Preschool funding for kids now pays off billions later
There are few sure investments in this chaotic economic climate, but on a national level, education has proven to pay off big down the road. As tight economic times have put the squeeze on education budgets here in the U.S., a new report shows the big benefits of even small investments in early education worldwide.
For every dollar invested in boosting preschool enrollment, middle- and low-income countries would see a return of some $6.40 to $17.60, according to a new analysis published September 22 in The Lancet. “Early childhood is the most effective and cost-effective time to ensure that all children develop to their full potential,” noted the authors, led by Patrice Engle, of California Polytechnic State University. “The returns on investment in early child development are substantial.”
Previous research found similar cost-benefit figures for the U.S. as well. In one Chicago study published earlier this year, each $1 invested in early childhood education returned an estimated $11 during the course of the child’s life thanks to better earnings, less public aid and less drain on the justice system.
If just a quarter of the kids from 73 middle- and low-income countries attended one year of preschool, it would generate some $10.6 billion additional money down the road thanks to increased potential and earning capabilities of those children once they become adults.
The effect of this extra schooling might be felt for generations. Preschool has been shown to boost school attendance and achievement later in life. And that suggests, “in turn, children who remain—and succeed—in school are more likely to earn higher incomes as adults and to provide better nutrition, health care, stimulation and educational opportunities to their own children,” Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, wrote in an essay in the same issue of The Lancet.
This sort of down-the-line effect could also help to reduce economic disparities between wealthy and poor countries—and individuals. Even within the same country, kids from the lowest fifth of the income bracket are already less than half as likely to go to preschool. “Unless governments allocate more resources to quality early child development programs for the poorest people in the population, economic disparities will continue to widen,” Engle and her colleagues wrote.
Preschool is just one aspect of early childhood development, with proper nutrition and a safe and stimulating environment being other crucial components for success and healthy progress. But with such a big payoff and the relative ease of scaling up school programs—as opposed to ensuring proper nutrition and care at home—countries of all income ranges could boost educational enrollment for kids under the age of 5 now as a way of improving the odds of economic brawn in the future.
Source: Scientific American
10 Internet technologies educators should be informed about – 2011 update
Below you will find updated information for 5 of the technologies from the original posting, and 5 new technologies that have earned their rightful place in the list (displacing 5 other types of tech, that while still worthy, are not quite as relevant today, IMHO). This is not intended to be a definitive listing, but rather an informed resource that provides insights and raises awareness. Lots of links to example apps and articles have been provided, so readers can learn more about each application category.
1. Video and Podcasting Resources – One of the most widely adopted internet technologies for use in instructional settings is video streaming. In addition to the ubiquitous YouTube, there are several education-specific video hosting sites, including TeacherTube, EduTube, and SchoolTube. There is an abundance of lectures, how-to videos, and similar materials available on the web. The Khan Academy is one such resource that has garnered a lot of press, but it’s just one of many web-based free lecture and tutoring resources available today. Check out “A Dozen Great Free Online Video Lecture Sites” for a wide selection of lecture content, and our Tutoring Category for more tutoring resources. Podcasting has also been used to provide similar offerings of audio materials through popular sites like iTunes U (learn more about Podcasting here).
2. Digital Presentation Tools – There are dozens of tools on the Internet that can be used to create and share presentations. This summer’s post, “8 Great Free Digital Presentation Tools For Teachers To Try This Summer” provides a good starter set of tools to try if you wish to learn more about these fun applications. These tools can be used to support classroom teaching or distance learning, and provide engaging ways for students to create and deliver reports and presentations.
3. Collaboration & Brainstorming Tools – This is another wide ranging category, including thought-organizing tools like mindmap and bubbl.us, and collaborative tools like web based interactive whiteboards and Google Documents. There are many collaborative environments on the web, and this category can even include tools like wikis and virtual worlds. Click through to the C & B category to learn even more.
4. Blogs & Blogging – Despite the ongoing growth and popularity of blogging, many educators are still not very familiar with the “blogosphere” and all it has to offer. In addition to the ever expanding body of education focused blog content available for free, educators should also be aware of sites like Blogger and WordPress, where users can quickly and easily create their own blogs for free. To learn more about the many ways in which teachers, students, administrators, and technologists are using blogs, check out last year’s series of posts, “Blogging in Education Today”.
