Jobs of the future will be what robots can't do and it's happening right now.
Dr Michio Kaku's prediction of Future World 2030
In 5 Years Robots Will Take Your Job! What Then?
Artificial intelligence and automation are coming, so what will we all do for work?
Jobs that AI, robots and machines can't automate
Jobs we'll lose and not lose to machines.
10 Jobs That Will Be Taken Over By Robots In The Next 10 Years
Ten jobs that are safe from robots
10 jobs that could be hit hard by the A.I. revolution
Jobs of the future will be what robots can't do
8 Jobs Every Company will be Hiring for by 2020
15 jobs that will disappear in the next 20 years
15 Jobs That Will Thrive in the Future (Despite A.I.)
Top 10 Most Useless Degrees 2019
Top 10 Degrees That Still GUARANTEE A Job
Re-Learning Math with Scott Flansburg, the Human Calculator
Who will be rich and poor in future?
Knowledge vs. Thinking

Inside the Japanese Hotel Staffed by Robots

One Reason Robots will be Replacing "Educated" Students in the Future
Americans are stupid and proud of it!
Your Brain on Public Schools - Dumb people answer questions
Jay Leno's Science quiz
Jay Interviews College Students
Citizenship Test
Baby Boomers vs. Millennials
Can This Teenager Use a Rotary Phone?
Ellen’s New Millennial Challenge After Rotary Phone Fail
'Baby Boomer vs. Millennial': Analog vs. Digital
Baby Boomers vs. Millennials
What Is the Eggplant Emoji?
General Education Topics
Teachers Say What's Wrong With Education In The U.S.
Who will be rich and poor in future? - Michio Kaku
Why we need to teach
The world needs all kinds of minds
U.S. Public Education System In 90 Seconds
.Here's What Year-Round Schooling Looks Like
The Boy Crisis: A Sobering look at the State of our Boys
How Making Music Made Math Cool in this Classroom
Adults Take 8th Grade Common Core Math Test
Oldest Technologies Scientists Still Can't Explain
30 coolest teachers ever
Positive Behavior Support - the Pyramid Model
30 Coolest Teachers Ever
How to escape education's death valley
Why Our Education
System is Flawed
Social Emotional Skills (SES)
CSEFEL Practical Strategies Teaching Social Emotional Skills
CSEFEL PromotingSociaEmotionalCompetence
Social and Emotional Learning: A Schoolwide Approach
The five social and emotional competencies
Stories That Transform: Teach Teens Social Emotional Skills
Smart Hearts: Social and Emotional Learning Overview

"I wish I had this in school"
(endure the sexism for some really good educational ideas.)

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.

Education Week - Dozens of articles

Back to School: LGBTQ+ Families In the Classroom


Watch out for robots: Introducing Flippy - Curry Pilot
Jobs of the future will be what robots can't do
Stay in School
Six Ways to Improve High School Graduation Rates
Schools and the Future of Work: What will our students need to know? (28 page PDF)

Taking a Long Look at Schools and Work
The Future of Work Is Uncertain, Schools Should Worry Now
Preparing Students for Tomorrow's Jobs: 10 Experts Offer Advice to Educators
Data: What Jobs Will Grow the Fastest?
How 'Intelligent' Tutors Could Transform Teaching
Are Our Jobs Making Us Dumber?
The Extraordinary Education of an Elite, 13-Year-Old Problem-Solver
Can Apprenticeships Pave the Way to a Better Economic Future?
Students Earn Digital Credentials for Adding New Skills
Keep These 4 Things in Mind When Preparing Students for an Uncertain Future
Stop Teaching Students What to Think. Teach Them How to Think
What Skills Do Students Need to be Future-Ready? 11 Reader Responses
What happens if robots take the jobs? (22 page PDF)

What are ACEs?

How BHSD Students Fair - 2014-2016-2018

I’m Sick of Asking Children to Be Resilient - May 12, 2020
Should Student Behavior Be Factored Into Teacher Evaluations?
School's 'Reverse Suspension' Policy On Trend with Parents Paying for Kids' Mistakes
What Happens to Academic Gender Gaps When Students Grow Up?
Teachers protest against changes to a high-school history course
States With The Best Public School Systems Forbes
A Holistic Approach to Student Success Education Week
Stories That Transform: Teach Teens Social Emotional Skills (SEL)

The five social and emotional competencies - video

How long will it take to earn one-million dollars?
Starts with a Diploma
That Crushing Student Loan Debt
The Move to Dumb Down our Educational System: Betsy DeVos Teaches the Value of Ignorance
WANTED: Male Elementary School Teachers
How Male Teachers and Administrators Can Become Allies in the #MeToo Movement
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Finally a Fix to No Child Left Behind”
Transforming Teaching and Leading
Online schools an option for bullied students
Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds
U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High
15 Worst College Majors for Today’s Job Market
A preview of what the classroom might look like in 2025 is also a look into our planet's future.
A boy told his teacher she can't understand him because she's white. Her response is on point.
A plane passenger asked a teacher a kind of rude question about her job. She responded eloquently!
Teachers are doing one of society's most valuable jobs, but we sure don't treat them that way.
Modernizing the Education System
How do you keep teachers from having to buy supplies with their own money? Open a free store.
Benefits of College Degree in Recession Are Outlined
Around the World, Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys
In a first, women surpass men in advanced degrees
The Myth of Testing for Giftedness
Graduation Rates a 'Catastrophe' in Cities
What's to blame for differing test scores between the sexes?
Public Higher Ed Per-Student Spending Drops To 25-Year Low
Building relationships is key to true parental engagement: Cultural awareness helps parents feel welcome
Why So Few? (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
15 Tips to a Successful Online College Experience
The Type of Schools We Need

Parents, Teachers Deliver Over 100,000 Signatures To Time Magazine Demanding Apology
Building relationships is key to true parental engagement: Cultural awareness helps parents feel welcome
What Will Trump Do on Education? Seeking Clues on Common Core, School Choice, ESSA
Supreme Court Preview: What You Need to Know About the 3 New School Cases at the High Court
A plane passenger asked a teacher a kind of rude question about her job. She responded eloquently!

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. ( (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. (

Oregon School Ranking by type:

Brookings: Kalmiopsis Ranks in Bottom 36% (461st) of 721 Oregon Elementary Schools (, Azalea Ranks in Bottom 32% (255th) of 376 Oregon Middle Schools (; and BHHS Ranks in Bottom 36% (200th) of 311 Oregon High Schools (

Gold Beach: Riley Creek Ranks in Bottom 30% (502nd) of 721 Oregon Elementary Schools, Riley Creek Ranks in Bottom 37% (237th) of 376 Oregon Middle Schools; and Gold Beach High School Ranks in Bottom 22% (242nd) of 311 Oregon High Schools.

