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Monday, October 20, 2014

Panama City needs a better-educated populace to reduce crime

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Even though Panama City, Florida has more police per capita than Detroit and Memphis, the law enforcement presence has done little to deter criminal activity. Panama City is now the fourth most dangerous city in Florida.


With beautiful beaches, many outdoor activities, and a temperate climate one has to wonder why the crime rate is out of line with cities of similar size.


Part of the problem is low academic achievement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice there is a link between high school graduation and crime – 56 percent of federal inmates, 67 percent of the inmates in state prisons, and 69 percent of the inmates in local jails did not complete high school.


In Bay County, Florida, over one quarter (27%) of the students do not graduate from high school. This is well above the national (20%) and state (24%) averages.


Given the graduation/incarceration link, the best way to stop crime in Panama City might be to improve academic achievement.


Some people argue that the low graduation rate in Bay County is due to insufficient funding. However the per student spending in Bay County is almost the same as per student spending in Nassau County, the Florida county with the highest graduation rate (almost 91%).


Others worry that poor student performance is due to a high student/teacher ratio. However, Bay County has a student/ teacher ratio of 16.1 students per teacher. Nassau has a slightly higher student/teacher ratio, 16.7 students/teacher.


Also, Nassau County has about the same percentage of the population with college degrees and the two counties have close to the same percentage of the population below the poverty line.


So what are the real issues?


First, Panama City has few high paying jobs so there is little incentive for students to complete high school. To make matters more challenging, many companies that offer high quality and high tech jobs close operations in Panama City, because they cannot find dedicated, reliable, skilled workers.


To bring high quality employment options to Bay County and keep them here, schools must set high standards so students are ready for high quality 21st Century employment (strong language arts, math, and science skills).


In addition, schools need to identify deficiencies and begin remediation early, so students do not leave school.


To achieve these educational goals, schools must reward high quality teachers who have outstanding subject area proficiency in math, science, and language arts.


With a better-educated populace, Panama City can become a safer and more desirable place to live.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bullying prevention: Can parents make the world bullyproof?

The Christian Science Monitor – Lisa Suhay

“October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness month, a time to end bullying and build friendships. When bullying continues, despite national awareness campaigns, can parents bullyproof the world for their kids?” (more)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Trouble can start for schoolkids after classes end

The San Francisco Chronicle – Aerin Curtis

“It’s the same story for juvenile school students. Unsupervised after-school hours can lead to a number of problems, including criminal activity.” (more)

Ofsted: too many teachers ‘accepting low-level disruption’

The Telegraph – Graeme Paton

“Ofsted warn that large numbers of pupils are being allowed to disrupt lessons by making silly comments and swinging on chairs, with few sanctions from head teachers.” (more)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Truancy rates are higher among California’s low-income students, report says

The L.A. Times – Sara Hayden

“Across California, truancy rates for students from low-income backgrounds were disproportionately higher than for their more affluent peers during the 2013-14 school year, according to a report released Thursday.” (more)

Minneapolis Superintendent Bans Suspensions for Younger Children

Education News – Grace Smith

“Minneapolis has decided that suspending children in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first-grade for non-violent behavior is the wrong approach to discipine.” (more)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Julia Steiny: We’re Crippling Our Kids with Fear

Education News – Julia Steiny

“I hate to date myself, but when we were 9 or even younger, my friends and I were off into the big bad world with only strict orders to be home when the street lights when on. Often we rode our bikes to a commercial street at least a mile away from the house.” (more)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pupils must follow ‘five-a-day’ rule to boost mental health

The Telegraph – Graeme Paton

“The headmaster of Highgate School in London says that children need to be given more structure to their life – including a ban on computers in the bedroom – to improve their mental health.” (more)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Obesity is now so normal that parents can’t see if their child is too fat

The Conversation – Jane Ogden

“Parents need to recognize that their child is overweight, and when they do they need to manage it in a ways that does good not harm, seeking to change their behavior in ways that won’t make a bad situation worse.”

We’ve all heard those phrases that denote a certain blindness to the passage of time. “She looks as young as the day I met her” husbands say of their wives 50 years into married life, or “haven’t they grown”, people tell me of my children. How about “it wasn’t even hot” said the frog, realising too late that he had sat unawares in the pot while the water slowly crept up to boiling point.


The thing is, we don’t tend to notice change if it’s gradual. And according to a recent study from Georgia Southern University and published in Paediatrics, parents don’t recognise when their children have become obese.


Slow changes over time in anything we see every day become invisible and can be ignored – which is great for the ageing wives among us but not so helpful for frogs or children whose parents who should be taking notice so something can be done about it.


But is it just a matter of timing and what should parents do when they do eventually realise that something is wrong?


The new normal


Fat children may be invisible to their parents not only because the weight gain has been gradual but because their point of reference has changed. The term “obesity” not only means excess body weight but it also implies disease, illness, difference and a “problem”. (more)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Language Skills Can Shape Children’s Impulse Control, Research Says

Education Week – Sarah D. Sparks

“Now, research from Indiana University finds that some children with poor language skills not only have trouble communicating with others, but can also lack the “running internal monologue” that helps them control their behavior.” (more)