The Bottom Line

Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Education and Positive Guidance as a Concept
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The Best Case for Early Childhood Education

Children start to develop powerful cognitive capabilities, complex emotions, and essential social skills in the earliest years. Jack P. Shonkoff of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health writes, “[B]y 12 months of age, the human brain can differentiate all the sounds of the spoken language(s) to which it has been exposed.…Thus, learning at age 2 builds on what was mastered at age 1 and, in turn, lays the continuing foundation for what will be learned at age 3 and beyond.” As reported on EducationWeek by Sarah Sparks, “Studies find that even this early [6-12 months], infants who later have poor pre-literacy skills in kindergarten and poor reading skills in school can show less mature brain activity in these speech Read More ›

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The Myth of the Teacher Pay Gap

Teachers are not underpaid; they are underemployed. Almost everyone, including legislators, agree that teachers do not make enough money. But why are they not working as much as other occupations? Teacher compensation comes in two types: base compensation, which is the pay that all teachers receive, and incentive compensation, which results from additional training or on-the-job performance. In almost all states, teacher pay is driven by a salary schedule based on years of service and academic credits obtained. Nothing in the compensation system rewards teaching excellence. This type of structured compensation system was installed in the 1920s “to ensure equal treatment for all.” No other profession operates this way. The current teacher compensation system is broken and needs to be Read More ›

36242ccf-bbc8-4e28-81bc-61858f768f98
36242ccf-bbc8-4e28-81bc-61858f768f98
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Power Politics Trumps Children

Karl Zinsmeister, editor in chief of Philanthropy magazine, recently writes in the Wall Street Journal, “We are now in the midst of a counterrevolution against school reform.” This could not be more true. Both Republicans and Democrats have at times supported school reforms such as school choice, teacher accountability, and more rigorous testing. Now, as Chris Stewart, education expert at a Philanthropy Roundtable conference commented, “School reformers are getting punched in the face.” For example, in Texas, Houston’s Board of Education announced it will no longer allow Teach For America volunteers to serve in the district. And in California a panel appointed by the governor placed new constraints on educational choice, allowing local school-district officials the ability to veto public Read More ›

If at first you don't succeed
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Fix Graduation Requirements, Then Track Credentials

Graduation from high school is based on time. After 12-13 years of school, to receive a diploma a student needs to collect a certain number of credits (called Carnegie Units). A credit is generally based on having received a passing grade for one year of class time or 9,900 minutes of instruction (55 minutes x 180 days). What all of this says is that seat time, rather than real learning, is the primary measurement for meeting graduation requirements. As Don Nielsen expresses in another way, “in public education, measuring input is more important than measuring output.” The same can be seen in the industry-recognized credentials (non-degree or certifications) that students are earning. According to ExcelInEd, “nearly half of the 50 Read More ›

man stuck in the mud
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Stuck in Time

The workforce is changing. But K12 schools are not keeping up with the times. As conveyed in EducationWeek, a recent study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization based in Santa Monica, California, concludes that the workforce is transforming from technological changes, but K-12 schools are stuck in the mud. The article confirms what we have been asserting and is at the heart of our transformation efforts: “K-12 schools are preparing students for jobs using essentially the same set of strategies they’ve been relying on for decades.” Someone once said, “If Rip Van Winkle had gone to sleep January 1, 1900, and woke up on January 1, 2000, the only aspect of our society that would be familiar would Read More ›

What if question on napkin
What if question - handwriting on napkin with a yellow cup of espresso coffee against rustic wood
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The Status Quo is Failing

“So why does a guy who seemingly did ok in the academic world think there should be more alternative routes through high school? That’s simple: to give a voice to the millions who in the rear view mirror were marginalized and to advocate for the millions ahead who will benefit by an opening of paths that hold academic integrity and which meet the realities of today.” – John M. McLaughlin in The Appeal of Alternative Education. In other words, education should provide a preparation for life for all children, not just those in the traditional public schools.  This is why we must transform our public education system. ACTE program chair, Don Nielsen, summarizes the broad objectives of education in his Read More ›

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Young businessman looking at glasses
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Lucidity is Lacking

As reported on IdahoEdNews, the Bonneville School District pushed out an emergency levy worth $2 million. The issue with this emergency levy is that it does not require voter approval. The levy falls on the taxpayers’ property, and yet they have no say in the matter. Transparency is described as something that can be seen through. When it comes to transparency in government, we mean that citizens must be able to “see through” its mechanisms, to understand exactly what goes on when public officials manage public business. A government or government officials that are not transparent are more prone to corruption because there is no public oversight of their decisions. The spokeswoman of D93 Citizens, a group outspoken on this Read More ›

Washington State Capitol Olympics Seattle Washington
Washington State Capitol Olympics Seattle Washington USA
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Start with States

We previously wrote on the low standard, our nation’s latest C grade, on Education Week‘s annual “Quality Counts” report. We have a lot of work to do to become one of the top countries in education standards. However, change cannot come from the top.  As rightly stated by David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, “There’s beginning to be an awakening that Washington [D.C.] isn’t going to come in and help on this issue.” This is what we at ACTE have been promoting from the beginning–one state has to be the model for the nation. As Don Nielsen states “Educating all our children will only occur if we fundamentally change our present system of public education. That can Read More ›

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Comparing Education Stats of States is Meaningless

EducationWeek reports that New Jersey now tops the national education rankings. But these rankings have little meaning, for several reasons:   Statewide scores are not reflective of local school districts. Funding methods are different for each state. Every state has a different economy and other conditions. It is nearly impossible to get current, precise school funding information. The report states “money matters” and “location matters.” True enough. But again, comparing the money from one state to another doesn’t provide for sound analysis. Every state has unique characteristics and provides school funding within their economic limits. A more meaningful (and alarming!) statistic from the report shows that as a nation we earned a total grade of “C” compared to other countries. Read More ›

small schoolchildren with colorful school bags and backpacks run to school. Back to schoo
small schoolchildren with colorful school bags and backpacks run to school. Back to school, education, elementary school.
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Back to School

As children head back to school, it’s a good time to assess the current state of education in America. Over the decades, we have expanded the number of voters and we have expanded the access to education. How are we doing in producing an “educated electorate?” Don Nielsen, program chair of ACTE says, “Not well. In fact, we are putting our way of life at risk by our continuing failure to effectively educate our citizens. For decades, our education system has failed at its mission. We have consistently seen 20-25 percent of our students drop out of school prior to graduation and of those who do graduate, more than half have not achieved a level of learning to allow them Read More ›