt include areas such as teaching (and nursing), where men are vastly underrepresented (and where minority men are nearly invisible. According to the US Department of Education, only two percent of educators are black males). Here are just a few ways this anti-male sexism in education hurts our kids:
Childrenespecially those growing up in single-parent households (which are predominately headed by women)often see teachers as mentors and role models. Having more male teachers would show kids that men can be caring, loving, and supportive.
Girls outperform boys in virtually every academic area, a disparity that a growing number of experts attribute to the disproportionate number of female teachers. In one study, researchers Kevin McGrath and Mark Sinclair found that male students preferred male teachers because of perceived shared experiences, interests, ways of thinking, better comprehension of their play, and better ability to relate.
Several studies have found that boys with male teachers are more engaged, work harder in school, and perform better than those with female teachers. Johns Hopkins researcher Nick Papageorge found that having one black teacher in elementary school, reduced the chance of a low-income black male student dropping out of high school by 39% and of going to college by 29%. Since male teachers as a whole are nearly as rare as minority male teachers, one could reasonably expect the same to be true of the connection between male teachers and male students, regardless of ethnicity.
Given these last two bullets, is it
any wonder that while 87% of high school girls graduate,
only 77% of boys do? Or that men earn only 43% of
bachelors and 40% of masters degrees?
Why does this seem as shocking as it is true?
There is a saying in the United States that to get a good job, you need to get a good education. This was the slogan of a pro-education campaign from years past.
On the surface, this truism makes good sense. There are statistics and reports from federal contractors like the Brookings Institute to back up the claim. They like to publish charts like this to prove their points, but notice that the title begins with the word probability. This word means likelihood or the odds of something happening not certainty.
A publication from Hearst Seattle Media targets high school students as future consumers of high-cost advanced education. They quote Department of Labor Statistics from five years ago, and paint a very rosy picture of every college graduates future as a worker bee.
It is unquestionably true that certain, high-paying jobs like medical doctor or lawyer require a good education and plenty of it, at no small cost. But does the expense justify the potential future income?
Each year, over 20,000 U.S. students begin medical school. They routinely pay $50,000 or more per year for the privilege, and the average medical student graduates with a debt of over $170,000, as reported on KevinMD.com.
The mere title of this Quartz article says it all, regarding the high cost of finishing medical school:
I went $230,000 into debt to become a doctor in America.
Does the expense and resultant debt pay off?
Weatherby Healthcare indicates that, on average, physician incomes have risen steadily over the past seven years. From the lowest rung on the doctoring salary ladder, an Internist earns, on average, $225,000. On the top rung rank orthopedists who get paid more than double that amount, $489,000.
But there are also statistics that claim that buying lets use the correct verb, ok? a diploma is no guarantee of landing a lucrative again, lets use the correct adjective job. Tam Pham, writing for The Hustle, answers the question, Is a College Degree Worth It in 2016? and reaches a similar conclusion:
The value of a college degree continues to be reexamined. Companies are putting more focus on hiring candidates with real-world experiences. More affordable alternatives to college are now available and the internet has allowed anyone to get educated from the comfort of their own home.
What is absolutely, stone cold certain is that todays twenty-somethings are saddled with a debt load that will be the biggest in most of their lives, including, possibly, a home purchase.
Forbes just released this shocking fact: student loan debt last year cost American students a whopping $1.3 trillion!
The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.
Student loan interest, in former years, has been scandalously high. To reign in this run-away industry, and to preserve at least some of our childrens retirement income, the fed now sets fixed-rate student loans for life.
But that wasnt always the case, and there are countless horror stories from student-debt slaves, Eric Wetervelts term via National Public Radio. Want more? Check out this myDayton Daily News article to read first-hand accounts of post-graduate experiences in the real world of adult employment.
Perhaps its time to re-examine the underlying notion that everyone needs a college degree to succeed in life. Nothing could be further from the truth, as James Pethokoukis explores in his incisive article for AEIdeas, Why getting a good education and a good job doesnt necessarily mean going to a four-year college.
A trade diploma costs a fraction of what a college degree does, and unemployment rates in these fields are low.
This City Journal article by Joel Kotkin titled, Wanted: Blue-Collar Workers cites a rise in American manufacturing and other industries, coupled with a shortage of skilled workers, as the reason factory and other employers are understaffed. The underlying problem, though, could be termed a paradigm shift in US employment:
For decades, Americans have been told that the future lies in high-end services, such as law, and creative professions, such as software-writing and systems design. That attitude is a relic of the postWorld War II era, a time when a college education almost guaranteed you a good job. The oversupply of college-educated workers is especially striking when you contrast it with the growing shortage of skilled manufacturing workers.
Our great nation has a dire need for skilled tradespeople: plumbers, electricians, welders, and other people who keep the physical infrastructure running, from the power lines outside to the kitchen faucet. US News & World Report lists 25 Best Jobs That Dont Require a College Degree. In the top three: web developer, diagnostic medical sonographer, and occupational therapy assistant.
Is the American epidemic of student impoverishment an accident or an evil plot launched by the Illuminati (the international cabal of wealthiest elite who own us) to further enslave our society?
Fingers point to the latter:
By one estimate, the federal student loan program could turn a profit of $1.6 billion in 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
David Meyer really gets into the topic of the student loan conspiracy, but allows that it isnt a deliberate one.
Deliberate or not, if you know anyone deliberating about whether or not to go to college and especially if that person is leaning toward a major in some soft subject with little practical employment value, without a PhD (e.g., Philosophy or History) please spread the idea that learning a useful trade might just be the course of wisdom.
If that doesnt work, share a few
of these Real Student Debt Stories but
not before bedtime. These tales are the stuff nightmares are
The Move to Dumb
Down our Educational System: Betsy DeVos Teaches the Value
Ms. DeVos is the perfect cabinet member for a president determined to appoint officials eager to destroy the agencies they run and weigh the fate of policies and programs based on ideological considerations.
She has never run, taught in, attended or sent a child to an American public school, and her confirmation hearings laid bare her ignorance of education policy and scorn for public education itself. She has donated millions to, and helped direct, groups that want to replace traditional public schools with charter schools and convert taxpayer dollars into vouchers to help parents send children to private and religious schools.
While her nomination gave exposure to an honest and passionate debate about charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools, her hard-line opposition to any real accountability for these publicly funded, privately run schools undermined their founding principle as well as her support. Even champions of charters, like the philanthropist Eli Broad and the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, opposed her nomination.
In Ms. DeVos, the decades-long struggle to improve public education gains no visionary leadership and no fresh ideas. Her appointment squanders an opportunity to advance public education research, experimentation and standards, to objectively compare traditional public school, charter school and voucher models in search of better options for public school students.
The charter school movement started in the United States two decades ago with the promise that independently run, publicly funded schools would outperform traditional public schools if they were exempted from some state regulations. Charter pioneers also promised that, unlike traditional schools, which they said were allowed to perform disastrously without consequence, charters would be held accountable for improving student performance, and shut down if they failed.
Ms. DeVos has spent tens of millions and many years in a single-minded effort to force her home state, Michigan, to replace public schools with privately run charters and to use vouchers to move talented students out of failing public schools. She has consistently fought legislation to stop failing charters from expanding, and lobbied to shut down the troubled Detroit public school system and channel the money to charter, private or religious schools, regardless of their performance. She also favors online private schools, an alternative that most leading educators reject as destructive to younger childrens need to develop peer relationships, and an industry prone to scams.
In her Senate hearing, Ms. DeVos appeared largely ignorant of challenges facing college students, as well. She indicated that she was skeptical of Education Department policies to prevent fraud by for-profit colleges a position favored, no doubt, by Mr. Trump, who just settled a fraud case against his so-called Trump University for $25 million. It was not clear that she understood how various student loan and aid programs worked, or could distinguish between them.
In the end, only two Senate Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, opposed Ms. DeVos, leaving Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote. Maybe the others figured it wasnt worth risking Mr. Trumps wrath by rejecting his selection to lead a department that accounts for only about 3 percent of the federal budget. Maybe they couldnt ignore the $200 million the DeVos family has funneled to Republicans, including campaigns of 10 of the 12 Republican senators on the committee that vetted her.
The tens of thousands of parents and students who called, emailed and signed petitions opposing Ms. DeVoss confirmation refused to surrender to Mr. Trump. They couldnt afford to have a billionaire hostile to government run public schools that already underperform the rest of the developed world.
Did anyone who backed this shameful
appointment think about them?
the final months of the 2016-17 school year unfold, the nations 4 million 9th gradersthe Class of 2020are entering the make-it-or-break-it final weeks of their first year of high school. And GradNationthe national campaign by Americas Promise Alliance to increase graduation rates to 90 percent by 2020is entering its make-it-or-break-it years.
In recent years, the graduation track record of our 15 million U.S. public high school students has steadily increased. Overall national graduation rates for public school students have climbed 4.2 percentage points in the past four years, up from 79 percent in the 2010-11 school year to the current 83.2 percent.
Despite improvements, the stakes remain high. At the current rate, close to 700,000 of todays high school freshmen wont make it. If nothing changes between now and 2020, nearly three-quarters of a million young people each year will see their prospects for higher education, high-skilled jobs, and economic mobility severely curtailed.
But if we successfully reach a 90 percent rate, almost 300,000 more high school seniors each year will get the best possible shot at successhigher incomes, better health, and longer life expectancy. As a nation, we will see a return on this investment in the form of higher employment and tax revenue, reduced costs for social services and prisons, and greater voter turnout.
As two leaders highly invested in improving graduation rates, we know that reaching these individual and collective goals will largely depend on how educators, school leaders, and parents support high school freshmen today. The habits students set as freshmen have an impact on their path to completing high school and their future beyond graduation. Take Chicago, for example: For the last decade, the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research has tracked Chicago public schools efforts to reduce 9th grade course failure and improve graduation rates. These efforts include implementing summer programs, using data to monitor student progress, and hiring 9th grade staff coordinators.
"The transition from the middle grades to high school can lead even good students to struggle."
The results speak for themselves: Between 2007 and 2013, the number of freshmen who went on to 10th grade grew by almost 7,000 students. The four-year graduation rate also increased from 49 percent in 2007 to 69 percent in 2014. The consortiums research on their progress provides a window into what might work for freshmen across the country. One thing is certain, students are more likely to graduate if they can successfully adjust to high school.