Port Orford: Driftwood Ranks in Top 49% (354th) of 721 Oregon Elementary Schools, Driftwood the Top 38% (141th) of 376 Oregon Middle Schools; and Pacific High School Ranks in Top 23% (73rd) of 311 Oregon High Schools.

What Happens to Academic Gender Gaps When Students Grow Up?

Academic gender gaps in reading and math follow different paths as American students move from their school years into adulthood, according to new federal data.

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:

Numeracy Skills
Years Old

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 19 points.

Teachers protest against changes to a high-school history course


States With The Best Public School Systems - Forbes, 7/31/18

There are many factors that contribute to a great public school system: performance, funding, safety, class size and instructor credentials, to name a few. Although the quality of public schools can vary greatly within a state, personal finance site WalletHub recently set out to determine which states generally have the top ranked school systems from K-12.

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, it’s 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 more—federal and state mandates—with 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 isn’t 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.

Here’s WalletHub’s rankings of states with the best and worst school systems.

Public School Ranking by State
Overall Rank (1=Best)
Total Score
‘Quality’ Rank
‘Safety’ Rank
New Jersey
New Hampshire
North Dakota
Rhode Island
New York
South Dakota
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia
District of Columbia
New Mexico


Stories That Transform: Teach Teens Social Emotional Skills (SEL)

See how educators engage youth with powerful, true teen-written stories. Our story-based approach helps teachers, afterschool staff, counselors, and other professionals connect with the teens they serve and build their social, emotional, and literacy skills. For more info:


WANTED: Male Elementary School Teachers

Dear Mr. Dad: My twins (one boy, one girl), are starting fourth grade in the fall and we just found out that their teacher is a woman. That isn’t a problem, of course, but when my wife and I started talking about this, we realized that the twins have never had a male teacher, and that our older kids—one in middle school, one in high school—didn’t have male teachers until they were in 7th grade. Looking even further back, neither my wife nor I had a male teacher until high school. Why are there so few men teaching in elementary schools? And are our kids being hurt by the lack of adult male role models?

A: Great questions. The gender gap in education is thriving, and doesn’t 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. Teaching—especially in primary schools—is 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, there’s something of a vicious circle, where boys, most of whom rarely ever have a male teacher, eventually come to see teaching as something that’s done by women. Not surprisingly, that makes them less likely to want to become teachers themselves than pursue some other career in which they’ve seen men succeed and make a difference.

It’s 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 annoying—and sad—that our quest for diversity doesn’t 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:

Children—especially 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 bachelor’s and 40% of master’s degrees?

That Crushing Student Loan Debt

Pop quiz! What do Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates have in common? Both are multi-billionaires. Both are Harvard drop-outs.

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 graduate’s 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

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 – let’s use the correct verb, ok? – a diploma is no guarantee of landing a lucrative – again, let’s 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 today’s 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 children’s retirement income, the fed now sets fixed-rate student loans for life.

But that wasn’t always the case, and there are countless horror stories from “student-debt slaves,” Eric Wetervelt’s 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 it’s 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 doesn’t 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 post–World 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 Don’t 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 isn’t 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 doesn’t work, share a few of these “Real Student Debt Stories” – but not before bedtime. These tales are the stuff nightmares are made of.

The Move to Dumb Down our Educational System: Betsy DeVos Teaches the Value of Ignorance

“Government really sucks.” This belief, expressed by the just-confirmed education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in a 2015 speech to educators, may be the only qualification she needed for President Trump.

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 children’s 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 wasn’t worth risking Mr. Trump’s wrath by rejecting his selection to lead a department that accounts for only about 3 percent of the federal budget. Maybe they couldn’t 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. DeVos’s confirmation refused to surrender to Mr. Trump. They couldn’t 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?

A boy told his teacher she can't understand him because she's white. Her response is on point.

"Be the teacher America's children of color deserve, because we, the teachers, are responsible for instilling empathy and understanding in the hearts of all kids. We are responsible for the future of this country."

Fifth-grade teacher Emily E. Smith is not your ordinary teacher

She founded The Hive Society — a classroom that's all about inspiring children to learn more about their world ... and themselves — by interacting with literature and current events. Students watch TED talks, read Rolling Stone, and analyze infographics. She even has a long-distance running club to encourage students to take care of their minds and bodies.

Smith is such an awesome teacher, in fact, that she recently received the 2015 Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing.

It had always been her dream to work with children in urban areas, so when Smith started teaching, she hit the ground running. She had her students making podcasts, and they had in-depth discussions about their readings on a cozy carpet.

But in her acceptance speech for her award, she made it clear that it took a turning point in her career before she really got it:

"Things changed for me the day when, during a classroom discussion, one of my kids bluntly told me I "couldn't understand because I was a white lady." I had to agree with him. I sat there and tried to speak openly about how I could never fully understand and went home and cried, because my children knew about white privilege before I did. The closest I could ever come was empathy."

Smith knew that just acknowledging her white privilege wasn't enough.

She wanted to move beyond just empathy and find a way to take some real action that would make a difference for her students.

She kept the same innovative and engaging teaching methods, but she totally revamped her curriculum to include works by people who looked like her students. She also carved out more time to discuss issues that her students were facing, such as xenophobia and racism.

And that effort? Absolutely worth it.

As she said in her acceptance speech:

"We studied the works of Sandra Cisneros, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Gary Soto, with the intertwined Spanish language and Latino culture — so fluent and deep in the memories of my kids that I saw light in their eyes I had never seen before."

The changes Smith made in her classroom make a whole lot of sense. And they're easy enough for teachers everywhere to make:

  • They studied the work of historical Latino figures, with some of the original Spanish language included. Many children of color are growing up in bilingual households. In 2007, 55.4 million Americans 5 years of age and older spoke a language other than English at home.
  • They analyzed the vision of America that great writers of color sought to create. And her students realized that our country still isn't quite living up to its ideals. Despite progress toward racial equality with the end of laws that enforced slavery or segregation, we still have a long way to go. Black people still fare worse than white people when it comes to things like wealth , unfair arrests , and health.
  • They read excepts from contemporary writers of color, like Ta-Nehisi Coates who writes about race. Her students are reading and learning from a diverse group of writers. No small thing when they live in a society that overwhelmingly gives more attention to white male writers (and where the number of employees of color in the newspaper industry stagnates at a paltry 12%).
  • They read about the Syrian crisis, and many students wrote about journeys across the border in their family history for class. The opportunity particularly struck one student; the assignment touched him so much that he cried. He never had a teacher honor the journey his family made. And he was proud of his heritage for the first time ever. "One child cried," Smith shared, "and told me he never had a teacher who honored the journey his family took to the United States. He told me he was not ashamed anymore, but instead proud of the sacrifice his parents made for him."

