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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a small round table for editors in Washington D.C. Monday, and I was among those in attendance. Duncan invited us to discuss what he and President Obama hope will be their biggest legacy in the area of education: the vast expansion of public preschool availability for America’s children. In particular, the proposed initiative is designed to reach underprivileged kids who have no other quality early-education option. “The average child from a disadvantaged community enters school 12 to 18 months behind,” says Duncan, who adds that the U.S ranks 25 out of 29 industrialized nations in offering quality public preschool. Only 28 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded programs. And, sadly, the trend appears to be headed in the wrong direction. According to a study released yesterday by the National Institute for Early Education Research, state funding for pre-K fell by more than $500 million dollars last year, the largest one-year drop ever. Funding has fallen more than 20 percent during the past decade.
To change that, Duncan is proposing a $75 billion plan over the next decade to support states that expand their preschool offerings, at first to those that live near the poverty line but also, eventually, to middle-income families as well. The Administration has proposed funding the program with a 94-cent tax on tobacco products, in part because he cites projections that the added tariff will prevent nearly 250,000 kids from developing a smoking habit during that time.
At a time when Washington is mired in legislative gridlock, the preschool plan seems ambitious at the least. But Duncan believes it is essential to help our nation make up ground with other countries so that our kids are well-prepared for school and ready to succeed in an ever-more-competitive global economy. Duncan cites surveys showing that for every dollar that goes into preschool and early-childhood education, there’s a 7-to-1 return in the future payoff. “It’s the best bang for an educational buck,” he says. Children who attend quality preschool enter kindergarten with better prereading and social skills, stronger vocabularies and math knowledge, and a greater chance of graduating from high school and becoming productive members of the work force later on. That’s why the Federal government would pay states up to 90 percent of the preschool expansion costs at first (though that figure would diminish over time). In return, the program would require that the pre-K programs be high-quality and, ideally, full-day, taught by certified teachers and with an instructor-to-student ratio of 10 to 1 or less. Can Duncan and the Administration rally Congress to allocate the money and convince states to play ball? Duncan concedes it’s a challenge. But as he and other supporters are quick to point out, this is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It is an American issue.
What do you think—would you support a tobacco tax to be used to expand quality public pre-K programs?
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Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Infant mortality rate in US drops again
The infant mortality rate in the United States declined again in recent years after reaching a plateau in the early part of this century, according to a new government report. (via Fox News)
Texas School Evacuated As Precaution After February Planned Burn At Plant
A school near the Texas fertilizer plant that was leveled by an explosion says it wasn’t warned about a controlled fire at the plant in February and evacuated its students to another school as a precaution. (via Huffington Post)
Harms of Harsh Discipline Are Softened by a Loving Mother
A new study published in the journal Parenting: Science and Practice suggests that painful effects of harsh discipline can be moderated by the child’s feelings of being loved by their mother. (via Science Daily)
Warstler Elementary School In Ohio Shuts Down Mindfulness Program Due To Parent Complaints
Recent research may tout the benefits of mindfulness programs in schools — including improved test scores and decreased stress — but some parents aren’t convinced. (via Huffington Post)
Chicago Teachers Union Political Activity Hones In On Ousting Rahm And Shaking Up School Board
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The Chicago Teachers Union has said Mayor Rahm Emanuel is destroying their jobs in the wake of a massive proposed closing, so now the union is gunning for his. (via Huffington Post)
Monday, March 4th, 2013
Starting a college savings fund is one of the most important things parents can do for a child, but it can also be one of the most difficult—especially for the many who live paycheck to paycheck. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) and Congressman Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin) are trying to make it a little easier.
They recently introduced legislation that would make 529 college-savings plan contributions eligible for a SAVERs tax credit of up to $1,000 for individual filers and $2,000 for those filing jointly. The bill, known as H.R. 529, would also allow companies to match up to $600 annually of their employees’ college-savings contributions tax-free.
“A 529 plan is a powerful tool for helping families cope with the rising cost of college. The improvements in this bill will help put a college degree within reach of more children,” says Hon. Michael L. Fitzgerald, chair of The College Savings Plans Network.