How other school districts can learn from Chicago is best captured by these six suggestions:
1. Make use of proven early-warning indicators. Freshmen who are on track to graduateearning no more than one F in a core course per semester and accumulating sufficient credits to advance to sophomore yearare four times more likely to graduate than students who are off-track. The consortiums on-track indicator uses simple data-reports that allow teachers to monitor student performance, identify those at risk of failing classes, and share successful intervention strategies. Chicagos on-track rate for freshmen rose from 57 to 82 percent between 2007 and 2013.
2. Focus on attendance data. Attendance is the precursor to engagement, learning, academic success, and, yes, graduation. The consortium found that each week of absence per semester in 9th grade is associated with a more than 20 percentage-point decline in the probability of graduating from high school. In light of this, schools must work to help students and families understand the cost of frequent absences, closely monitor attendance, and provide support from teachers and staff to get students to class.
3. Embrace collective responsibility for academic success. Attendance improves when teachers take collective responsibility for the success of the whole school, not just their individual students. A school culture that stresses collective responsibility for absences and academic success might include team meetings around real-time attendance reports or shared outreach when students do not show up to class. At the K-12 University of Chicago Charter School, which in 2015-16 had an attendance rate of 97 percent at one of its four campuses, educators created charts and graphs of attendance for hallways and highlighted its school attendance importance at assemblies and morning announcements.
4. Raise the bar to "Bs or better." Ninety-five percent of students who earn Bs or better and have a GPA of 3.0 in 9th grade go on to graduate from high school. With a C average, however, the rate slips to 72 percent. For freshmen with a D average, only half will go on to graduate. Conveying the importance of good grades and strong GPAs early in students high school careers can keep them from scrambling to catch up when it might be too late.
5. Foster supportive relationships to ease transitions. The transition from the middle grades to high school can lead even good students to strugglea dramatic drop in grades, attendance, and academic behavior is a common warning sign of this strain. In high school, its easier to skip class and harder to figure out how to get help with coursework. But high school doesnt have to be impersonal. Teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors, and friends can make a concerted effort to reach out to students when they show signs of falling behind or disengaging, find out why they are struggling, and get them the academic or emotional support they need.
6. Assess and refine disciplinary practices. African-American students, students with low test scores, and vulnerable students with a history of abuse and neglect receive out-of-school suspensions at higher rates than their peers. Out-of-school suspensions mean students lose class time, which can place them at greater risk of falling farther behind. When schools understand which of their students receive suspensions, they can develop targeted interventions for individual students and help keep them on track to graduate.
Making use of proven early-warning
indicators, establishing an incessant drumbeat on the
importance of freshman-year grades and attendance, reviewing
discipline policies to reduce out-of-school suspensions, and
giving school staff at all levels a shared stake in
students freshman year success can ensure that the
class of 2020as well as future classesare ready
to take on the world.
It's a basic fact: If we want to live in a developed society that keeps moving in the right direction, our kids need to be able to read, write, and think for themselves.
Even folks without kids can probably agree that educating future generations benefits us all.
As best-selling author John Green put it:
"The reason I pay taxes for schools even though I don't have a kid in school is that I am better off in a well-educated world."
Yes. Yes. Yes.
To ensure kids get a good education, well, we need good teachers. The problem is that they're disappearing.
Yep, that's right. Across the U.S., many states are reporting a teacher shortage.
The New York Times explored the nationwide problem in a recent article, noting that "Louisville, Ky.; Nashville; Oklahoma City; and Providence, R.I., are among the large urban school districts having trouble finding teachers."
Even more striking was the shortage in California, where school districts need to fill 21,500 vacancies this academic year. Meanwhile, the state is issuing only about 15,000 new teaching credentials each year.
At the root of the problem, the Times reports, are the massive layoffs that happened during the economic recession. Those left a whole bunch of teachers unemployed. And now that some states have more money for education (some not all), many of them have already moved on to other careers.
Plus, many of the students who might have become teachers during the recession chose other fields. You can't blame them: Why take on student loan debt in exchange for low pay and long hours? That's assuming there would even be a teaching job available upon graduation.
Research and numbers are one thing. But what about the actual people who know the most about why we're facing a teacher shortage?
AJ+ asked those in the know: "Where have all the teachers gone?"
In a great video that you can scroll down to to watch, they took their question straight to teachers.
And it's not only about the money it's the low pay combined with ever-increasing demands.
Why do we treat the field of teaching as though it's less important than other professions?
And how about the way people treat teachers?
What if we totally reframe how we view teachers?
Teachers, just like parents, are frustrated.
Hayes felt that the most frustrating thing for teachers is the amount of testing their students are put through.
McNeal was a little more opinionated, stating:
" We are testing children to death and we are testing teachers to death. 20 years ago, we might have spent as much as two weeks testing. Today, in 2015, the average number of weeks a child spends taking tests can be up to six weeks."
(I think I can hear most parents shouting "amen" to that sentiment.)
"Why don't we look at a way to create a more holistic education, which includes social, emotional content and curriculum?" he asked.
Here's the thing we need to remember: Almost all teachers who stay in the profession love what they do.
And what they want to do is educate our kids, even when they're facing an uphill battle. Stephen Leeper, a middle-school ethnic studies teacher, explained: "It is difficult, especially when you teach in communities of color or low-income communities. They bring a lot of trauma into the room."
Teachers aren't just dealing with lesson planning and test preparation. They're working with kids who may not know where their next meal is coming from or even where they'll be sleeping that night.
Still, teachers are committed.
It all boils down to something pretty basic:
We should value teachers more.
When Schools Use
Child Protective Services As A Weapon Against Parents
Tiffany Banks sat in her living room, a ruby-red wall decorated with family photographs behind her, listing all the ways her life had unraveled over the past year. Her 6-year-old son had been removed from her care for more than a month. She was forced to close an in-home child care business, and shed been temporarily displaced from her preschool teaching job, which shed held for 17 years. Her teenage daughter refused to talk to the 6-year-old, blaming him for the familys troubles.
Banks didnt blame her little boy. She blamed his school, and the investigators from the states child welfare agency theyd sent to her door.
Until last fall, Banks had only good things to say about her childrens school. Shed carefully chosen the K-8 institution, a magnet school across town from her single-family house on Chicagos West Side, for its academic rigor and diverse student body. Her daughter, now 16, had thrived there, she said, and her middle son did well too. But when her youngest son entered first grade last year, he started misbehaving and making trouble for teachers. He really struggles behavior-wise, said Banks, a tall, self-assured woman whod attended neighborhood public schools in Chicago and desperately wanted something different for her kids. And at this school they have a low tolerance for it.
The school wanted the boy to enroll in classes exclusively for students with disabilities. But Banks felt differently: Despite his behavior problems, for which he was eventually diagnosed with attention deficit and mood disorders, he did well academically, she said. Banks pushed back, going so far as to make complaints to the citys education board and entering mediation with the school.
This was unfolding around the time the workers from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, or DCFS, began investigating her for alleged child abuse and neglect.
School employees in most states have a legal obligation to report any suspicion of abuse and neglect, and they can play a critical role in helping keep children out of harms way. But in nearly three dozen interviews conducted by The Hechinger Report and HuffPost, parents, lawyers, advocates and child welfare officials said that schools occasionally wield this authority in inappropriate ways. Fed up with what they see as obstinate parents who dont agree to special education services for their child, or disruptive kids who make learning difficult, schools sometimes use the threat of a child-protection investigation to strong-arm parents into complying with the schools wishes or transferring their children to a new school. That approach is not only improper, but it can be devastating for families, even if the allegations are ultimately determined to be unfounded.
Banks first brush with DCFS came after the school sent her son to the hospital because he was acting out, she said. They wanted him to receive a psychiatric evaluation, she said, but Banks refused because he already had an appointment with his doctor for the following week. The second time a caseworker investigated her, she said, it was because her sons doctor had prescribed him a new medication and the school hadnt been properly notified. Next came an investigation after her middle child wrote a paper that Banks was told contained troubling content. One time, she gave her youngest son a spanking for running away from school. After he told school employees about it the next day, he was removed from her home for more than a month and sent to live with her sister-in-law while the child welfare agency investigated her for abuse, according to Banks. The most recent case was the most incomprehensible to her: Banks said she was investigated for letting her middle child go to school with a bad haircut hed given himself. The haircut, Banks said she was told by an investigator, could amount to emotional abuse.
As a teacher, Banks herself had sometimes called the state child welfare hotline over the years, when she worried that her students were being abused or neglected. But in her case, she believes the school simply wanted her son gone. Banks said shed heard from a handful of other parents whod found themselves in similar situations, all of whom are African-American like her and whose children have disabilities. All Im looking for is a good education for my kid, said Banks. She felt the allegations against her had been twisted and exaggerated to fit a narrative that she was a bad mother. It severed the relationship that were supposed to have as a parent and teacher community.
"Calling ACS is one of the tools in [a schools] repertoire to make the parents comply." Irene Mendez, a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
Emily Bolton, a spokesperson for the Chicago Public Schools, wrote in an email that the agency cannot comment on specific cases but that employees take seriously their responsibility as mandated reporters of abuse and neglect, and that there is no evidence of widespread misuse of the DCFS child-welfare hotline.
But even some former child welfare officials say the practice isnt as rare as theyd like. If schools dont get the parents to agree to whats being recommended not all the time, but sometimes they will call ACS [the Administration for Childrens Services, New York Citys child welfare agency] to pressure them, said Don Lash, a former lawyer with ACS and author of the book, When the Welfare People Come: Race and Class in the US Child Protection System.
He and many other experts also note that because of legitimate fears of overlooking kids at risk and vague definitions of abuse and neglect, school workers may sometimes be overzealous, calling in allegations over relatively minor issues such as broken eyeglasses, inappropriate clothing or small scratches. In interviews, more than a dozen lawyers said these investigations disproportionately affect low-income families of color, who tend to live in neighborhoods and attend schools that have bigger police and social services presences and whose children are more likely to show markings of poverty that can be confused with neglect.
