Renascence School Education News - private school

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Parent Involvement in Schools Matters: A Teacher’s Perspective

The Huffington Post – Bonnie Lathram

“Fortunately for this student, his dad was a big part of his life. His dad was at the school frequently. He emailed me, texted me, and set up meetings to check on his son’s progress. Not only was his dad an active part of his son’s life, he also mentored other students. The father owned his own construction company, a field that interested many of other students. This student’s father agreed to be a mentor and take on other high school interns for his construction business. This student’s father modeled that education is not just the responsibility of the parents and the teachers. Education is everyone’s business. (It’s also the title of a book by Dr. Dennis Littky, who co-founded Big Picture Learning where I worked as a school design coach). In my eight years as a high school teacher and counselor, I attended countless meetings where parents were involved. I had the phone numbers of all my students’ parents (and grandparents, step-parents, guardians, and siblings) in my phone.”(more)

How One Superintendent Is Improving Her Community By Improving Her Schools

The Huffington Post – Rebecca Klein

“In just three years, Tiffany Anderson has helped turn around one of lowest performing school districts in Missouri. In 2010, failing test scores and low attendance rates put Jennings School District on the verge of losing its accreditation and at risk for being taken over by the state. Then, in 2012, Anderson took over as superintendent. Now, test scores are up, parents are more involved and schools are offering a host of programs designed to serve the local community and motivate students. This week Education Week named Anderson one of the nation’s 16 most innovative district leaders in its 2015 Leaders To Learn From report. Members of the education journal’s editorial staff decided who would make the list based on nominations from readers, state administrators, fellow journalists and education policy experts.”(more)

Call for schools to have a more active role in teaching character and morality

The Guardian – Richard Adams

“School-age children who attend church, do charity work or sing in choirs are likely to display more sophisticated moral judgments than their peers who play sport, according to a large-scale national survey conducted by Birmingham University. The survey of 10,000 pupils aged 14 and 15 in secondary schools across the UK found that more than half failed to identify what researchers described as good judgments when responding to a series of moral dilemmas, leading researchers to call for schools to have a more active role in teaching character and morality. “A good grasp of moral virtues, such as kindness, honesty and courage can help children to flourish as human beings, and can also lead to improvements in the classroom. And that level of understanding doesn’t just happen – it needs to be nurtured and encouraged,” said Prof James Arthur, director of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, which conducted the research.”(more)

Teaching is a natural human ability that starts developing in childhood, author says

The Seattle Times – John Higgins

“Scientists have a well-developed picture of how learning works in the brain, which was summarized in the seminal 1999 publication “How People Learn” by the National Research Council. But when Vanessa Rodriguez, a former New York City middle school humanities teacher, tried to find similar studies about how teaching works in the brain, she found almost nothing. In her new book, “The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education,” Rodriguez and co-author Michelle Fitzpatrick, chart a path toward understanding teaching in all kinds of daily situations, not just in classrooms. They argue that teaching is more than a job, it’s an evolved human ability that emerges early in childhood — just watch kids huddled over a smart phone teaching each other how to play the latest video game.”(more)

As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out

The New York Times – Elizabeth A. Harris

“On Monday morning, a few hundred students will file into classrooms at Bloomfield Middle School, open laptops and begin a new standardized test, one mandated across New Jersey and several other states for the first time this year. About a dozen of their classmates, however, will be elsewhere. They will sit in a nearby art room, where they will read books, do a little drawing and maybe paint. What they will not do is take the test, because they and their parents have flatly refused. A new wave of standardized exams, designed to assess whether students are learning in step with the Common Core standards, is sweeping the country, arriving in classrooms and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety. Almost every state has an “opt out” movement. While its true size is hard to gauge, the protests on Facebook, at school board meetings and in more creative venues — including screenings of anti-testing documentaries — have caught the attention of education officials.”(more)

Teaching The Holocaust: New Approaches For A New Generation

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“Writer and philosopher Hannah Arendt once wrote that, with the German genocide of European Jews, human history “has known no story more difficult to tell.” And there may be no topic more difficult to teach. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. And the question of the most effective way to educate the next generation about the Holocaust has grown more acute as there are fewer and fewer living survivors. When they die, they take with them stories only they can tell. One nonprofit institute, Centropa, is taking a unique teaching approach. Working across international borders, the group is helping teachers collaborate on unleashing the pedagogic power of personal family stories.”(more)

