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High Standards & the ‘Dumbest Generation’

The Huffington Post – Katrina Boone

“Are Americans today the dumbest they’ve ever been? It’s a question that had kept me up at night…The students I taught in my first years were unmoored, adrift in a world saturated with affordable technology, disconnected from the short stories, novels, and writing assignments I presented to them day after day. Two years later, though, Kentucky teachers, along with teachers all over the country, began implementing the Common Core State Standards, which call for students to read appropriately complex texts, grapple with academic language, ground their ideas in evidence, and read more nonfiction, especially about history, science, and the arts…Instead of just learning about the difference between adjectives and adverbs…students learn to make thoughtful, persuasive choices as speakers and writers. The Standards emphasize using evidence to support their inferences, to read groups of complex texts and synthesize the ideas and claims of other authors to form their own. They learn how to think, solve, and create…I’ve been blown away by the development in their analytical skills as they engage in complex conversations with their peers. Students in this generation support their ideas with evidence, collaborate, and respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives.”(more)

Why International Students Benefit from Going to College in America

Forbes – Daniel R. Porterfield

““Education is all a matter of building bridges,” said the novelist Ralph Ellison. As the president of Franklin & Marshall College (F&M), I see such construction happening every day. More than one-third of our current first-year class comes from at least 1,000 miles away—and 14 percent of our entire student body is made up of international students, hailing from 55 countries. Such international reach reflects the increasingly global character of today’s American campuses…philosopher Martha Nussbaum believes we must cultivate in undergraduates capabilities like “the ability to assess historical evidence, to use and think critically about economic principles, to assess accounts of social justice, to speak a foreign language, to appreciate the complexities of the major world religions.” These are characteristic values of American colleges and universities—qualities of education that the international community is increasingly coming to see as essential for our interdependent multicultural world…it also benefits American students to attend colleges with global student bodies. Again and again, U.S.-born students describe the transformational value of learning with and from peers from around the world…Everyone wins when tomorrow’s global leaders spend their formative years learning intensively, sharing cultures, solving problems and building bridges, together.”(more)

Schools Aren’t Teaching Kids to Argue Truth to Power

City Watch – Rachel Burstein

“Why can’t history classes show students why history matters? That’s what I thought as I read through a new framework for teaching K-12 history in the U.S.—California’s History-Social Science Framework. This is supposed to be the new, 21st-century approach. It spans hundreds of pages of minute detail. But the document privileges comprehensiveness over vision. This history framework doesn’t seem to recognize the value of history…To make the necessary changes, we could start with those few state standards that try to say something about the value of history…Any guide to teaching history should …concentrate on what history education can do for students. It teaches them how to make sense of the world around them—so that they might make history of their own.”(more)

The College Debt Crisis Is Real, But Let’s First Talk About Getting Our Kids to College and Graduating

Education Post – Kayla Patrick

“…the growing college debt crisis is a critical issue that should be addressed through policy change, but I also know that the real barriers keeping students from being successful in college begin much earlier than their first day on campus. Schools across the country are inadequately serving many of their students long before they get to college. ACT recently reported that 76 percent of high school graduates were not adequately prepared for first-year college courses…What can be done to enable students to feel better prepared to accomplish their goals? Schools need more rigorous curriculum…”(more)

Celebrating Chinese Culture All Year

School News Network – Morgan Jarema

“Chinese New Year fell on Feb. 8 this year, the lunar year of the monkey. Also called Spring Festival, the holiday is celebrated in a number of Asian countries. The district goes far beyond celebrating Chinese New Year. Forest Hills Public Schools began a Mandarin Chinese Immersion Magnet Program in 2008. Those who started as kindergartners that year are now in seventh grade. “Immersion” means that many subjects besides language are taught in Mandarin Chinese. FHPS also has a Spanish Language Immersion Program. “We recognized the value of foreign language immersion in terms of global markets and our own growing Chinese community, but also in facilitating brain development,” said Northern Trails Principal Sue Gutierrez. “Through an immersion language experience, the students develop a second language center in their brain and with it, a more robust system of wiring that allows the brain to be a critical and creative thinker.””(more)