Such families also have fewer resources to fight back. When a family in a wealthy Brooklyn neighborhood learned roughly two years ago that their childs school had initiated an ACS investigation against them, they sued the city education department. Parents from lower-income, majority-black and Latino neighborhoods, few of whom can afford that option, say such investigations can be a regular, even expected, part of parenting. According to ACS data, there were 2,391 abuse and neglect investigations last year in East New York/Starrett City, a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, compared with 255 in the affluent, and far more populous, Upper East Side.
Race, and racial bias, can also play a role in whether families are referred to and investigated by child protective services, research suggests. Nationally, black children are roughly twice as likely as white children to enter foster care, and in New York and Illinois, more than four times as likely. Research reveals racial disparities at every step, from the numbers of calls to the child welfare hotline to the numbers of investigations and court findings of neglect.
I dont think I can think of a white family where Ive ever seen it arise, Chris Gottlieb, co-director of New York Universitys Family Defense Clinic, which represents clients in child welfare cases, said of these types of school-driven investigations.
An Intimidation Tool?
Accusations that officials with Success Academy Charter Schools have sometimes threatened parents with ACS involvement have been a focal point of legal and civil complaints against the charter school network, New York Citys largest. One lawsuit against a Success Academy school in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn alleges that the school unfairly singled out kids with disabilities for discipline. In an August ruling allowing the suit to proceed, a judge said allegations that school employees called police or child protective services on 4- and 5-year olds, would, if true, help to demonstrate enough bad faith or gross misjudgment to sustain the discrimination claims.
Nicey Givens, one of the parents in the suit, said she was told at least twice that Success might involve ACS if she didnt quickly pick up her child from school in the middle of the day. The boy, whod been given diagnoses of attention deficit and oppositional defiant disorder, often misbehaved, and Givens said she felt the school was pressuring her to remove him. Once, she said, the threat to involve ACS came after shed sent the boy to school in boots instead of his uniform shoes on a cold, wet day.
"Our focus is always on the student, the child. Not to say that the parent doesnt matter and those kinds of investigations cant be awkward and disruptive, but its better to be safe than sorry, and there are just too many examples that you read of something that was overlooked. - Ann Powell, executive vice president of public affairs, Success Academy charter network
Calling ACS is one of the tools in their repertoire to make the parents comply, said Irene Mendez, a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, one of several groups that filed the suit. A 2016 civil complaint filed with the federal Department of Education includes an allegation that a Success school in Manhattan initiated an ACS investigation against the mother of a 6-year-old as part of an effort to encourage her to send him to another school. Another lawsuit alleges that one of the networks Bronx schools repeatedly threatened to call ACS to pressure a parent to remove her son from the school.
Success Academy officials dispute the suggestion that any of the networks schools misuse calls to ACS. Ann Powell, executive vice president of public affairs for the charter network, said she could not comment on the specifics in the lawsuit involving the Fort Greene school because it is ongoing, but said that the network disagreed with the way Givens described her interactions with the school. Success also disputes the allegations made against the Manhattan and Bronx schools. Powell noted that as legally mandated reporters of child abuse, school employees must report any suspicion of abuse and neglect, and that using that in a threatening way is just not credible.
A Legal Obligation
Mandated reporter laws date to the 1960s, and in most states, school employees are among the professionals (along with doctors, social workers and others) obligated to report any suspicion of abuse or neglect. Mandated reporter trainings remind school employees that its not their responsibility to decide whether abuse is taking place but simply to pick up the phone if they have a concern, and the child welfare agency will take over from there. Mandated reporters typically have immunity from prosecution for making needless calls, so long as those calls are made in good faith.
All of the pressure on mandated reporters is to report, report, report, said Richard Wexler, executive director of the nonprofit National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
If they fail to report their suspicions, and something terrible happens to the child, they can face fines or even jail time and wind up on the front page of a newspaper. Child welfare is often described as being caught in a scandal-reform cycle, with reports of neglect and entrances to foster care rising after high-profile child deaths. Both Chicago and New York are dealing with the repercussions of recent scandals Chicago Tribune reporting on sex abuse in schools is spurring fresh resources and protocols, while in New York, calls to the child abuse hotline spiked after the deaths of two young boys under ACS monitoring in 2016.
Our focus is always on the student, the child, said Powell, the Success Academy VP. Not to say that the parent doesnt matter and those kinds of investigations cant be awkward and disruptive, but its better to be safe than sorry, and there are just too many examples that you read of something that was overlooked.
School officials also note that they have a unique responsibility in policing child neglect in many states. Child welfare laws in New York and 23 other states (not Illinois) list the denial of education as a form of abuse or neglect. In some parts of New York, school employees are required to initiate educational neglect allegations if a child has a prolonged absence and parents dont respond to the school. Last year, school personnel in New York City made 16,301 reports to ACS, more than any other type of mandated reporter, according to agency data provided to Hechinger/HuffPost. Of those, about 43 percent involved an allegation of educational neglect.
But critics say these too are misused or fall into gray areas of the law. Phillip and Tina Hankins, a couple in the South Bronx, have been tussling with the New York City Department of Education for more than a decade over where and how to educate their son David, who has a disability. Theyve been investigated at least seven times by ACS, including on occasions when they kept David out of class while fighting to get him into what they considered to be a more suitable institution, documentation shows.
The schools have the right to call in whatever they think is not appropriate, said Baffour Acheampong, an ACS worker who investigated several of the Hankins cases. But in dealing with Mrs. and Mr. Hankins, what I saw was they have the best interests of their son.
On the one occasion that ACS substantiated an educational neglect allegation against the Hankinses, a family court judge later overturned that finding. The judge noted that Davids intelligence test scores actually improved when the boy was kept out of school awaiting placement, and that the Hankinses had been doing all they could to fight for educational services. In light of the Appellants year-long battle to get the child into an appropriate school, it is not clear what else they could have done to have enrolled David, the judge wrote, adding that the agency did not provide a single credible instance where they failed to exercise the required minimum degree of care.
In response to questions about this case, spokesperson for the New York City schools Miranda Barbot said that the Department of Education works closely with families to support them, and when there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect, we have clear policies in place that ensure it is reported.
Michael Arsham, executive director of ACSs Office of Advocacy, which responds to complaints from those involved in the child welfare system, said the agency acknowledges that hotline calls from schools do not always contain serious safety concerns, and it is working more closely with the education department to minimize needless reporting. Two years ago, ACS developed a tiered response system with the DOE to prioritize urgent matters and reduce the impact on families of investigations over smaller concerns. We do want people to call potential dangers to children to our attention, Arsham said. But I think its fair for us to expect other human services professionals whether they be in education, health care, anybody who is a mandated reporter to use their independent judgment and discretion and understand there are consequences to making that call.
"Its very hard because the whole system isnt adequate in addressing families needs. It would be much easier to call ACS if you could count on them as a holistic agency to families that are marginalized. - Leila Ortiz, social worker in New York City public schools
Part of the challenge facing school officials, according to Leila Ortiz, a social worker in New York City public schools, is that ACS is primarily oriented to investigate families, not provide support. Chronic absenteeism could indeed be the canary in the coal mine, she said, signaling deeper troubles within a family. If you dont call that in, something could potentially be happening to the student, she said. You dont know, theyre not in the building.
But at the same time, Ortiz added, you could be adding more stress and damage to a family that already has a lot on their plate. Its very hard because the whole system isnt adequate in addressing families needs. It would be much easier to call ACS if you could count on them as a holistic agency to families that are marginalized.
Despite ACSs efforts to be more sensitive to families facing investigations, parents dont tend to experience child welfare investigations as even remotely helpful. A New York City parent named Gabriela who is going by her middle name for this article because her case is still ongoing and she fears retaliation knows the type of havoc that a call to ACS can wreak on a family. Over the course of her decades-long career as an advocate for immigrants in East Harlem, she has developed an acute understanding of ways in which families can get unfairly wrapped up in an opaque process. Some of these cases have made sense to her. Many more have seemed unfounded, with cultural differences in child-rearing clearly playing a role.
But she never expected to have to use this ACS expertise with her own family.
Last January, when Gabriela received a knock on the door of her Bronx home from an ACS caseworker, she was shocked to learn that she was the subject of a child abuse investigation. Even more surprising was the source of the complaint: her 10-year-old childs school.
Days prior, Gabrielas daughter had gone to her teacher with a secret: That her daddy amid grief from the death of his mother had started regularly drinking. Gabriela said that she had tried to keep this behavior from her daughter, and thought she hadnt noticed the new wrinkles in family life.
What happened next was a whirlwind. The child, hysterically crying and scared, was pulled into a room with several adults and questioned about her home life. Under pressure and wanting to provide the right answer she said that her mom, Gabriela, had hit her, a charge that Gabriela denies.
Gabriela recognizes that the school was trying to help and in some ways was carrying out a professional duty but says they brought a nightmare to my house.
A Mexican immigrant who came to America as a teenager, Gabriela has been deeply involved in the education of her daughter at every step. Over the years, Gabriela has taken the time to get to know her daughters teachers and school principal, while advocating for the schools immigrant families who need extra services. How could the schools leaders, whom Gabriela knew so well, see her as anything less than a devoted parent?
Why didnt they use the social worker outside? Why didnt they call me with concerns? Why did they go straight for the kill and call ACS? questioned Gabriela.
She wonders if, in the delicate balancing act of being an involved parent but trying not to overstep her role, she landed on the wrong side of the equation. Or if, in her role as an advocate for immigrant families, she pushed too hard.
She also wonders if this process would have played out differently if she had a different ACS caseworker. (Charges against her were sustained and she is currently amid the appeals process.) This caseworker has asked her on three separate occasions about her immigration status, apparently unable to believe that Gabriela is an American citizen, Gabriela recounts.
When you go through this, its not just a nightmare for you, its a nightmare for your child, because the stress level it creates for our family is horrible, said Gabriela, through tears, one Tuesday afternoon in August.
A representative for the school said that all employees receive training on child abuse and follow state law regarding reporting.
After an employee at her child’s school reported Sandra for alleged abuse, she went from being very involved in her son
After an employee at her childs school reported Sandra for alleged abuse, she went from being very involved in her sons education to being fearful of teachers and administrators.
