Tag Archives: public schools

Importance of Education

Understanding the importance of education is vital for both parents and students to encourage students to continue to stay in school and decrease the number of high school drop outs each year. There are also many statistics that show the average high school graduate and the college graduate are likely to make incrementally more money per year based on their level of education. While monetary facts do bode well for the importance of education, there are other valuable aspects of a student successfully making their way through school. Students that drop out of school prior to graduation are also more likely to be responsible for financial and social costs to the community and state in which they live. This is because some of those individuals that drop out of school are more likely to get pregnant out of wedlock or get into trouble with the law, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. About seven thousand high school students drop out each school day. The importance of education needs to take on a new direction to help decrease this number.

Because of the dire financial situation throughout the United States, the country can no longer absorb the costs and losses associated with the number of high school drops outs each year. This is why more and more efforts are being taken by the state and federal school systems to help encourage the number of students to stay in school through various efforts to get students educated by placing this heavy importance of education into the hand of each student and teacher. The true importance of education comes into play when high school students that do graduate face what they are going to do with their future. Which decision will they make? Fortunately more and more young adults are choosing to go to some form of college after high school whether it be a trade school or university. There are many educational opportunities for adults of all ages. By cashing in on the importance of education, young adults have a better chance at a brighter future because they will be able to make more money in the long run. While this is not the case for everyone, it does increase the likelihood of success for each student or individual.

Because of decreased spending in public schools and universities, the federal government is having to work on both a federal level as well as with the states individually to make for a change in the school system. Weighing heavily on the importance of education, lawmakers and school administrators are working together to come up with new ways to handle making education better for students while working with less money. The No Child Left Behind Act is currently undergoing major renovations to better help the students in the public school system. The idea is to revamp those requirements and instead help students truly get a a good education to take to college or post-high school educational opportunity. To learn more about the importance of education, be sure to check out the educationbug.org website to learn more about school, educational opportunities and much more.

Sources: whitehouse.gov, all4ed.org

Education Reform

People have very different ideas about what should be going on in our nation’s classroom. But beyond that, they have very different ideas about how to make sure it’s likely to happen. And this looks really different in proposed assessment of teachers’ on-the-job performance.

Here are two examples of strikingly different approaches.

The United Federation of Teachers in New York City contract proposes that after a three-year-long vetting period, teachers receive tenure for life and be paid based on their years on the job. This means that after that period of assessment, they cannot be fired, demoted, or paid less if they are not judged to be doing a satisfactory job.

A new Colorado law proposes to connect teacher evaluations to their students’ achievement test scores as a portion of evidence that shows their students’ progress, which will be 50 percent of their evaluation. Teachers found to be “ineffective” for two years running could potentially lose their jobs.

At least part of the impetus behind the change is the “Race to the Top”—the contest that offers $4.3 billion to states willing to overhaul their public schools if they are willing to enact a package of reforms that includes improved curriculum standards, among other things. But a key point is that more than a fifth of the points each state can earn for its proposal is based on the state’s commitment to get rid of the tenure-for-life approach to teachers’ job security and stop the practice of tying teachers’ compensation only to seniority, without taking account of any performance indicators.

To understand more about what’s taking place in education reform right now, we recommend two articles;

“The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand”

“Colorado education law may mark a national shift”

And for basic background on the elements involved in the reform movement, read our article “Education Reform.”

State Curriculum Standards and the News from Texas

Most people who have taught K–12 school—whether in a public or private school or a homeschool—have run across their state curriculum at one point or another.
And not a few concerned parents have had a look, too. Teachers have to hew to this curriculum, which is usually stated in fairly broad terms, leaving a lot of room for interpretation at the district, school, and classroom level.

For example, in the Vermont State History and Social Sciences Standards, students in PreK–4 are expected to “Recognize voluntary and involuntary migration factors (e.g. drought, famine, economic opportunity, conflicts, slavery).” Compare this to the specificity of Texas mandating that the curriculum reference a singer named Julius Lorenzo Cobb who sang “Old Man River” in Showboat.

Yesterday, Rod Paige, former U.S. Education Secretary, and once a superintendent of schools in Houston, addressed this point, critiquing the proposed standards for being too specific, as well as skewing history.

Others agree with Mr. Paige. Often state curriculum issues stay within the state, but the Texas State curriculum, and the Texas Board of Education who vote on it today, have steadily been in the news for making detailed and what some have called “politicized” changes to the Texas social studies curriculum. That the vote was expected to fall along party lines, speaks to this. So does the Wall Street Journal’s characterization of the new curriculum as conveying that America is characterized by its promotion of “low taxes, limited regulation and free enterprise.”

