Cars Get Students ‘On Track’ for STEM Careers

It wasn’t the 110-octane fuel or the race car suspension that captured the attention of sixth-grader Finn Alcott at Bowling Green Junior High School.

Sure, having his tympanic membrane rattled when the 1980 Corvette’s 750-horsepower engine roared to life was cool and all, but Alcott was more interested in the sports car’s sleek lines.

“I’m more into engineering,” Alcott said. “I had a collection of Hot Wheels cars when I was younger, and I always liked this one car that went faster than the others. What it was was aerodynamics.”

That a sixth-grader is even using such scientific terms serves as proof that this past Wednesday’s On Track event is serving the purpose envisioned by the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and Western Kentucky University’s SKyTeach program.

Full story at US News

Teachers Take School Funding Fight Straight To North Carolina’s Capitol

The months-long wave of teacher protests, which has rolled through roughly half a dozen states already, swelled and crashed on the front stoop of North Carolina’s Capitol building Wednesday. Demonstrators donned red and gathered in the capital, Raleigh, to demand better pay and better school funding.

And there they stayed for hours, crowding into the opening session of the Legislature and eddying in the streets outside, gathering for a massive rally nearby organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state’s biggest teacher advocacy group.

Schools across the state, meanwhile, were shuttered as teachers attended the protests. More than three dozen school districts closed, according to member station WUNC, which notes that that represents more than 1 million public school students — or two-thirds of the state’s public school population — who had their classes canceled.

Full story at npr.org

The Value of a Video

IN THE LAND OF parenting there are two camps: those who think educational videos can be good for their kids and those who think they’re a mind-numbing wasteland.

I tended to side with the latter when my daughter was in her preschool years because I was convinced that books and active play were superior. But we’ve all been exhausted at 6 a.m. and streamed videos from YouTube. Let’s just assume that my daughter watched more videos in her early childhood than I care to admit. Over time, I convinced myself that the videos I chose were better than most of the crap out there.

Wrong.

A team of four education researchers, led by Susan B. Neuman at New York University, conducted an in-depth study published in April 2018 of 100 of the most popular videos that claim to be “educational” and stream over Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and Google Play. They include “Sesame Street,” “Blue’s Clues,” “Martha Speaks” and “Dora the Explorer,” all highly regarded programs that frequently turn up on recommended lists. The researchers found that the majority of the videos taught specific vocabulary – more educational content than critics might assume. They also found that 4-year-olds were actually paying attention and learning new words.

Full story at US News

FIRST Robotics Championship Boosts Diversity

HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR Michael Okrah wants to study engineering, a choice that he credits to the FIRST Robotics Championship, recently held in Detroit and Houston.

“When I first came (to Frederick Douglass Academy), I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do,” Okrah says. “Experiencing knowledge through robotics and the mentorship we’ve had has inspired me to study engineering.”

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Championship landed in Detroit this year. Held April 25-28, the championship saw more than 15,000 students in grades K-12, from 25 states and 45 countries, with their custom-built robots. FIRST Championship offers four levels of competition and one student exhibition for students aged 6 to 18.

Full story at US News

More Than Just A Job: Stories Of Teachers Who Deserve An A+

Teachers across the country are pushing for better pay and increased school funding. They consistently make less than other college graduates with comparable experience — even though, for many teachers, working with students is more than a full-time job.

There are long days in the classroom, clubs and activities, planning and grading, and the many after-school hours spent with students.

Earlier this spring, we asked NPR Ed readers to send in stories of teachers going to great lengths to help students succeed in and out of school. We heard from hundreds of you. Many of you said that every teacher you know fits the bill.

Here are a few teachers that caught our eye.

Full story at NPR.org

A Conspiracy Video Teaches Kids A Lesson About Fake News

As the bell rings students file into class at Maxence Van der Meersch middle school. This morning the kids have a visitor – investigative journalist Thomas Huchon.

Without telling them the topic of his visit, Huchon says he’s going to show them a mini-documentary.

The video tells how the CIA spread the AIDS virus in Cuba, and says that was the real reason behind the decades-long U.S. embargo. It was only lifted, the narrator says, so American and French pharmaceutical companies could cash in on an AIDS vaccine developed by Cuban doctors.

Full story at NPR.org

Where School Employees Can’t Afford Housing, Some Districts Try to Help

In some of the nation’s hottest real estate markets, school districts are trying new tactics to help employees cover the spiraling costs of renting or buying a home.

The Denver district, for example, is teaming up with a lending company to help teachers, principals, custodians, and others who work in schools put down as much as half the down payment on a home.

In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, the school district and the county are floating a proposal to build apartments—with first preference for teachers but spots for others who work in the district—on the campus of a brand-new middle school.

Full story at edweek.org

Study: Colleges That Ditch The SAT And ACT Can Enhance Diversity

There are now well over 1,000 colleges and universities that don’t require SAT or ACT scores in deciding whom to admit, a number that’s growing every year. And a new study finds that scores on those tests are of little value in predicting students’ performance in college, and raises the question: Should those tests be required at all?

Colleges that have gone “test optional” enroll — and graduate — a higher proportion of low-income and first generation-students, and more students from diverse backgrounds, the researchers found in the study, Defining Access: How Test-Optional Works.

“Our research clearly demonstrates that these students graduate often at a higher rate,” said Steve Syverson, an assistant vice chancellor at the University of Washington Bothell, and co-author of the study.

Full story at npr.org

Communities Offer Housing to Woo Teachers

FOR ALEXANDRIA Warfield, a 27-year-old music teacher at Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School in Indianapolis, living with her parents is a trade-off she’s willing to make for the sake of saving money and having a 15-minute commute to work.

“It’s been really hard to find somewhere to rent that’s affordable and is in a pretty decent area that’s close to the school,” she says. “A downtown studio is $1,000 to $1,100 a month, and that’s just not feasible for us as teachers.”

It’s a trade-off Warfield may not have to make for much longer, however, as she is currently assessing loan options and filing paperwork in hopes of becoming one of the first teachers to nab a home that’s part of a city effort to create affordable housing options for educators.

Full story at US News

Angry and Fearful Parents Lash Out at School District Over Parkland Shooting

More than two months after the Valentine’s Day mass murder of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., fear and rage continues to grip a school system still reeling from the incident’s aftermath.

During a public safety forum held Wednesday in the Broward County school district, shaken students and enraged parents and educators appealed to school leaders to protect campuses from violence, demanding fixes for what they consider lax security, the district’s indifference, and failure to act to stop the former student who brought an AR-15 onto campus and killed and injured dozens.

Full story at edweek.org