Even for parents who have their records cleared, the pernicious consequences of investigations can be permanent. In 2015, Sandra, a mother of three in Chicago, was investigated by DCFS after her youngest son went to school with what she describes as a minor scratch he sustained from roughhousing with his brothers.
After a DCFS worker arrived on her doorstep, her entire life was thrown under suspicion. The flowers that were a Valentines Day gift from her husband, for example? The investigator asked if they were evidence of her husband trying to repair damage from a marital fight.
Ultimately the abuse allegation against Sandra was overturned. But three years and $15,000 in legal fees later, she said shes still reluctant to meet with or talk to school employees. Recently, the assistant principal at her youngest sons school called Sandra and her husband in for a meeting to discuss the boys behavior, as hed been getting frustrated in class and acting out. When the administrator suggested she take a stronger disciplinary approach, Sandra pushed back hard: I am not going to yell at him or touch him because you guys already put me through this one time.
According to NYUs Gottlieb, there needs to be a greater understanding of the damage caused by needless investigations and the higher rates at which parents of color are caught up in them. You want to help parents make better choices for their kids, she said, and starting out by saying, Youre abusive, is not the way to do it.
One step forward, say critics of child welfare, could be to modify mandated reporter training by using it in part to educate people about implicit racial bias, for example. The training that has long been offered to Illinois school employees is a one-time online course that takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete and includes no mention of race. Chicago Public Schools says that starting this year, it has begun offering an in-person, annual training.
Meanwhile, experiments to reduce racial and socioeconomic inequities in the child welfare system have shown some success. New Yorks Nassau County was able to significantly reduce the numbers of black kids put in foster care after placing an emphasis on workforce diversity among human services employees and withholding childrens demographic information from staff meetings. A second New York county, Onandaga, began removing fewer black kids from their parents after investing in afterschool and other school-based programs.
In New York City, ACS is rolling out a new approach to responding to low-risk calls that focuses on assessing which services fragile families need, said ACSs Arsham.
Neil Skene, a spokesperson for the Illinois DCFS, wrote in an email that while a child welfare investigation is a painful experience for anyone, the agency feels it has a particular obligation to be responsive to the concerns and professional knowledge of mandated reporters. Skene added: We are starting to work with local communities to identify cultural and racial disparities and how we can respond better.
Out Of Options
Change cant happen soon enough for families embroiled in school-driven investigations. For them, transferring schools can feel like the only way out.
In 2015, after the harassment Givens says she endured at Success Academy, she sent her son to a different elementary school nearby. From first to fourth grade, no problems, no incidents, no suspensions, no fighting, no nothing, she said.
"When you go through this, its not just a nightmare for you, its a nightmare for your child, because the stress level it creates for our family is horrible. - Gabriela, advocate and mother investigated by ACS
Gabrielas daughter has also switched schools, after feeling uncomfortable and mistrustful of the adults who called ACS on her parents. She went from asking me, Please dont take me to school, can I stay with you? Gabriela said of her daughter, to getting up in the morning, getting ready, excited to participate.
Banks considered removing her two boys from their magnet school after the child-protection investigations began. Relatives, colleagues, even her kids pediatrician they all warned that the hotline calls wouldnt stop until her children left the school. Because she worked with kids, the investigations were particularly worrisome for her, she said, even though ultimately none of the cases against her had been substantiated.
But at the same time, she was reluctant. The magnet school offered four foreign languages, math teams and movie nights, things she worried her kids wouldnt get at their neighborhood school. I feel like they are winning, she said. I understand his behavior is poor, she said of her youngest son, but he does deserve to be at a school where he can get a good education.
Plus, by the time she came to grips with the unrelenting nature of the investigations, the December deadline for applying to specialized schools had already passed. She looked into private schools before deciding they were too expensive.
This fall, feeling out of options, she
sent her boys back to the magnet school. On the second day
of the semester, she texted: I am praying it is better
A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were "significantly" worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience.
The study, presented in Italy at a conference last month and set to be published as a paper, gave 50 readers the same short story by Elizabeth George to read. Half read the 28-page story on a Kindle, and half in a paperback, with readers then tested on aspects of the story including objects, characters and settings.
Anne Mangen of Norway's Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study, thought academics might "find differences in the immersion facilitated by the device, in emotional responses" to the story. Her predictions were based on an earlier study comparing reading an upsetting short story on paper and on iPad. "In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," said Mangen.
But instead, the performance was largely similar, except when it came to the timing of events in the story. "The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order."
The researchers suggest that "the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does".
"When you read on paper you can sense with your fingers a pile of pages on the left growing, and shrinking on the right," said Mangen. "You have the tactile sense of progress, in addition to the visual ... [The differences for Kindle readers] might have something to do with the fact that the fixity of a text on paper, and this very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story, is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you're reading. Perhaps this somehow aids the reader, providing more fixity and solidity to the reader's sense of unfolding and progress of the text, and hence the story."
Mangen also pointed to a paper published last year, which gave 72 Norwegian 10th-graders texts to read in print, or in PDF on a computer screen, followed by comprehension tests. She and her fellow researchers found that "students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally".
She is now chairing a new European research network doing empirical research on the effects of digitisation on text reading. The network says that "research shows that the amount of time spent reading long-form texts is in decline, and due to digitisation, reading is becoming more intermittent and fragmented", with "empirical evidence indicat[ing] that affordances of screen devices might negatively impact cognitive and emotional aspects of reading". They hope their work will improve scientific understanding of the implications of digitisation, thus helping to cope with its impact.
"We need to provide research and evidence-based knowledge to publishers on what kind of devices (iPad, Kindle, print) should be used for what kind of content; what kinds of texts are likely to be less hampered by being read digitally, and which might require the support of paper," said Mangen. "I'm thinking it might make a difference if a novel is a page-turner or light read, when you don't necessarily have to pay attention to every word, compared to a 500-page, more complex literary novel, something like Ulysses, which is challenging reading that really requires sustained focus. That will be very interesting to explore."
The Elizabeth George study included only two experienced Kindle users, and she is keen to replicate it using a greater proportion of Kindle regulars. But she warned against assuming that the "digital natives" of today would perform better.
"I don't think we should assume it is
all to do with habits, and base decisions to replace print
textbooks with iPads, for instance, on such assumptions.
Studies with students, for instance, have shown that they
often prefer to read on paper," she said.
A preview of what
the classroom might look like in 2025 is also a look into
our planet's future.
Climate change is putting a lot of Australia's natural wonders in danger.
We currently know the Great Barrier Reef as the world's largest coral reef system at over 1,400 miles long. But as climate change continues to affect our earth's natural resources, students 20 years from now might be looking back on the reef like this:
And do you know about the Great Australian Bight? It's the home of many endangered and threatened species and includes a baby whale nursery. But new drilling developments are threatening their home.
So what'll happen to the Great Barrier Reef if nothing is done to slow the effects of climate change? According to greatbarrierreef.org, the results could be quite disastrous:
What exactly is fracking? Besides a great substitute for that other not-so-nice f-word?
"Hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside." dangersoffracking.com
So what's the danger in pumping chemicals into the ground?
Well, for one, those chemicals could end up in our water supply. What's worse is that in some communities near fracking sites, residents have found their water is filled with so many toxic chemicals, it has become flammable.
Sherry Vargson of Pennsylvania knows all too well how fracking can turn regular drinking water into something more dangerous. After an energy company began drilling not far from her home, her water became cloudy and bubbly due to increased levels of methane. And to illustrate just how dangerous these methane levels are, take a look at what happens when Sherry brings a match to her tap water.
Oh and one last thing: Forests could someday be a thing of the past.
Forests worldwide are being destroyed through deforestation and acid rain caused by pollution. And trees aren't just pretty to look at. They're essential for our survival and the health of our planet they create the air we breathe, control climate stability, and aid in water purification. So once the forests are gone, we'll lose out on a lot more than just scenic views.
So while Show-and-Tell 2025 was made specifically about Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, there's no denying that the effects of climate change are something all of us need to think about.
The truth is, the way we're treating the planet today has an effect on what's left behind for our children and their children.
The kids in this video no doubt are
adorable, but this isn't the kind of future I had in
In examining this issue, it may help to examine what the goal of the education system actually is. The stated goal of education in the United states is to prepare our youth with the knowledge and skills they need to function as a productive member of our society; both in the home sphere (balancing an account, budgeting expenses and the like) and the professional sphere (technical training, specialized knowledge in a particular field like medicine or engineering or other career related knowledge). To this end, we have endeavored to develop curriculum that provides the basic skill sets to be able to achieve this goal for every one of our youth. Primary to achieving this goal, the areas of Reading, Mathematics and Science have been identified as critical or fundamental to all the rest of knowledge. Without these basic blocks to build from, none of the rest of education can be successful and neither can our youth become successful adults, as easily, without them. As our society continues to progress technologically, this will only continue to become an even more prevalent issue. Experts already are projecting millions of high tech, high wage jobs that will exist in America with no qualified Americans to fill them within the next ten to fifteen years.
Looking at the current trends has convinced some experts that the problem is with the teachers. They propose to look at teacher performance by studying student performance on a per teacher basis. They say we need to encourage more "good" teachers and remove the "bad" ones. This is a foolish strategy that can only further degrade an already strained education system. It is not as simple as "good" and "bad" teachers. There are many confounding factors and it cannot be reliably said that a single teacher is the cause of a group of students' success or failure. It is not rewarding or punishing teachers that will solve this issue.
It has also been suggested that class size is the issue. Once a class contains more that the ideal number of students then the students' performance begins to suffer. Again, this cannot be used as a reliable predictor of any student's performance; this leaves the question of if this is really the cause of the issue either.
Current attempts to combat this issue have also attempted to alter the curriculum used within the classroom to better address the areas examined by the tests that are given to measure these metrics. This has led to decreased emphasis on such subjects as Art, Music and History; all of which are important for the continuation of culture and society. This is not a sustainable path either. Continuation of this approach will only hasten the degradation of our society as a whole.