5. Social Networking Tools – The article “7 Reasons To Leverage Social Networking Tools in the Classroom” makes the case for the many benefits that can come from using social networking tools in a social learning context. Posts about the use of mass media tools like Facebook and Twitter generate a lot of traffic, indicating a high level of interest in these tools. There are also many education-specific social networking tools available today that enable teachers to explore this avenue without having to worry about exposing students to inappropriate content.
6. Lecture Capture – This technology has tremendous potential. One of ways in which lecture capture can change the nature of teaching is by enabling teachers to “flip the classroom”. Students can consume lecture content outside of the classroom and use valuable in-class time to reinforce the material covered in the lecture and make sure students are understanding the new content. For more on this topic, read the article, “Learning about Lecture Capture Technology”.
7. Student Response Systems & Poll/Survey Tools – Student Response Systems, or “clicker” technology is gaining a lot of traction in educational institutions. One winner of last year’s EmergingEdTech contest focused on uses of technology in the classroom demonstrated clear learning outcome improvements while engaging students with this interactive education technology. One the most common uses for clickers is poll taking, which can also be done using a computer or smart phone, utilizing any of the dozens of tools out on the web that do this, like Doodle or Polldaddy.
8. Educational Gaming – The “gamification” of education is another tech trend that is gradually taking hold in educational practices in academic institutions across the world. The 2011 Horizon Report, which provides insights into education technology trends, claims that game-based learning is only 2-3 years from mainstream adoption. While waiting for this technology to mature, there are many educational games available today in the form of online sites like these.
9. Open Educational Resources – OER is a transformational idea that can play an important role in changing the nature, and availability, of educational materials, content, and tools. Click over to “Learning about OER – Open Educational Resources” to discover more about this topic and access a host of resources on the subject. How wonderful would it be if Open Education Resources evolved into the predominant way in which educational resources were delivered?
10. The iPad and other tablet devices – Since the launch of the iPad2, this Apple technology has really taken education by storm. Posts here like, “10 Excellent iPad Applications for Teachers” generate a huge amount of traffic, confirming the tremendous interest level in this platform. We’ve been learning more about this phenomenon through articles like, “iPads In Education – How’s It Going So Far?” and “Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out)”. Schools across the world are considering uses for the iPad and similar tablet devices, and the market for tablets is really heating up.
Another important education technology trend is the exploding use of mobile devices. While this has not been included as its own category here, it is implicit in several of the technologies above. For example, smart phones and other mobile devices go hand-in-hand with social networking and consumption of video and podcasting resources and lecture capture content. I mention this here specifically because tablet devices seem to have risen to the fore of the mobile device category this year.
Newark schools start to put $100 million gift to work
A year ago, the announcement of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to Newark public schools was held in a hotel ballroom, replete with TV cameras and visiting dignitaries.
Yesterday, its one-year anniversary was celebrated in the cramped library of a Newark elementary school - sans Zuckerberg and many of the other visitors.
The century-old setting reflects the hard realities of Newark, and all the good the gift could bring.
There have already been some accomplishments to mark. The first $7.4 million of the money is going out, the latest for a $600,000 innovative teacher fund that will offer $10,000 grants to individual teachers. A local foundation is in place to manage the funds, and the required matching contributions now total $47 million. And there has been no shortage of pledges to transparency and community involvement.
"I really have a great confidence that this will start a great year, two years, three and four for the benefit of the children and families of our city," said Mayor Cory Booker, who initially attracted the gift in a meeting with Zuckerberg and has been its biggest cheerleader since.
Trying Not to Overpromise
But how the money will be translated into the schools is a work in progress, and even the most ardent supporters yesterday were trying not to overpromise.
"While I know the expectations are high, I want to remind folks that $200 million is a quarter of the annual operating budget of the Newark schools, said Greg Taylor, president and chief executive of the Foundation for Newark's Future, the foundation set up to raise the matching funds and administer the money.
So far, the money disbursed is more strategic than transformative, aimed at specific programs like new alternative high schools and charter schools that operate outside the district's control and under agreement with the state.