That the issue may escape the Texas borders and affect textbooks for other states concerns people because of the practice known as textbook adoptions. A number of states, including three with large populations—California, Texas, and Florida—use committees to mandate which textbooks can be used in, and therefore purchased by, public schools in the state. There are some variations in the system, but that’s the basic idea. Therefore, for the textbook publishers to be able to make their largest sales, they adapt the material to suit the state curriculum. However, to save money, the textbook publishers then try to reuse as much material from the specialized versions.

Because of this, people in other states have voiced concern that the voice of the Texas Board of Education will be evident in textbooks offered to other states. It has been pointed out, however, that Texas legislation regarding digital learning materials, may change things somewhat, but that’s not clear.

Until it is, it’s worth paying attention to what’s going on in Texas, both if you live in Texas, and if you don’t.

The Texas Social Studies process is documented here.

If you live in Texas and think that the Board of Education is being too specific and/or skewing history, you might want to get involved in the debate. And no matter where you live, you may want to become better acquainted with your state’s curriculum standards.

Both parents and teachers may also be interested in these resources for teaching social studies:

PBS Teachers Pages—A drop-down menu at the top helps you choose grade level and subject area to access activity packs, television programming, lesson plans, and more.

National History Standards from the National Center for History in the Schools

Strategies for Teaching Social Studies from Delaware Social Studies Education Project

Using Music to Teach Social Studies—song titles list by topic area: click through for free lyrics; there’s a fee to download

And homeschooler may enjoy this article about creating a “HomeSchool Social Studies Curriculum.”

Sources

www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-05-21-textbooks21_ST_N.htm
www.nytimes.com/2010/05/21/education/21textbooks.html?pagewanted=print
online.wsj.com/community/groups/education-challenge-679/topics/do-you-support-texas-board
education.vermont.gov/new/html/pubs/framework.html

Charter Schools in the News

When you see a news article such as “Despite Push, Success at Charter Schools Is Mixed” in the New York Times, it may get you thinking about charter schools. But the way this article is written, you aren’t given the background on what a charter school is until a good part of the way through the article. This is one of the times when you may find Educationbug.org useful.

We have articles on basic types of schools, of which charter schools are one. You can find an article that explains the background of charter schools titled “Public Schools vs. Charter Schools.” The article helps clarify that, although many people may think charter schools are private schools, they are actually a type of public school.

On Educationbug.org, you can also find explanatory articles about other types of school, including public schools, private schools, Christian schools, and homeschools. In any case when you see a news story about an education issue involving a specific type of school and want to get a little background, check out the Education Bug school articles.

Free Homeschooling Curriculum

Which type of homeschool curriculum is right for your student and your family? This is a question that homeschooling families ask themselves every year. And depending on the year, the student and the needs of your family you may need a different type of curriculum each year. The great thing about homeschool is that you can tailor things to meet the needs that you have.

While some people are converted to a “boxed” homeschool curriculum (where a company sends you everything you need for the year in boxes) it is not always possible to afford this for each student. If you have four children and you need curriculum for each you can get charged around $1200 per student/per year for boxed curriculum. This can really add up considering that you will still have to buy some of your own supplies and science project materials.

Free homeschooling curriculum is a viable option for many people. Not only is it extremely flexible but the price is always right. No matter where you live or what your economic needs are this is a solutions for you and your family. It is also nice to know you can supplement any other curriculum for little or no money.

There are so many resources for free homeschool curriculum. Just look around your community, the library, your local schools (public schools and private schools) and if you are just a little creative you can make learning opportunities at every turn.

Shopping for School Clothes and Uniforms

This time of year is when parents do the bulk of clothes shopping for the children to get them ready for school. Whether you have a child in public school, private school, or homeschool them you have choices to make. Your child’s school may require uniforms and they may lesson the arguments about what your child is allowed to where but then you also have to buy uniforms on top of everyday clothing. This can ease some stress and then add some stress and cost to the equation. Either way most parents, teachers and students would agree that clothing is a subject where a lot of peer pressure comes into play.

School uniform requirements are a hot topic that is much debated. We will just provide a brief section for the pros of uniforms and one for the cons of uniforms.

Pros of School Uniforms:

  • Uniforms take the guess work out of setting guidelines of appropriate school attire.
  • The students clearly know what is expected of them, there is no room for interpretation.
  • Students and parents are less worried about fashion trends and can more readily focus on why they are at school.
  • Students appear as equals in every way. This eliminates social classes and cliques. It also keeps any gang related clothing articles out of the school. These things all create a feeling of unity in the school.
  • Students are easily identifiable on field trips.

Cons of School Uniforms:

  • Students lose their freedom of expression in regards to dress and outward appearance on some level due to uniform requirements.
  • Students do not see the real world at school, identifying that we are not all alike or have the same taste but that we can all get along.
  • It may not be right to teach conformity in school as a way to avoid problems with each other.
  • Students are not able to dress for their body type and so may not look their best in school uniforms that may be unflattering. Especially for teens and tweens, this can be hard on their self esteem.
  • Cost – parents may not have the money for new uniforms every time they are needed or when the school changes a uniform requirement. This excludes children which should never happen at school if possible.
  • Not allowing children to wear their own clothing will not prevent gangs, clicks or how students choose to express themselves in other ways. With the expression in how they dress taken away, they may find an alternative way that is not much better.