Opportunities like this will only increase as the number of children from immigrant families is steadily increasing. As of 2013, almost 17.4 million children under 18 have at least one immigrant parent.

Smith now identifies not just as an English teacher, but as a social justice teacher.

YES! Now I get why I loved the show as a kid. GIF via "Recess,"

Smith's successful shift in her teaching is an example for teachers everywhere, especially as our schools become increasingly ethnically and racially diverse. About 80% of American teachers are white. But as of last year, the majority of K-12 students in public schools are now children of color.

As America's demographics change, we need to work on creating work that reflects the experiences that our students relate to. And a more diverse curriculum isn't just important for students of color. It's vital for everyone.

As Smith put it, "We, the teachers, are responsible for instilling empathy and understanding in the hearts of all kids. We are responsible for the future of this country."

Six Ways to Improve High School Graduation Rates

Students are more likely to earn a diploma if they do well in 9th grade

the final months of the 2016-17 school year unfold, the nation’s 4 million 9th graders—the Class of 2020—are entering the make-it-or-break-it final weeks of their first year of high school. And GradNation—the national campaign by America’s Promise Alliance to increase graduation rates to 90 percent by 2020—is 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 today’s high school freshmen won’t 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 success—higher 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 consortium’s 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 graduate—earning no more than one F in a core course per semester and accumulating sufficient credits to advance to sophomore year—are four times more likely to graduate than students who are off-track. The consortium’s 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. Chicago’s 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 struggle—a dramatic drop in grades, attendance, and academic behavior is a common warning sign of this strain. In high school, it’s easier to skip class and harder to figure out how to get help with coursework. But high school doesn’t 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 2020—as well as future classes—are ready to take on the world.

A plane passenger asked a teacher a kind of rude question about her job. She responded eloquently!

It's annoying when people mistakenly think your job is really simple.

Most people's lines of work are more intricate and multilayered than those who don't do that work would guess. So most of us can think of a time someone reductively assumed that our jobs are very simple (whether it's writer, janitor, stay-at-home parent, or any job really).

That's what happened when teacher Lily Eskelsen García, who now works with the National Education Association, boarded a plane and found herself next to a passenger who, like many, was confused about what's going on with public schools in America and wanted her to boil down the problems too simplistically. What he said would have thrown me for a loop, too.

"Darlin... I'm a businessman, I want you to bottom-line it for me. I want you to tell me right now. What is the one single thing that would solve all of our problems in public schools?"

The fact is, the "bottom line" when it comes to public schools right now seems a maelstrom of many things:

  • Political power plays
  • Reduced funding, which makes them less able to meet student needs
  • Juxtaposition against voucher and charter schools that siphon away some of that very funding and can cherry-pick the top students (which artificially inflates the perception of their comparative success)
  • Increased focus on testing rather than teaching and supporting
  • More students than ever needing stability at school that they may not be getting at home

Phew! There is a LOT to unpack in what's going on with public schools.

So it's hella fulfilling to hear how García swiftly handled her fellow passenger's rudely phrased question:

García turned his words right back at him, making it clear that fixing education will take a lot more than a single buzzword. Even better, she named around 25 different services teachers and schools provide in addition to academics, like breakfasts and teaching children to brush their teeth properly. She also made a really great point about how confused people aren't the enemy, but folks we need to educate more fully about the reality of public schools.

Whether you're a teacher, a student who supports teachers, or someone who feels invested in the success of public schools and kids, you know that schools are a complicated undertaking. They're not going to be fixed with a quick gimmick or one bright idea. We expect public schools to do a whole heckuva lot, and the least we can do is understand and provide support for all of that hard work.

Teachers are doing one of society's most valuable jobs, but we sure don't treat them that way.

All kids need an education.

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.

Wait, what?

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.

School's 'Reverse Suspension' Policy On Trend with Parents Paying for Kids' Mistakes

A new "reverse suspension" policy brings parents to school with their child, instead of the child staying home.

The Short of It

An inventive new form of punishment for students that includes their parents has greatly cut down on bad behavior in one West Virginia school. And it's not the only school to start having parents pay for their kids' mistakes.

The Lowdown

At Huntington East Middle School, parents of students who commit non-violent, non-verbally abusive behavior are offered the option of so-called "reverse suspension," which is when a parent spends the day by their child's side at school. According to The Blaze, Principal Frank Barnett said this alternative to sending students home has cut down on suspensions by two-thirds and cut bad behavior incidents by half.

So why is "reverse suspension" effective?

As one mom, Stephanie Howell, said, "Who as a parent wants to sit in class? It's embarrassing. It's a good motivator to not have your parents come and sit with them."

I'm guessing the embarrassment is mutual. What middle school student wants his mom watching over him in the lunch room or hanging out by his locker?

And, as Principal Barnett points out, some kids were viewing being sent home for suspension as a break from school, making it a totally ineffective form of punishment.

So far, about 30 families have taken advantage of the "reverse suspension" option, but traditional suspension is still used when it can't be avoided.

Play Video

The Upshot

This inventive form of punishment is just one example of a larger trend of schools making parents pay for their kids' mistakes. In Roswell, N.M., the city council is currently considering an ordinance that would charge parents with misdemeanors for "educational neglect" if their children are chronically absent from school.

Meanwhile, parents in one Wisconsin town may soon have to pay a fine for their kids' bullying behavior. A suggested ordinance would charge parents up to $366 if they don't put an end to their child's bullying within 90 days of first being alerted to the problem. A second offense could cost as much as $681!

If policies that punish parents for kids' bad behavior work, I say to schools: go for it—as long as the child is learning the lesson, too. Because the fact is, learning how to behave starts at home, but every kid makes mistakes, and they also learn through having to suffer the consequences. Mommy and daddy won't always be there to clean up their messes, so there must be some onus on the child to also pay for what they did.

Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds

Research suggests that recall of plot after using an e-reader is poorer than with traditional books

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.

'The children are our future' takes on new meaning when you think about the world we're leaving for them to inherit.

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, the results could be quite disastrous:

  • •Increasing acidity of the ocean
  • •Coral reefs deteriorating to a crumbling framework with very few reef building coral
  • •Erosion becoming a serious concern for coastal communities
  • •A weakened reef being further compromised by the increased frequency and severity of cyclones and storms
  • •Serious consequences for all organisms which depend upon it, including humans
  • "Fracking" may sound like a funny word, but the damage it might do is anything but.

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." —

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 mind.

