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Borsuk: Character counts — and these 6 schools prove it

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel – Alan J. Borsuk

“I like character education for two simple reasons: One is that there are so many schools where the atmosphere created by the way people treat each other impedes education. This goes not only for how kids act but for how adults in the school sometimes treat kids — and other adults. (I’ve witnessed these things.) So much class time in so many schools is taken up with behavior problems. More broadly, a positive school culture leads to more positive outcomes. The other is that I am convinced the well-designed efforts around character and conduct can make differences. It is possible to create a more positive atmosphere in a school. Intentional efforts around character education can be a part of that. South Milwaukee offers strong evidence of two of the most important traits of a successful character program: persistence and pervasiveness.”(more)

Borsuk: Mental health issues becoming pervasive for schools

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel – Alan J. Borsuk

“There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of precise numbers, but experts in the field say there has been an increase nationwide in mental health needs of kids. Possibly, a factor may be that we’re paying more attention and doing more about problems. The statement is frequently made that one in five school-age children have mental health issues that go beyond normal, and 80% do not get professional help. The state Department of Public Instruction recently cited estimates that 95,200 of Wisconsin’s 1.4 million children had “serious mental health needs.” That’s a 7% rate. As with other social issues, some people would ask why mental health problems are something a school needs to deal with. Isn’t this for parents and professionals?.”(more)

Borsuk: What does it really mean to ‘never, never give up on students?’

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel – Alan J. Borsuk

“Two weeks ago in this column, I quoted Marc Tucker, who leads the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington-based nonprofit, saying that in a talk in Madison. On its face, it’s not controversial. Who’s in favor of giving up on kids? But what does it mean to give up or not give up? That’s a provocative matter, particularly in a city where the needle has moved so little in improving deeply distressing overall outcomes for students. (Let one fact represent the problem: Fewer than 20% of students in both Milwaukee Public Schools and the private school voucher program were rated as proficient or advanced in reading and math in tests given a year ago.) Some teachers took Tucker’s remarks as criticism of their own efforts.”(more)

Borsuk: Too many students unprepared for college

USA Today – Alan J. Borsuk

“About a dozen years ago, Willie Jude, a longtime Milwaukee Public Schools administrator who was principal of Custer High School at the time, told me that many Custer grads who went on to higher education (and there weren’t that many) realized quickly they were way behind many other students when it came to academic preparation. That’s because those other kids were learning the B and C parts of the book when you were learning the A part, Jude said he told them. In other words, a lot of freshmen hit college with a high school diploma that says they are more likely to succeed than students with other diplomas. The difference breaks strongly along lines of income and race.”(more)

Borsuk: Looming teacher shortage? Yes. Kinda. Probably not

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel – Alan J. Borsuk

“According to a report from the respected RAND Corp. think tank, widespread shortages of qualified teachers loom nationwide unless major changes make teaching an attractive career choice for talented individuals. That report was issued in 1984. A few days ago, the Learning Policy Institute, a non-profit based in Palo Alto, Calif., issued a report, “A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S.” It warned that unless major changes occur, the supply of teachers nationwide will fall substantially short of the number of teachers needed within a few years. An education gadfly and writer named Mike Antonucci drew attention to the similarities in the two reports, including that Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, one of the most prominent figures in American teacher education, was an author of both.”(more)

Borsuk: From tees to polos, student attire sets tone

USA Today – Alan J. Borsuk

“Several years ago, the student council at a private school in the suburbs came up with an April Fool’s prank: They arranged for word to be spread on the day before April 1 that the school was going to require students to wear uniforms in the coming school year, and details would be announced the next day. Students were outraged. Some immediately said they would change schools, some started organizing protests, some called their parents who called the school office. The school quickly moved to put out the fire, with no waiting until the next day. No, there would be no uniforms. Who would have thought that kids cared so much about what they can and can’t, do and don’t, wear to school? Only people who ever went through puberty might have suspected this was the case.”(more)