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

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

What Happens When 2-Year Schools Offer B.A. Degrees?

WHEN FLORIDA OPENED THE door 17 years ago for two-year colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees, they expanded rapidly into a host of new areas: business, nursing, teaching, and more. St. Petersburg College alone created 25 bachelor’s programs. Thousands of students flocked to them, paying a fraction of what they would pay for an equivalent degree at the University of Florida. By 2014 nearly 6,000 students a year were earning their bachelor’s degrees from a community college. Despite their popularity, many people feared that the 28 taxpayer-financed community colleges were unnecessarily duplicating programs at the state’s 12 four-year public universities—and then awarding them substandard degrees. As a result, Florida’s legislature put a one-year moratorium on new programs, and then officials slowed down the creation of new ones after 2015.

Now a team of University of Florida researchers has looked back at the results of this experiment and come to a surprising conclusion: four-year state schools actually saw an increase in business even as two-year institutions expanded into their terrain. But for-profit, private universities generally took a big hit. While four-year public schools awarded 25 percent more degrees a year in the programs where local community colleges offered a competing degree, the private for-profit universities saw their degree output fall 45 percent when a nearby two-year institution posed direct competition. The results of the study were slated to be released Monday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New York.

Full story at US News

California’s Higher Ed Diversity Problem

In 1996, right after voters in California banned affirmative action in employment and college admissions, minority student enrollment at two and four-year institutions plummeted. What has happened since though, is pretty remarkable.

Of the 2.8 million students attending college in California today, two out of three come from racially and ethnically diverse populations. The most eye-popping increase in enrollment has been among Latinos.

They now make up 43 percent of all college students in California. Twenty-six percent are white, followed by Asian and Pacific Islanders at 16 percent and African Americans at 6 percent.

Full story at npr.org

DeVos to State Chiefs: We Can, We Must Do Better for Students

Addressing the nation’s chief state school officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered some “tough love” regarding progress under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA is the bipartisan education legislation passed by Congress in 2015 that returned power over education back to states.

DeVos’ remarks came after her review and approval of a majority of states’ ESSA plans. The law requires a federal review to ensure compliance with the law but then gives latitude to the states to determine how best to ensure educational success. DeVos challenged the chiefs to embrace the flexibility afforded them by ESSA and innovate on behalf of their students. “Just because a plan complies with the law doesn’t mean it does what’s best for students,” said DeVos.

Full speech at ed.gov

Making Elementary School A Lot More Fun: Like Preschool!

In Kelly Stevens’ kindergarten classroom, each day begins with circle time for what sounds like a menu of lesson options.

Students — or “friends” as Stevens calls them — can read at the green table, they can build boats or make things out of clay, among other options.

Students Marco Carias Castellanos and Holden Free chose a writing activity today. But there’s no worksheet in front of them. Instead, they’re standing in front of wolf statues they made out of blocks and their assignment is to write labels for body parts.

Full story at NPR.org

With Hundreds Of Students, School Counselors Just Try To ‘Stay Afloat’

Yuridia Nava, a counselor at Riverside Polytechnic High School in Riverside, Calif., has been getting to work at 7 a.m. lately. It’s class registration time, so she wants to be available before school for parents and students to come in with questions as they plan for the next year of courses, SAT tests, and college preparation.

Poly — as her school is known — employs six counselors for its 2,700 students, so Nava and her colleagues each work with about 500 teens. That’s just above average. According to the most recent data, school counselors across the country manage caseloads of about 482 students each. In California, where Nava works, that average ratio is 760 students per counselor — the second highest in the nation. She says counselors there are just trying to “stay afloat” and get through each day. The American School Counselor Association recommends that counselors work with 250 students each, but just three states follow that advice.

Each time a school shooting occurs, the nation collectively asks: who is responsible for students’ safety? Is it teachers? Parents? Lawmakers?

Full story at NPR.org

Inside The Virtual Schools Lobby: ‘I Trust Parents’

A free day at the aquarium! For Marcey Morse, a mother of two, it sounded pretty good.

It was the fall of 2016, and Morse had received an email offering tickets, along with a warning about her children’s education.

At that time, Morse’s two kids were enrolled in an online, or “virtual,” school called the Georgia Cyber Academy, run by a company called K12 Inc. About 275,000 students around the country attend these online public charter schools, run by for-profit companies, at taxpayers’ expense.

Full story at npr.org