"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Monday, September 21, 2020

Listen to this - 2020 #4


Children Are Born Scientists. What If School Encouraged That? (Kristina Rizga)

Standardized tests are generally a waste of time and money, but they do show what states require schools to emphasize in daily instruction. It's no surprise that there's been an "overall decline" in the time spent teaching science...which is not tested to the extent that reading and math are.

In Indiana, for example, all children in grades three through eight are tested every year in English/Language Arts and Math. Science is tested only in grades four and six, and then not again until subject area tests in high school (Social Studies is tested only in grade five before high school). Students in grade three have an additional reading test tied to a grade-level promotion.

There are standards for science in every grade, of course, and teachers are required to teach those standards every year, but the fact that they're not tested tells the teachers and the students that they are "not important" and are often relegated to the position of "fillers" and taught "when there's time" during the school week.

Kindergartens, which have transitioned from developmentally appropriate activities to the "new first grade", rarely allow students time to study science through free play at water tables, sand tables, building blocks, and other natural explorations.

Our students should start preparing for a science and technology-based society. Carl Sagan reminded us in 1990 that we live in a society dependent upon science and technology, yet too few of us understand science and technology.

From Kristina Rizga
Studies that have looked at time dedicated to science in elementary grades since the mid-’90s, have found variation between states, but generally show an overall decline, especially in schools serving high numbers of low-income children. Meanwhile, jobs in the STEM-related fields are now projected to be among the fastest growing in America, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Political storms: Emergent partisan skepticism of hurricane risks

From Elisa F. Long, M. Keith Chen, and Ryne Rohla

That Americans don't understand or trust science is reason enough that we need to teach it. As a nation, we are ignorant of science-based problems like climate change, toxic and radioactive wastes, and ozone depletion. When someone raises an alarm about a looming scientific crisis there is widespread denial that it's happening.

A significant number of our citizens distrust scientists and science, and sadly, science distrust and denial are tied to one of our political parties. Proof of that can be seen in the study below, where people from the science-denying political party were more likely to ignore warnings about dangerous hurricane forecasts.

Exposing students to good science beginning in early childhood is a way to make sure that they grow up to be science-literate citizens.
Mistrust of scientific evidence and government-issued guidelines is increasingly correlated with political affiliation...Combining GPS data for 2.7 million smartphone users in Florida and Texas with 2016 U.S. presidential election precinct-level results, we examine how conservative-media dismissals of hurricane advisories in 2017 influenced evacuation decisions. Likely Trump-voting Florida residents were 10 to 11 percentage points less likely to evacuate Hurricane Irma than Clinton voters (34% versus 45%)...The rapid surge in media-led suspicion of hurricane forecasts—and the resulting divide in self-protective measures illustrates a large behavioral consequence of science denialism.


‘The failures of everyone else get passed to the schools’

America's public schools have been charged with fixing societal problems for decades. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the problem in 1967 remarking that
...we are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.
There are still those who think that "fixing" the schools will fix society despite the fact that it has never worked. Politicians, pundits, and policymakers have, for years, passed the buck to the schools. Maybe it's time for them to accept some of the responsibility. Schools can help, of course, but can't do it alone.

From Middle school teacher, Braden Bell
Whenever society has a problem and those in charge can’t resolve it, the problem gets punted to the schools, which simply must deal with it as best they can.

Hunger. Lack of reliable child care. Gun violence. Pregnancies and STDs. Students who are abused or vulnerable in any number of ways...In all these cases, society is conflicted or at an impasse. As politicians and ideologues argue, schools have to address the problems encountered by the students who show up each day. Schools can’t punt. And because this exceeds what schools were designed for, they are often not well equipped to take on these challenges.


Gene Roddenberry Quotes That Inspire a Great Future

No matter how hard the current occupant of the White House and his followers try to deny and prevent it, the US is a diverse country. That diversity is a net positive for our growth as a nation.

From Gene Roddenberry
Diversity contains as many treasures as those waiting for us on other worlds. We will find it impossible to fear diversity and to enter the future at the same time.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg says this is the secret to living a meaningful life

From Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The myth of the American "rugged individual" has been taken to the extreme. We have become a tribal nation focused on getting benefits for ourselves only. Unfortunately, we live in a community of people...and a community of nations. We need to understand that "we all do better when we all do better." The late Justice Ginsburg understood that.
...to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That's what I think a meaningful life is. One lives not just for oneself, but for one's community.

Reimagine Schools after Covid-19? Bring Children Together!

Thurgood Marshall said,
...unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever learn to live together and understand each other
From Nancy Bailey
Public schools can bring us together. When children learn to care for each other with tolerance and understanding, they will grow to respect one other as adults...

Vouchers and charters divide. Private schools and charter schools segregate. Remote learning, or learning at home or anyplace anytime, does little to bring students together.

This country needs strong public schools that unite students and families.


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