“Bad Actors” must be held accountable!

Important piece by CTAC’s Joe Frey is linked below. To make education work for every student in America, we must have a strong array of options and meaningful choice in every community. Compelling non-profit and for-profit offerings are a must. But, when for-profit interests in financial results trump quality and academic results, that is just as bad as adult-interests being allowed to trump decisions that are best for kids also often seen in governmental and non-profit offerings. All “bad actors” must be answerable. See what you think. (Cut and paste into browser.)


Are we Turning the Corner on Bullying?

Regarding the persistent problems of school bullying, I wonder if we are turning the corner?  Are kids standing up to these challenges in sufficient numbers?  Are we more regularly drilling to the core of personal and emotional problems driving these dangerous behaviors of the perpetrators?  This video clip give me hope…


Teacher/Academic Arrogance or?

Check out Jay M’s OpEd in Washington Post. When it comes to high school kids demonstrating mastery of a course or unit of study, come on now…

No one thinks we should foster cheating, but don’t we know enough about varying forms of demonstrating mastery?! It doesn’t have to always be answering questions on a teacher- or company-made test. Especially in the case of recovered drop outs and those who have a testing phobia we know about portfolios, project-based outcomes, etc.

Jay’s work is often spot-on. This piece needs a retraction. We can do better in the assessment of kids’ learning and demonstration of mastery.


Leaders Abandoning Trump

Noting all these corporate and other leaders abandoning Trump’s various advisory committees and task forces. Can’t decide whether this is a good move from a leadership standpoint, or whether it would have been a better idea to attend the meetings, and confront POTUS and his staff on the multitude of issues they don’t get. And certainly don’t get right.

Here’s a latest one…


CICS Celebrates 20 years

20 years of great work for mostly underserved, under-represented kids in Chicago, CICS celebrated yesterday at the UIC Pavilion. Our Distinctive Schools team is proud to be a part of it all. Anxious for the work to continue in these college prep focused campuses. Have a great school year.

Emotional Engagement, Looking Beyond Test Scores

In a recent article David Brooks states, “Education is one of those spheres where the heart is inseparable from the head.” If students are to succeed, the best possible conditions for them, for anyone, is to come from a home where they feel safe and secure. Experiencing strong attachments to family and friends allow them to bond with teachers and parents. They need positive reinforcement and some sense of identity, some confidence about their own worth and some sense of agency about their own future.

Today many students come to school lacking a secure emotional base. In the first five years the kind of educational environment that surrounds a child is the most important for effective nurture.

Teachers who motivate their students to show up every day and throw themselves into school life may not even realize how good they are, because emotional engagement is not something we measure and stress.


Music Ed. Accelerates Development of Auditory, Speech, and Language Skills

The study of music seems to have helped accelerate cognitive development, and particularly the auditory and speech and language-processing abilities, of a group of young children in Los Angeles.  The students are taught using an approach based on El Sistema, developed in Venezuela. They receive free instruments and intensive, regular training from adult musicians. To gauge their brain development the students are occasionally monitored with MRIs, EEGs, and other activities.

Research two years into the study revealed the students in the music group were more able to identify differences in musical pitch than other students. The brain scans also showed that these students had more-developed auditory pathways than their peers. Development in auditory processing also affects students’ ability to process speech and language, which means it could have an impact on students’ academic progress as well as musical abilities.

Most schools have experienced cuts in arts and music programs in recent decades. Advocates have been highlighting the inequitable distribution of arts programs in schools. (Many schools serving the most disadvantaged students don’t have robust arts programs.) Studies like this bolster claims that music education, especially where many students are living in poverty, could benefit children’s cognitive development.

Why so many Marginalized Students are left out of Gifted Education

A preliminary giftedness test given to all second-graders at a Broward County, Florida school has proved incredibly beneficial for the improving the academics of all students. The traditional system relied on nominations from teachers and parents, giving students who come from families with more resource an unfair advantage over their just as intelligent, but marginalized peers.

“The screening program led to a 180 percent increase in the gifted rate among all disadvantaged students, with a 130% increase for Hispanic students and an 80% increase for black students.”

These students were also more likely to have parents that spoke a primary language other than English. Under the new system, the new gifted students (who were predominantly black, latino, immigrant children and kids from lower income families) benefited academically. Because researchers noted poor and immigrant children tend to have lower test scores and grades on average, some may have been led to assume that few of them had the intellectual potential of more-privileged kids, but they excelled just as well as their peers already in the program.

In relation to the study, National Association for Gifted Children board chair George Betts said the standard educator and parent referrals are not enough to identify all gifted students. It’s time to change the way we approach gifted classes and make sure that students in those classes reflect the larger demographic of their schools’ as a whole to be sure students of all backgrounds have a chance for advancement.

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