H.R. 529 was assigned last month to a Congressional committee, which will consider it before possibly sending it to the House or Senate for debate. You can show your support for the bill by contacting Eric Schmitz in Rep. Jenkins’s office at email@example.com or by phone at (202) 225-6601. You can also track its progress on govtracks.us.
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Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
Boy Suspended For Making Gun Gesture With Hand, Saying ‘Pow’ At Maryland School
A 6-year-old boy was suspended from his Maryland elementary school last month for making a gun gesture with his hand, aiming his fingers at a classmate and saying, “Pow.” Now, his family is fighting the one-day suspension with the help of legal counsel. (via Huffington Post)
Sandy Hook Children Head to School for First Time Since Attack
Twenty days after the massacre that left 20 first graders and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, classes resumed on Thursday for the more than 400 students who lived through the harrowing assault. (via Reuters)
Child Support Claim Rankles Sperm Donor to Lesbian Couple
A Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple so they could have a child said on Wednesday he is shocked the state is now trying to make him pay child support. (Reuters)
Are Recession Babies Prone to Riskier Behaviors?
A new analysis of data on U.S. teens born during the early 1980s ties slightly higher rates of adolescent smoking, drinking, arrests and thefts to macroeconomic conditions during the first year of life. (via Fox News)
Viral Pranking Mom: Teaching Kids Humor is Important
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When a South Dakota mom tricked her 8-year-old son into believing he accidentally purchased a $50,000 car on eBay, she couldn’t resist filming the prank. And then, like so many before her, she posted it online. (via Today)
Behavior, child support, gun safety, guns, mom humor, Noelia de la Cruz, Parents Daily News Roundup, recession babies, sandy hook, school, sperm donor | Categories:
Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
One of the things that makes the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary even more horrifying to me is that the school seems to have done everything right—the building was locked and had a camera surveillance system, the teachers were well-trained in emergency procedures—but it still didn’t prevent Adam Lanza from getting in and killing 26 people.
Safety experts like Trevor Pyle, who has worked with many top disaster and emergency service agencies, stress that the tragedy could have been much worse. “The teachers and staff did the right thing, and their actions saved countless lives,” he told me in an interview.
There are certain behaviors that could make it more likely for you (and your child) to make it out of a situation like that alive—like six-year-old Aidan Licata and his friends, who ran when the opportunity presented itself, or one little girl, the only survivor from her classroom, who played dead. Here’s what Pyle suggests:
• Tell them to listen to their teachers and school staff members. They receive extensive training on what to do and how to take care of the children. So tell them to recognize when the teacher is serious, and follow directions.
• Make sure that they pay attention during the drills, and know what to do when they are told to evacuate.
• Tell them to tell an adult if something appears to be “weird,” and that they aren’t going to get in trouble if they are wrong. Better to be safe than sorry. If they see something, make sure they say something.
• Always know where at least two exits are. If you can, escape. If you can’t, hide. If you have to, fight with everything you have.
• If you can run, bring everyone you can with you. Get out of the building, and don’t stop until you find cover. Warn other people away from the building and call 911. Report your location. When cops arrive, keep your hands clear and don’t approach them. They aren’t there to rescue you, they are there to stop the shooter.
• If you have to hide, close and lock the door, turn out the lights, and mute your cell phone. Don’t move until the cops arrive.
• If you have to fight, improvise a weapon and attack. Target the shooter’s head, and torso. Do not hesitate, and don’t stop until he is down.
Hopefully, this is the kind of information you won’t ever have to use—but it may just save your life.
