Explore Ecuador

Monday, October 20, 2014

Johnson: bilingual brains

The Economist – R.L.G.

“The researchers in this line of inquiry tend to share a common hypothesis: that being bilingual is a kind of constant inhibitory mental exercise. With two languages in the mind, nearly everything has two labels (words) and nearly everything can be expressed in two different kinds of sentences (grammar). Every time a thing is named, an alternative must be suppressed.” (more)

How to teach … Halloween crafts

The Guardian – Staff Writer

“Ever used pumpkin carving designs to teach reflective symmetry? Use art to trick your students into an educational treats.” (more)

STEM contests challenge students to make a difference

E-School News – Dennis Pierce

“A growing number of STEM competitions for K-12 students aim to encourage the next generation of young innovators.” (more)

Advisors work to freeze ‘summer melt,’ get students to college

The L.A. Times – Larry Gordon

“Researchers focusing on summer melt estimate that between 10% and 30% of students from some urban high schools who register for colleges wind up not starting fall classes at those campuses. That occurs even though many are headed to low-tuition community colleges.” (more)

Our best hope for education solutions: teachers

The Minneapolis Post – Tom Rademacher

“On Thursday, I gave a speech at the Minnesota Professional Conference to a crowd of teachers working one more extra day to be better for the students who need them most. In that speech, I called on teachers to stand up for their students on the educational issues that matter outside of their rooms.” (more)

Nonfiction Reading Is Getting a Bum Rap and That’s Bad For Kids

The Huffington Post – Patte Barth

“Amidst the general kerfuffling over the national Common Core State Standards, the English language arts portion has been singled out by critics for the supposed offense of emphasizing nonfiction reading. Like a lot of Common Core pushback, the ELA allegations are fraught with misunderstanding and rumor. Nonetheless, the charges have gained traction and are even showing up in some states’ legislative efforts to back out of the Common Core.” (more)

Erin Stewart: What my husband has taught me about parenting

The Deseret News – Erin Stewart

“When I was a new mom, I was often horrified by the way my husband parented our children. He tossed them way too high in the air, fed them the weirdest concoctions like goldfish-and-peanut-butter sandwiches, and never seemed to worry about bedtimes.” (more)

Most Miss. kindergarten students lag, scores show

The Clarion-Ledger – Jeff Amy

“A first-ever look at whether Mississippi’s kindergarten students are ready to learn to read shows that two-thirds are not.” (more)

Medications mistakes common among young children

Reuters – Andrew M. Seaman

“Roughly every eight minutes from 2002 through 2012, a child in the U.S. experienced a medication mistake, according to a new study of calls to poison control hotlines.” (more)

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.