Roundup I

Welcome to my inaugural “Education Round-Up” column.  Every week, this will be the place to read about new initiatives, programs, teachers, noteworthy students, fundraisers, speakers … whatever is happening, pre-K through college.

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While I hate to urge anyone to spend more time staring at their phones, there is an amazing array of free SAT prep options now available, for free or for a few dollars, for your smart phone. I’m a fan of the SAT question of the day, which comes by email from http://www.collegeboard.org, but check for others by searching for the word SAT. Students who start prepping for these tests freshman year will be way ahead of the game.

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Whether or not college is “worth it” is a hot topic in the news right now. With tuition exceeding $50,000 at some private colleges, the debate is understandable (and important). Georgetown’s Center for Education and the Workforce just released a new study, however, that found that students with a B.A. degree earn 84 percent more over their lifetime than those with just high school only (and that number has increased from 75 percent in 1999).

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There is a very cool new website called Scribblitt (www.scribblitt.com) where students can produce their own (self-published) book. The site features writing contests, word games, an illustration center and more. If your child loves to write, or read writing by others, it is worth a look.

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How can you tell if your child is over-scheduled? Jacqueline Golding of UCSF says, “If you have to schedule a child’s play dates more than a week or two ahead … or if kids have to stay up at night past a reasonable bedtime more than once in a great while in order to do their homework after their after school activities … they’re definitely doing too much.”

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I read an interesting article by Julia Williams on http://www.education.com recently on what teachers really want from parents and her suggestions were:

  1.  Start the day smoothly so the transition to school is an easy one.
  2.  Get to school on time.
  3.  Feed your kids a big breakfast and arrange for a healthy lunch.
  4.  Support good homework habits by setting aside the time and place.
  5.  Plan time to reconnect at the end of the day to hear from your child.

I’m very interested in Teach for America but don’t think any teachers have ever been assigned to this immediate area. I was surprised to learn that spots with TFA are now very hard to come by – this year TFA only accepted 11 percent of its applicants.

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What do you think about teachers texting or checking their smart phones during class time? This is an issue that just didn’t exist a decade ago. Teachers never would have made calls during class time but some think a quick text or two is OK. Is it disrespectful to their students, or are students so used to it all around them that they are unfazed by it?

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Is it hard to convince your son or daughter to pick up a book on the weekend and read? My son loves good stories but frankly hates to read. We signed up for audible.com and now he downloads the top teen titles onto his iPod and listens for hours while he shoots baskets outside or is falling asleep. Worth a try. Experts seem to agree that listening to books is almost as good as reading them (learning proper spelling is one drawback) but the upside is he sometimes listens for five-plus hours at a time and he could/would never read for that long.

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Did you get a chance to read “Memoir of a Tiger Mother” ?

Opinions on the author – parenting role model or crazy mom – are being debated in pick-up lines around town. Did you hear that her oldest daughter was accepted to Harvard? Hmmmm …

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US News & World Report recently reported that participation in high school sports has increased for the 22nd straight year, with 55.5 percent of high school students playing a sport. The most commonly offered sport nationwide is basketball and football boasts the greatest number of participants. The fastest growing sport is girls lacrosse. Interestingly, a recent study by Brigham Young University found that females who play a sport in high school are 41 percent more likely to graduate from college.

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Oh dear. A recent study by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy at California State University, Sacramento finds that California is at or near the bottom in affording university opportunities to its high school graduates. According to the study, the state now ranks dead last in total funding per college student … The study also finds that California ranks 41st in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded per every hundred high school graduates, meaning that fewer Californian are graduating from college.

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A front page New York Times discussed how an increased investment in technology in our schools is not necessarily leading to greater achievement or higher test scores and questions if the U.S. is allocating its education resources the wrong way. What do you think?

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Send me your news, ideas, comments and questions …

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