Saturday, June 18, 2011
Take this quiz and determine how you stack up with other readers:
Should we test educational programs before we implement them?
As the article states:
In an important post, Charles Elliot, PhD, asks, why is this so hard for our educational system? Why aren’t new programs subjected to scientific tests or at the very least evaluated based on evidence, before they get implemented?
Well, I guess our states have to sign over their sovereignty, adopt consortium standards, redo assessments and curriculum, assume unfunded mandates to find out they just might be considered No Child Left Behind on steroids.
If you have a minute, you might just want to forward the quiz results to Arne Duncan. He might be interested to see what taxpayers believe about education.
Friday, June 17, 2011
They don't know it's not cool to learn.
The caption from the photo:
Margaret Murray, left, likens home-schooling her children to four pots on a stovetop. The trick is paying attention to what each one needs.
That sounds like a common sense approach to education, doesn't it? Why, then, are states adopting common core standards? Are four pots on a stovetop going to cook at the same time and at the same temperature? That will only work if the pots, burners and contents are identical. Common core standards don't take into consideration that pots on a stovetop might just take different cooking times and techniques.
Mrs. Murray might have a better idea on educating children than Arne Duncan, the National Governor's Association, the CCSSO, Bill Gates, and other philanthropists.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Arne Duncan has weighed in on the disastrous history test results for public education students in recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Test:
"These results tell us that, as a country, we are failing to provide children with a high-quality, well-rounded education."
Are you surprised when "International Education Week" receives more information on the DESE site than "Constitution Week and Citizenship Day"?
What do students learn in "International Education Week"?
International educational exchanges help students and educators around the world to understand one another better. Together, we must respond to the challenges of poverty and hunger, climate change, public health, and economic revitalization.
There was voluminous information on the DESE site on International Education Week last year but nothing on Constitution Week. Arne Duncan shouldn't be surprised children aren't being supplied with a "well-rounded" education when the emphasis is placed on being a global citizen vs an American citizen. Why should today's students learn about Abraham Lincoln? What does he have to do with hunger, climate change, public health, and economic revitalization anyway?
Here's the calendar for the school year 2011-12. No International Education is being observed by DESE this year, but some special days and events listed are: World Environment Day, UN Day, UNICEF Month, Peace Corps Anniversary.
Based on what Arne Duncan stated about not providing a well-rounded education, it would seem the social issues are covered fairly well. Do you think this schedule lends itself to improving history scores based on what's listed as "special days and events"?
Constitution Week STILL has no accompanying information. Wouldn't you think the agency could at least give parents and taxpayers a brief description of how districts will celebrate this rather important document in our nation's history? But then again, whatever does the Constitution (like Lincoln) have to do with hunger, climate change, public health, and economic revitalization?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
The Hazleton Pennsylvania School District announces its annual summer free lunch program:
District food service director Barbara Farley said the summer breakfast and lunch program is gearing up for its June 20 kick-off at parks, playgrounds and school buildings across the area.
Free Summer Meals Coming Soon to Schools, Pools, and Parks Near You! School will be out and free summer meals are in from June 29th to September 2nd. That's right; any child 18 years of age and under can enjoy a free healthy and great tasting breakfast and lunch at hundreds of schools, pools, parks, New York City Housing Authority complexes and other locations around the city. No registration, documentation, or ID is required. In fact, children don't have to live in New York City or be enrolled in public school to enjoy a delicious free breakfast or lunch. Who thought during these tough times that saving money can be so economically and nutritiously rewarding. (emphasis added).
Aren't you delighted ANY child, regardless of income or residency can "save money" and eat on the taxpayer's tab?
Sigh. Isn't our government wonderful? It provides free food to anyone under the age of 18 years old who wants it. Don't you just love that "Obama Stash"?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
If you have a student entering college, find out if personality tests will be given to your student in their freshman year. One personality test, StrengthsQuest, is used on more than 600 college campuses and this is from its website:
More than 850,000 students have used StrengthsQuest to gain insights into how to use their talents to achieve academic success, to explore careers, and in leadership development.
If this is to be a required practice on college campuses (which might in and of itself violate privacy laws), it should be a required assignment to also read this article from unsheeple.com (you will understand the delicious irony of the name of this blog and the resulting comments as you keep reading) on the StrenthsQuest test. The blogger explains the test was not contained in the book and would have to be purchased from the Gallup organization which owns StrengthsQuest:
I really enjoyed this book and didn’t hesitate to buy it because I loved the first book co-authored by Marcus Buckingham called First, Break All the Rules. The one thing that really disappointed me though was that the Strengths Finder test can only be taken once. That meant that since the person who originally bought the book took the test, I could not take the same test! Half of the book requires that the reader take the test. Nowhere does it say, “Warning, this book is completely useless unless you take the test. Do not buy this used!” No, I found out half way through the book. To the authors and publishers of this book, STOP being so greedy. People will pay to take the test, but don’t make them purchase the entire book!
The post goes on to list the leadership traits you might possess and how you can evaluate yourself without paying for a new test from the company by self-reporting:
I am not sure whether the Strengths Finder Test would yield better results than self-reporting. I don’t know, I am not a professional. But based on common sense, it seems like any relatively intelligent person could figure out which talent themes they associate with most.
Note the title of the blog "Free Strengths Finder Test...Kind of (Self-Reporting)". Based on the readers' comments, it is apparent many of them saw the first four words in the title and started salivating. It's Free Stuff! The second half of the title was lost on them, and they couldn't wait to receive something free. The irony is lost on some of them as other more astute readers (those who bothered to read the entire article) tried to set them straight in a humorous manner:
PAUL on June 15th, 2009 12:30 pm
Monday, June 13, 2011
Althouse has an article based on a study by Cornell University Anthropologist Meredith F. Small about the lack of activity by children in public school:
When we were an agriculturally based nation, American children used to work just as hard and contribute in the same way. But now, Western children are trained intellectually, in school, where they are taught to think about things as the entree to adulthood... Everyone sits quietly at their desks, thinking and thinking, just when they’d rather be out tending cows or weeding the garden. And then we think and think about why there's so much obesity.