Modernizing the Education System

There has been much reported on the problems with our education system: that students in the United States are lagging behind many of their peers in other countries in mathematics, science and reading. The typical response is to look at class sizes or at student performance on a per teacher basis to try and find solutions to these issues. There has been talk of "getting rid of 'bad' teachers and rewarding 'good' teachers." There have been efforts to alter the curriculum to "better prepare the students for the test." None of these efforts have enjoyed much measurable success in improving the scores of America's students. Other countries' students continue to outperform America's and, in spite of being the world's richest nation, America cannot even seem to crack the top ten in the rankings.

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:

Scenario A

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.

Scenario B

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.

15 Worst College Majors for Today’s Job Market

The value of a college education continues to be reexamined in the real world. In addition to being saddled with student loans, graduates and even experienced workers face a lackluster labor market. While a degree is still considered an advantage, the right major can make all the difference between happily employed and woefully underemployed in today’s 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 doesn’t 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 can’t 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 you’re 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, you’re more likely to feel underemployed if you’ve achieved a lower level of education — no higher than an associate’s degree, GE, or high school diploma. However, that doesn’t mean a bachelor’s degree is your ticket to employment bliss. Let’s look at the 15 worst college majors for today’s job market, based on underemployed findings from PayScale.

15. Paralegal

  • Underemployed level: 50.9%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 86.7%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 13.3%

14. Health Sciences

  • Underemployed level: 50.9%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 77.1%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 22.9%

13. Exercise Science

  • Underemployed level: 51%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 65.6%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 34.4%

12. Animal Science

  • Underemployed level: 51.1%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 83.7%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 16.3%

11. Creative Writing

  • Underemployed level: 51.1%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 76.2%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 23.8%Source:

10. Human Development & Family Studies

  • Underemployed level: 51.5%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 75%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 25%

9. Education

  • Underemployed level: 51.8%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 77.7%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 22.3%

8. Health Care Administration

  • Underemployed level: 51.8%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 83.3%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 16.7%

7. Studio Art

  • Underemployed level: 52%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 69%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 32.2%

6. Radio/Television & Film Production

  • Underemployed level: 52.6%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 68.4%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 31.6%

5. Project Management

Underemployed level: 52.8%

  • Underemployed for education reasons: 91.5%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 8.5%

4. Criminal Justice

  • Underemployed level: 53%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 87.4%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 12.8%

3. Illustration

  • Underemployed level: 54.7%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 74.5%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 25.5%

2. Human Services (HS)

  • Underemployed level: 55.6%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 82.2%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 17.8%

1. Physical Education Teaching

  • Underemployed level: 56.4%
  • Underemployed for education reasons: 79.1%
  • Underemployed due to part-time work: 20.9%


How do you keep teachers from having to buy supplies with their own money? Open a free store.

You've probably heard of backpack drives, where volunteers pack bags of school supplies for kids in need.

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.

Around the World, Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys

When psychology professors Daniel and Susan Voyer analyzed the results of over 1 million boys and girls from 30 different nations, they found that girls get better grades across the globe. And it’s true in every subject, including STEM fields. In The Atlantic, Enrico Gnaulati questioned whether our worldwide school systems are set up to favor girls and alienate boys. He brought together studies that speak to the disparity, starting in kindergarten and working up to the college level.

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 we’re better off encouraging disruptive discussion and free-for-all brainstorming, encouraging girls to speak out and allowing for boys’ alternate style of learning.

Should Student Behavior Be Factored Into Teacher Evaluations?

Determining teachers' impact on test scores isn't enough to measure effectiveness—policymakers must also look at how teachers affect their students' behavior, a new study suggests. (

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 skills—the 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.

In a first, women surpass men in advanced degrees

For the first time, American women have passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor's degrees, part of a trend that is helping redefine who goes off to work and who stays home with the kids.

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

Kim Moldofsky is a petite woman, and her whip-thin body buzzes with energy. Her short, black hair is cut into a chin-length bob, and she smiles frequently when chatting with friends.

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.

New Standards

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.

"No Utopia"

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.
Editor's Note: Check out "
Nurture Shock" for some real eye-opening evidence based thinking.

Graduation Rates a 'Catastrophe' in Cities

Seventeen of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland, according to a report.



Graduation Rate (%)






















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Large City Avg.








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National Avg. - 2003-04


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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.

What's to blame for differing test scores between the sexes?

Educational consultant Joe Manthey, who led a workshop through the Napa County Office of Education about educating male students, cites the almost nonexistent gender gap for home-schooled students in English as proof that schools are part of the problem.

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, “they’re less likely to fall through the cracks,” he said.

Manthey’s 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.

It’s no wonder, said Manthey, that boys tune out in English class.

Aaron agrees. “I’m 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 don’t care.
Source: Joe Manthey,

Benefits of College Degree in Recession Are Outlined

Young adults have long faced a rough job market, but in the last recession and its aftermath, college graduates did not lose nearly as much ground as their less-educated peers, according to a new study.




HS Grads


Associate Degree


Bachelor's Degree


The employment rate for graduates is down. Of the three categories, high schools fared the woorst after the recession. Their rate has fallen by 16 percent.

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 Pew’s 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 Bureau’s 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 2007-2017 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 associate’s degree, the employment rate fell from 64 percent to 57 percent.

But those with a bachelor’s 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 associate’s 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 couldn’t 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 Pew’s study found that among people age 21 to 24, the rate of college enrollment actually declined slightly, during and after the recession.

Public Higher Ed Per-Student Spending Drops To 25-Year Low

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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 nation’s 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 slightly—a result, the organization’s president said, not of lower demand, but of higher tuition—it’s 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 it’s 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 year’s 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 SHEEO’s 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.”


Parents, Teachers Deliver Over 100,000 Signatures To Time Magazine Demanding Apology

Teachers, parents and union leaders gathered in front of Time magazine headquarters on Thursday to protest the publication’s latest cover. According to a press release from the American Federation of Teachers, the cover (pictured below) depicts teachers as "'rotten apples’ needing to be smashed by Silicon Valley millionaires with no experience in education.”

The activists delivered boxes of petitions to the magazine’s editors, asking them to apologize to teachers for the cover. The petitions –- initiated by the American Federation of Teachers -- had over 100,000 signatures, according to AFT President Randi Weingarten, who spoke at the event.

“A cover that suggests that teachers need to be smashed is dead wrong, and that’s why over 100,000 people have signed petitions in less than a week, saying and asking Time to apologize for its cover,” said Weingarten at the event. “Frankly, of those 102,000, over 11,000 are Time subscribers and over 64,000 are people that use Time magazine in schools.”