The debate can go on and on about school uniforms or what is appropriate for school dress codes.

Extracurricular Activities

As we begin a new school year many parents are looking at having one of more children involved in band, choir, cheerleading, sports, school clubs, private music or dance lessons, and these are just a few of things that take up a student’s extra time.

Extracurricular activites are wonderful for children. They enrich the lives of the student, their families and in turn our communities. These activities create well rounded children who learn what their interests and talents are because they have been exposed to such opportunities. The great thing is that most schools and communities offer many things for students and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for parents. We all know just how expensive having multiple children in classes is. It can be a shock.

Here are a few extracurricular activities that parents may want to look into on their student’s behalf. These can be used for homeschool, private school, or public school students.

  • School sports – starting in middle school kids are usually permitted and encouraged to play organized sports. This can be a great motivator for some students as the schools usually require a minimum grade point average to allow students to play. For some students this is reason enough to do the homework and score well on exams.
  • Music and arts – there are many studies that prove that music involvement improves test scores in students. Statistics also show that children involved in music and other arts are less likely to get involved in things such as drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and truancy. Instruments and supplies are usually rented at a nominal fee depending on your needs. These are also activities that are usually offered through the school as electives which means that parents don’t have to pay for private lessons but can choose to if they choose.
  • School clubs – some parents don’t view clubs, sports or music things at school as extracurricular but they are. Anything that does not cover core subjects in school and can take time after school is considered extracurricular. School clubs offer opportunities for leadership that student’s don’t otherwise have. These clubs are also another way for students to find a peer group in which they have something in common with the members. It is like having built in friends with the same interests as you.
  • Community involvement (after school activities)- this can be Little League, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and other types of involvement. These organizations all give students a huge boost of self confidence while helping them to contribute to society and be part of a group with a common goal.

These are just a few of the things that children can look forward to. Parents will most likely know what the student’s needs are and what is age appropriate (use a school counselor if you need input). It is also important for parents to understand the importance of not overscheduling children. While we all want well rounded, independent members of society, we do not want students that are full of stress and anxiety. Parents should listen to what their children want while helping them to reach outside of their comfort zones as appropriate.

Christian Homeschool

Is Christian homeschooling a good thing, or a bad thing? There are many who debate this issue. Well, there are many who debate homeschool vs. public school being a good/bad thing too, but that is a whole other story.
People who choose to use a Christian homeschool curriculum usually choose to do so because they feel it is important to educate their children in religion as well as math, English, science etc…Public schools are not allowed to teach religion or to allow students to pray. The only other option open to parents who want their child to be taught Christianity is to send them to a private school. Private Christian schools are often very expensive and not always close enough to consider commuting to. By homeschooling the parents are also able to help shelter their children from negative influences, drugs, alcohol, and other religious beliefs.
These very things are part of the reason some people feel there are more cons to Christian homeschooling than pros to homeschooling. They feel if the students are never put in a position to stand up for their beliefs, or put in a position to say “No” to negative influences then they are going to have difficulty when as adults they enter a more mainstream society.
These are just a few of the issues regarding Christian Homeschool. For more information see our most recently posted article at educationbug.org.

Disperse vs Disburse

If you are in a crowd and that crowd scatters, did the crowd disperse or disburse? Were you aware that these were two different words with two different meanings? There are many words in the English language that are very similar in spelling and very similar in meaning, disburse and disperse are two such words. We recently posted an article titled Disburse vs. Disperse in which we compare and define both of these words, as well as give you tips on how to remember which word is more appropriate to use in a given situation.
Educationbug.org has many fun and interesting grammar lessons for everyone. You can also find an amazing amount of detailed information on schools, public libraries, and colleges across our nation.

Learning Styles

Have you ever noticed that people learn or comprehend things in different ways, methods, or styles? What learning style do you feel you are better able to understand? Do you learn better from reading information in a text book, hands-on experience, or having someone explain it to you? Or have you ever even thought about it? Have you ever considered the learning style of your child, how his/her teacher chooses to teach, does your child’s school curriculum allow them to be educated in the same style?

Perhaps these are questions you have never stopped to consider. But when it comes to your education or your child’s education, learning styles are something to consider. Whether your education comes from a private school or public school, if you are able to identify your best learning style and understand that it is easier for you, or your child, to learn by a specific method these things you can help you work with your teachers to make sure you get the most out of what is being taught.

We are starting a new series on learning styles and methods that are interesting and have a lot of useful information.