Teachers Get Even With Bevin in Kentucky

KENTUCKY’S DEMOCRATIC Attorney General Andy Beshear leads current Gov. Matt Bevin by more than 5,000 votes in a high-profile gubernatorial race that drew more than 1.4 million people to the polls – a race considered by many as a bellwether for the potential impact educators may have in 2020.

For nearly three years, teachers have displayed a historic wave of activism across the country over issues of pay, increased funding, support services and the creep of charter schools, and that’s been especially true in Kentucky.

“To our educators, your courage to stand up and fight up against all the bullying and name calling helped galvanize our entire state,” Beshear said Tuesday evening during a victory speech. As of Wednesday, election results remained unofficial as Bevin sought a recanvas of the vote.

Full story at US News

Ed-Tech Usage Levels Are Low: What Should Schools Do?

Evaluating the usage of ed-tech products is tricky, complicated, and oftentimes confusing. But it can be done.

Consider the case of the Granite County school district in Utah. It partnered with a company called LearnPlatform to measure whether time spent on three particular pieces of software led to a bump in student achievement.

The district found that one program had great results for English-language learners and Native American students. Another seemed to get results when students used it as often as the manufacturer suggested, but going beyond that didn’t lead to better outcomes. A third was barely used at all, and the district is considering nixing it.

Full story at Education Week

Georgia Professor Holds Student’s Baby, A Life Lesson Bundled On Her Back

When a student at Georgia Gwinnett College couldn’t find a replacement babysitter in time for her anatomy and physiology class earlier this month, she did what student-parents sometimes have to do – she brought her child to class with her.

Ramata Sissoko Cisse, an assistant professor of biology for anatomy and physiology, had scheduled an important lecture for that day. It focused on the integumentary system — the organ system comprised of the skin, hair, nails and glands. For Cisse, the lecture went beyond biology.

Cisse said she wanted her student to focus on the meaning of the lecture, a task often difficult in a three-hour class, but made even more challenging when note taking has to be balanced with holding a child.

Full story at NPR

Kids in poor, urban schools learn just as much as others

Schools serving disadvantaged and minority children teach as much to their students as those serving more advantaged kids, according to a new nationwide study.

The results may seem surprising, given that student test scores are normally higher in suburban and wealthier school districts than they are in urban districts serving mostly disadvantaged and minority children.

But those test scores speak more to what happens outside the classroom than how schools themselves are performing, said Douglas Downey, lead author of the new study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

“We found that if you look at how much students are learning during the school year, the difference between schools serving mostly advantaged students and those serving mostly disadvantaged students is essentially zero,” Downey said.

Full story at Science Daily

The Case For Summer Vacation

Put down those popsicles. No more sleeping in. Beach time is over.

Economists have long hated summer vacation. All those wasted school facilities! All that educational backsliding! Kids are getting dumber!

The conventional wisdom is that summer vacation is a relic of agricultural times, when kids had to help out their parents on the farm. But the economist William Fischel says that story is completely wrong.

“When the U.S. was a farming country, in the 1800s, kids went to school during the summer and winter,” he says. Rural kids had to take fall off for the harvest and spring off for planting. In other words, summer vacation would have “actually worked against the rhythms of agriculture.”

Full story at NPR

Four States Now Require Schools to Teach LGBT History

Starting next school year, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history will be part of the curriculum in Illinois public schools.

Democratic Governor J. B. Pritzker signed House Bill 246 into law Aug. 9, making Illinois the fourth state to mandate teaching LGBT history, after California, New Jersey, and Colorado. The Illinois legislation takes effect in July 2020.

The law mandates that history classes in public schools “include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.” Any textbooks bought with state funding must cover “the roles and contributions” of LGBT people, and can’t include content that is discriminatory to any particular gender or sexual orientation.

Nationwide, LGBT history often doesn’t make it into the curriculum. Just under a quarter of students say that they have learned about LGBT-related topics in their classes, according to 2016 research from GLSEN, a national advocacy group for LGBTQ students.

Full story at Education Week

As Scrutiny Of China Grows, Some U.S. Schools Drop A Language Program

The Defense Department wants more Americans to speak Chinese, and it provides millions of dollars to train students at U.S. universities.

China’s government, through language centers known as Confucius Institutes, has been doing the same thing, for the same reasons, and at some of the same U.S. universities.

But a new law has forced these American universities to choose: They can take money from the Pentagon or from the Confucius Institute — but not both.

“Confucius Institutes expose U.S. universities to espionage, to the threat of theft of intellectual property, which we are seeing far too frequently at colleges and universities,” Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in an interview with NPR.

Full story at npr.org

Textbook Giant Pearson Makes Major Shift Away From Print to Digital

CALLING IT A “generational business shift,” textbook publishing giant Pearson announced Tuesday that all future updates to its 1,500 U.S. titles will occur digitally, a move company officials say will push the academic publishing industry into the 21st century and save students money by ending lengthy and expensive print revisions.

“The history of this business is as a college textbook publisher, and really over the last 20 years, like many of the other industries like newspapers and music publishing, we’ve seen a gradual shift from digital where over time digital time has become a more important part of the offering,” John Fallon, CEO of Pearson, says. “We’ve really reached a tipping point.”

London-based Pearson, the $8.5 billion company, is the largest provider of college textbooks in the U.S. It now has more than 10 million digital registrations each year coming from the company’s current offering of about 1,500 titles that cover all major course offerings at colleges and universities.

Full story at US News

Supreme Court to Hear School Choice Case

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT agreed to hear oral arguments this fall concerning a decision by Montana’s Supreme Court to halt the operation of a tax credit scholarship program that allowed students to enroll in private schools, including private religious schools.

The announcement Friday breathed new life into the private school choice movement, which has made little to no headway at the federal level despite a tax credit scholarship being the No. 1 agenda item of Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, herself a private school choice supporter.

Private school choice advocates cheered the decision by the high court to review Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, saying they’re hopeful the court will provide a definitive answer on the constitutionality of directing public money or aid to private religious schools.

Full story at US News

2020 Dems Go Big on Public Education

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT and 2020 contender Joe Biden stood alongside American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Tuesday evening in Houston and outlined the first major policy platform of his campaign – supercharging the federal investment in the country’s public schools in order to level the playing for poor students, students of color and those with disabilities and boost teacher pay, among many other things.

“It’s past time we treat and compensate our educators as the professionals they are, and that we make a commitment that no child’s future will be determined by zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability,” he said.

Biden is in good company with his grand gesture to K-12 education.

Full story at US News