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Education’s Mr. Fix-it

The Christian Science Monitor – Sarah Garland

“Several students sit around a conference table at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia on a surly winter’s day, the kind that makes even the school’s drafty classrooms seem welcoming. They are there to give their assessment of the school – and they’re not afraid to be blunt. “I like this school, but I kind of don’t,” says Chynah Perry, age 15, a thin girl with straight posture and stylish black-rimmed glasses. “It’s strict. Real strict.” Quaseem Foxwell, a linebacker on the football team, says several of his friends left the school because of the tough rules. Yet he defends the strictures. He says he improved his own behavior after a heart-to-heart with his teachers and administrators.”(more)

‘Kindness Workshop’ criticized for making students vulnerable to bullying

The Christian Science Monitor – Olivia Lowenberg

“A workshop promising to deliver on anti-bullying measures recently had the exact opposite effect at a Pennsylvania middle school, parents say. In the so-called Kindness Workshop, students at the West Allegheny Middle School in Imperial, Pa., were asked highly personal questions about themselves and their families that parents say exposed them to ridicule from their classmates. The questions varied, but included asking the students about their religious backgrounds and their family finances. The program was intended to promote empathy among students, a goal set by many schools across the United States as faculty and students strive to reduce bullying both on and off campus. The dispute over the Kindness Workshop highlights one of the key challenges of any anti-bullying program: getting kids to buy in.”(more)

Fight Crime leader: Early education is the key

The Daily Item – Staff Writer

“Quality early-education programs are key in keeping crime rates down, said Bruce Clash, Pennsylvania’s director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Children who are not provided early education programs are five times more likely to be law-breakers by age 27, Clash told a group of about 60 area educators, law enforcement and municipal leaders attending the fourth annual Snyder County Coalition for Kids conference Thursday in the Degenstein Center.”(more)

Exposure to STEM fields early helps girls, minorities see potential

The GazetteXtra – Ann Belser

“When Clinique Brundidge was growing up, she didn’t need to be introduced to the fields of engineering and math. She was born into them. Brundidge’s father was an engineer at the General Motors Institute, so she grew up visiting the GM plant in Detroit. At the University of Michigan, she studied materials science for her bachelor’s degree and later earned a doctorate in the same field. These days there’s an increased focus on getting more students comfortable in the so-called STEM fields—the acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Research has shown that students in the U.S. are falling behind their peers in those subjects at the same time that there are job opportunities in those fields.”(more)

How one school district works computational thinking into every grade and class

The Hechinger Report – Chris Berdik

“Diagrams of simple machines — a pulley, an inclined plane, a lever — appeared on the massive whiteboard of a school STEAM lab (STEM subjects plus Art) in South Fayette, a fast-growing suburb of Pittsburgh. Two dozen fifth graders, split into teams of four, busily sketched designs for “Rube Goldberg machines” that would turn on and off lights or feed the lab’s pet fish. No single child designed a complete machine. Instead, each team member spent a few minutes sketching out how one part — a marble run, say, or a Lego Robotics kicking foot — would operate within the machine. Then they switched papers and the next person added onto the design with another part. There are two other STEAM labs in this school for third, fourth and fifth graders, which South Fayette opened in 2013. They’re in the center of each floor, with regular classrooms on either side, a layout that reflects a philosophy transforming the entire district. In the past five years, South Fayette has leveraged grant funding, new-school construction and creative scheduling to give nearly 3,000 kids, from kindergarten through 12th grade, dedicated spaces for hands-on projects — coding, 3-D printing, computer-aided design and robotics — as part of their regular curriculum. The STEAM labs, STEAM coordinators and technology education teachers are part of a district-wide embrace of “computational thinking.”.”(more)

Pennsylvania’s Wolf Signs Anti-Cyberbullying Legislation

Education News – Jordan E. Wassell

“Sticks and stones may break bones, but words may cost you a $2,500 fine. In an attempt to curb cyber-bullying, the state of Pennsylvania has made cyber-harassment of a child a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine and possible jail time. While bullying is nothing new, technology has made it easier for kids to be inundated with harassment thanks to cellphones and social media. No longer can students feel relief after leaving the school yard, as kids can be harassed on a constant basis — and it get much worse after they leave school…”(more)