Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
An anti-bullying curriculum that was tested at three elementary and middle schools in Illinois has shown promising results, including reported improvements in key areas including respect, positive communication and social behaviors, awareness and understanding of bullying, school climate, and self-esteem. More from ScienceDaily.com:
“It’s just as important to teach empathy to students as it is to teach them science,” says Jennifer E. Beebe, assistant professor of counseling and human services at Canisius College. “We can increase consciousness of positive behaviors by incorporating those ideals into the educational system. Many students may not learn them otherwise.”
Beebe completed a study which involved disrespect, bullying behaviors and physical aggression with 300 elementary and middle school students in three schools in Illinois. The behaviors were negatively impacting students’ academic achievement and school attendance. In many cases, these behaviors crossed over into the cyber world. Beebe’s research was sponsored by a grant from The Canisius College School of Education and Human Services.
Students learned several tenets from martial arts during a 12-week long mentoring program which was integrated into students’ regular classroom lessons for approximately one hour. “Students were taught such concepts as loyalty, obedience and respect.” Beebe adds.
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Friday, January 10th, 2014
“Zero tolerance” policies in schools, while well-intentioned, are often ineffective and overly zealous, and they create a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects minority students, the Obama administration said this week in a set of new guidelines. The guidelines urge schools to abandon “zero tolerance” policies in favor of alternate methods of deescalating classroom conflicts before they become violent and dangerous. More from PBS.org:
The wide-ranging series of guidelines issued Wednesday in essence tells schools that they must adhere to the principle of fairness and equity in student discipline or face strong action if they don’t. The American Civil Liberties Union called the recommendations “ground-breaking.”
“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Holder said the problem often stems from well intentioned “zero-tolerance” policies that too often inject the criminal justice system into the resolution of problems. Zero-tolerance policies, a tool that became popular in the 1990s, often spell out uniform and swift punishment for offenses such as truancy, smoking or carrying a weapon. Violators can lose classroom time or become saddled with a criminal record.
Police have become a more common presence in American schools since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
The administration said research suggests the racial disparities in how students are disciplined are not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color.
“In our investigations, we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students,” the Justice and Education departments said in a letter to school districts. “In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.”
Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association, acknowledged that students of color were being suspended and expelled in disproportionate numbers.
In American schools, black students without disabilities were more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended, according to government civil rights data collection from 2011-2012. Although black students made up 15 percent of students in the data collection, they made up more than a third of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and more than a third of students expelled.
More than half of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black, according to the data.
Domenech said his organization will work to educate members about the recommendations. “Superintendents recognize that out-of-school suspension is outdated and not in line with 21st-century education,” he said.
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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
The long-held belief that early exposure to music helps a child perform better in learning tasks like math, reading, and concentration is under scrutiny by a pair of new studies. The New York Times has more:
In one trial, 15 4-year-olds accompanied by their parents attended six weekly 45-minute classes on musical arts and a matched group of 14 attended classes on visual arts.
In a second test, 23 4-year-olds and their parents were assigned to music classes, and 22 to no classes at all. Children living with professional musicians and those already taking music lessons were excluded, and there were no significant differences between the groups in age, family income, ethnicity, parents’ level of education and other factors. The results were published in PLOS One.
Researchers tested the children after the classes were completed for skills in spatial, linguistic and numerical reasoning, but found no differences between the groups.
The authors acknowledge that they used only one music curriculum, and that a trial with a different kind or intensity of training might produce different results.
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Friday, December 13th, 2013
A growing number of wealthy families are paying tutors exorbitant fees–sometimes upwards of $1,000 an hour–in hopes of helping their children achieve academic excellence while maintaining lavish lifestyles that often include homes in multiple countries. More from NBC News:
While much of the American education system is struggling with tight budgets, overcrowded classrooms and low teacher pay, the tutor economy is booming.
More of the world’s millionaires and billionaires are seeking at-home teachers to give their children a leg up in the increasingly competitive and important education race. And, as the number of rich people grows around the world—and as more of them split their time between multiple homes in different countries—they are creating their own mobile, ultra-private schools in their homes.
Tutors International, a London-based tutor agency that hires and places many tutors in the U.S., said its business this year will nearly double over last year.
The typical salary for a full-time tutor today has jumped to between $70,000 and $120,000 depending on the requirements. But Tutors International has placed one tutor who is making $400,000 a year and another who was paid $80,000 for just 16 weeks of work.
Along with their pay, most tutors also usually get free housing, cars or drivers, paid travel and meals, and occasionally even a private chef and personal assistant.
“For these families, they look at the costs of just fueling their jet or buying a new sports car, and spending $100,000 or more for a tutor is not a great expense,” said Adam Caller, the founder of Tutors International and a former tutor and teacher himself. “They know education is important.”
Caller said his clients fall into three basic categories. First, there are rich families who want to supplement their children’s schooling with added subjects and help them with homework. Second, there are families who have children with special needs, where home schooling is more effective.
Many of his clients, however, fall into the third category: rich families that travel between multiple homes around the world and don’t want to be tied to one location because of their children’s school. Some of these families are also so rich and famous that their children would be mobbed at a regular school.
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Friday, December 6th, 2013
The school lunch “hour” is a misnomer at schools across the country, many of which give students as little as 15 minutes to eat lunch. NPR reports:
At many public schools today, kids are lucky to get more than 15 minutes to eat. Some get even less time.
And parents and administrators are concerned that a lack of time to eat is unhealthful, especially given that about one-third of American kids are overweight or obese.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that students get at least 20 minutes for lunch. But that means 20 minutes to actually sit down and eat — excluding time waiting in line or walking from class to cafeteria.
At Oakland High [in California], over 80 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. And officially, students get about 40 minutes for the meal. But Jennifer LeBarre, Oakland Unified School District’s nutrition services director, admits that the actual table time is far shorter. At times it’s just 10 minutes.
“I think it’s a legitimate complaint that there’s not enough time to eat,” LeBarre says. “If we are being asked to eat our lunch in 10 minutes, that’s not enough for us. So I really think we need to really work more for the 20-minute table time.”
Oakland High is hardly alone. In a wide-ranging by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 20 percent of parents of students from kindergarten through fifth grade surveyed said their child only gets 15 minutes or less to eat.
Ironically, relatively new federal school-nutrition guideline changes may be making the situation worse. Under federal rules, schools have to increase the availability and consumption of fruits and vegetables — among other changes. It’s part of an effort to improve nutrition and combat childhood obesity.
But eating more healthful foods can take more time, LeBarre says. “It’s going to take longer to eat a salad than it will to eat french fries.”
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