Small goes on to state that education has become childcare in the United States and Althouse writes:
If what's really going on is taxpayer-funded childcare, then not only are taxpayers tricked into accepting paying for something they would reject if they knew what it was, but also children are being run through hours and hours of confinement performing exercises that are not honestly premised on benefiting them.
There's also that new study that says sitting is as bad as smoking. Since we wouldn't force kids to smoke, why are we forcing them to sit? We're even giving a lot of the kids drugs to overcome their disinclination to sit. It's like forcing kids to smoke and giving them drugs to help them smoke.
But not to worry, Joe Taxpayer and Mom and Dad! To combat the sitting required by the public school structure, you would think recess would help release those endorphins necessary for learning. Unfortunately, many recess times have been taken away from school schedules to make time for more testing and teaching requirements.
So what is a school to do? To settle down those pesky hormones and growth spurts of young children, some schools are calming those children instead of allowing them to expend energy by practicing yoga. The Wall Street Journal reports:
A three-year-old doing a downward dog? A four-year-old doing a cobra—and then helping a stuffed animal stretch into the same pose? .....Now thousands of schools across the country—as well as yoga studios and hospitals—are adding programs that teach children to do the exercises. In January, Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Southern California added yoga to its curriculum for 650 students at $20,000 a year. Principal Adriana Chavarin says she has seen how calm and centered students are after practicing the techniques. At a recent assembly, students were getting restless as they sat on the floor. Then a few sixth graders spontaneously led the rest in yoga poses and breathing exercises.
"Every kid in the audience quieted down," says David Miyashiro, the district superintendent. "It's a different language they all speak now."
"It's a different language they all speak now." What language do you think that might be? What happened to children learning how to play at recess, create their own games and learn how to handle unstructured time without adult input? This is an important type of "language" children need to learn in free time. Is the type of "different language" children speak now necessary because they are not allowed to appropriately develop through child-centered play?
What do you do with children who need real physical release to function during the day? Some educators are concerned about this move away from recess. Here's a statement from The National Association for Sport and Physical Education:
"Recess ... may facilitate improved attention and focus on learning in the academic program. Cognitive abilities may also be enhanced by recess. Studies have found that students who do not participate in recess may have difficulty concentrating on specific tasks in the classroom, are restless and may be easily distracted. Recess serves as a developmentally appropriate strategy for reducing stress."
Many districts around the country (such as the Rockwood School District in suburban St. Louis) have reduced recess minutes to commit that time for mandated curriculum minutes.
Are we trying to make children adapt to the adult mandates placed on their day vs nurturing a child's physical and emotional development? Why do children need yoga to relax? Could it be because as recess is diminished, the students "may have difficulty concentrating on specific tasks in the classroom, are restless and may be easily distracted?" Is this a red flag that the daily schedule for children is not beneficial and creating stress? Is practicing yoga truly an acceptable replacement for old fashioned recess?
Sunday, June 12, 2011
State and national educational policymakers once again illustrate how out of touch they are with taxpayers, parents, teachers and administrators when it comes to crafting more onerous mandates. Instead of education reform, the plans from DESE and the Department of Education will add to the bureaucratic nightmare of public education, creating more harm than true reform.
From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
An attempt to recalibrate how school districts are rated by the state has triggered a unified uproar among educators and administrators throughout Missouri.
Groups representing teachers, principals and superintendents say they're concerned about a proposal that could double the number of standardized tests issued in public schools, including 10 more exams at the high school level in such courses as chemistry and physics. They don't like a recommendation to report the percentage of each high school's graduates who earn college degrees within three or six years, particularly if it means school administrators have to do the tracking.
While they say they agree with (Commissioner) Nicastro's goal, they oppose more testing and more tracking. State exams in chemistry and physics, they argue, would push schools to require students to take these courses, when there aren't enough science teachers to educate them. The groups also question who would pay for the additional tests, who would be responsible for tracking high school graduates through college, and whether expecting all students to take chemistry and physics exams is the same as the state dictating that every student take higher level science.
The increased tracking of students at the district levels is time-consuming and costly. At a time when Missouri (and other states) are having education budget cuts, how can these goals be accomplished? It's not only a concern at the state level, but national level as well. Arne Duncan is under increased scrutiny for the mandates he wants for education:
Frustrated by what he called a "slow motion train wreck" for U.S. schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he will give schools relief from federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind law if Congress drags its feet on the law's long-awaited overhaul and reauthorization.
Duncan has warned that 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled failures next year if No Child Left Behind isn't changed. Education experts have questioned that estimate.
Still, no one thinks states will meet the law's goal of having 100 percent of students proficient in math and reading by 2014. A school that fails to meet targets for several consecutive years faces sanctions that can include firing teachers or closing the school entirely.
Duncan said he's encouraged by talks with federal lawmakers in recent weeks indicating the law might see revisions this year. But he said he wants a backup plan in case that doesn't happen.
"We can't afford to do nothing," he said. (Emphasis added)
Reading the comments from the readers, superintendents, administrators and teachers on these mandates from DESE and the Federal government, it seems as if the vast majority of them believe it would actually be best for education reform if the governmental bureaucrats did nothing. It would be preferable to them if no action was undertaken, the "slow motion train wreck" occurred, and the authority to education students was left to the local districts.
Here is a reader's comment from the msnbc.com site: