College-for-all, standardized testing, parenting myths, and more

Winter break provided some wonderful sit-down-at-my-desk time to catch up on all the articles I had saved in my To Be Read Later folder. Here are some of the more interesting and thought-provoking, with some personal commentary thrown in absolutely free!

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"The college-for-all model isn't working" by Tamar Jacoby, Los Angeles Times Opinion:

Nearly half of those who start a four-year degree don't finish on time; more than two-thirds of those who start community college fail to get a two-year degree on schedule. Even students who graduate emerge saddled with debt and often without the skills they need to make a decent living. . . 

The key ingredient of the most effective CTE (career and technical education) programs is on-the-job training combined with classroom learning. Sometimes called apprenticeship, sometimes dual training or craft training, the combination can be expensive and difficult to structure and maintain. But nothing works as well, and it's a proven long-term win-win — for trainees and for the employers who invest in them.

Sometimes the old-fashioned ways are best. Mentoring and apprenticeships are more efficient and effective way to learn a trade, be it accounting or carpentry. College may have been considered absolutely essential a couple of decades ago, but that thinking is now out-of-date and out of step with reality. We also have to deprogram ourselves from the notion that college=success, and college-as-status-symbol.

Bottom line: Parents - instead of thinking as education as college prep, think of it as life prep. College is an option, but it isn't a necessity, and it can even be an obstacle. 


Standardized testing reaches crossroads: Test more or test better? by Alan J. Borsuk, Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

Standards are goals for what children should learn. Broad-scale tests are the way to find out how they're doing and compare kids in, say, your school or state with kids in another school or state. But that is valid only if the tests are worthy of the task — which is where a lot of debate lies.

Too many educators are still asking the wrong questions. Yes, we have standards for what children should learn. But the faulty assumptions that follow are:

  • Children of the same age should perform at the same levels.
  • We should compare children with other children of the same age.
  • We should compare children with children from other states.
  • We should compare America's children with children from other countries.
  • Tests can reveal proficiency. 
  • A broad scale test can be created that will accurately measure proficiency. 
  • We shouldn't leave something as important as evaluating learning up to the teachers who spend an entire school year, day after day, with the same children, but instead remove the human element and trust 2.5 hours of coloring in the dots on a piece of paper.

Bottom line: The federal government needs to get out of the power-mongering-micro-managing-of-education business, and return control to communities so they can staff their schools with qualified professionals, and evaluate their own schools and teaching methods. Then allow teachers to evaluate their own classrooms and students, promoting children based on mastery, not on age or ability to pass multiple choice tests. And teacher's unions can take a flying bite at Mars.


Ohio’s Arbitrary One-Day, One-Size-Fits-All Education Solution by Greg Mild at Plunderbund:

In April 2014 during the week after Easter, schools across Ohio will administer the Ohio Achievement Assessment (OAA) in Reading to approximately 120,000 third grade children across the state.  For Ohio’s young 8- and 9-year-old children, the stakes have never been higher. . . one-size-fits-all “solutions” in education are wrong, we find ourselves only four and a half months away from a single 2.5 hour test and 28 points that will determine the future of 120,000 of Ohio’s 8- and 9-year-old children — a one-size-fits-all law.

Bottom line: Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseum.


Peach Baskets by Will Fitzhugh at The Concord Review:

Theodore Sizer, late Dean of the Harvard School of Education and Headmaster of Phillips Academy, Andover, wrote, in 1988, that:

“Americans shamefully underestimate their adolescents. With often misdirected generosity, we offer them all sorts of opportunities and, at least for middle-class and affluent youths, the time and resources to take advantage of them. We ask little in return. We expect little, and the young people sense this, and relax.”

When we believe enough in our kids to expect great things from them, they are excited by the idea of rising to meet high standards and challenging goals. By not giving them the gift of high expectations, we tell them they are not worthy.

Bottom line: We reveal just how lazy we are as parents, because to expect self-discipline and dedicated study from our kids, we must model these behaviors ourselves. Otherwise, we are Do-As-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do parents. 


F is for Failure - and Other Parenting Myths by Gwen Toliver at The Schoolhouse Review Crew  blog

I have made an amazing discovery. Are you ready for this? I knew a lot more about parenting sixteen years and eight children ago.

We are all parenting experts, especially when it comes to other people's children. How little we know is never more evident until our own children realize they have a will of their own and begin to exercise it. 

But when we decide that our children's mistakes and moral failings were somehow under our control, and therefore our fault, is when we think we are equal to God. 

Bottom line: We train, teach, and equip our kids for life, but they are not our sock puppets. We take their decisions personally because of the incredible investment of love, time,  energy (and dare I say, money?). But the ultimate sign of respect is to view them as unique individuals, offer them unconditional love, and trust that they will learn from their mistakes. Oh wait - that's what God does for us, isn't it? 


The Eighth Anniversary of The Carnival of Homeschooling at Why Homeschool:

The first Carnival of Homeschooling was published in January of 2005.  This is the 419th edition.

You can submit your homeschool posts to the Carnival of Homeschooling by checking out the requirements here, and sending submissions to CarnivalOfHomeschooling@gmail.com by 6:00 PM (PST) on Monday evening to be published in Tuesdays Carnival. Please note that earlier submissions are much appreciated.


Consider Alternative Schooling by Glenn Harlan Reynolds in USA Today Opinion:

Even when they work well, public schools introduce all sorts of costs and rigidities into everyday life. . .  the intractibility isn't just about space. It's also about time. Without a public school schedule, vacations can be taken when the family wants to, not when school bureaucrats schedule them; school days can be moved around to accommodate parents' work schedules and medical needs, and, perhaps most importantly, kids with more flexible school hours are more able to enter the workplace, which can be more educational than many things that happen in school.

In pointing out problems with public schools, it sometimes comes across as adversarial - as in homeschoolers vs. public schoolers - but that is often not the intent, and facts are facts.

Bottom line: Parents are choosing cyber schools and homeschooling in greater numbers because these options offer so much freedom and more unique opportunities for children to learn and grow as individuals. 


What do these articles and posts say to you?

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