NY Education

RFP Posted: Assessment of Homeless ...

RFP Posted: Assessment of Homeless Education Programming for McKinney-Vento Grantee Districts

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is seeking proposals to design and conduct a statewide assessment of homeless education programs supported by McKinney-Vento grant funding. The study will focus on promising features of program implementation at the LEA level; outcomes for students experiencing homelessness; and academic and social-emotional program supports and resources provided by NYSEDís Homeless Education current technical assistance vendor, NYS-TEACHS.
News and Notes: New Professional De...

News and Notes: New Professional Development Materials

News and Notes: New Professional Development Materials
Funding Opportunity: 2014-15 Title ...

Funding Opportunity: 2014-15 Title I School Improvement Section 1003(a) - Basic School Improvement Grant Application

Section 1003(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires that State Education Agencies allocate funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) for Title I Priority and Focus Schools to meet the progress goals in their District Comprehensive Improvement Plan and School Comprehensive Education Plan(s) (DCIP/SCEP) and thereby improve student performance. These funds are to be used to support implementation of school improvement activities identified through the Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE) reviews or a school review with district oversight and included in the DCIP/SCEP.
RFP Posted: Special Education Media...

RFP Posted: Special Education Mediation Technical Assistance Center

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) P-12 Office of Special Education is seeking proposals to provide annual training to approximately 125 individuals who serve as New York State special education mediators, promote the use of special education mediation, provide reimbursement of mediation administrative costs to the Stateís twenty one (21) Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs) and to collect and report data on the number and type of special education mediation sessions conducted throughout the State. NYSED seeks applicants for mediation training (Part I) with documented experience and expertise in alternative dispute resolution processes in special education and for data collection (Part II) with demonstrated experience in the collection and reporting of statewide data.
RFP Posted: State Performance Plan ...

RFP Posted: State Performance Plan Indicator 8; Parent Survey for Special Education Consumer Satisfaction

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Special Education is seeking proposals for the distribution, collection and analysis of a parent survey relating to special education.
RFP Posted: Evaluation of Categoric...

RFP Posted: Evaluation of Categorical Bilingual Education Programs

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is seeking proposals to design, develop, and conduct evaluations of all Categorical Bilingual Education Programs funded by New York State and managed by the Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies (OBE-FLS). The selected vendor will design and develop protocols to assess implementation and effectiveness of all programs. Due to the variety of goals and objectives of each program to be evaluated, in addition to protocols that can be used for all programs (demographic data, evaluation elements that are common to all programs, etc.), each program is likely to also require evaluation components that are specific to that programís evaluation (See Attachment C).


How to avoid the pitfalls that comm...

How to avoid the pitfalls that commonly trip up college leaders (essay)

Christine Helwick describes some of the financial and managerial problems that trip up college leaders -- and how to avoid them.

Essay on mistakes humanities facult...

Essay on mistakes humanities faculty members make in seeking to be published

Rob Weir considers the mistakes humanities professors make that keep them from having journal submissions accepted.

Essay on how academic entrepreneurs...

Essay on how academic entrepreneurs can get the right feedback

To move projects ahead, you need to get the right advice, writes Kerry Ann Rockquemore.

Higher ed should create an alternat...

Higher ed should create an alternative to ABD status (essay)

Academe shuns the many doctoral students who are ?all but dissertation.? Jill Yesko proposes another way that would help them and institutions alike: the Certificate of Doctoral Completion.

Higher ed should create an alternat...

Higher ed should create an alternative to ABD status (essay)

Academe shuns the many doctoral students who are ?all but dissertation.? Jill Yesko proposes another way that would help them and institutions alike: the Certificate of Doctoral Completion.

Essay on how to deal with conflict ...

Essay on how to deal with conflict when working in academe

An important career skill is knowing when to avoid a disagreement and when to stand your ground, and the dividing line is particularly challenging for those without tenure, writes Nate Kreuter.

BBC News Education

Big GCSE result variations predicte...

