As we embrace the ‘science of reading,’ we can’t leave out older students

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education in communities across America. Sign up for our free New York newsletter to keep up with NYC’s public schools.

The day before my first day of teaching middle school in 2018, I decorated my Brooklyn public school classroom with quotes from famous people reflecting on the importance of reading. Hanging on cream-colored cardstock were the words of Malcolm X, Toni Morrison, C.S. Lewis, Barack Obama, Maya Angelou, and dozens of other writers and thinkers. I hoped to inspire my students to fall in love with reading. I didn’t think to hope that all my students could do the very thing I was asking them to love. I didn’t know that part of my job as a sixth grade Humanities teacher would be to teach students to read in the first place.

There was a round table in the very back of my classroom that a group of five sixth-graders bee-lined to on day one. On day two, I asked one, then another, to read aloud to me. My request was met with silence, guessing, a fist slammed on the table, and a student storming out of the room. When those sixth grade students finally sat down for a reading assessment, their ability to decode print text was at a first or second grade level.…Read More

6 ways school bus wi-fi could benefit your district

Gaps in internet access are an all-too-familiar struggle for many schools, particularly those in rural or low-income districts where coverage is spotty or too expensive.

In 2015, President Barack Obama said internet access was no longer a privilege, but a basic necessity. School districts are adopting that frame of mind and are trying their best to keep students connected as long as possible.

Equipping school buses with wi-fi helps extend learning, especially for students who have long bus rides due to rural locations or extra-curricular activities.…Read More

What is Obama’s K-12 education legacy?

Common Core, Race to the Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—just a few top-down, often-controversial, metrics-heavy K-12 reform initiatives favored by the Obama Administration that seemed to have a lot more traction during the President’s first-term with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the helm than during the second term.

“President Barack Obama will perhaps be best remembered for what many considered a top-down approach to education reform, and Arne Duncan was the architect of that strategy,” writes Tara Garcia Mathewson for EducationDIVE. From a strong support of Common Core to even the ESSA, “a strict emphasis on standards is one of the biggest marks of the administration.”

[For the higher education version of this story, click here.]…Read More

Public opinion turning against Obama education plans

A new Gallup Poll has found fewer Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in support of public education, but they continue to have a highly favorable opinion of their local schools, reports the Associated Press. The drop in the president’s education approval ratings—as found in the random telephone poll of about 1,000 Americans in June—mirrors the drop in his general approval rating in other recent polls, said Shane Lopez, senior scientist in residence for Gallup. The education poll released Aug. 25 was paid for by Phi Delta Kappa (PDK). It found 34 percent gave the president a grade of A or B for his work in support of public schools, compared with 45 percent at the same time in 2009. They gave even worse grades for the quality of the nation’s schools, but said they approve of their local schools. Americans picked school budgets and improving teacher quality as their top education issues, but said they were mostly unaware of the impact of Congress’ stimulus dollars on education. “We have a love affair with our local schools, especially the schools that our children attend,” Lopez said. But that doesn’t mean people have a deep knowledge of how schools get the money that makes them succeed, he added. The PDK/Gallup poll has been criticized in previous years for framing its questions to validate the organization’s agenda—support for smaller classes and higher teacher pay and criticism of the No Child Left Behind law. PDK critic Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, thinks the organization did a slightly better job this year of exploring the issues, but dislikes the way the poll was presented. “I’m not so sure this is a public opinion survey, rather than an attempt to influence people to think in a certain way about the issues,” Allen said…

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Schools get $10 billion to save education jobs

President Obama signed an emergency bill that will halt election-year teacher layoffs
President Obama signed an emergency bill that will halt election-year teacher layoffs

Summoned back from summer break, the House on Aug. 10 pushed through an emergency $26 billion jobs bill that Democrats said would save 300,000 teachers, police, and other public employees from election-year layoffs. President Barack Obama immediately signed it into law.

Lawmakers streamed back to Washington for a one-day session as Democrats declared a need to act before children return to classrooms minus teachers laid off because of budgetary crises in states that have been hard-hit by the recession.…Read More

Obama urges Americans to take the lead in higher education

President Barack Obama urged Americans Aug. 9 to crack the books and boost post-secondary graduation rates, arguing that higher education achievement was key to U.S. economic health, AFP reports. “America has to have the highest share of graduates compared to other nations. But Texas, I want you to know, we’ve been slipping,” Obama said on a visit to the University of Texas. “In a single generation, we’ve fallen from first place to 12th place in college graduation rates for young adults. That’s unacceptable, but it’s not irreversible. We can retake the lead,” Obama stressed, adding: “Education is the economic issue of our time,” Obama insisted, arguing: “The countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow.”

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