For more information and resources regarding the Sandy Hook Tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
Photo: © Vividz Foto/Shutterstock.com
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Thursday, November 8th, 2012
After Car Booster Seat Laws, Child Deaths Fell
U.S. states with laws requiring kids to ride in car booster seats have had fewer child deaths in accidents, especially among 6- and 7-year-olds, researchers reported Monday. (via Fox News)
Election Shows Voters Divided Over Education
Voters delivered mixed verdicts on a raft of education-related ballot questions, highlighting the deep divide across the country over how to run public schools. (via Wall Street Journal)
Students to Wear Tracking Devices in New Flu Study
About 450 southwestern Pennsylvania school students will be wearing electronic devices that will track how often they come in contact with one another at school — and on their day off during Election Day — to help researchers track how the flu may be spread among them. (via Fox News)
Majority of Pregnant Women Require an Average of Two Months Sick Leave from Work, Studies Suggest
Three quarters of pregnant women take sick leave from work but employers can help reduce this through flexible work adjustments, a new study suggests. (via ScienceDaily)
MRI and EEG Could Identify Children at Risk for Epilepsy After Febrile Seizures
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A new study reveals that within days of a prolonged fever-related seizure, some children have signs of acute brain injury, abnormal brain anatomy, altered brain activity, or a combination. (via ScienceDaily)
Monday, November 5th, 2012
Modest Results in Program to Reduce Kids’ Screen Time
A program aimed at reducing the number of hours young children spent in front of a screen didn’t accomplish that goal, but it did cut back on the meals they ate in front of a television, a new study found. (via Reuters)
Federal Appeals Court to Consider Arizona’s 20-Week Abortion Ban that is Earliest in Nation
A federal judge has upheld Arizona’s earliest-in the-nation ban of most abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, but it now faces appellate court scrutiny. (via Washington Post)
ADHD Drugs Do Not Raise Heart Risk In Children
Children who take Adderall, Ritalin, and other central nervous system stimulants, do not have a higher chance of developing serious heart conditions, according to a recent study. (via Medical News Today)
Migraines May Hurt Kids’ Grades Too
Migraines may harm children’s school performance, a new study finds. (HealthDay News)
Magnetic Buckyballs Toys Discontinued
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The popular Buckyballs and Buckycubes magnetic desk toys will be discontinued after children suffered multiple surgeries and hospitalizations from swallowing the toy. (via CNN)
abortion, ADHD, Buckyballs, Buckycubes, Grades, migraines, Noelia de la Cruz, Parents Daily News Roundup, school, toys, TV | Categories:
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Andrew Geant, co-founder and CEO of WyzAnt.com, a site which helps parents find tutors for their children quickly and easily. WyzAnt.com currently has 60,000 tutors covering all 50 states.
Your kids may be back in school, but class size or struggles with basic concepts may mean they need extra one-on-one help. Finding the right tutor, one who you can trust and who your child can connect with, can be a time-consuming and expensive process. How then do you find the right tutors? Here are the five things to consider when looking for a tutor.
1. Find a tutor that caters to your child’s specific learning style.
Each student has unique needs when it comes to their learning process, and tutors who are successful with one student may not be as successful with another. First, ask the school counselor to help determine whether your child is an auditory, kinesthetic, or visual learner. Share this information with the tutor and discuss whether or not their teaching style and approach to lessons will be a good fit.
2. Request tutor credentials and client references.
Depending on the topic, it is important to understand your tutor’s mastery of the subject. Obtained degrees and studied coursework can help you understand the tutor’s capability, but objective anecdotes and recommendations from past clients can be even more valuable.
3. Think safety.
When working with a private tutor it is important to establish a safe, comfortable environment that promotes learning. Do not hesitate to perform a basic background check on a tutor you are considering. Some parents also choose to meet candidates in a neutral location such as a public library or coffee shop before inviting them to the home.
4. Require feedback and open communication.
Establishing a productive relationship between a tutor and student is an important process that may take time. Consistent communication among the parents, student, and tutor will facilitate this process and benefit the student. By providing feedback after each lesson, parents and students will have a documented history of the topics covered during the course of tutoring sessions. Consistent communication is also important to avoid misunderstandings that can damage the relationship, such as questions about billing or policies related to canceled lessons.
5. Set goals to gauge the impact of tutoring.
No two students are alike. A student’s initial understanding of a subject before lessons, in addition to her motivation to work hard and learn the subject, will impact the success of the tutoring relationship. Establishing healthy, realistic goals (classroom performance or general understanding and comprehension) before beginning lessons can generate motivation and help all parties appreciate the impact and value of the tutoring lessons.
Image: Cute schoolgirl writing a while via Shutterstock
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