From Poverty To Rocket Scientist To CEO, A Girl Scout’s Inspiring Story

Sylvia Acevedo grew up on a dirt road in New Mexico. Her family was poor, living “paycheck to paycheck.”

After a meningitis outbreak in her Las Cruces neighborhood nearly killed her younger sister, her mother moved the family to a different neighborhood. At her new school, young Acevedo knew no one. Until a classmate convinced her to become a Brownie Girl Scout.

And from that moment, she says, her life took on a new path.

On one camping trip, Acevedo’s troop leader saw her looking up at the stars.

“I didn’t know that there were planets,” Acevedo remembers, “I didn’t know there were constellations.” Her troop leader pointed out the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and a few planets. Later, when the girls were earning badges, Acevedo’s leader remembered her fascination with the stars and suggested she try for her science badge.

Full story at npr.org

Scared Of Math? Here’s One Way To Fight The Fear

Do you remember the day you decided you were no good at math?

Or maybe you had the less common, opposite experience: a moment of math excitement that hooked you for good?

Thousands of studies have been published that touch on the topic of “math anxiety.” Overwhelming fear of math, regardless of one’s actual aptitude, affects students of all ages, from kindergarten to grad school.

This anxiety extends to the daily lives of grown-ups; we put off planning for retirement, avoid trying to understand health risks and even try to get out of calculating a tip. And even teachers suffer from math anxiety, which has been shown to hurt their students’ scores, especially when the teachers and the students are both female; the theory is that anxiety interacts with negative stereotypes about women’s abilities.

Full story at NPR

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

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

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

University Graduate Students Walk Out To Protest Tax Plan That Hurts Them

Graduate students around the country walked out of their classes, office hours, and research labs to protest the House Republican tax plan Wednesday.

“This plan is going to be disastrous for higher ed,” said Jack Nicoludis, a Harvard graduate student in chemistry, who helped organize a protest on the campus. He said the bill would more than double his taxes.

In exchange for teaching courses or teaming up with professors on research projects, universities don’t charge many Ph.D. students tuition, and give them modest stipends. The House bill would end the tax break students get on the value of their tuition waivers.

Full story at NPR

How U.S. Kids Might Have Performed Better in Math

Here’s a puzzle: If U.S. students do so badly on international tests, especially in math, how can it be that the U.S. economy is so strong? An educated workforce is supposedly a big predictor of a country’s income and annual growth. Yet the performance of American 15-year-olds on the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, has always been lackluster. Since 2012, U.S. math scores have slumped down into the bottom half. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains the top economy in the world this year with over $19 trillion of goods and services produced. No other country even comes close.

A group of behavioral economists wondered if U.S. students are actually not as incompetent as their scores would suggest, but simply lazy when they’re taking the PISA exam. To test this, they created a PISA-like exam of just 25 questions and asked 447 sophomores at two different high schools to take it. Seconds before the test started, they surprised half the students at each school with an envelope of 25 $1 bills. The researchers told those students they would take away one dollar for each incorrect or unanswered question.

Full story at USNews.com

Why Many Smart, Low-Income Students Don’t Apply To Elite Schools

Right now, high school seniors across the country are trying hard not to think about what is — or isn’t — coming in the mail.

They’re anxiously awaiting acceptance letters (or the opposite) from their top-choice colleges and universities. But this story isn’t about them. It’s about a big group of seniors who could get into great schools but don’t apply: high-achieving students from low-income families who live outside of America’s big cities.

These students often wind up in community college or mediocre four-year schools. It’s a phenomenon known in education circles as “undermatching.”

Full story of smart low income students and elite schools at NPR

U.S. Department of Education Releases New Guide on Identifying and Preventing Child Trafficking in Schools

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new guide for educators on ways to identify and help prevent child trafficking in schools. Human Trafficking in America’s Schools is a free guide for school staff that includes information about risk factors, recruitment, and how to identify trafficking; what to do if you suspect trafficking, including sample school protocols and policies; and other resources and potential partnership opportunities. The Department also has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and President Lincoln’s Cottage, a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to sponsor a youth campaign focused on raising awareness about and preventing human trafficking..

“It’s hard to imagine that such heinous crimes continue to exist today, right here in America,” Deborah S. Delisle, assistant secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, said. “Human trafficking robs young people of a life that is filled with hope. The Department stands with its other federal and non-profit partners, such as President Lincoln’s Cottage, in helping these young people return to safe, supportive homes and schools.”

Full story of child trafficking in schools at ed.gov

One District’s Quest to Transform Learning through Technology

What does it mean to be a “Future Ready” school district?

More than 160 teachers, parents, students, and business and district leaders from across Tennessee recently gathered at the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ Martin Center to discuss the answer to this question and talk about the upcoming Future Ready District Pledge.

The Pledge establishes a framework for districts to achieve the goals laid out by the White House ConnectED Initiative. Some of these goals include: upgrading high-speed Internet connectivity, providing access to educational devices and digital content, and preparing teachers to use technology effectively to improve student learning and their own professional development.

Full story of learning through technology at ed.gov