Controversy continues over the adoption of new schoolbooks in Texas, as environmental lobbyists fight to have sound science concerning global warming removed from the curriculum. With the ability to influence millions of schoolchildren regarding climate change, environmental alarmists are trying to ensure their message is the only one heard.
Only one week after Election Day, Washington, DC’s focus has shifted from furious campaigning to National Education Week and the Thought Leader Summit (held from Nov. 10–13), “a gathering of the leaders from education, business, and government who define and shape trends in public and private education.”
Education, business, and government leaders are gathering this week in Washington, DC to discuss the future of American education at the Thought Leader Summit (held from Nov. 10–13), an event held as a part of the National Education Initiative. Among the many topics that will be discussed is the advancement of online education, a technological gift that could save conservatism in America.
The ongoing struggle between parents and the Missouri government over the state’s school transfer law is another example of politics and bureaucracy winning out over parents, children, and their futures.
Homeschooling seems to be an easy target for critics of school choice. It always has been. With homeschoolers being by definition outside the education establishment, some people attach a stigma to their choice, suggesting homeschooled children and their families must be somewhat weird. Recent claims about Adam Lanza, alleged perpetrator of the Newtown massacre, are just the latest and perhaps most egregious example.
It’s been a rough year for the Common Core standards. As parents, teachers, officials, and politicians learn more about the standards, more and more states are considering ways to get out of Common Core. The standards in math and reading were allegedly designed to make students career- and college-ready. Now that the public is able to see them, the standards have proven not to be what was promised. People are fighting back.
The 2010 introduction of Common Core, a set of requirements for what elementary and secondary school children should know in math and English language arts, has turned schools in one state after another into battlefields as its complexity and other factors led to protests against it. Even so, by mid-2014, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that very nearly half of those asked about it hadn’t even heard of it. A number of states, such as Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have withdrawn from it.
To ensure the quality of the education provided to students, the Texas State Board of Education has begun the process of updating its textbooks to reflect the latest information and advancements in history and science, because part of giving kids the best education possible means giving them access to the best resources available.
Behavioral psychologists and economists have considered incentives to be a normal part of human nature for decades, if not centuries, but applying them to education still stokes controversy. For example, some people recoil at the idea of paying kids and their teachers for high scores on Advanced Placement tests that get students college credit in high school, as some schools in Northern Virginia are doing,
The time is right to refocus school reform on practical objectives that can be achieved in local communities. Fortunately, a new online tool can empower parents and local school boards to work in unison toward an important common goal: ensuring third-graders have learned to read.
Writing in Canon and Culture, Prof. Colin Garbarino of Houston Baptist University poses an interesting and accurate critique of the common notion that the nation’s colleges and universities indoctrinate a generally conservative or at least politically and culturally neutral incoming student population into advanced progressive leftism and political correctness. They do impose such an agenda, he notes, but the overwhelming majority of students they are indoctrinating have already heard and adopted its fundamental premises upon arrival.
Well-designed and carefully implemented reward systems can improve student achievement in elementary schools. While young children are often intrinsically motivated, they benefit when their accomplishments, however small, are pointed out by parents and teachers and appropriately rewarded.
By exercising even a little of the critical thinking the pushers of these national standards claim to want mandated in all classrooms, consumers can learn a big, valuable lesson about polling that seeks to shape public opinion rather than honestly gauge it.
Most experts recognize that reward systems are especially valuable at the earliest ages to help students attain the habit of deferring gratification. Failure to develop this habit can handicap learners for the rest of their lives.
When a friend of mine was young, his family kept their dog close to home with one of those invisible fences. It delivered a mild shock to the dog’s collar when he crossed its line. One day, the fence posts shorted out. But the dog still refused to cross the shock-less border. There was nothing keeping him fenced in but his mind.
In their new book, Rewards: How to use rewards to help children learn – and why teachers don’t use them well, Herbert Walberg and Joseph Bast point out, “research makes clear that reward systems can significantly raise academic achievement levels … for adolescents.”
According to data collected by the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, American students continue to slide down the international rankings, failing to break the top 20 best-performing countries as of 2012. U.S. students rank below average in math and near average in reading and science. PISA is just one assessment, but it reflects a clear trend: U.S. students are not achieving what they need to achieve in an increasingly competitive global economy.