She continued, “And why is that important? Because in schools we’re trying to help teach kids how to have a respectful, civil discourse with others. So when they see a magazine with a cover that smashes teachers, what is that teaching kids?”

The AFT petition says the actual article associated with Time’s cover is less offensive. The article follows the efforts of California tech moguls who have successfully worked to derail the state’s teacher tenure process.

“The cover was unmistakable: teachers need to be smashed, and that tech millionaires had a way to do that, and that’s just dead wrong,” said Weingarten when speaking with reporters. “We said the article was by and large balanced; in fact the article suggests that what the Silicon Valley techies were doing wasn’t supported by evidence.”

In recent days, activists also worked to protest the cover through a #TIMEfail hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, and some have called on teachers to boycott the magazine.

Time has responded to the controversy in several ways, although these responses have fallen short of an apology. On Monday, published some of the varied responses to the cover online, including a response by Weingarten. They also made the article free for all readers on Wednesday, while it was previously behind a pay wall.

On Thursday afternoon –- just prior to the protest –- the magazine’s website published a letter from Nancy Gibbs, Time’s managing editor. In the letter, Gibbs says that the article has been mischaracterized.

“Union leaders … are charging that by writing about legal efforts to remove bad teachers from classrooms, with the cover line 'Rotten Apples,' TIME has insulted all teachers; some of them have launched protests and petition drives,” says the letter. “In fact, TIME has nothing but admiration for America’s dedicated teachers and their commitment to excellence.”

The letter continues, “Our mission is to spur discussion of important issues, and in the interest of an informed debate, I am making the story free for all readers on … so everyone can judge for themselves.”

Time did not officially respond to the protest, however.

New York parent Natasha Capers told The Huffington Post that she thought the article failed to address the actual issues that plague education. Capers is a coordinator for the parent-led Coalition For Educational Justice, an organization that seeks to alleviate educational inequalities.

“I just feel like the story does not get to the heart of the real issue, like of what are the things that create educational inequity and the lack of resources in classrooms,” said Capers.

She continued, “No one would ever publish anything showing a fire fighter engulfed in flames or being smashed by a hammer, because it does not do anything to elevate the profession, and it’s just disrespectful.”

Transforming Teaching and Leading

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the great work of teachers throughout the country, who give of themselves to improve educational opportunities for all students. We support the work of teachers through initiatives and resources that lift the profession and help educators and students succeed.

Leading from the Classroom

Teach to Lead is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to advance student outcomes by expanding opportunities for teacher leadership, particularly those that allow teachers to stay in the classroom.

The initiative seeks to:

  • Highlight existing state and district systems that are working to support teacher leadership;
  • Share resources to create new opportunities for teacher leadership; and
  • Encourage people at all levels to commit to expanding teacher leadership.

Commit to Lead

Commit to Lead is an online platform that makes it easy for educators to share ideas about teacher leadership and collaborate to bring them to life. The community enables educators everywhere to provide feedback and vote on each other’s ideas, allowing the most talked about ideas to rise to the top, so they can gain traction and prominence in the field.

Watch Arne Duncan's speech announcing Teach to Lead and listen to his discussion with teachers at the National Board's Teaching and Learning conference.

"Teacher leadership means having a voice in the policies and decisions that affect your students, your daily work, and the shape of your profession. " — U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

The Teachers Edition

The Teachers Edition is a weekly newsletter written by teachers at the Department of Education that celebrates teaching and leading.

The Teachers Edition highlights great teachers and teacher leadership and offers a number of resources, including examples of best practices and links to interesting reading and emerging research that help educators solve problems and answer burning questions.

  • Subscribe to The Teachers Edition.
  • Review back issues to catch up on resources you may have missed.

The RESPECT Initiative to Transform Teaching and Leading

Respect TeachingRESPECT represents a vision to elevate and transform teaching and leading so that our nation's most important profession—educating our young people—becomes its most respected and supported one.

  • Read President Obama's Blueprint for RESPECT [PDF, 4.3MB], a plan developed after two years of conversations with educators. (36 pages)
  • Watch a video of educators discussing the RESPECT vision.
  • Learn more about the RESPECT initiative, including how RESPECT was developed and formed into a plan for the profession.
  • Get involved in and access RESPECT resources.

Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellows

The Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellowships are designed to improve education for students by involving teachers and principals in the development and implementation of national education policy.

Teaching and Principal Fellows either take a year's leave of absence to come to Washington, D.C., or they keep their day jobs and work for the Department part time. Learn more.


Finally a Fix to No Child Left Behind”

The Every Child Succeeds Act, the bipartisan bill to revise and revamp No Child Left Behind, passes the House with bipartisan support.

Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent the message below to the White House email list, telling people about the progress made to revise & replace No Child Left Behind. The Every Student Succeeds Act will reduce over-testing and one-size-fits all mandates for schools across the country.

If you’re like me, you probably dread an overdue notice, whether it’s for registering your car or returning a library book. For nearly a decade, our national K-12 education law has been overdue for revision, and parents, teachers and students across the country have made it clear that it is time for a reboot.

Over that period of time, America’s fourth graders became today’s high school seniors — ready to graduate and embrace a bright future. The students who come behind them deserve a better law focused on one clear goal of fully preparing them for success in college and future careers.

Although well-intended, the No Child Left Behind Act — the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — has long been broken. We can no longer afford that law’s one-size-fits-all approach, uneven standards, and low expectations for our educational system. That’s why, early on, President Obama and I joined educators and families calling on Congress to fix its flaws in this outdated law.

When Congress didn’t act, we did — providing relief from the most onerous elements of the law for states and school districts willing to embrace reform.

But yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives finally answered the overdue notice and took action to revise and replace No Child Left Behind. This bipartisan plan — the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — is good news for our nation’s schools. It is a compromise that builds on the work already underway in states to raise expectations for students and to help them graduate college and career-ready. The bill reflects many of the priorities we’ve put forward over the last six and a half years.

See how far we’ve come since 2009

Today, high school graduation rates are at all-time highs. Dropout rates are at historic lows. And more students are going to college than ever before. That’s thanks to educators across the country.

ESSA will help cement that progress. All students will be taught to high learning standards that will prepare them for success in college and career. More children will have access to high-quality preschool, delivering educational opportunity earlier for our nation’s youngest learners.

Educators will have more flexibility and support to develop their own systems for improving schools. However, ESSA maintains critical guardrails, especially for the schools and groups of students that are furthest behind.

And with new resources for states to review and reduce the burden of standardized testing, ESSA will enable a smarter approach to eliminating unnecessary tests so that teachers can spend more time ensuring that all students are learning, while still following their progress each academic year and providing critical information for parents about their child’s performance.