Big GCSE result variations predicted

England's schools are being told to expect big variability in their GCSE results because of the largest changes to the exams for several years.
Assaults on teachers top 90 a day

Assaults on teachers top 90 a day

There were over 90 assaults on teachers by pupils in England each school day last year, official figures show.
Exam body to check 'extra help' dat...

Exam body to check 'extra help' data

The exams regulator Ofqual is to collect information on how many private school students receive extra time in exams, compared with state pupils.
Academy trustee is new Ofsted chief

Academy trustee is new Ofsted chief

David Hoare, a trustee of a struggling academies chain, is announced by the government as the new chairman of schools regulator Ofsted.
Nursery teachers higher status call

Nursery teachers higher status call

Nursery school teachers should be given the same status and pay as those in primary school, the Pre-School Learning Alliance says.
'Toilet phone' teacher gets life ba...

'Toilet phone' teacher gets life ban

A teacher is banned from the profession for life for setting his mobile phone to record in a Northampton secondary school's toilets.

US Govt Dept of Education

Obama Administration Approves NCLB ...

Obama Administration Approves NCLB Flexibility Requests for Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina

The Obama administration announced today that five states—Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina—have received a one-year extension for flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Beware of Student Loan Debt Relief ...

Beware of Student Loan Debt Relief Offers and Credit Repair ?Deals?

If you?re among the millions of current or former students with debt, you?ve probably been tempted to click on an ad that says, ?Obama Wants to Forgive Your Student Loans!? or ?Erase Default Statuses in 4 ? 6 Weeks!? or some equally enticing student loan debt relief offer ? available only if you click or call NOW!
8 Keys to Veterans? Success Receive...

8 Keys to Veterans? Success Receives More than 400 College and University Commitments

Cross-posted from the White House Joining Forces Blog.
Why Educating Girls Matters

Why Educating Girls Matters

Wadley and Secretary Duncan solve a
A Day in Ohio with Secretary Perez ...

A Day in Ohio with Secretary Perez & Secretary Duncan

Cross-posted from the Department of Labor’s Work in Progress blog.
Let?s Read! Let?s Move! Soars to Ne...

Let?s Read! Let?s Move! Soars to New Heights

Soaring to new heights


Financial Lessons You Must Teach Yo...

Financial Lessons You Must Teach Your Kids

Financial Lessons You Must Teach Your KidsKids who don?t have a strong education in personal finance are at risk for making major money mistakes later that could take them years to correct. This is why financial literacy, so critical to an informed, educated and economically thriving population, can and should start young. Money management is not taught in most public schools; Right now just 17 states require high students to take a personal finance course or to have personal finance instruction embedded in an economics or civics course as a graduation requirement, according to the Council of Economic Education (CEE).

California Cracks Down on Universit...

California Cracks Down on University of Phoenix's Veteran Enrollments

The state of California has banned the San Diego campus of the University of Phoenix from enrolling additional veterans in seven of its programs, joining a growing list of government agencies cracking down on for-profit colleges. The university, a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group Inc., disputes the results of the audit and said that it expects the audit to be revised. In early July, Corinthian Colleges Inc., based in Santa Ana, Calif., announced it would largely cease operations after the for-profit school came under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education for its marketing practices, dropout rates and loan defaults. "Nationally, we're seeing a lot more engagement from all levels of government on this issue," said Ben Miller, an education analyst at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank.
U.S. Senate bill would make college...

U.S. Senate bill would make colleges get tough on sexual assault

By Elvina Nawaguna WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced legislation on Wednesday to combat sexual assaults on college and university campuses by requiring schools to provide more help for victims and work more closely with police investigators. If the bill passes, it would also require colleges to make public the number of sexual assaults reported on their campuses. "It's deeply troubling that for too many, and a growing number of young Americans, the college experience now also involves sexual assault," said Florida Republican Marco Rubio, a sponsor of the bill. An American woman in college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than a woman who is not attending college, Rubio said.
Midcareer Teachers Love Their Jobs,...

