Students protest ‘patriotic’ history

In a Denver suburb, a conservative school board member proposed focusing U.S. history courses on citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority. Naturally, students walked out in protest.

Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, in Arvada, Colo.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, in Arvada, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Some students waved American flags and carried signs, such as “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”

Other carried signs supporting teachers. “The youth protest in the state’s second-largest school district follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down two high schools,” reports AP.

The school board proposal — which has not been voted on — would establish a committee to review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to ensure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”

“There are things we may not be proud of as Americans,” board member Julie Williams told Chalkbeat. “But we shouldn’t be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place.”

“In South Carolina, conservatives have called on an education oversight committee to ask the College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement courses, to rewrite their framework to make sure there is no ideological bias,” notes AP.

“Politics, propaganda and faith” have distorted history in textbooks written to meet Texas’ standards, historians complain.

Just say ‘not yet’ on marijuana

Persuading teens to say no to marijuana is harder these days, now that it’s legal for adults in Colorado and Washington, reports Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times.

Forty-four percent of teens have tried marijuana at least once and 7 percent use it frequently, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

In a survey, young people were asked what influences them not to use drugs.

Getting into trouble with the law and disappointing their parents were cited as the two most common reason young people did not use marijuana. The concern now is that legalization will remove an important mental barrier that keeps adolescents from trying marijuana at a young age.

The brain is still developing during adolescence, and marijuana can interfere with the wiring, say drug-prevention experts. They want young people to delay drug use till their brains have matured, some time in the early 20s.

Studies in New Zealand and Canada have found that marijuana use in the teenage years can result in lost I.Q. points. (Partnership CEO Steve) Pasierb says the current generation of young people are high achievers and are interested in the scientific evidence about how substance use can affect intelligence.

. . . “Talk to a junior or senior about whether marijuana use shaves a couple points off their SATs, and they will listen to you.”

The achievers may listen, but they’re the least likely to fry their brains with weed — or other drugs. It’s the kids with fewer IQ points to spare — and less mature brains — who are at risk of abusing drugs and alcohol.

Colorado tries ‘game-based learning’

Colorado’s community colleges are using “immersive game-based learning” as a teaching tool. For example, microbiology students follow a series of augmented reality scenarios to track a potential epidemic to its source.

Core testing: ACT beats PARCC

Following seven other Common Core states, Colorado should withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) “until the state has a chance to publicly review, evaluate, and critique Common Core standards and PARCC,” argues Teacher’s View blogger Michael Mazenko in the Denver Post. If Colorado needs standardized testing and decides its own test isn’t good enough, the state should use ACT’s Aspire, he writes.

PARCC is an unproven standardized test created by a private consortium that has provided very little information or transparency on what their tests will look like.

. . . ACT is a known entity with a proven track record, and ACT’s tests actually mean something to parents, students and, perhaps most important, colleges.

ACT testing is cheaper at $20 per student than PARCC at $30, writes Mazenko.

Colorado requires high school students to take the ACT and uses the scores to rate high schools on college preparation.  Colleges use ACT for admissions. No college plans to rely on PARCC scores.

Common Core conflict “spiked” yesterday at the state Capitol, reports the Denver Post.  “Moms” protested the standardsSen. Vicki Marble promoted her “Colorado Moms’ Bill” to delay new tests for a year pending a review of the standards. Common Core “was pushed onto Colorado with too little debate and no parental input,” said Marble.

Meanwhile, Common Core backers sponsored a panel discussion to persuade legislators to move forward.

Common Core testing has created chaos nationwide, reports the Washington Post. In California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and elsewhere, there are second thoughts.

Remediation first, then college

Tennessee community colleges are running remedial math labs in local high schools to prepare students for college math.

In Colorado, “early remediation” starts in eighth grade. Students who pass remedial college courses in English and math can enroll in college-level courses as early as 10th grade.

College is free for 5th-year students

Oregon and Colorado students can spend a “fifth year” in high school taking free community college courses leading to an associate degree.

Teachers, profs disagree on college readiness

College readiness is in the eye of the beholder: 89 percent of high school teachers think their students are “well” or “very well” prepared for college in their subject, but only 26 percent of professors say first-year students are well prepared for entry-level courses, according to the 2012 ACT National Curriculum Survey.

Two-thirds of teachers who were aware of the Common Core State Standards said they will need to change their current curriculum no more than slightly in response to the standards, the survey found.

In Colorado, 40 percent of first-year college students required at least one remedial course in 2012, including 66 percent of students who enrolled in community colleges and 24 percent at four-year institutions.  Among unprepared students, 51 percent required remediation in mathematics, 31 percent in writing and 18 percent in reading.

Universities fight 4-year CC degrees

Colorado university leaders are fighting a bill that would let community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in vocational  and technical fields, charging “mission creep.”  Supporters say rural students could earn workforce credentials without relocating. It’s a growing trend with Florida community colleges leading the way.

Colorado: Graduates’ skills don’t match jobs

Four-year college graduates’ skills don’t match available jobs, complained employers in Fort Collins, Colorado. A local liquor company employs three people with masters’ degrees, including a beer stocker with a physics degree.

A college degree is a valuable investment, but the first four to five years after college are “tougher than they’ve ever been,” said Martin Shields, a Colorado State economics professor.

In Massachusetts, community colleges are working with employers to design job training programs in high-demand fields.

Too many (would-be) elementary teachers

State Output

Some states produce enough elementary teachers to fill anticipated openings, but others produce twice as many as needed—or more.

Supply Demand Percent Difference
Colorado 1,169 1,099 106%
Connecticut 701 600 117
Delaware 373 122 306
Illinois 9,982 1,073 930
Kentucky 1,275 730 175
Louisiana 1,033 650 159
Maryland 1,011 723 140
Massachusetts 1,175 1,051 112
Michigan 2,903 1,227 236
Minnesota 1,179 709 166
Mississippi 751 660 114
New York 6,498 2,800 232
Pennsylvania 6,048 1,420 426
Tennessee 1,970 1,380 143

In many states, colleges are churning out too many would-be elementary teachers, reports Education Week.

New York and Michigan prepared twice as many elementary teachers as needed in 2011-12. Pennsylvania turned out four new graduates for every job opening. Illinois issued nine new elementary-teacher certificates in 2009 for every one first-time teacher hired in 2010.

By contrast, Colorado and Michigan produce just enough new elementary teachers to meet demand. (That’s assuming nobody moves from Illinois and Pennsylvania.)

Colleges should be more selective about admitting teacher candidates and train them more intensively, argues the National Council on Teacher Quality.

“We could improve, enhance, and extend the quality of teacher preparation, and therefore produce better-qualified new teacher graduates, but probably fewer in number,” agrees Arthur E. Wise, former president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Prospective elementary teachers have lower academic qualifications than other college graduates, concludes a 2007 Educational Testing Service report. (Secondary teachers have higher-than-average test scores.)

“We could raise the bar and get teachers with higher aptitudes in classrooms and still have plenty of elementary teachers,” (NCTQ’s Arthur) McKee said.