Perhaps there are some deeper more systematic problems causing this issue. One of the things that must be considered is that, in America we cherish the idea of equality. In the education system this is manifested as providing the same education to all students. Equality has become confused with being identical however. Just because two things are equal does not mean they are identical. Algebra provides us with an apt example of this. Both x+y=3 and 2x+2y=6 describe the same line when graphed; the two expressions are equivalent or "equal" but they are clearly not "identical". In our current education system, students are mostly treated as though they are not only "equal" but also "identical". This is a fundamental flaw in our system and should be immediately addressed. While two individual students must be treated as being "equal", they are no more "identical" than any other two individuals. Each has their own strengths and weakness when it comes to learning and each has their own areas of interest as well as their own learning style. Currently we are trying to shove oblong, triangular and rectangular pegs into round holes and then wondering why they do not fit properly. What is needed is a more individualized approach to education.
At this point many people may say but we already do not have enough teachers so how can we possibly provide this "individualized" instruction. Hiring and training more teachers takes time and resources that we do not have available and not enough people are training to become teachers anyway. The answer is not more or "better" teachers although this would likely help. For a less expensive and less time consuming solution let us examine what is currently being done by parents of students to help alleviate their concerns for their children academically. One thing which many parents, as well as college students, employ is the services of a tutor. If we were to move this service from being in the purview of the parents, and available only to those who can afford it, to being a standard part of the classroom environment, it could help to alleviate the issue by allowing teachers to continue to focus on the students as a group while tutors provide individual students with extra one on one instruction when needed. Not all students learn all subjects at the same rate and expecting them to do so is a failing on the part of the education system. We can afford to pay these tutors at a lower wage than what would be required to hire teachers to fill this role. It could provide at least part time employment for students and others. There would need to be screening systems put in place to ensure that the students are being taught by individuals with the requisite skills but this is not an insurmountable obstacle. Tutoring is an example of a strategy which has been proven to get positive results.
Another area we struggle with in America is the idea of cherishing that which is new, young and exciting while minimizing that which is mature, staid and reliable. In society this manifests as a tendency to ignore one of our greatest resources: our mature retired citizens. These citizens have accumulated a lifetime of knowledge and most I believe would be happy to pass on that knowledge if there were systems in place that would enable them to do so within the constraints imposed by their health, ability and time. If retirees could contribute to the education of the upcoming generations while receiving some supplementary income I am convinced that many would avail themselves of this opportunity. These citizens are uniquely qualified to provide not only tutoring assistance in the classroom but also career advice and other mentoring type services. There should be training programs in place to accommodate those who wish to engage in these endeavors.
America's corporate citizens also have roles and responsibilities in our education system. It would behoove our corporations to work closely with our education system to ensure that the skills being taught to our youth are those skills which the corporations will need their workers to have. This right to influence our youth's education comes with the responsibility to help ensure that education is properly funded. Our organizations of tradespeople should also be involved in this same fashion. They should also have a hand in developing our curriculum and have a responsibility to help ensure that the education system is properly funded. Without fresh workers to add to their ranks, such organizations are doomed to fade away. It is in the best interests of the members of such organizations to ensure that their skillset continues into the future unless technology has rendered it obsolete.
This brings up the idea that all students should attend a four year college or university. It has been much touted that the lifetime earnings of college graduates is much higher than that of non-graduates. While this is certainly true, it is somewhat misleading. The society we live in does not pay all professions equally. The same society does require all those professions to function properly. Janitors, plumbers, carpenters, welders, machinists, serving personnel, maids, doctors, lawyers, CEOs, electricians, teachers, tutors, accountants and more; all are required for our society to function properly. The idea that all these professions require a college education is ludicrous. Some do require secondary schooling while others are better learned in a specialty/technical school and still others are best learned on the job. Each option should be equally available to those whose chosen career path requires it and none should be looked at as being more or less than any other.
There needs to be both traditional four year secondary education and technical/trades pathways available to our youth. Our society requires both pathways to continue to enjoy the success we have traditionally enjoyed. This does not mean we should pigeon hole or label our youth and force them down one or the other path. It means our youth should be able to choose either path as they decide which it appropriate at that point in their lives. The goal of primary education needs to be to provide the requisite skillsets to enable our youth to succeed regardless of the secondary path chosen and to have the opportunity to experience what each path may be like. This means that electronics, metal and wood shop, auto repair, art, music, history, civics and so on; are all subjects that need to be taught at the K-12 levels at least in an introductory fashion. These are the subjects that had been a focus of most public education in addition to the language, math and science basics for most of our society's modern history. This should not change.
What should change is the approach taken within the individual classroom. Consider the following two scenarios:
A teacher stands in front of a class of forty five students and goes over their lesson for half the class period. After the lesson, the teacher assigns homework and the students begin working. If the class period is one hour then there are thirty minutes remaining in the class period. Typically, the teacher will spend the remaining thirty minutes taking questions from students and working on the board to show the examples in the hope of answering as many of the students' questions as possible. Since each question is likely to take at least two minutes to answer, this means that the teacher can answer at most fifteen question. This means that, at most, one third of the students will get to ask one question each.
A teacher stands in front of a class of forty five students and goes over their lesson for half the class period. After the lesson, the teacher assigns homework and the students begin working. If the class period is one hour then there are thirty minutes remaining in the class period. This time, there are one teacher and two tutors in the classroom. The teacher continues on as in Scenario A with the same results of answering at most fifteen students' questions. At the same time the two tutors give five minutes to each student they help. In the thirty minutes they have each assisted six more students and now the total number of students' questions answered is increased to fifteen for the teacher and another 12 by the tutors for a total of twenty seven. This is now nearly two thirds of the students who have had questions be answered.
Notice that the addition of the two tutors in the room nearly doubles the number of student's receiving help. Notice also that the amount of time spent helping each student was also able to increase for those helped by the tutors. Additionally, the normal progression of the teacher didn't change from Scenario A to Scenario B even though the number of students helped increased dramatically.
It would seem that this is a change
that could be made with minimal investment and without
disrupting the current progression of the classroom. In
light of the potential benefits, this is a change that could
and should be made. Our youth and our society would be
stronger because of it.
Student Behavior Be Factored Into Teacher Evaluations? Study
In fact, teachers' impact on non-cognitive skills, like adaptability, motivation, and self-restraint, is 10 times more predictive of students' long-term success than teachers' impact on student test scores, according to the study, which was published in the journal Education Next.
"Test scores are certainly a measure of a set of skills students need to be successful in school and perhaps later in life," said C. Kirabo Jackson, a professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University and the author of the study.
But test scores don't measure social-emotional and non-cognitive skills, he said. And the way that policymakers measure teacher quality is rooted in how their students perform on standardized tests. (Many evaluation systems use value-added measures, which attempt to quantify a teacher's impact on student learning by charting student progress against what they would ordinarily be expected to achieve.)
"The question is, is that a good measure of teachers?" Jackson said. "The finding is not that teachers who raise test scores are doing poorly in terms of raising softer skills, [but] if you can identify teachers who raise both sets of skills, you'll do a better job of identifying" the best teachers.
Jackson studied seven years of data from North Carolina public school 9th graders who took classes in which their teachers receive traditional value-added ratings: English I and one of three math classes.
He created a behavior index that measures students' non-cognitive skillsthe index included data like absences, suspensions, grade point averages, and on-time progression to 10th grade. He also created a test-score index that is the average of students' 9th grade math and English scores.
Controlling for poverty and other demographic factors, Jackson found that a student's behavior index is a much stronger predictor of future success than his or her test scores. Future success includes graduating from high school on time, having a higher GPA at graduation, taking the SAT, and reporting intentions to enroll in a four-year college.
"If a kid is assigned to a teacher who raises test scores, they're slightly more likely to graduate high school, but if they're assigned to a teacher who raises softer skills, those kids are much more likely to graduate high school," Jackson said.
See: Happiness Before Homework: Focusing on Feelings in the Classroom (Opinion)
On average, a teacher's effectiveness at improving one set of skills is not necessarily an indicator of their ability to improve the other set, the study found. Teachers who are better at raising test scores do tend to be better at improving student behavior, but there's not a strong correlation.
For example, among the top third of teachers with the most impact on student behavior, only 58 percent of them are above average at improving test scores. And among the bottom third of teachers with the least impact on student behavior, nearly 40 percent of them significantly improved student test scores.
"There's a whole host of teachers we're misclassifying as being good or bad" based on their ability to raise test scores, Jackson said. But these teachers could be excellent at improving student behavior, which isn't measured in most evaluation systems.
Another recent study found that elementary teachers who are good at raising test scores are worse at making students feel happy and engaged at school. That study, out of the University of Maryland, found that 4th and 5th grade teachers who are skilled at improving students' math achievement may do so in ways that make students less happy in class.
While Jackson stressed that some teachers are able to both raise test scores and improve student behavior, he said the findings hammer home the need for multiple measures in evaluation systems and targeted professional development.
"The study raises as many questions as it resolves," Jackson said. The next question is how evaluations "can identify teachers who are absolutely having meaningful and large impacts on students' long-run success that would not have been identified using test scores," he said.
Jackson's preliminary research has found that student surveys, which are sometimes included in evaluations, do not indicate a teacher's impact on soft skills. More research needs to be done to find how to measure impact on soft skills, he said.
From a policy perspective, Jackson said, "it would be valuable for the research community to get a handle on those classroom practices that are strongly associated with improving these softer skills that are associated with success [and] attach stakes to those things."
For example, he said, observation
rubrics could encourage school leaders to look for those
classroom practices and therefore, encourage teachers to
engage in those practices.
Before Homework: Focusing on Feelings in the
But in May of 2009, I received a rude wake-up call. I arrived at school to an emergency meeting; one of my students had committed suicide. I was shocked and devastated.
As I sat in the first row at the student's funeral, I was overcome with emotions, bawling alongside my students, and the deceased student's family. He was in my class for six months and in so much pain, I thought. How did I miss this? How were we so disconnected that I had no idea?
Before my student's suicide, I was naïve. I looked at my students and made assumptions that they were fine. I would tell myself, "We live in an amazing place at a high-achieving school. These kids have bright futureshow hard could their lives really be?" And I would focus on the content of my teaching and my students' performance. But under the smiles and the high or low grades, my students experienced internal struggles that were not always readily visible.
