Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

The Public School Insights Blog

It’s sad but true: In October, a veteran teacher in Florida resigned because the conditions under which she was required to work did not support best practice. Despite her love of teaching and her “highly effective” ratings in evaluations, Wendy Bradshaw was trapped in an untenable position because she was required to deploy practices that were developmentally inappropriate for her young students.

Based on her extensive training in human growth and development, this highly credentialed professional with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees would not persist in activities that she knew to be harmful to her students. “Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it,” she writes in her resignation letter. “However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process.” ...

As I contemplate leaving the executive director position at the Learning First Alliance (LFA) after five years, I am reminded that while certainly public education has improved for many of American’s children over those years, the pace of change and improvement is slow and not nearly where we collectively and individually as education professionals and conscientious U.S. citizens would want it to be. And, it’s clear that in addition to education professionals who have devoted their careers to supporting the growth of young people, the crowd of those focused on public education has swollen to include business leaders; philanthropic organizations large and small; and national and local policymakers whose knowledge of schooling doesn’t extend beyond their own experiences as students.  ...

Tests. Homework. Sports. Volunteering. School clubs. A social life. Family interactions. What do all these things have in common? They are potential sources of stress for students, especially for older ones.

Even if the activity is something that a student loves, it can still cause stress. Is there enough time for it? Are they doing it well? Are they losing sleep from too many activities in a day or from lying awake at night, worrying?

Students may exhibit stress by acting angry, moody or irritable, showing negative changes in behavior, feeling sick a lot, and acting out in certain settings. Stress takes a toll on a person’s health, and students are no exception. What’s worse, chronic stress can make a student feel stuck and overwhelmed, which can impact their ability to learn and thrive at school.

So what can be done? We've pulled together these resources to help students cope with stress through mindfulness and meditation. ...

By Keith Krueger, CEO, CoSN

This month, CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) – in partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and MDR – unveiled the results of our annual survey that laid out the state of connectivity in schools across the U.S. There is lots of data for both pessimists and optimists among us.

Without question, there are some major challenges that are holding many school systems back from having a robust education network with broadband and WiFi capacity. Score one point for the pessimists.

And, there are also some encouraging signs that we are on the right track to reaching the President Obama’s ConnectEd vision of broadband and WiFi in 99 percent of classrooms over the next four years. Score half a point for the optimists. ...

How do effective teachers ready students for tomorrow's careers?

Student agency is about having student's voice and a choice in their own decision-making processes for what and how they are learning. It's about students developing the confidence and self-assuredness to assert their voices or thoughts and to advocate for their choices and ideas. It's about taking ownership of their learning in all situations-in school and in life. It's about developing the thinking behaviors that provide the substance to their ideas and the skills to express those ideas throughout our democratic society.

Nine behaviors--solving problems, managing one's self, adapting to change, conceptualizing, analyzing, communicating engaging, reflecting, collaborating-- are among those cited as key. (PARCC, 2009). These nine provide the skills that lead to the sense of efficacy students have when they have a solid level of college and career readiness. ...

Debbie Tidwell, past president of the Ohio PTA, and Sue Grodek, first grade teacher in the Brooklyn City School District in Brooklyn, Ohio, discuss the importance of parent communication and engagement in effective Common Core implementation.

Download as MP3 ...

In the fast-changing field of school technology, Keith Krueger is considered a preeminent and steadfast expert, having led the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) for more than two decades. This year, Tech & Learning magazine selected him as one of the “big 10” most influential people in education technology. Back in 2008 he was selected by eSchool News as one of 10 people who had a profound impact on educational technology in that decade.

Most recently, Keith has undertaken a work-study project on digital equity at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, examining the disparities in access to digital technologies and how those disparities impact students’ learning, their ability to succeed, and their parents’ engagement.  In an interview with the Learning First Alliance, he shares some of his findings and best practices.

LFA: You currently serve as CEO of CoSN, which recently joined the Learning First Alliance. What would you like us to know about your organization and your priorities? ...

We recently celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15), an important time to recognize the contributions made and significant presence of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States.

National PTA also used the month to raise awareness of the unique challenges Hispanic and Latino children and families face and elevate support for them in schools and communities.

Twenty-five percent of students today are Hispanic, and Hispanic children and youth are the fastest-growing population in America—the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the Hispanic school-age population will increase by 166% by 2050. Hispanic and Latino students are an important part of our nation’s future, and it is essential to support their learning and development and ensure they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

A key component to helping Hispanic and Latino children succeed is families who are engaged in their child's education and armed with tools and resources to support them at home.

We know Hispanic and Latino parents want the best for their children and want to be engaged, but there are cultural and language barriers that make it challenging. ...

A set of nine laudable principles to advance the teaching profession undergird an ambitious campaign organized by the Center for American Progress (CAP) that launches today. The new initiative, TeachStrong, targets improvements at every stage of the educator pipeline, from recruitment and preparation through licensure and career pathways, calling for a much-needed shift in focus in education policy away from test-and-punish accountability and toward strengthening the teaching profession.

TeachStrong attempts to elicit a common tune from the cacophony of voices across the education sector—from AACTE and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to the National Council on Teacher Quality and Teach for America—with a “Path to Modernizing and Elevating Teaching” comprising nine goals: ...

High-performing nations set themselves on a course of steady, long-term improvement, which includes consistent practices for recruiting, preparing, and supporting teachers — that is among the big takeaways from state legislators who participated in a year-long study of education outside the United States.

The study was convened by the National Conference of State Legislatures to explore how education functions in countries that are high performers on the PISA assessment. The 22 legislators all serve on their states’ legislative education committees. (I talked with two of them as part of Kappan’s work preparing our November 2015 issue on what the United States can learn from other countries.)

What they’ve learned so far has surprised them.

Indiana State Rep. Bob Behning, a Republican from Indianapolis, and Arkansas State Sen. Joyce Elliott, a Democrat from Little Rock, came to the exploration with different experiences and political ideas, but they sound a lot alike when they describe what they learned from studying Shanghai, Finland, Singapore, Ontario, and more. ...

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