As the President has said, education is the civil rights issue of our time. Every American deserves an equal opportunity to succeed, so every child in America — regardless of zip code — deserves a fair shot at a great education. I hope the Senate acts swiftly, so we can all move forward on behalf of our nation’s children.

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High

“The hard work of teachers, administrators, students and their families has made these gains possible and as a result many more students will have a better chance of going to college, getting a good job, owning their own home, and supporting a family. We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains, including for students of color.” – Secretary Arne Duncan

America’s students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before, reaching 82 percent in 2013-14!

What’s more, the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas continues to narrow, and traditionally underserved populations like English language learners and students with disabilities continue to make gains, the data show.

Check out the data for yhourself on the NCES website .

Curry County Public Schools


OAKS, avg


Total students (2010)

Student/ Teacher Ratio

Math** (2011)

Reading **


Rank Change From 2010

721 Oregon Elementary Schools Ranked

Driftwood Elementary

School District 2cj

Port Orford

135 -

Kalmiopsis Elementary

School District 17c


125 -

Riley Creek Elementary

Central Curry District1

Gold Beach

114 -
376 Oregon Middle Schools Ranked

Driftwood Elementary

School District 2cj

Port Orford

41 -

Riley Creek Elementary

Central Curry District1

Gold Beach

42 -

Azalea Middle School

School District 17c


84 +
311 Oregon High Schools Ranked

Pacific HS

School District 2cj

Port Orford

97 +

Brookings-Harbor HS

School District 17c


55 -

Gold Beach HS

Central Curry District1

Gold Beach

5 +
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept of Education, and Oregon Department of Education

* Rank is determined by adding each school's average OAKS Math score with the average OAKS Reading score to form a combined average score. The school with the highest combined score is ranked #1.
** The values used in the OAKS columns are % met standard.

What Will Trump Do on Education? Seeking Clues on Common Core, School Choice, ESSA

Americans are taking stock of what Donald Trump’s election as president and the accompanying tectonic political shift means for the country going forward. In education, the best bet may be to examine known quantities — officials already in charge and those likely to join a Trump administration.

Rick Hess, education policy director at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote this morning that Trump’s early priorities are likely to lie outside education: in health care, foreign treaties and trade agreements, tax cuts and the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

“When education does come up, who really knows what a Trump administration would actually try to do on schooling?” Hess wrote. “Sure, Trump’s said some things. … As I’ve noted before, ‘There’s no reason to believe that Trump necessarily means what he’s said on any issue. In truth, he seems to regard policy declarations as performance art.’ So we’ll see if he devises a clear agenda on school choice or higher education, and whether he pushes it.”

Those “things” have included advocating for expanding school choice, ending the Common Core, instituting some reforms in higher education and doing away with gun-free school zones — the latter of which would require Congress to overturn an existing law and probably doesn’t have enough support outside a very limited, very conservative wing of the Republican Party.

During his victory speech Tuesday night, Trump said that “we are going to fix our inner cities” and rebuild schools, along with other infrastructure projects.

In the past, he has talked about abolishing the Education Department – probably unlikely, given the sheer complexity of doing so and the fact that the department is the primary conduit for issuing student loans. More likely is a scaled-back agency, one that could well halt the Obama administration’s active work in areas like school discipline disparities and Title IX enforcement regarding sexual assault on college campuses and protections for transgender students.

Far-reaching regulatory proposals implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, like the controversial “supplement not supplant” rule on school funding, will probably be gone too.

Mike Petrilli, president of the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, wrote in a blog post Wednesday morning that Trump’s election “is going to throw a huge wrench into the implementation timeline” for ESSA. He urged Education Secretary John King and the department to pull their proposals and work with Trump’s transition team to keep implementation on track.

For all the questions that remain, there are some people in power, either in Congress or who have Trump’s ear, whose views are well-known. For a President Trump, who has indicated he isn’t particularly interested in the machinations of policy, looking to those loyalists may provide a better preview.

• Vice President–Elect Mike Pence: The Indiana governor was a hero to school choice advocates in his home state, where he pushed for charter schools and expanded voucher programs. He also signed the first bill pulling a state out of the Common Core.

• Sen. Lamar Alexander: The chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has pushed back against the department’s ESSA regulatory proposals. (Read The 74’s interview with Alexander from this summer.)

• Rep. Virginia Foxx: The likely next chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee has a background in higher education and generally holds mainstream conservative views that value limited federal regulation and intervention in education.

• House Speaker Paul Ryan: In a speech Wednesday morning, Ryan again touted his “Better Way” agenda that calls for the kind of school voucher program Trump has supported.

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: The leader of Trump’s transition team made headlines for his fights with teachers unions – groups sure to have diminished influence going forward.

• Dr. Ben Carson: Trump’s former political rival has been rumored to be among the possibilities for education secretary. He’s a fan of school choice — including homeschooling — and against the Common Core.

Supreme Court Preview: What You Need to Know About the 3 New School Cases at the High Court

The Supreme Court returned Monday for its fall term, one justice down but with several potentially pivotal education-related cases on the docket.

Last year, the eyes of the education world were on the Supreme Court when the justices heard the blockbuster-that-wasn’t Friedrichs case, which would have decided whether states could force teachers who aren’t union members to pay dues. Justice Antonin Scalia died before the court could release its decision, resulting in a 4–4 tie that left intact a lower court ruling allowing states to impose mandatory dues if they so chose.

This year, the court will hear at least three education-related cases: two involving special education and one that could have an impact on vouchers granted to religious institutions.

Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools: What rights do disabled students have under various disability laws?

The case concerns E.F., a girl with cerebral palsy, whose Michigan school district refused to let her bring her service dog to class to assist with tasks such as using the bathroom, opening and closing doors and picking up dropped objects. The district cited concerns that the dog, a goldendoodle named Wonder, would cause allergies and distractions among other students and instead provided E.F. with an adult human aide. E.F.’s parents, Stacy and Brent Fry, homeschooled her for two years before moving her to another district.

Her parents claim that the district’s refusal to allow Wonder at school violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, laws that guarantee appropriate accommodations — including the use of service animals — to people with disabilities. The school district countered that providing E.F. with a one-on-one human aide satisfied its obligations under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires schools to provide a free, appropriate public education to students with disabilities.

The Frys filed a complaint with the federal Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, which ruled that even though the district didn’t cause E.F. any educational harm by banning Wonder from the school, it still violated her rights. OCR said failing to allow Wonder would be akin to requiring a student in a wheelchair to be carried, or mandating that a blind student be guided by a teacher instead of using a cane or service animal.

The Frys then sued the district under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which, unlike IDEA, allow plaintiffs to collect monetary damages when their rights have been violated.