Folsom student campaign helps middle schoolers navigate adolescence

The Sacramento Bee – Loretta Kalb

“In a classroom at Vista del Lago High School, junior Lucy Brancoli balanced her long frame on a stool in front of a digital camera and delivered a dose of moral support to Folsom Middle School students. Her theme: Stand up for others. “An upstander is someone who, when they see something that isn’t right or see someone who needs help, they’re always there,” Brancoli said for the camera. “They are going to step out of their comfort zone to help that person.” Brancoli, 16, is part of a growing campaign to lend social support and perspective to middle school students who, as adolescents, are navigating tough terrain. It’s the shift from elementary to higher grades. From playground to social ground. From childhood to adulthood. The catalyst for the effort came Dec. 3 when Folsom resident Ronin Shimizu, 12, committed suicide. Ronin had enrolled in sixth grade at Folsom Middle School in August 2013, but months later he began a district-supported home-schooling program after his parents complained about bullying.”(more)

America’s High-Risk, High-Reward Higher Education System

Forbes – Andrew Kelly

“Last month, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) added to a familiar refrain, releasing a new report on how American Millennials lag behind their peers in other countries on measures of literacy, numeracy, and “problem-solving in technology rich environments.” Using data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), the authors showed that American Millennials ranked at the bottom in both numeracy and problem-solving. Fully 64 percent of Americans scored below the lowest proficiency rating on the numeracy exam, compared to about 1/3 of Millennials in places like Finland, the Netherlands, and Japan. The picture wasn’t much brighter among young workers with bachelors and graduate degrees. On the numeracy exam, American BA holders outscored their peers in only two countries—Italy and Poland. Those with grad degrees outscored counterparts in Italy, Poland, and Spain.”(more)

Memo to Teachers’ Unions: Now Might Be a Good Time to Start Panicking

Education Next – Joshua Dunn

“In “Collective Panic,” Martha Derthick and I argued that teachers’ unions dodged a major blow in Harris v. Quinn (2014) but that they should hold off on popping the champagne. The court’s decision in Quinn indicated that a prized precedent, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), might soon be overturned. Under Abood, public sector unions could collect “agency fees” from nonmembers, but those funds could not be used for ideological or political purposes. The logic of Abood was that unless public sector unions could collect those funds by compulsion, nonmembers would “free ride” on the collective bargaining efforts of the unions. Some have always questioned this logic. It’s not free riding if you never wanted the ride. It’s more like being clubbed in the head, tied up, and thrown in the trunk. Regardless, without the ability to punish these potential free riders, union membership would collapse. As Daniel DiSalvo has noted, “In nearly every state that permits agency fees, more than 90 percent of teachers belong to unions. In states that don’t allow agency fees, only 68 percent of teachers are unionized.” Since agency fees cost nearly as much as a full union membership, individuals see little reason not to join the union. Losing Abood would be a “crippling blow” for public sector unions.”(more)

How Can Schools Address America’s Marriage Crisis?

Education Next – Michael J. Petrilli

“This may seem like a ridiculous question. How can schools possibly persuade more adults to marry? And not have children out of wedlock? Fifty years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan himself decided it was inadvisable to offer solutions to problems afflicting the “Negro family.” Since then, our familial challenges have only grown deeper and wider, with 4 in 10 American babies now born to unwed mothers, including a majority of all children born to women in their 20s, and almost one-third of white babies. There are no obvious or easy prescriptions for reversing these trends. And why put this on the schools? One could argue that reducing teenage pregnancy is a reasonable job for our education system—and that if we could encourage girls to wait until they were in their 20s, and educated, to have babies, they might also wait for marriage. Well, teenage pregnancy rates are down 50 percent from their peak in 1990. High-school graduation rates are up, from 65 percent in the early 1990s to 80 percent today. Yet out-of-wedlock birth rates are as high as ever—we merely pushed early childbearing from the late teens to the early 20s. Now, the young adults who are having babies before marriage haven’t had any contact with the K–12 system for two years or more. Yet for educators and education policymakers to ignore the issue of marriage seems irresponsible. We tell ourselves that one of the great purposes of education reform is to lift poor children out of poverty. Today’s main strategy is to prepare many more low-income youngsters for college. According to the Pew Economic Mobility Project, 90 percent of low-income children who attain a four-year college degree escape the lowest income quintile as adults, versus just 53 percent of the non–degree holders. Put another way, individuals who grow up in low-income families are almost five times as likely to become low-income adults if they fail to complete a four-year college degree.”(more)