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.
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).
In the U.S., more than 4 out of 10 undergraduate college students are above the age of 25. When people talk about these adult students, you usually hear words like “job skills” and “quickest path to a degree.”
But for more than four decades, a special program in Washington state has sought to offer much more than that.
It’s called the Tacoma Program. Back in 1972, Maxine Mimms, a professor at The Evergreen State College, created a new kind of college at her kitchen table, designed to serve students who are starting over in life, and to give them access to deep, transformational learning.
Some high school students think of applying to colleges as a full-time job. There are essays and tests, loads of financial documents to assemble and calculations to make. After all that, of course, comes a big decision — one of the biggest of their young lives.
For top students who come from low-income families, the challenge is particularly difficult.
Research shows that 1 in 4 juggle all of that — the writing, the studying, the researching and applying — completely on their own. One approach to make this whole process easier? Pair students up with someone who can help, a mentor or adviser, virtually.
THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS receiving special education in public schools is rising, with about 13 percent of all students receiving such instruction, according to a recent study.
A Department of Education report, titled the Condition of Education 2018, states the number of students aged 3 to 21 receiving special education services increased from 6.6 million to 6.7 million from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016 school year. Among those, 34 percent had specific learning disabilities, of which 20 percent had speech or language impairments and 14 percent had other health impairments.
Joel McFarland, lead author of the report, says despite a slight increase from the previous year, 13 percent is still within the range of special education representation seen in previous years.
One in five school police officers say their school is not prepared to handle an active-shooter situation, according to a nationally representative survey of school resource officers conducted by the Education Week Research Center.
And some school police report they haven’t been adequately trained to work in schools. Some also say their schools don’t set limits on their role in student discipline, which civil rights groups say is necessary to protect the rights of students.
School law enforcement officials say some officers will never feel fully prepared for an event like a shooting because they are always looking for ways to improve. They also have to balance the need to be ready for unlikely worst-case scenarios with the everyday duties of the job that requires them, most essentially, to build trust with students.
STUDENTS’ ABILITY TO learn is undermined when their classrooms are too hot, new research says, a finding that could help explain persistent gaps in performance between students in poorer regions and countries without consistent access to air conditioning and those in wealthier areas.
An analysis published by the National Bureau of Economic Research comparing student test scores with average temperatures suggests that when classrooms get too hot it prevents students from learning as well as they would in more comfortable temperatures, with lasting impacts on students’ future success and their ability to contribute economically. It also found that adequate investment in school infrastructure – namely air conditioning – can mitigate the negative effects of hot weather.
Researchers compared daily historical weather data collected by a network of thousands of weather stations across the United States operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the PSAT scores of 10 million students who took the test at least twice between 2001 and 2014.
Justin Napier is exactly the kind of community college graduate Tennessee was hoping for.
In high school, Napier didn’t have his eye on college. In fact, he had a job lined up working on race cars after graduation. But in the spring of 2014, a year before Napier graduated, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a plan to make community college free for graduating high school seniors, part of a broader plan to dramatically increase the number of adults in Tennessee with college credentials. It was called, grandly, the Tennessee Promise.
“We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority,” Haslam said in his State of the State address that year.
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.
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.
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.