Around the World, Girls Still Face Challenges in STEM Education

AS THE SEVENTH International Day of the Girl is observed on Thursday, experts remind the public that providing a complete education for girls and women worldwide remains a challenge. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, girls are still more likely than boys to never enter into a school system, yet countries are committed to closing the gender gap by 2030 and also achieve universal completion of secondary education.

According to a February UNESCO report, “Historically, girls and young women were more likely to be excluded from education.”

“However globally, the male and female out-of-school rates for the lower secondary and upper secondary school-age populations are now nearly identical, while the gender gap among children of primary school age dropped from more than five percentage points in 2000 to two percentage points in 2016,” the report adds.

Full story at US News

U.S. Department of Education Announces 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today recognized 349 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2018. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“I’m pleased to celebrate with you as your school is named a National Blue Ribbon School,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to the honorees. “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives. Congratulations on your students’ accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to meeting their unique needs.”

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

Full story at ed.gov

If ‘Free College’ Sounds Too Good To Be True, That’s Because It Often Is

To millions of parents and students, they’re magical words: free college.

But is the idea pure fantasy?

More than a dozen states now offer grants, often called scholarships, promising to help qualifying students pay for some or all of their college education. In fact, that word, “promise,” shows up again and again in these programs’ official names: Nevada Promise, Oklahoma’s Promise, Oregon Promise, Tennessee Promise … you get the idea.

Sometimes referred to as “free college” programs, most are relatively new, sparked by the relentless rise in college costs and by a desire among state leaders to improve college access, especially for low-income students. Hundreds more free college programs have popped up at the local level, too. But a new review of 15 of these statewide programs, conducted by The Education Trust, finds that states vary wildly in how they define both “free” and “college.”

Full story at npr.org

Teachers Are the Key to Quality Education

AS WE PAUSE THIS LABOR Day to celebrate the nation’s workers, we should also think about those whose profession helps prepare the citizens and workforce of tomorrow: early childhood teachers who work with children every day.

A child’s first five years are the most critical for neurological development, with their brains forming more than one million neural connections per second. This is the time when the foundation is built for future success – brain wiring for social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. Genetics and experiences both play a role in a child’s early development. And that is why access to early childhood education programs and to quality early educators matters so much.

Having high-quality programs hinges on having a high-quality workforce. But the field suffers from low wages, which leads to high turnover. Poor pay also leaves little incentive for early childhood teachers to return to college and earn degrees or other certifications to deepen their competencies and knowledge about how best to foster early learning. Today, the median hourly wage among those working in child care settings amounts to $10.72 per hour – about $22,000 per year. Indeed, preschool teachers earn a little more at about $13.94 per hour – about $29,000 per year. Despite the salary bump, these teachers still struggle to support their own families.

Full story at US News

Secretary DeVos Visits “She Can” STEM Summer Camp

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos earlier this week visited with sixth through eighth grade girls participating in the Smithsonian’s “She Can” STEM Summer Camp to highlight the exciting opportunities available in STEM fields. The camp, which was open to Washington, D.C. area girls who attend Title 1 Schools, doubled in size with support from the Department of Education. President Donald J. Trump donated his second quarter salary to the Department of Education to fund a STEM-focused camp.

At the camp, students learned about the science of flight and were exposed to a wide array of aviation-related activities and career paths. During the Secretary’s visit she worked with a group of girls to build and fly their own drones, was a passenger in an FAA-certified flight simulator and toured the Boeing Aviation Hangar.

Full story at ed.gov

‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ And How American History Can Be Used As A Weapon

When I was a high school junior in New Orleans taking AP American History, my teacher assigned us a paperback book. Slim in contrast to our hulking required textbook, it was a funny, compelling, even shocking read. Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong, usually by soft-pedaling, oversimplifying and burying the thorny drama and uncertainties of the past under a blanket of dull, voice-of-God narration.

The book also taught a lot of history. It introduced me to concepts that still help me make sense of the world, like the “racial nadir” — the downturn in American race relations, starting after Reconstruction, which saw the rise of lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan. In doing so, Lies My Teacher Told Me overturned one assumption embedded in the history classes I’d been sitting through all my life: that the United States is constantly ascending from greatness to greatness.

Full story at npr.org

Electronics in the Classroom Lead to Lower Test Scores

USING ELECTRONIC devices in the classroom can be distracting to students and lead to lower grades.

A study published in the journal Educational Psychology found that students who had cellphones or laptops present while a lesson was being taught scored five percent, or half a letter grade, lower on exams than students who didn’t use electronics.

Researchers separated 118 college students enrolled in the same course into two groups. Each group was taught the same material by the same professor, but one group was allowed to have cellphones and laptops open for non-academic purposes, while the other group was not. While the students allowed electronics didn’t score lower on comprehension tests during lectures, they scored lower on exams at the end of the term.

Full story at US News

For Many College Students, Hunger ‘Makes It Hard To Focus’

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.

This food insecurity is most prevalent at community colleges, but it’s common at public and private four-year schools as well.

Student activists and advocates in the education community have drawn attention to the problem in recent years, and the food pantries that have sprung up at hundreds of schools are perhaps the most visible sign. Some schools nationally also have instituted the Swipe Out Hunger program, which allows students to donate their unused meal plan vouchers, or “swipes,” to other students to use at campus dining halls or food pantries.

That’s a start, say analysts studying the problem of campus hunger, but more system-wide solutions are needed.

Full story at NPR

The ‘Over-Parenting Crisis’ In School And At Home

Have you ever paid your kid for good grades? Have you driven to school to drop off an assignment that they forgot? Have you done a college student’s laundry? What about coming along to Junior’s first job interview?

These examples are drawn from two bestselling books — How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims and The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey. Both are by women writing from their experiences as parents and as educators. Lahey is a teacher and a writer for The New York Times and The Atlantic, currently at work on a new book about teens and addiction. Lythcott-Haims was the longtime freshman dean at Stanford; in 2017 she published the memoir Real American and is working on a sequel to How to Raise an Adult about “how to be an adult.”

The books make strikingly similar claims about today’s youth and their parents: Parents are “too worried about [their children’s] future achievements to allow [them] to work through the obstacles in their path” (Lahey) and “students who seemed increasingly reliant on their parents in ways that felt, simply, off,” (Lythcott-Haims).

Full story at NPR

GAO: Less Than Half of School Districts Test Water for Lead

WASHINGTON (AP) — A survey of school districts around the country finds that less than half test their water for lead, and among those that do more than a third detected elevated levels of the toxin, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

Lead can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in children.

The report, released by the Government Accountability Office, is based on a survey of 549 school districts across the United States. It estimates that 41 percent of school districts, serving 12 million students, did not test for lead in the water in 2016 and 2017.

Of the 43 percent that did test for lead, about 37 percent reported elevated levels. Sixteen percent of schools said they did not know whether they test for lead, the report says.

Full story at US News