"But money won't do this alone, and we know that we will need to work in partnership," Taylor said, pledging the formation of a community advisory board in the coming months.
A big partner is the district's new superintendent, Cami Anderson, who is 100 days on the job today and said a couple of times that the district is making its own strides, separate from anything the foundation is paying for. A relatively smooth opening of the school year, no small feat, was among them and duly noted by others.
Anderson said the private money does help fund what she called "out of the box ideas," like the district's new parent call center ($400,000) and financial and data audits ($500,000) that she said will pave the way for more direct funding of classroom improvement.
Yet the day-to-day operation of the schools is trickier, more beholden to law, regulations and contracts that are slower to change. Anderson has put in place a new personnel system that eases the way for the hiring and assignment of teachers, with more than 300 new teachers hired for this year.
But other obstacles still stand in the way. For instance, while $1 million in Zuckerberg money is slated for extending the school day and year, negotiations in a teachers' union contract that would lay out how that is accomplished district-wide remains at formal impasse.
Even smaller labor agreements for extended scheduling in specific schools funded through separate federal grants have yet to be agreed upon with the Newark Teachers Union, she acknowledged.
New Jersey's acting education commissioner Chris Cerf, who plays a central role in the state-run district and who hand-picked Anderson for the super's slot, played down the labor issues and said those would be left to closed-door negotiation with the union.
But Cerf has seen the battles, too, and acknowledged as much from the months leading up to Anderson's selection last spring when public meetings were raucous and the school community was gripped by uncertainty, if not distrust.
"There has been a cacophony and moments of stress and tension," he said yesterday. "And yet what is emerging from this process is something that is truly great and inspiring."
"There is an incredible aligning of the stars here to do something truly special here," Cerf continued. "It will take some courage, it will take some tough moments and stripes on our backs. But it is happening and will happen."
Not Flush with Cash
Yet even spending close to $1 billion this year, Newark schools hardly appear flush with cash. Case in point is the school that hosted yesterday's event, the Harriet Tubman Elementary School in the city's Central Ward.
It is one of the superstars of the district, held up as a model for others, and indeed both its climate and its test scores reflect that standing. In a tour of the building beforehand, classes appeared animated and engaged, with uniformed children explaining their work to the school's sudden maelstrom of visitors.
But standing outside the presentation yesterday, PTO president Natasha Akinyele didn't take long to come up with a ready list of needs. The building itself is a remnant of another century, its gym, auditorium and cafeteria all in one, she said. Technology is limited -- "no Smartboards here" -- and it's been seven years since parents started asking for a playground.
Actually, Akinyele was meeting with a playground consultant at the school yesterday, before running into the crowd in the hallway. The playground would be funded with the help of City Councilman Darrin Sharif, she said, unrelated to the $100,000 earmarked for playgrounds so far in the Zuckerberg money.
"We need to be able to let our children go outside," said Akinyele, who has two sons in the school.
She also said the school lost a technology teacher and a science teacher last year, and hasn't had a visual arts teacher for several years. Class sizes in some grades rose to 30 students, she said. That's improving this year -- a new arts teacher is on the way -- but class sizes are still pretty big, said the mother of two.
Don't get her wrong. Akinyele said Harriet Tubman is a "wonderful school" and she's proud of all that it has accomplished. The attention yesterday was nice, too. It's just for all the talk of money in the schools -- not to mention Zuckerberg's largesse -- Akinyele said it hasn't made Harriet Tubman rich, at least not yet.
"We are still scrambling to stretch 50 cents into a dollar," she said.
Source: NJ Spotlight
Online K-12 schools growing amid criticism, questions
In Ohio, some parents are giving up entirely on their failing traditional brick-and-mortar schools and enrolling their children in online public schools full-time, CNBC.com reports. Patty Elwell, one such parent, was one of the first to make that leap in 2004. After her local elementary school began dropping subjects like science and social studies from its curriculum, Elwell felt that her kids would get a better education from one of the first online charter schools in the state, the Ohio Virtual Academy.
“In spite of everyone’s best efforts the local school couldn’t meet their academic needs,” says Elwell, a former full-time teacher in southwest Ohio who has a son in 12th grade and a daughter in ninth. “My only regret was I didn’t do it sooner.”