But a district court threw out the lawsuit because under the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act of 1986, students must exhaust their legal options under IDEA before they can bring a lawsuit under other disability rights laws.

The Frys say their case is different — that they never claimed the district didn’t provide a free, appropriate public education as required under IDEA, but rather that the district violated other federal laws. The Handicapped Children’s Protection Act, they argue, restricts only claims that could also be addressed under IDEA.

A panel of judges from the Sixth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision. In their view, simply asking for damages doesn’t excuse plaintiffs from having to exhaust their options under IDEA.

For the Frys’ appeal to the Supreme Court, the U.S. government has filed a brief siding with the family, as have the states of Illinois and Minnesota. A coalition of disability rights groups wrote in a brief supporting the Frys that requiring children with disabilities to exhaust IDEA requirements “contravenes national values” and can cause significant harm, potentially in the form of lost years of education benefits while families fight for particular therapies. The groups also pointed to a half-dozen cases around the country of children with various disabilities in similar circumstances.

The justices will hear arguments in the case on October 31.

Endrew F. v. Douglas County Schools: What level of education must schools provide for students with disabilities?

Endrew, a student with autism, attended public schools in Douglas County, Colo., from pre-K through fourth grade. In second and third grade, he began having behavioral problems, such as yelling and crying. By fourth grade, his behavioral problems got so bad that he regularly had to be removed from the classroom and could not make progress toward the goals in his individualized education plan, his parents, Joseph F. and Jennifer F., wrote in their brief urging the court to hear the case.

The family decided to place Endrew in a private school and sought reimbursement for tuition from the Douglas County schools.

An administrative judge denied the claim, saying that Endrew had received “some” educational benefit in the Douglas County schools. The U.S. District Court in Colorado upheld the administrative law judge’s ruling, saying the intent of IDEA was “more to open the door of public education to handicapped children on appropriate terms than to guarantee any particular level of education once inside,” and that since Endrew had shown some progress, his parents weren’t entitled to tuition reimbursement. A circuit court sided with the district.

The problem, the lawsuit says, is that courts of appeals around the country are “in disarray” over what constitutes an appropriate education for children with disabilities. The Supreme Court in a 1982 case specifically declined to set a standard, saying, “We do not attempt today to establish any one test for determining the adequacy of educational benefits conferred upon all children covered by [IDEA].”

Because of this, Endrew’s parents wrote, in two district court circuits, the level of educational benefit must be “meaningful”; in five, the standard is “just-above-trivial,” and in the other five, the standard is unclear.

“Resolving the conflict among the circuits will ensure that millions of children with disabilities receive a consistent level of education, while providing parents and educators much-needed guidance regarding their rights and obligations,” Endrew’s parents wrote.

The federal government filed a brief urging the court to take the case, arguing that “there is no justification for providing children with disabilities different degrees of protection under federal law depending on where they happen to live.” The government also said the court should set a higher standard for educational benefit.

The school district, in a brief urging justices not to take the case, argued that any split among circuits was, basically, semantics, and that any changes to the standard should come from Congress.

The justices agreed to hear the case but haven’t yet scheduled arguments.

Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley: Can states exclude religious institutions from aid programs, and what is the possible impact on vouchers?

Trinity Lutheran Church operates a preschool in Missouri. It had applied for a state program that provides refunds for nonprofits that replace playground surfaces using material made from recycled tires. The program is funded through a tax on sales of new tires.

The state collects applications annually and ranks them, then awards as many refunds as possible, depending on the amount of tax collected. In 2012, Trinity Lutheran’s application was ranked No. 5 out of 44, but Missouri did not provide a refund, arguing that doing so would violate a prohibition in the state constitution against public funding of religious activities. The church sued Sarah Parker Pauley, director of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, which administered the program.

The church argued that this action violates its rights under the U.S. Constitution — free exercise of religion and the right to equal application of the law. Missouri says its refusal to fund the new playground doesn’t prevent the church or its members from exercising their religious rights.

Lower courts sided with the state, primarily citing a 2004 Supreme Court decision that upheld Washington State’s decision not to give scholarships to students pursuing theology degrees.

Trinity Lutheran has the backing of a group of states, several religious liberty groups and a collection of conservative Republican members of Congress. Missouri is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, groups arguing for the separation of church and state, and the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union.

Upholding the lower courts’ ruling would jeopardize state programs that provide medical services, gifted and special education, transportation, lab equipment, security upgrades and other benefits to religiously affiliated schools, the Association of Christian Schools International wrote in a brief. A change “could also prevent lower-income students from attending religiously affiliated primary schools” by barring tuition vouchers or scholarships, it said.

By the group’s count, 13 states offer vouchers or scholarships for private schools, and 14 offer tax credits to companies that donate to similar scholarship programs. All of them, the group claims, could be in jeopardy.

The justices have not yet scheduled arguments. The court agreed to hear the case before Scalia died, and since rulings involving religion are likely to be close, the justices may be waiting to see if a ninth member will be confirmed to avoid a probable tie.

Flashcards Understanding the Common Core: What it Is, What it Isn’t

A plane passenger asked a teacher a kind of rude question about her job. She responded eloquently!

It's annoying when people mistakenly think your job is really simple.

Most people's lines of work are more intricate and multilayered than those who don't do that work would guess. So most of us can think of a time someone reductively assumed that our jobs are very simple (whether it's writer, janitor, stay-at-home parent, or any job really).

That's what happened when teacher Lily Eskelsen García, who now works with the National Education Association, boarded a plane and found herself next to a passenger who, like many, was confused about what's going on with public schools in America and wanted her to boil down the problems too simplistically. What he said would have thrown me for a loop, too.

"Darlin... I'm a businessman, I want you to bottom-line it for me. I want you to tell me right now. What is the one single thing that would solve all of our problems in public schools?"

The fact is, the "bottom line" when it comes to public schools right now seems a maelstrom of many things:

  • Political power plays
  • Reduced funding, which makes them less able to meet student needs
  • Juxtaposition against voucher and charter schools that siphon away some of that very funding and can cherry-pick the top students (which artificially inflates the perception of their comparative success)
  • Increased focus on testing rather than teaching and supporting
  • More students than ever needing stability at school that they may not be getting at home

Phew! There is a LOT to unpack in what's going on with public schools.

So it's hella fulfilling to hear how García swiftly handled her fellow passenger's rudely phrased question:

García turned his words right back at him, making it clear that fixing education will take a lot more than a single buzzword. Even better, she named around 25 different services teachers and schools provide in addition to academics, like breakfasts and teaching children to brush their teeth properly. She also made a really great point about how confused people aren't the enemy, but folks we need to educate more fully about the reality of public schools.