Although I felt helpless in the face of my student's suicide, I suddenly felt a new purpose. I knew that something needed to change. If I were to continue to be an educator, nothing could stop me from putting my students' well-being first. I became determined to figure out how to connect more authentically and form stronger relationships with my students. I wouldn't worry about academic standards, content, or grades, until I made sure they felt like they belonged and gave them more skills to ride the waves of life.
I set out to create a course on positive psychology, the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, for juniors and seniors at my school. The curriculum focused on personal empowerment: We live life "choice by choice." I taught students that it's critical to be aware of our emotions as well as the suffering that can be caused by our thoughts. We dont need to "buy into" what our inner critic is telling us, and treating ourselves with compassion is key to our well-being and resilience. In the first year, 107 students signed up. Year after year, I've seen hundreds of students pass through my classroom and change their behavior, including the debilitating nature of perfectionism so many students wrestle with in high school.
These principles were also useful in every other class that I taught. Incorporating just five minutes of mindfulness into my AP economics course saved instructional minutes because the students were more focused.
Coaching Emotionally-Intelligent Teachers
To train other teachers to use strategies of positive psychology with their students, I created EQ Schools, a California-based organization that empowers educators through positive psychology, emotional intelligence, and mindfulness training. In trainings, teachers learn about the neurobiology of stress, focus, and happiness, as well as the creative ways to incorporate play and social-emotional skills in classrooms such as playing games and doing yoga. Teachers say that they felt revived and inspired, and that bringing emotions into learning, as well as taking stock of how burned out they are, is transforming their classrooms.
Over the last few years, I've had the privilege of working with thousands of educators across California, and it's abundantly clear that our societys obsession with academic performance and preparing students for tests leaves them, and many teachers, drained and empty. As teachers, we want our students to be well-educated, but when the balance shifts to focusing on educating students brains to the detriment of their well-being, students are at risk.
And it's not only students who are struggling. Teaching is one of the most stressful professions, and burnout rates are very high. But it doesn't have to be this way. It is time for us to prioritize and infuse our schools with more joy, connection, and a focus on well-being. Learning will deepen, academic achievements will improve, and we'll raise a generation of happier, well-adjusted, and creatively confident people.
Research shows that emotional intelligence is far more predictive of a person's future success than academic achievements. Happier students and teachers tend to be more productive, creative, and resilient. And happiness is a positive-sum game. The happier you are as a teacher, the happier your students and colleagues will be, too.
So, how can you work to bring more happiness into your classroom?
Be present. You know those times you are with a student or colleague, but you are actually ruminating about how your last lesson went or why some of your student scored poorly on a portion of a test? Or perhaps youre fearing the evaluation that you will get from your department head? You're not being present and this diminishes your well-being. The trick isn't to beat yourself up when you notice your mind wandering, but to remind yourself to return your focus. Bringing your mind back when it wanders can go a long way toward strengthening the muscle of being present.
College Majors for Todays Job Market
Some majors are clearly failing. Millions of Americans are underemployed, according to a new report from PayScale. The information firm finds 46% of workers across all age groups believe they are underemployed. The feeling is shared among both male (43%) and female (49%) workers.
The meaning of underemployment can vary by person. PayScale defines underemployed as having part-time work but wanting to work full-time, or holding a job that doesnt require or utilize your education, experience, or training.
Not using their education and training is the primary reason why respondents consider themselves underemployed. In the survey, 79% of men and 72% of women say they are underemployed because of their education and training going to waste. The report elaborates:
People who cant find full time work in the field they studied often end up taking part time work, or working in jobs unrelated to their field of study. The danger of underemployment is that if youre not using the skills you learned and want to develop, those skills will atrophy, leaving you less able to compete for the jobs you actually want.
Additionally, underemployed workers begin to disengage from their jobs, resulting in sub-par performance, further damaging future job prospects.
In general, youre more likely to feel underemployed if youve achieved a lower level of education no higher than an associates degree, GE, or high school diploma. However, that doesnt mean a bachelors degree is your ticket to employment bliss. Lets look at the 15 worst college majors for todays job market, based on underemployed findings from PayScale.
14. Health Sciences
13. Exercise Science
12. Animal Science
11. Creative Writing
10. Human Development & Family Studies
8. Health Care Administration
7. Studio Art
6. Radio/Television & Film Production
5. Project Management
4. Criminal Justice
2. Human Services (HS)
1. Physical Education Teaching
Black Boys in
Crisis: Men Lie, Women Lie, Statistics Don't
Black men are imprisoned at a greater rate than whites, and this phenomenon is in fact at a historical high. As a recent Pew Research Center study indicates, the gap between blacks and whites in prison has widened by an alarming amount since 1960, when Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his I Have a Dream speech. In 1960, black men were five times as likely as white men to be in prison; by 2010, that figure had increased to more than six times as likely. According to the NAACPs criminal justice worksheet: If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime, a ratio that is already true for impoverished and urban areas.
Furthermore, black youth are being incarcerated at extremely high levels: 28 percent of juvenile arrests were of blacks, though they comprise just 12 percent of the youth population. These alarming statistics have their roots in some factors, including the aforementioned drug wars; a knock-on effect from having fathers in prison; a culture of anti-intellectualism: it has become cool, and a rite of passage, to spend time in prison; endemic racism and targeting by police officers. We will examine these factors more in more depth later on in the series.
Given the dire statistics outlined above, and the current difficulties faced by the African-American population, it would be easy to assume that educating black boys is a lost cause. This is demonstrably not the case. In fact, if one looks purely at the statistics surrounding young African-American males in education, the progress is inexorably upward. Dropout rates have been steadily decreasing. The achievement gap between blacks and whites is closing: from fifty-three points in 1970 to twenty-six points in 2004 for seventeen-year-olds.
It is clear that, even given the
tremendous obstacles facing the black boy in education, his
spirit remains unquenched: he will continue to strive for
the best and is making headway in the face of almost
inconceivable historical injustices. To borrow the words of
Frederick Douglass, he has been given the inch; he will now
take the ell. Though we are still in crisis,
there is a visible path out of the morass. Later on in this
series, we will examine in detail the primary obstacles that
continue to stand in the way of young African-Americans in
education and will look at concrete, actionable ways to tear
those down, paving the way for a future of parity and
Maybe you've even helped out with one, either by donating supplies or by helping to pass out the finished packages. If so, bravo! These drives are great, and they really do help so many kids.
But it might surprise you to know that a lot of these materials never make it to the classroom.
They can either get lost in the shuffle (buried in drawers somewhere before the school year starts) or discarded because they aren't really needed (watercolor paints for a third-grader who's not taking art, for example). No one is maliciously hoarding school supplies, but you know, things happen, and sometimes they don't get where they need to go.
Not to mention, these backpack drives usually happen at the beginning of the year. When supplies start to get low around winter break, there's no surplus to fall back on.
In any case, I think we all know who usually ends up paying the price: the teachers.
Project Teacher, in Wichita, Kansas, is taking a different approach to stocking students and classrooms for the school year.
Did you know that public school educators spent $1.6 billion of their own money on classroom supplies during the 2012 school year? That's almost $500 per teacher out of their own paychecks, which usually aren't all that deep to begin with.
So, for anyone keeping score at home, teachers get paid crap, get criticized when they send home lengthy supply lists, and wind up having to dip into their own cash to make up the difference. Oh, and the well-intentioned donation drives designed to help connect students with classroom tools often don't work as well as they should.
If only there were, like, a magical free store where teachers could go and get exactly what they need for their classroom without spending a dime or dealing with any red tape.
That's exactly the vision behind Project Teacher.
Project Teacher is empowering educators to keep their classrooms equipped, not just at the beginning of the year, but all year long.
And they're doing it for free.
Terry Johnson, the director of Project Teacher and whose wife is an educator, told Upworthy he got the idea for a free supply store for teachers after seeing a story about a similar program in Portland.
Teachers in the Wichita area can make an appointment to come in and get exactly what they need for their classrooms no guesswork or one-size-fits-all donation lists all courtesy of corporate donations, hand me downs, and local fundraisers.
School supplies, Terry says, are so individually tailored by school, grade, and teacher, that it makes the most sense to put resources directly in the hands of educators.
"Every little bit helps, but the teachers know exactly what the classroom needs," he said.
Not all fifth-graders need the exact same supplies. That's why this free store makes so much sense. Photo by Ginger Skillen Photography.
This is about much more than just making sure kids have markers and Kleenex.
Terry told me that about half of teachers will leave the profession sometime in their first three years. Others say it happens sometime in the first five.
Either way, imagine the effect that has on kids, especially the ones in lower-income areas, when the young, passionate, energetic teachers they desperately need are bailing on the profession because they can't afford it anymore.
"If a kid can go through all 12 years of education and have an amazing experience, there's a really good chance that the cycle of poverty in their family could break," Terry told me.
"If we can equip teachers to enjoy their job, so that they're excited about it, that rubs off on the students. It gives us an opportunity to really change the community."
He's right. Teachers really are
heroes. And the more we support and champion them, the
better things are going to be for our kids.
World, Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys
Behaviorally, one study found that girls are better at self-regulation, which directly connects to succeeding in a kindergarten class. According to the hundreds of children tested, boys were an entire year behind girls in all areas of self-regulation. The ability to follow specific instructions and prioritize schoolwork (among other things) helped girls get better grades across all subjects.
This pattern continues through the college level. Gnaulati writes, a host of cross-cultural studies show that females tend to be more conscientious than males. A study by Lindsay Reddington out of Columbia University found that female college students were more likely to jot down detailed notes in class, transcribe what professors say more accurately, and remember lecture content better.But where girls excel at mastering subjects and shining in the classroom, many experience stress in test situations, so their results reflect a false sense of their actual abilities.
Some academics have concluded,
The testing situation may underestimate girls
abilities, but the classroom may underestimate boys
abilities. Gnaulati argues that school systems should
change to better support boys learning. If a boy is
more likely to forget an assignment at home, should the late
assignment really be worth zero? If a class grade is meant
to reflect academic performance, should kids really be
graded on things like desk organization? Expert
discipline and organization may be key tools for efficacy in
the traditional workplace, but as entrepreneurship grows,
maybe were better off encouraging disruptive
discussion and free-for-all brainstorming, encouraging girls
to speak out and allowing for boys alternate style of
In a first, women
surpass men in advanced degrees
Census figures released Tuesday highlight the latest education milestone for women, who began to exceed men in college enrollment in the early 1980s. The findings come amid record shares of women in the workplace and a steady decline in stay-at-home mothers.
