Are the Three Rs Robbing our Children?

The notion of comprehensive education is nothing new, yet with all of the education reforms and testing initatives, has it fallen even further to the wayside?  Are our current curriculum standards robbing children of a real education, in favor of No. 2 pencils scratching on standardized bubbles? 

Many consider John Dewey, the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century philosopher and advocate of progressivism to be the father of student-centered learning. Dewey championed the idea that schools should address a broad spectrum of student needs, rather than drill rote memorization of facts into students’ heads. The addition of school counselors, special education programs, advanced courses for the gifted, and student support services like positive behavior interventions would all fall under the realm of whole-child educational programs that schools throughout the nation have implemented for quite some time.  According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, whole-child education should encompass the following: 

  • Every child comes to school healthy and is supported in his or her pursuit of good mental and physical health through physical education, health, and wellness classes and activities that enrich their lives.
  • Every child learns in an environment that is free from discrimination, upholds the tenets of social justice and equality, and provides opportunities for students to feel valued and respected.
  • Every child is actively engaged in their learning, which is facilitated by hands-on and project-based learning, community service, extracurricular activities, and other programs that extend learning beyond the classroom.
  • Every child participates in personalized learning programs that meet their unique academic, . . . read more
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by a cadre of experts from the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, Achieve, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other stakeholders, including K-12 science teachers and government officials from 26 states. The standards establish benchmarks that gauge student learning at each grade level from kindergarten through the twelfth grade in the areas of life science, physical science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The standards direct student learning along three dimensions:

  • Practices: Students master investigative behaviors that are key to scientific exploration and theory development about the natural world. These include, but are not limited to, the steps of the Scientific Method and their associated practices.
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Students learn concepts that are applicable to all disciplines of science, using common ideas such as patterns, cause and effect, stability, and change. Using this framework provides an organizational structure in which children can relate knowledge from one scientific field to another.
  • Core Ideas: Seminal concepts within science focus the curriculum on ideas that have broad applicability, provide key tools for understanding ideas and solving problems, relate to social or personal concerns, and are learnable over the course of multiple grades at increasingly deep levels of rigor.

These new-generation standards emphasize the importance of science in daily life, but also seek to prepare students for a rapidly evolving workforce that relies heavily on a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). STEM-related . . . read more
What is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?
 
In an era in which negative or violent behaviors at school – from bullying and harassment, racism and sexism, and school shootings – is commonplace, public schools have taken measures to beef up security in the name of protecting students and staff. Schools in urban areas have long been home to security guards and metal detectors, however, security measures in recent years at urban and rural schools alike have grown to include armed school resource officers (SRO), complex networks of surveillance cameras, and zero-tolerance discipline policies that have resulted in a substantial increase in the number of student suspensions, expulsions and school-based arrests. In fact, the number of disciplinary actions taken in schools is at an all-time high.

However, this is just one component of the modern-day school-to-prison pipeline, in which students are forced out of school by Draconian policies that land them in the criminal justice system.
 
This begs the question, “How did we get to this point?” The American Civil Liberties Union has identified five primary factors in the development of today’s police-state schools that funnel children into courts and jails:
 
       1.     Lack of funding and resources: Many discipline problems arise when students are disengaged and do not have support services to help them persist in their educational pursuits. Lack of textbooks, inexperienced teachers, and non-existent counseling and special education services all contribute to delinquency and high dropout rates.
       2.     Alternative school environments: In some public . . . read more
If you’re in the market for a new home you better be researching local school districts – it could mean all the difference for your family, whether you have children or not.

When people search for a new home, there are many factors that weigh in on their decision: price, amenities, neighborhood, the square footage, rent or own, new or old, and much more. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to add another important aspect of home buying to this research list- school districts. Even if you don’t have, or never plan to have school-age children, school districts can still have quite an impact on your home value and living area.

Here are four of the main reasons why the quality of school districts is something that you need to keep in mind when you buy your next home.
  Why Research School Districts

1. A Good School District = A Good Neighborhood

All other things constant, a good school district tends to equal a good neighborhood. And when it comes to real estate, the name of the game is location, location, location. Great location can mean safer neighborhoods, abundance of places to eat, ease of access to transportation, proximity to urban, beach or vacation areas, and amenities like public parks and services.

If you do have kids, a good location and good neighborhood are even more important. Just ask John Wetmore, “walking” safety expert and Producer of “Perils for Pedestrians.” “Parents need to consider how their children will get . . . read more
Immigration reform has been a hotly contested issue for decades. With Congress deadlocked on the issue, state legislatures across the country have passed strict anti-immigration bills, leaving millions of immigrants in fear of deportation. One source of fear for undocumented families is that local school districts that require birth certificates, social security numbers, and other vital information in order to enroll students will reveal the family’s undocumented status and lead authorities to apprehend them. The fear of legal retribution is so great that for many families, removing their children from school is their only choice.
 
Plyler v. Doe
 
The recent wave of state-based restrictions on enrollment of undocumented students is somewhat curious given that the Supreme Court ruled that these students have an equal right to education. In their 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe, the justices held that schools cannot:
 
       ·      Deny a student enrollment based on undocumented status;
 
       ·      Require different procedures to determine a student’s residency;
 
       ·      Engage in any activities that may discourage a student from enrolling;
 
       ·      Require students or their parents to document their immigration status;
 
       ·      Ask questions that may expose a student’s immigration status;
 
       ·      Require a student’s social security number for enrollment purposes.

Furthermore, as a result of the ruling, school officials involved in enrollment and intake of new students are not obligated to enforce U.S. immigration laws. Yet, despite these clear-cut guidelines regarding student enrollment, public schools keep finding ways to exclude immigrant and undocumented children.
 
Alabama – The “Show Me Your Papers State”

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Recent Public School Articles
Are the Three Rs Robbing our Children?
Are the Three Rs Robbing our Children?
For far too long the American public school system has failed to address “out-of-school” factors like poverty and their impact on what happens in the classroom. As the nation continues to become increasingly diverse, many schools are adopting comprehensive approaches to education that account for the unique needs of students so that each child is prepared for their future and not just for a year-end test.
States Fight to Teach “Ignorant” Science to Students
Wyoming recently became the first state to reject the Next Generation Science Standards because of concern regarding lessons that teach human-caused climate change. Several other states have also taken measures to reject the standards, which has some education officials concerned about the quality of instruction students in those states will receive.
School-to-Prison Pipeline Persists Despite Local, State and National Efforts
Inadequate funding and resources for schools, harsh zero-tolerance discipline policies, police presence in public schools, and de facto segregation continue to create school environments in which poor and minority students have little chance of succeeding. The result is a continuation of the school-to-prison pipeline that has been commonplace in the American education system for decades, despite federal, state and local efforts to curb the problem.