Now Elwell has both her children enrolled in OVA and, because she is a state resident, they both attend the school for free. And disappearing classes are no longer a problem: OVA’s curriculum allows its students to take classes above their grade level, and even offers advanced placement and honors courses that are being dropped by traditional, financially-squeezed schools.
It’s easy to confuse online public schools with homeschooling with an online component. While homeschoolers design their own curriculum, which is not reviewed by the state, online public schools that are under the auspices of the state must adhere to the same academic guidelines and standards and traditional public schools. Although currently homeschoolers outnumber online public school students 6:1, the momentum is undeniably shifting.
Across the nation, 48 states, plus the District of Columbia, offer some kind
of online schooling. Twenty-nine offer full-time public schools. The growing
popularity of online learning is hard to dismiss, but now questions are
beginning to be asked about the effectiveness of the online education model
compared to traditional schools. MPRNews reports that in Minnesota, where the
numbers attending online classes “are booming,” a recently released report
showed serious academic achievement issues among the 8,000 full-time online students it surveyed.
Legislative Auditor James Nobles found that, on the whole, online students tended to perform worse than their traditional school counterparts.
He found those students are less likely to complete courses they’ve started, and more likely to drop out of school altogether than students in traditional classroom settings. Two years ago, 25 percent of 12th graders in online schools dropped out, compared to just 3 percent in traditional schools.
Those students lagged behind their traditional peers when it came to the state’s standardized math tests, although they generally kept pace in reading.
At the end of his report, Noble offered some recommendations. He suggested that the Department of Education raise the number of staff assigned to work with online schools. He also suggested that the Department review the process it uses to oversee and regulate online schools in the state.
"American Teacher" Takes a Look Inside the Teaching Profession
After receiving my Master’s in Education and my teaching credentials, I taught in three different settings: a large urban public school, a large suburban public school, and a tiny public charter school - San Francisco’s first.
There were huge differences in these settings in terms of resources: I was laid off from my first job due to budget cuts and our union’s “last in, first out” requirement; the second school was in a wealthy suburb with plenty of resources and meaningful professional training; and the charter school didn’t even have a building until a few weeks before the start of the year.
What the three schools had in common, however, were superb faculties. I marveled at the teachers at those schools. How David Sondheim knew the souls of every kid in the halls of Drake High. The way Jonathan Dearman brought an entire music department to our under-supplied charter school. The eye-popping science experiments that Sarah Kerley designed on a limited budget and with scrappy materials. I could go on and on.
I witnessed firsthand how these creative, warm, hilarious, and intelligent teachers made sincere connections with students and provided inspiring lessons day after day, but I knew the outside world didn’t see what I saw. I often felt and heard a very different impression of our profession.
In 2003 I was thrilled to team up with Daniel Moulthrop and Dave Eggers to attempt to address this lack of awareness. We wrote a book that collected vivid depictions of teachers’ lives. We interviewed hundreds of teachers about the complexities of their work, their passions for their profession, their frustrations with public conceptions of their value, and their financial struggles to make it all possible. We talked with people who said they would have loved to go into teaching, but didn’t want to be undervalued professionally or find themselves scraping by financially.
We also examined schools that had raised their teachers’ salaries and saw good results, including increased applications for job openings, increased teacher retention, increased graduation rates, and, yes, increased test scores.
The book was well received, and yet I wanted to speak to people beyond the educational community. The new film "American Teacher" is our attempt to bring these stories to a wider audience.
The film chronicles the stories of four teachers living and working in disparate urban and rural areas of the country. By following these teachers as they reach different milestones in their careers, our film tells the deeper story of the teaching profession in America today.
Our country is facing a remarkable opportunity right now, with almost half of our teachers eligible for retirement in the next ten years. Who do we want to take their places? The personal stories of Jonathan, Jamie, Erik, and Rhena portray the proud accomplishments and frustrating sacrifices of teachers nationwide, and will hopefully inspire a cultural shift to value the country's effective teachers.
Nínive Calegari produced "American Teacher," which opens in theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on September 30 and in San Francisco on October 7.
Source: Education Nation
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