Whether you're a teacher, a student who supports teachers, or someone who feels invested in the success of public schools and kids, you know that schools are a complicated undertaking. They're not going to be fixed with a quick gimmick or one bright idea. We expect public schools to do a whole heckuva lot, and the least we can do is understand and provide support for all of that hard work.

I’m Sick of Asking Children to Be Resilient - May 12, 2020

It’s time for reparations and resources and to not expect kids to “rise above.”

Dr. Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician and professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

A baby born in Flint, Mich., where I am a pediatrician, is likely to live almost 20 fewer years than a child born elsewhere in the same county. She’s a baby like any other, with wide eyes, a growing brain and a vast, bottomless innocence — too innocent to understand the injustices that without her knowing or choosing have put her at risk.

Some of the babies I care for have the bad luck to be born into neighborhoods where life expectancy is just over 64 years. Only a few miles away, in a more-affluent community, the average life span is 84 years. The ravages of Covid-19, which disproportionately affect low-income families and people of color, are surely widening this gap even further.

Throughout the United States, geography defines and describes inequities in health, wealth, mobility and longevity. The reasons for this are both visible and hidden. Life in a distressed neighborhood means limited access to health care and healthy food. It means living with violence, racism, poverty and uncertainty. It means bearing the brunt of environmental injustice — not having safe and affordable water, as Flint knows too well, or living in the shadow of a polluting factory. More air pollution increases rates of respiratory disease and reduces student achievement as well as life span. We are also beginning to understand the interplay of water access and air quality with Covid-19 severity.

These disparities between neighborhoods are rarely accidental; they are the product of purposeful policies and practices that have widened gaps in income, opportunity and equality. Over the decades, city inhabitants have been battered by deindustrialization; racist banking and real estate practices; white flight and population loss; austerity cuts to public education, public health and safety net programs; the corporate-driven weakening of unions; dilution of environmental regulations; housing and nutrition insecurity; and racially driven mass incarceration. And so much more.

Science tells us that children exposed to multiple adversities, both in their home and in their neighborhood, have a far greater likelihood of challenges later in life. From addiction to eviction, these constant pressures change a child on a molecular, cellular and behavioral level — and make them sick. The effects of toxic stress can be as disruptive as environmental pollution on their bodies and brains, increasing risk for chronic diseases like asthma and hypertension, and lowering life expectancy. Exposure to six or more adverse childhood experiences can cut a life short by as much as 20 years.

The pandemic hot spots in Michigan follow this pattern: Outside of metropolitan Detroit, the troubled Flint area has been hardest hit. In Flint, we just marked the sixth anniversary of the water crisis, when poisonous, lead-laced water was used to fill baby bottles and sippy cups of unsuspecting Flint kids who just happened to be born in the wrong city. Now we’re being ravaged by another preventable public health emergency. With over 200 deaths, the county where Flint is has more Covid-19 fatalities than 19 states to date.

All of us who live or work in this beleaguered community know somebody who has died from the disease caused by the coronavirus. There’s Wendell Quinn, the gentle giant of a hospital public safety officer who always gave me a warm smile and a nod when I walked into work; and Ruben Burks, the dedicated United Auto Workers leader; and Nathan Burtley, the first black superintendent of Flint schools; and Karen Dozier, the kind and loving custodian at the early child care center. And bringing a level of grief that is difficult to comprehend, Calvin Munerlyn, a Family Dollar store security guard and devoted father of six, was recently shot and killed after telling a shopper to wear a mask. The epidemic of gun violence has compounded tragedy upon tragedy.

At a multigenerational level of loss, there are the Jones and Brown families. Within weeks, a Flint elementary school principal, Kevelin B. Jones II, lost his father, Pastor Kevelin B. Jones; his uncle Freddie Brown Jr.; and his cousin Freddie Brown III. At the combined burial for her husband and only child, Sandy Brown waved to the parade of cars that drove by quietly as she stood alone next to two freshly dug graves. Reflecting on the difficult losses, a church elder, Keimba Knowlin, spoke on resilience, a quality that I’ve long observed and admired in the people of Flint. “We’re going to rise above this and get past this,” he said.

The will to survive and endure can be the deciding factor between a child who overcomes adversity and thrives and a child who never makes it to adulthood. But how long can we ask people born in the wrong ZIP code to “rise above” and persevere in circumstances beyond their control, no matter how central the idea of overcoming is to our archetypal American identity? When Hazim Hardeman, a 2019 Rhodes scholar, was asked about his journey from public housing in North Philadelphia, where many of his friends were shot or stabbed to death, he spoke a truth that we all need to hear: “Don’t be happy for me that I overcame these barriers. Be mad as hell that they exist in the first place.”

Surviving life’s hardest blows should not be celebrated — or expected. Recovery and reconciliation require reparations and resources. To expect resilience without justice is simply to indifferently accept the status quo.

Just as the New Deal sprang from the Great Depression and public health best practices were born in response to a previous plague, we need to embrace the bold innovations that are certain to arise.

To begin with, we need to establish policies and practices rooted in science. And science tells us that where you live matters. For children raised in places replete with the stresses of misfortune, these adversities rooted in historic and systemic bias are scarring. Just as new Covid-19 cases can represent a time lag from infection two weeks earlier, adversities in early childhood play out later, filling our hospital beds and deteriorating the public’s health.

As this pandemic makes painfully visible, medicine alone — ventilators, pharmaceuticals, defibrillators, I.C.U.s — will not save us. It’s always an ego-deflating moment for my medical residents when they learn that medical care contributes only 10 percent to 20 percent to positive health outcomes. Our medical interventions are largely reactive measures — and happen too late. Addressing the upstream root causes is the only answer.

This means mandating universal basic income and living wages, for a start, and enhancing health and safety protections, along with benefits like paid parental and sick leave. This means establishing desegregated and well-funded public education, starting with child care, as a fundamental right. Universal health care needs to be untethered from employment and free of racial disparities. And environmental health regulations need to be strengthened and enforced so that all children — no matter the ZIP code — can breathe clean air and drink safe water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is an advocate for universal basic income and living wages, and enhancing health and safety protections, along with benefits like paid parental and sick leave. Credit...Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

These big and bold ideas are not new. They are measures proved to improve health, quality of life and longevity — standards that most developed countries already employ. And to ensure we are moving in the same direction together, the pathogens of divisiveness and bigotry need to be treated as the deadly, life-shortening contagions they truly are.

This is how we begin to transform the concept of resilience from an individual trait to one that describes a community — and society — that cares for everyone. Rather than hoping a child is tough enough to endure the insurmountable, we must build resilient places — healthier, safer, more nurturing and just — where all children can thrive. This is where prevention and healing begin.

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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

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