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US High Schools Just Don’t Understand Politics

The results of the 2016 National Assessment of Educational Progress show that nearly 75% of all high school schools fail to understand how the US government works. Compared to the results of a similar study conducted five years ago, test scores fell by 3%. Students were asked questions related to the three branches of government as well as rights and responsibilities of US citizens. Statistically, Hispanic students showed the most progress. Between 2010 and 2016, Hispanic students increased their basic scores by 12%.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor believes that high school and elementary school instructors are failing to teach students the basic principles of government. This trend has been in effect for the past few decades, and it appears that the public school system is completely inept. Students that are able to get private tutoring or those who excel in other areas of study are more likely to understand how the US government works. Even so, 78% of eighth graders do not understand even the most basic fundamentals of civics.

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High Standards Call for Strong Home-School Partnerships

Children’s lives are shaped by the web of relationships in their environments. In our capacities as school leaders, teachers, and parents, we are entrusted with the formidable responsibility of guiding, nurturing, supporting, and teaching our young. As the significant people who help children to make sense of their world, one of our primary tasks is to build relationships which support the quality of learning that our children deserve and need if they are to develop into caring, responsible, educated persons.

Because we share the same basic goals, the mutual collaboration, support, and participation of families in their child’s education is an important way to promote high standards, improve student achievement, and model life-long learning.

At P.S. 158, strong home-school partnerships are at the heart of the school’s belief system and take varied forms. One way that we have worked to strengthen home-school collaborations around educational issues has been through parent development workshops.

The successful series of parent workshops, facilitated by teachers and the principal, have made public and accessible the work of the school. The workshops are informative, engage the parents in discussions around teaching and learning, and address a wide range of topics such as early literacy, the writing curriculum, standards and assessments, standardized testing, integrated curriculum, and transition issues. In our effort to reach out to as many parents as possible, morning and evening sessions are scheduled.

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General studies can pay off over highly specific curricula

Kristin McQuillan primarily chose the University of the Pacific for a pilot program in which she could earn both a pharmacy degree and a master’s of business administration in six years.

But in her first semester last year on the Stockton, Calif., campus, she found herself far more enthusiastic about her economics and public speaking courses than biology. “Biology at UOP is a very difficult program. In order to excel, you really have to care about it,” she says. Spending several years memorizing massive amounts of microbiology information held no appeal at all.

“They teach it for a reason, but I couldn’t get myself to focus on something I didn’t enjoy that much,” says McQuillan, 19, of Fresno. So she changed majors to math and economics, abandoning the program that prompted her to choose the school to begin with.

Colleges across the country offer a panoply of specialized undergraduate majors and programs, from biomedical engineering to criminology. But before students limit their college searches based on highly specialized majors and concentrated studies, they should keep in mind that chances are good they will change their minds and change their majors.

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Should We Ban Churches From Sponsoring Charter Schools?

A Columbus church has appealed the Ohio Department of Education decision that churches can not sponsor charter schools in the state of Ohio. Some time ago, the Columbus Dispatch reported that the Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal by Brookwood Presbyterian Church.

Brookwood Presbyterian Church runs an educational program for 64 students with autism and other special needs, but as a church, it is disqualified from sponsoring charter schools, the Ohio Department of Education says.

But Brookwood, an East Side church that has housed the Brookwood Community Learning Center since its founding in 2002, says the state’s conclusion amounts to religious discrimination. The church is contesting the state’s decision in the Ohio Supreme Court.

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Talking with Inspirational Teacher Andrew Gardner

At the age of 29, Andrew Gardner has already been a first-grade teacher for seven years. With passion and dedication to the field, Gardner has developed a teaching style that is creative and innovative, fostering an enjoyment of learning for his six-year-old students.

Gardner ascribes his motivation to pursue a career in education as part social mission and part family influence. As a major in American Studies, he came to the conclusion that “the promises of America have been overridden by systemic problems and education is a way to help eradicate them.” His mother was a special education teacher involved with research in Fragile X syndrome; his father is a renowned professor at Harvard.

Gardner feels that young children present a unique window of opportunity; that teaching them to read is a “mind-blowing process.”

An internship at Yale presented a starting point for Gardner to watch the greats in action—developmental educators of young children such as Edward Zigler and James Comer—while working 30 hours a week at the Child Study Center.

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Shy People Are Not Born That Way, According To IU Researcher

People are not born shy, according to Bernardo Carducci, a professor of psychology at Indiana University Southeast. In a recent paper, Carducci, director of IU Southeast’s Shyness Research Institute, argues that people are not born shy. Carducci, author of Shyness: A Bold New Approach (Harper Perennial, 2000), said that shyness is characterized by excessive self-consciousness, negative self-evaluation and self-preoccupation. All three characteristics involve a sense of self, which Carducci said does not exist at birth.

‘The question of the origin of the sense of self has been of interest to not only shyness researchers, but also some of the world’s greatest thinkers,’ said Carducci. ‘Charles Darwin proposed as early as the 1870s that a child’s sense of self originates when the child is first able to recognize themselves in a mirror ‘ something that doesn’t occur until the child is approximately 18 months old.’

Carducci said early childhood shyness often is confused with an inhibited temperament ‘ a biological condition characterized by excessive physiological and behavioral reactions to environmental stimuli, present in about 20 percent of newborns.

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