Midcareer Teachers Love Their Jobs, but Many Can?t Afford to Keep Them

At a time when the debate on education reform has focused on standards and test scores, the report states, few policy makers are talking about upgrading teacher salaries as part of the overhaul. ?One recent study found that a major difference between the education system in the United States and those in other nations with high-performing students is that the United States offers much lower pay to educators.?
Top 25 Best Value Colleges 2014

Top 25 Best Value Colleges 2014

Graduates toss their hats in the air at the end of the commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West PointThese are the 25 ?best value? schools in the U.S ?top colleges and universities that deliver the goods without picking your pocket.

'Sharing Is Not a Crime': Why a Col...

'Sharing Is Not a Crime': Why a Colombian Student Faces Prison for Posting Research Online

A South American biologist who found a five-year-old master's degree thesis online, then shared it with fellow graduate students on a Web page, could spend the next eight years in prison for copyright infringement. In a case that pits Internet freedom against intellectual property rights, Diego Gomez is accused of breaking the law even though he used the paper for research, didn't try to sell it, and didn?t claim credit for the work.†But the paper?s author claims Gomez, 26, illegally obtained and distributed his work product, violating copyright laws embedded in a 2006 trade deal Colombia signed with the United States. †† The case against Gomez, who is studying ways to preserve his country's vast, diverse ecosystem, has become a rallying cry for international activists, including recently formed free-Internet advocacy groups in Colombia. ?That?s the thing about copyright law?it†sort of pulls in all sorts of uses of work? that typically weren't subject to legal protection, said Maira Sutton, a global policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a free-Internet advocacy group.


New Ofsted David Hoare boss embarra...

New Ofsted David Hoare boss embarrassed by problems at his own academy chain

The new chairman of Ofsted faces the embarrassing prospect of seeing the struggling chain of academies at which he currently plays a key role criticised by the school standards body.

New Ofsted boss David Hoare embarra...

New Ofsted boss David Hoare embarrassed by problems at his own academy chain

The new chairman of Ofsted faces the embarrassing prospect of seeing the struggling chain of academies at which he currently plays a key role criticised by the school standards body.

London school produces Hollywood-st...

London school produces Hollywood-style leavers' video featuring playground 'gun massacre'

The final day at school used to be marked by a group photo and fond reminiscences. But one prestigious London school has turned the end-of-year celebrations into a Hollywood calling card with an epic YouTube video featuring spoofs of hit shows, and a boundary-pushing staging of a playground gun massacre.

Ofsted chairman: Academy group trus...

Ofsted chairman: Academy group trustee David Hoare appointed to head school inspections

Businessman David Hoare has been selected as the new chairman of schools regulator Ofsted, finally ending a furious Coalition row over the appointment.

Nursery teachers should be given th...

Nursery teachers should be given the same status as others, campaigners claim

Teachers of early years children should be given the same status and pay as the rest of the profession, parents and campaigners for better nursery education said today.

More university places available th...

More university places available this year for top performing A-level students

Bright teenagers who get better-than-expected A-level results next month are set to have a bigger chance of gaining places at some of the country?s leading universities.

Education Week

Vitter describes strong support for...

Vitter describes strong support for Common Core

Undocumented students move forward ...

Undocumented students move forward in Idaho

Small overpayments found in La. vou...

Small overpayments found in La. voucher program

15 Strategies for Placing Excellent...

15 Strategies for Placing Excellent Teachers in High-Need Schools

Arthur Levine shares lessons learned in the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation's efforts to attract and prepare high-ability teacher-candidates for work in struggling schools.
Nebraska teacher accused of serving...

Nebraska teacher accused of serving youths alcohol

Students exempt from vaccines down ...

Students exempt from vaccines down in 2013


The Role of Campus Leadership in En...

The Role of Campus Leadership in Ensuring IT Accessibility

“Everyone should have an opportunity to participate in higher education.”

With those words, Michael K. Young, President of the University of Washington, opens a new video from his institution’s AccessComputing Project, IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say. Developed with support from the National Science Foundation, this video presents university presidents, chief information officers, and other higher education leaders who stress the importance to higher education of accessibility for persons with disabilities, and of having campus technology environments that support it.

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The Game is Changing. What Will Be ...

The Game is Changing. What Will Be Expected of You?

