Parenting and Learning Issues

Each child learns differently. Here we offer resources on learning styles and the classroom models that support them, expert advice on how to improve learning, and tips on parental involvement.
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Knowledge is power. It is a phrase that countless schoolchildren have heard from the lips of countless teachers through the years. While for some it’s just meaningless words, for others it is a mantra by which they approach education. The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) takes that mantra to heart, and after 20 years, has changed the manner in which public school children are taught.
 
KIPP began as the brainchild of two Teach for America workers in 1994. After recognizing that their low-income students were not receiving the support they needed in order to achieve success in school, and later in life, Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg devised a new way to teach middle school students. After convincing the Houston Independent School District to green light their experimental program, Levin and Feinberg built a curriculum that harnessed the power of values held dear by their community – hard work, accountability, high expectations, and a sense of togetherness. From their initial class of 47 students, KIPP has since grown into a network of 162 schools across the nation.
 
KIPP In a Nutshell

KIPP was formed in order to bring opportunity to underserved populations through education. KIPP schools, which are public charter schools, are founded on the belief that any child – regardless of his or her socioeconomic status, racial heritage, or other demographic factors – can and will learn if given the appropriate opportunity. And with that opportunity, poverty-stricken children can develop the knowledge and skills they need to graduate from high . . . read more
The educational outlook for black boys has long been bleak. In Oakland, nearly one-third of African-American males drop out of high school. In Chicago, black boys lag behind other students in nearly every single measure of academic success. In schools throughout the nation, in large cities and small rural communities, black boys rank near the bottom in most measures of academic achievement and near the top in terms of the number of discipline referrals and suspensions.
 
Some of these statistics must be taken with a grain of salt, however. The American public school system has historically been less than responsive to the needs of black students, but particularly so for black males. Boys of color face many obstacles in life that include absent or unresponsive fathers, violence in the home and in their neighborhood, pressure to join gangs, and substance abuse. Yet schools regularly overlook these factors as being outside their realm of responsibility. Racial profiling by school officials, biased discipline policies, and a culture that engenders fear of young black males compound the problems for an educational system that is unprepared to manage the social, emotional, cultural, and academic needs of black boys.
 
Further compounding the issue is that institutional failures of public school systems serve to label young black students as something they are not. Black males are more likely to be removed from regular education settings and are more often misclassified as mentally retarded. These incorrect actions are taken due to a black student’s poor . . . 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
The American public school system has shown a steady rise in the number of enrolled students since the beginning of this century. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 47.7 million students attended public schools in 2001, a number that increased to 49.5 million by 2011. By 2023 the public school population is projected to be over 52 million students.

 
Not only is the overall student population growing, it’s ethnic makeup is shifting as well. As shown in the graph at right, as the number of white public school students has decreased, the number of minority students has rapidly increased, especially students who identify as Hispanic. In fact, by 2023, white students will comprise just 45 percent of public school students nationwide, while Hispanic students will represent 30 percent.
 
Educational Disparities Follow Racial and Ethnic Lines
 
As the student population in the United States continues to become more and more diverse, it becomes evident that students of color are often shortchanged because schools are inadequately prepared to educate children of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Particularly in the West and the South, where population growth has been explosive, public schools are struggling to provide services to children who have little or no English speaking abilities. Furthermore, since poverty disproportionately impacts children of color, districts additionally struggle to finance free and reduced lunch programs, before and after school academic support, additional classroom personnel and other services necessary to bring these kids up to grade-level performance.
 
Not . . . read more
The teen suicide rate in the United States has tripled since the 1960s. Suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among adolescents, and the second leading cause of death among college students. Although suicide is highly preventable, with clearly identifiable warning signs, it continues to occur in many communities across the nation. In fact, in February and March 2014, ten New York City public school children took their own lives.
 
The Numbers
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, approximately 4,600 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 take their own lives. The vast majority of suicides are carried out via firearm or suffocation. However, it isn’t just deaths by suicide that are part of the issue. Nearly one-fourth of American high school students report thinking seriously about suicide, 13 percent report having a plan, and 8 percent report having actually attempted suicide in the last 12 months. That translates to well over 150,000 emergency room visits by children who have injured themselves as part of an attempt at taking their own life.
 
It is well documented that boys are much more likely to die as a result of suicide. However, girls are much more likely to attempt taking their own life. In addition to these gender differences, ethnic and cultural differences also exist. Among minority groups, Alaskan Native and Native American groups experience the highest rates of suicide. Hispanics are also at greater risk of suicide than are black and white youth.
 
Further . . . read more
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Recent Public School Articles
Knowledge is Power Program: A Strong Model for Public Schools
Knowledge is Power Program: A Strong Model for Public Schools
As many traditional public schools struggle to close the achievement gap, Knowledge is Power Program schools seem to have the right formula for helping poverty-stricken and minority students achieve success. In this article, we examine how KIPP schools are making their students’ futures much brighter.
Urban Public Schools Come to the Rescue of Black Boys
Public schools across the nation are implementing programs that help keep young black men in school and off the streets. Boosting graduation rates, reducing gang involvement and violence, and providing positive male role models are just a few of the common elements of these programs. Yet, the achievement gap between black boys and other peer groups remains extremely wide.
Teachers in 19 States Allowed to Physically Punish Students
As of 2014, nineteen states still allow corporal punishment – spanking and paddling the most common choices – in their public schools. However, some argue that not only are these punishments physically harmful, they also are disproportionately administered to students of color. As a result, House democrats have taken up the issue in a new bill that would ban all forms of corporal punishment nationwide.
Parenting and Learning Issues

Improving Learning

A comprehensive look at the latest trends, expert advice and recent studies into improving student learning. Explore the latest studies into links between student performance, sleep and music. See why schools are opting for later start times and year round schedules.

Parental Involvement from K-12

Learn how direct involvement in your child’s education can impact school performance. Get expert advice on how to get involved, learn why and when you need to talk to a teacher and ways to make changes on campus.

Bullying

An overview of bullying in schools, laws to protect students, and the impact on education. This section provides great tips on protecting your child from being bullied or becoming a bully. Learn about the latest anti-bullying laws and see how cyber-bullying effects your child’s school performance.

Types of Learning

What type of learner is your child? Be in the know about different types of learning and which classrooms are best suited for each type. What is project-based learning? Cooperative Learning? Would your child benefit from a blended learning experience? Explore these teaching techniques and learn how they could improve your child’s performance.

Kindergarten and Elementary Issues

Weigh the pros and cons of preschool, full day kindergarten and other issues affecting our youngest learners. Learn what can be done to help your child prepare to enter school, boost confidence, and encourage reading at the grade school level.

High School Issues

Learn more about issues specific to high school students. Get an overview of high school graduation rates, college readiness, career choice and social issues impacting teenagers in public schools.