A California school canceled a “homework buyout” fundraiser — $100 for a week without homework — after parents complained. The money would have helped pay for classroom supplies.
“Normal Barbie” — a fashion doll with the body of a typical 19-year-old American — now can be customized with acne, tattoo, cellulite and stretch-mark stickers.
Other options are “freckles, glasses, blushing, adhesive bandages, moles, temporary tattoos, stitches, scrapes & scratches, bruises, casts, scars, mosquito bites, and grass and dirt stains,” reports BuzzFeed News.
Imperfections make “Lammily” more “relatable,” says designer Nickolay Lamm. “I want to show that average is beautiful.”
At 5’4″ and 150 pounds, the average 19-year-old is pudgy, notes Virginia Postrel. Lamm has declared she’s an athlete to justify her “firm plastic tummy.” (Do average 19-year-olds have stretch marks?)
When I was 19, I was 5’4″ and 120 pounds. That was normal in 1971.
Boys are on the wrong side of a “gender gap” in music education, reports Pacific Standard. Girls outnumber boys by roughly two to one in high school choirs and orchestras, according to a University of Maryland study.
From 1982 through 2009, the average high school choir has been 70 percent female to 30 percent male, reports Kenneth Elpus. Orchestras have averaged 64 percent female and 36 percent male. Boys are more likely to participate in band, but girls are the majority there too.
In the San Jose neighborhood where Cesar Chavez got his start, immigrants’ children struggle with reading, reports National Journal.
A group called Somos Mayfair has organized parents — poorly educated, Spanish-speaking gardeners, cleaners and restaurant workers — to share children’s books. This month the En Nuestras Manos (In Our Hands) campaign organized reading circles at a local park and in someone’s driveway.
“Cesar Chavez Elementary School is among the lowest-performing schools in California,” according to National Journal. This is untrue. On the state’s most recent Academic Performance Index, the school’s scores are slightly above average — way above average compared to schools with similar demographics.
Mayfair is in the Alum Rock elementary district, which has a number of high-performing charter and district schools. It’s the most-improved district in Silicon Valley.
In Texas, one in three children has a parent who’s an immigrant — or they’re immigrants themselves, reports KERA News in Generation One.
Autumn is the theme of this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling, hosted by Janice Campbell.
At Amongst Lovely Things, Sarah offers a list of Favorite First Novels to Read-Aloud with Kids. She recommends Betty McDonald’s Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (one of my childhood favorites), Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach (I read it aloud to my baby brother), Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle and more.
My mother read us Black Beauty. My sister and I loved it. When she finished, we begged for her to read it all over again. Mom thought it was Victorian treacle, but she read it twice. Then she told us to learn to read so we could read it for ourselves. I did reread it years later. Mom had a point.
Sesame Street‘s early seasons come with a warning to parents: Not safe for today’s children. Producers cite Cookie Monster’s dietary choices and children shown riding bikes without a helmet and running through a construction site, writes Peter Weber on The Week. “In the opening scene of the very first episode, a young girl being shown around Sesame Street by a grown man, Gordon, who is not her father and is holding her hand.”
Weber highlights 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn’t show today’s kids, including Ernie’s encounter with an O-pusher. “Kids, if a strange man approaches you and starts to open his trench coat, run,” advises Weber.
Preschool for all is politically popular, writes Alia Wong in The Atlantic. But it’s not the “panacea” that President Obama and other advocates claim it is, say researchers. It may be counterproductive.
Making it universal is “a very bad idea,” says Ron Haskins, a preschool expert who co-directs the Center on Children and Families at the left-leaning Brookings Institute. “Invest (government dollars) where they’re most needed and that’s with low-income kids. (This) is going to waste a lot of money on families that don’t need it.”
“You have to look at the trade-off,” said Darleen Opfer, the education director at the RAND Corporation. “If you have a state that can’t afford high-quality preschool for everyone, where does the investment really make sense?”
But that won’t “inoculate them” from the effects of mediocre schools, says Bruce Fuller, a Berkeley researcher.
Head Start’s benefits fade in elementary school. “Preschool has been oversold,” says Cato’s Neal McCluskey. “People too often speak as if it’s a certainty that preschool has strong, lasting benefits.”
I’d like to see more investments in helping parents improve their parenting skills.
A very cheap intervention — texting low-income parents with literacy tips — improved preschoolers’ language skills significantly in a Stanford study.
Half of the parents received thrice-weekly texts for eight months with messages like “By saying beginning word sounds, like ‘ttt’ in taco & tomato, you’re preparing your child 4 K,” or “Let your child hold the book. Ask what it is about. Follow the words with your finger as you read.”
. . . The other half of the parents received one text message every two weeks with simple information about kindergarten enrollment or vaccinations.
Parents who received the literacy texts were far more likely to report pointing out rhyming words or describing pictures in a book to their children than those who received the more general texts.
. . . And when the children were given tests of letter and sound recognition, those whose parents had received the literacy texts had scores that indicated they were about two to three months ahead of those children whose parents had received only the general information texts.
The program cost less than $1 per child because 80 percent of the families already had unlimited text messaging plans on their cellphones, notes the New York Times. “That compares to home visiting programs that can cost close to $10,000 per child and require that families devote a considerable amount of time during an intensive period.”