11/19/2013 – Can Political Centrists Expand Pre-K Access

THIS WEEK: Reading Should Be Fun … ‘White Moms,’ Common Core Clash … Good Teachers Embrace Culture … Cuts Hurt The Most Vulnerable Students … Free Online Education, Changes Course


Will Political Centrists Go Outside Their Comfort Zones To Expand Pre-K Access?

By Jeff Bryant

” Democratic leaders in both chambers last week introduced a new bill that would dramatically expand access to prekindergarten programs for 4-year olds … conventional wisdom would hold that pre-K expansion will be carried to victory on the back of a broad coalition of political centrism … But these are not conventional times … Conservatives will continue to fight any effort to muster more federal support of pre-K education … If centrist minded Democrats and moderate Republicans continue to shift that middle ground more and more toward conservatives, the center will not hold. The only good way forward is for leaders to act on the courage of their convictions, not the demands for more and more compromises.”
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The Most Important Lesson Schools Can Teach Kids About Reading: It’s Fun

The Atlantic

“Discussions of reading, especially public policy discussions, focus almost exclusively on its utilitarian value. What’s missing is the pleasure readers derive from the reading they do … Pleasure is not incidental to reading – it’s essential … Teachers of reading and literature need to make pleasure more central to our practice … Instructors should be mindful of the variety of pleasures that readers experience and not privilege intellectual pleasures, the characteristic province of school … Students should have regular opportunities to behave the way adult readers do and choose their own reading. They know the kinds of texts from which they will take pleasure. At the same time, teachers should expand the possibility of pleasure by introducing students to new books they might not select on their own.”
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‘White Moms’ Remark Fuels Common Core Clash


“Education Secretary Arne Duncan … told a gathering of state superintendents of education that ‘white suburban moms’ were rebelling against the Common Core academic standards – new guidelines for math and language arts instruction – because … ‘their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought’ … To the immense frustration of Common Core supporters, an eclectic array of critics have raised sustained and impassioned objections about the new standards … Many parent … called Duncan’s remark patronizing and said it fit into a pattern of state and national education officials dismissing parents and ignoring their concerns.”
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Why Good Teachers Embrace Culture

National Journal

“The Tucson Unified School District’s controversial Mexican-American studies courses shut down in 2011. Yet a University of Arizona study found that the mostly Latino students who took the courses were 46% to 150% more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not. The study also determined positive effects on math and reading test scores … Culturally responsive pedagogy starts with the premise that race and class matter, and that some schools fail to send diverse students signals that they belong … It’s a philosophy that makes intuitive sense, and that’s backed by a range of academic studies… New Mexican-American and African-American studies classes will return to TUSD high schools this fall, as a decades-old desegregation ruling mandates that the district offer ethnic-studies classes.”
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Special Education Budget Cuts, Sequestration, Hurt America’s Most Vulnerable Students

The Huffington Post

“For American students with disabilities, class sizes are increasing, services are waning and providers are disappearing. More than half of parents who have children with disabilities and responded to a survey say their schools have altered special education services because of declining funding … Sequestration cleaved $579 million from federal special education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act this year – a figure that may worsen, depending on Congress … IDEA specifies that Congress would pay up to 40% of the average that states were spending on each student with disabilities. The closest Congress got to this funding level was in in 2005, when it hit 18.5%, and in 2009, when the one-time economic stimulus boosted payments. Since sequestration, Congress has been paying just 14%.”
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Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun, Godfather Of Free Online Education, Changes Course

Fast Company

“Something that had been unthinkable – that the Internet might put a free, Ivy League–caliber education within reach of the world’s poor – seems tantalizingly close … But there’s a problem: The man who started this revolution no longer believes the hype … ‘I’d aspired to give people a profound education–to teach them something substantial,’ [says] Professor Sebastian Thrun … ‘We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product’ … ‘We’re not doing anything as rich and powerful as what a traditional liberal-arts education would offer you’.”
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