The educational gains for women are giving them greater access to a wider range of jobs, contributing to a shift of traditional gender roles at home and work. Based on one demographer's estimate, the number of stay-at-home dads who are the primary caregivers for their children reached nearly 2 million last year, or one in 15 fathers. The official census tally was 154,000, based on a narrower definition that excludes those working part-time or looking for jobs.
"The gaps we're seeing in bachelor's and advanced degrees mean that women will be better protected against the next recession," said Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint who is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
"Men now might be the ones more likely to be staying home, doing the more traditional child rearing," he said.
Among adults 25 and older, 10.6 million U.S. women have master's degrees or higher, compared to 10.5 million men. Measured by shares, about 10.2 percent of women have advanced degrees compared to 10.9 percent of men a gap steadily narrowing in recent years. Women still trail men in professional subcategories such as business, science and engineering.
When it comes to finishing college, roughly 20.1 million women have bachelor's degrees, compared to nearly 18.7 million men a gap of more than 1.4 million that has remained steady in recent years. Women first passed men in bachelor's degrees in 1996.
Some researchers including Perry have dubbed the current economic slump a "man-cession" because of the huge job losses in the male-dominated construction and manufacturing industries, which require less schooling. Measured by pay, women with full-time jobs now make 78.2 percent of what men earn, up from about 64 percent in 2000.
Unemployment for men currently stands at 9.3 percent compared to 8.3 percent for women, who now make up half of the U.S. work force. The number of stay-at-home moms, meanwhile, dropped last year for a fourth year in a row to 5 million, or roughly one in four married-couple households. That's down from nearly half of such households in 1969.
By the census' admittedly outmoded measure, the number of stay-at-home dads has remained largely flat in recent years, making up less than 1 percent of married-couple households.
Whatever the exact numbers, Census Bureau researchers have detailed a connection between women's educational attainment and declines in traditional stay-at-home parenting. For instance, they found that stay-at-home mothers today are more likely to be young, foreign-born Hispanics who lack college degrees than professional women who set aside careers for fulltime family life after giving birth.
"We're not saying the census definition of a `stay-at-home' parent is what reflects families today. We're simply tracking how many families fit that situation over time," said Rose Kreider, a family demographer at the Census Bureau. She said in an interview that the bureau's definition of a stay-at-home parent is based on a 1950s stereotype of a breadwinner-homemaker family that wasn't necessarily predominant then and isn't now.
Beth Latshaw, an assistant professor of sociology at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., notes the figures are based on a narrow definition in which the wife must be in the labor force for the entire year and the husband be outside the official labor force for the specifically cited reason of "taking care of home and family."
Her own survey found that many fathers who had primary child-care responsibility at home while working part-time or pursuing a degree viewed themselves as stay-at-home fathers. When those factors are included as well as unmarried and single dads, the share of fathers who stay at home to raise children jumps from less than 1 percent to more than 6 percent.
Put another way, roughly one of every five stay-at-home parents is a father.
The remaining share of households without stay-at-home parents the majority of U.S. families are cases where both parents work full-time while their children attend school or day care or are watched by nannies or grandparents, or where fathers work full-time while the mothers work part-time and care for children part-time.
"There's still a pervasive belief that men can't care for children as well as women can, reinforcing the father-as-breadwinner ideology," said Latshaw, whose research is being published next month in the peer-reviewed journal "Fathering." She is urging census to expand its definition to highlight the growing numbers, which she believes will encourage wider use of paternity leave and other family-friendly policies.
The new "Mr. Moms" include Todd Krater, 38, of Lakemoor, Ill., a Chicago suburb. Krater has been a self-described stay-at-home dad for the past seven years to his three sons after his wife, who earned a master's business degree, began to flourish in her career as a software specialist.
Krater said he found it difficult adjusting at first and got little support from other mothers who treated him as an outcast at school functions. He eventually started writing a blog, "A Man Among Mommies," to encourage other fathers to take a larger role in child care and says he now revels in seeing more dads at the park, library and school events.
"What was once an uncommon sight of a dad with the kids during the day is becoming more and more prevalent," said Krater, who is now studying part-time to become a registered nurse. "But many still feel the pressure of gender roles and feel if they don't make money they are somehow less of a man."
The census numbers come from the government's Current Population Survey as of March 2010. Among other findings:
_Among adults 25 and older, women are more likely than men to have finished high school, 87.6 percent to 86.6 percent.
_Broken down by race and ethnicity, 52 percent of Asian-Americans had at least a bachelor's degree. That's compared to 33 percent for non-Hispanic whites, 20 percent for blacks and 14 percent for Hispanics.
_Thirty percent of foreign-born residents in the U.S. had less than a high school diploma, compared to 10 percent of U.S.-born residents and 19 percent of naturalized citizens. At the same time, the foreign-born population was just as likely as U.S.-born residents to have at least a bachelor's degree, at roughly 30 percent.
Jeremy Adam Smith, author of the 2009 book "The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms and Shared Parenting are Transforming the American Family," described a cultural shift as women began to surpass men in college enrollment in the 1980s. The 1983 movie, "Mr. Mom," openly broached the idea that out-of-work fathers can contribute to families as stay-at-home dads, allowing more men to be accepting of the role in subsequent recessions, he said.
"Over the long term, the numbers are just going to keep going up," Smith said.
The Myth of
Testing for Giftedness
The Chicago-area mom of two tween boys brought that same sense of intensity to her quest to find the best possible school for her sons, both of whom are gifted.
"My older son was tested -- given both IQ and achievement tests -- by his public school when he was in kindergarten," Moldofsky recalls. "It was an unprecedented move at the time. We later pursued private testing ... which he had as a first-grader."
The kind of testing Moldofsky calls "unprecedented" is decidedly no longer so. In fact, some parents are going so far as to engage their preschoolers in the kind of intense preparation once reserved for high-school students taking college entrance exams.
Private firms such as Aristotle's Circle , a New York City outfit that aims to "carefully match parents to experts with current insight and inside knowledge of admissions, education and child development," cater to parents anxious to get the best possible education for their child -- gifted or otherwise.
Supply and Demand
Simple economics are driving the use of assessment tests to evaluate younger and younger children for specialized programs and elite private schools in cities where the public system is floundering. So says Dr. Gillian Dowley McNamee, professor of child development and director of teacher education at Erikson Institute, a graduate school of child development in Chicago.
"There are so few good programs, and there is a lot of competition," she tells ParentDish.
The schools need a way to sort children who apply, but testing kids as young as age 4 for gifted, accelerated or magnet programs is a misguided way to do so, she says.
"The whole enterprise of testing kids under the age of 8 is riddled with problems," McNamee says. "They are so volatile (intellectually) that you can't reliably identify their potential."
Not only is the testing misguided, she asserts, it can be potentially harmful. Children who do well on an assessment test, such as the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test or the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III), may, in fact, not perform as well in school as their test scores predict. In that case, McNamee says, parents -- and schools -- run the risk of setting these students up for an academic lifetime of failure and frustration.
Steven Roy Goodman, a Washington, D.C.-based educational consultant and author of "College Admissions Together: It Takes A Family," says he sees families at the end of their journey, when the child is preparing for college. However, he finds that the academic philosophy of his clients has been cemented well before they arrive on his doorstep.
Goodman specializes in Ivy League placements, and says all the parents he sees want their children to be happy. What varies, he tells ParentDish, are their definitions of happiness.
"Is happiness defined as a ticket to Harvard or Cornell?" he says. "Or is happiness defined as something like sitting with your family and being happy, even if your child didn't learn something specific that day?"
McNamee says there has been a definite cultural shift in the way parents approach the education of their children. The world economy and a preoccupation with studying for the "A," contribute to the frenzy for assessment through testing alone. It satisfies the craving for a simple yes-or-no answer to the very complicated question of a child's potential for success.
Up until very recently, it was considered developmentally appropriate to begin serious reading instruction in the second grade. Now, however, kindergartners who once went to school to learn their ABCs are way behind if they aren't already reading simple words when the school year begins. Even a child's pencil grip can be enough to force parents into decision-making mode: Will she be able to work with her peers or will her pencil grip frustrate her and put her at risk of failing?
And for that matter, can you fail kindergarten?
Not everyone agrees that making kindergarten into the new first grade is an appropriate response. Early learners need a certain level of creative play in their school day, according to the Alliance for Childhood. An organization comprised of childhood development and educational experts, the group's March 2009 publication, "Crisis in the Kindergarten: A New Report on the Disappearance of Play," lays out the dangers of eliminating play in early elementary school.
The report asserts that the current state of early education is precarious, indeed: "Kindergartners are now under great pressure to meet inappropriate expectations, including academic standards that until recently were reserved for ?rst grade. At the same time, they are being denied the bene?ts of play -- a major stress reliever."
How Did This Happen?
Those on the anti-testing bandwagon say school should not just be about filling a vessel with knowledge and then testing that vessel's integrity in order to achieve some kind of meritocracy. The knowledge must be contextual, it must be imparted in an environment of peers.
"The question needs to be, how do we use our talents and gifts to benefit the greater group?" McNamee says. "That is what gets missed when you look at 'giftedness.' And let's be honest -- we're only going to get a Mozart once every 300 years."
McNamee pins part of the blame on the now-notorious federal policy of "No Child Left Behind," which, she says, took a perfectly good instrument -- the standardized test -- and made it the only tool in a teacher's assessment toolbox.
"What we know about development has not changed in at least 15 years," she says. "And I do think it is unfortunate, what happened under 'No Child Left Behind .' It was a great idea to make sure no one was left behind, but what we did was attach funding decisions to test results, and this is how we came to this idea of a one-shot test as the decision maker."
She uses a medical metaphor, comparing the assessment test to aspirin. Both have their place, but neither one can be used as a universal panacea.
Eager to provide opportunities for their kids, parents are simply playing the game as the rules dictate. Kim Moldofsky's boys, now 11 and 9, are classified as highly gifted and consistently test above their grade levels without any kind of pushing or prodding from their parents, though she still has moments of doubt.
"My approach to educating my highly-gifted boys?" Moldofsky asks. "It often feels all wrong. My older boy has been to three schools so far, and unlike Goldilocks for whom the third time was a charm, nothing has the right fit. We're not going to pursue a fourth because he's slow to transition and, by now, I've learned enough to know there is no Utopia."
That, right there, might just be the rub. There is no perfect school, no ideal teacher -- and no flawless instrument with which to predict a child's future.
If we keep obsessing about performance and measurement, treating kindergarten like academic boot camp, we risk harming the very children we're trying so hard to protect, McNamee says.
"We are pulling the trigger on our own
children, right in front of our own eyes," she says.
Graduation Rates a
'Catastrophe' in Cities
City Rank Graduation Rate
(%) Detroit 50 24.9 Indianapolis 49 38.5 Cleveland 48 34.1 Baltimore 47 34.6 Columbus 46 40.9 Minneapolis 45 43.7 Dallas 44 44.4 New York 43 45.2 Los Angeles 42 45.3 Oakland 41 45.6 Kansas City 40 45.7 Atlanta 39 46.0 Milwaukee 38 46.1 Denver 37 46.3 Oklahoma City 36 47.5 Miami 35 49.0 Philadelphia 34 49.6 Large City
Avg. 50.0 Portland 29 53.1 Fresno 23 57.4 San Diego 15 61.6 Long Beach 12 63.5 Sacramento 9 66.7 Seattle 7 67.6 National Avg. -
2003-04 69.9 San Francisco 5 73.1 San Jose 2 77.0 Source:
Graduation Rate (%)
Large City Avg.
National Avg. - 2003-04
The report , issued by America's Promise Alliance, found that about half of the students served by public school systems in the nation's largest cities receive diplomas. Students in suburban and rural public high schools were more likely to graduate than their counterparts in urban public high schools, the researchers said.
Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma and about 1.2 million students drop out annually.
"When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe," said former Secretary of State Colin Powell, founding chair of the alliance.
His wife, Alma Powell, the chair of the alliance, said students need to graduate with skills that will help them in higher education and beyond. "We must invest in the whole child, and that means finding solutions that involve the family, the school and the community." The Powell's organization was beginning a national campaign to cut high school dropout rates.
The group, joining Education Secretary Margaret Spellings at a Tuesday news conference, was announcing plans to hold summits in every state during the next two years on ways to better prepare students for college and the work force.
The report found troubling data on the prospects of urban public high school students getting to college. In Detroit's public schools, 24.9 percent of the students graduated from high school, while 30.5 percent graduated in Indianapolis Public Schools and 34.1 percent received diplomas in the Cleveland Municipal City School District.
Researchers analyzed school district data from 2003-2017 collected by the U.S. Department of Education. To calculate graduation rates, the report estimated the likelihood that a 9th grader would complete high school on time with a regular diploma. Researchers used school enrollment and diploma data, but did not use data on dropouts as part of its calculation.
Many metropolitan areas also showed a considerable gap in the graduation rates between their inner-city schools and the surrounding suburbs. Researchers found, for example, that 81.5 percent of the public school students in Baltimore's suburbs graduate, compared with 34.6 percent in the city schools.
In Ohio, nearly 83 percent of public high school students in suburban Columbus graduate while 78.1 percent in suburban Cleveland earn their diplomas, well above their local city schools.
Ohio Department of Education spokesman Scott Blake said the state delays its estimates by a few months so it can include summer graduates in its calculations. Based on the state's methodology, he said Columbus graduated 60.6 percent of its students in 2003-2017, rather than the 40.9 percent the study calculated.
By Ohio's reckoning, Columbus has improved each year since the 2001-2017 school year, with 72.9 percent of students graduating in 2005-2017, Columbus Public Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said.
Warner said the gains were partly because of after-school and weekend tutoring, coordinated literacy programs in the district's elementary schools and bolstered English-as-a-second-language programs.
Cleveland's current graduation rates are also higher than the statistics cited in the new report, school district spokesman Ben Holbert said.
Spellings has called for requiring states to provide graduation data in a more uniform way under the renewal of the No Child Left Behind education law pending in Congress.
Under the 2002 law, schools that miss progress goals face increasing sanctions, including forced use of federal money for private tutoring, easing student transfers, and restructuring of school staff.
States calculate their graduation rates using all sorts of methods, many of which critics say are based on unreliable information about school dropouts. Under No Child Left Behind, states may use their own methods of calculating graduation rates and set their own goals for improving them.
The research was conducted by Editorial Projects in Education, a Bethesda, Md., nonprofit organization, with support from America's Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The alliance is based on a joint
effort of nonprofit groups, corporations, community leaders,
charities, faith-based organizations and individuals to
improve children's lives.
to blame for differing test scores between the
The reason that home-schooled boys score as well as their female counterparts in English is twofold, said Manthey. First, they are more likely to be given a choice in their reading material. Second, theyre less likely to fall through the cracks, he said.
Mantheys research shows that boys are more inclined to read nonfiction than fiction, and are more likely to relate to subjects related to science, sports and stories that revolve around male characters.
Then you see boys required to read books like The Joy Luck Club, he said, referring to the book by Amy Tan about immigrant mothers and daughters.
Its no wonder, said Manthey, that boys tune out in English class.
Aaron agrees. Im trying to sell The Joy Luck Club to a classroom with about 18 boys, and that is definitely a hard sell. But while the first semester of his class may focus on stories about women, said Aaron, the second semester incorporates texts that are more likely to appeal to a male audience.
I am definitely aware that there is a gender difference, and you have to be on your toes and hit all the different groups and modes of learning, he said.
Manthey, however, worries that the system is set up for girls, leaving boys in English class behind.
I think in the last 20 years or so, schools have focused very heavily on educating girls, said Napa County Office of Education Superintendent Barbara Nemko. Because the focus was so much on girls, we have not been focusing on boys.
Peters said one controversial theory in educational psychology is that boys believe the classroom game is rigged and that it is taught by women and set up for girls.
And when the state and federal
governments base accountability on student subgroups like
ethnicity and socioeconomics with no regard for gender,
Manthey worries that educators simply dont care.
of College Degree in Recession Are Outlined
The study, published on Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts, shows that among Americans age 21 to 24, the drop in employment and income was much steeper among people who lacked a college degree.
The findings come as many published articles and books have told the stories of young college graduates unable to find work, and questioned the conventional wisdom that a college education is a worthwhile investment and the key to opportunity and social mobility. The study did not take into account the cost of going to college.
This shows that any amount of post-secondary education does improve the labor market outcomes for those recent graduates, said Diana Elliott, the research manager for Pews Economic Mobility Project. This is not necessarily to discredit those individual stories.
In fact, the study documents a serious decline in the job picture for young people.
Using data from the Census Bureaus Current Population Survey, Pew looked at employment, either full time or part time, among 21- to 24-year-olds, in the roughly two and a half years before the 2007-2019 recession, during it, and in the two and a half years after it.
Among those whose highest degree was a high school diploma, only 55 percent had jobs even before the downturn, and that fell to 47 percent after it. For young people with an associates degree, the employment rate fell from 64 percent to 57 percent.
But those with a bachelors degree started off in the strongest position and weathered the downturn best, with employment slipping from 69 percent to 65 percent. (The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a similar decline, about four percentage points, among all people over 20, at any education level.)
Similarly, in all three groups of young adults, wages fell for those who had work, but the decline was spread unevenly.
People with four-year college degrees saw a 5 percent drop in wages, compared with a 12 percent decrease for their peers with associates degrees, and a 10 percent decline for high school graduates.
One surprise in the data, Ms. Elliott said, had to do with the prevailing speculation that people who couldnt find work were returning to school, enhancing their training. In fact, college enrollment over all rose sharply for several years, driven primarily by older students, before leveling off in 2011.
But Pews study found that among
people age 21 to 24, the rate of college enrollment actually
declined slightly, during and after the recession.
The amount being spent per student by public colleges and universities has fallen to its lowest level in at least 25 years, a result of state budget cuts a new report warns are rapidly eroding the nations educational edge over its international competitors.
The report, by the Boulder, Colorado-based State Higher Education Executive Officers, or SHEEO, shows that state and local financial support for public universities and colleges fell 7 percent last year, on top of a 9 percent drop the year before. And while enrollment also fell slightlya result, the organizations president said, not of lower demand, but of higher tuitionits still higher than in 2008, when the steep budget cuts began.
The result is that the amount being spent, per student, is $5,896, the lowest level in the 25 years since its been tracked by SHEEO. And a much higher proportion of that is being charged to families in the form of tuition than is being covered by states.
Nearly half of the cost of public higher education is now borne by students in the form of tuition, more than double the proportion of 25 years ago, SHEEO said.
Students are paying more, while public institutions are receiving substantially less money to educate them, said SHEEO President Paul Lingenfelter, who said the annual decreases in funding and increases in tuition were the biggest in his 41-year career in higher education.
Lingenfelter said that last years decline in enrollment, which has been previously detailed by The Hechinger Report, was a result of higher tuition and, in some states, enrollment caps imposed by institutions in response to lower legislative subsidies.
State and local support for higher education last year was $81.2 billion, When inflation is taken into account, the one-year decline in funding was 9 percent.
Since 2008, the amount collected from students in the form of tuition and fees has grown from $41 billion a year to about $60 billion.
Public universities and colleges enroll more than 70 percent of all U.S. students.
Other countries are rapidly
improving the postsecondary education of their
citizens, said Marshall Hill, director of the Nebraska
Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education and
chairman of SHEEOs executive committee. If the
United States falls further behind in either quality or the
number of students who enroll and graduate it will not be
easy to catch up.
The ability to think straight, some knowledge of the past, some vision of the future, some urge to fit that service into the well-being of the community - these are the most vital things education must try to produce. - Virginia Gildersleeve
The human attention span is 8 seconds
which was a big drop from the 12 seconds it was in 2000. The
attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. That probably
means that if you are still reading this then you have a
longer attention span than most. Source: Time Magazine