“When we were doing our studies for the National Academies, the typical first response of university presidents or CFOs or provosts was to say: ‘I understand things are changing very rapidly, but I'll ask my CIO to take care of it. The CIO usually can.’ We would then ask: ‘Suppose you wake up in the morning and come in to your office and nothing works anymore. You can't access e-mail. All of your course systems have collapsed. Who fixes the problem?’ They begin to scratch their heads, and pretty soon it's like the five phases of grief. They start off with denial and anger, move through bargaining and depression, and finally reach acceptance.” — James J. Duderstadt, Change and the Research University

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The Top-Ten IT Issues, 2012

The Top-Ten IT Issues, 2012

EDUCAUSE Top 10 IT Issues, 2012

The EDUCAUSE annual publication of top IT issues has long resonated as a yearly snapshot of the most pressing issues for IT leaders in higher education. At the top of list for 2012:

  1. Updating IT professionals’ skills and roles to accommodate emerging technologies and changing IT management and service delivery models
  2. Supporting the trends toward IT consumerization and bring-your-own device
  3. Developing an institution-wide cloud strategy


Below are the EDUCAUSE Review article summarizing the IT Issues Panel's findings for 2012 and accompanying resources.

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Tune In June 5 -- Rolling Out a BYO...

Tune In June 5 -- Rolling Out a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Program

This free hour-long session, “Rolling Out a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Program,” will offer ideas, sample policy statements and guidelines, and lessons learned for campuses interested in implementing a BYOD strategy for mobile devices on campus.

Those unable to attend may wish to visit the archives after the event or browse related resources.

Interact on Twitter at #EDULive.

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Get Involved with EDUCAUSE -- Volun...

Get Involved with EDUCAUSE -- Volunteer Submissions Are Due June 1

As someone who has a vested interest in higher education IT, you are part of a dynamic and close-knit community where we share new ideas, network with peers, and work toward the common good of the profession.

EDUCAUSE provides opportunities to be an active member by volunteering in a variety of roles, either short- or long-term, throughout the year. These opportunities include:

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Is Agile the Future of Project Mana...

Is Agile the Future of Project Management?

Gartner predicts that by the end of 2012, agile development methods will be used on 80 percent of all software development projects. Project Management Institute’s research shows that agile project management tripled from December 2008 to May 2011, and can help decrease product defects, improve team productivity, and increase business value.

Read the latest article release on agile project management from the Project Management Institute.

To help you apply project management processes at your organization, EDUCAUSE members have access to a selection of professional development resources:

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A Lasting Friendship with Music

A Lasting Friendship with Music

By Brandon Lloyd

I saw clouds of rosin dust rising in front of my violin. We played as if there was no tomorrow and, in a way, there wasn't, since this was Mr. Eckfeld's last concert as conductor. The songs were an understated culmination of his tenure at White Plains High School. His years of teaching dissipated into me as I played the uptempo selections such as, Allegro, Aus Holbergs Zeit, and Walzer, conveying the merry, high points in his career. The slow, melancholy, and somber songs such as Xyklus 3 sent another message: "Goodbye, my dear old friends."

Yes he was saying goodbye to us, but not to music. Neither his retirement nor aging would sever him from his love and prevent him from a pleasurable moment with his own violin. This powerful reflection came with the transformative roles of the violin and guitar in my life. They became my models of optimism--instruments of the idea that good things can evolve from tragic moments.

It started when I faced the biggest milestone in my other passion: Martial Arts. JT Torres and Pablo Popovitch, two of the world's best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, were coming to my martial arts school. I have always idolized them in the way I revere Mr. Eckfeld, and I was thrilled to step on the mat with them. Before I knew it, I was in the mix, practicing takedowns and drills with Torres and Popovitch. It was surreal. I was getting up after showing my partner a submission, when I felt a sudden twinge and loud pop in my knee. I crumpled to the ground writhing in pain. I couldn't get up with excruciating pain shooting up into my leg and knee. I have encountered gruesome injuries before, but nothing like this.

In the following days, the onslaught of bad news crippled my emotional state. My MRI showed that I had torn my left meniscus, which required surgery. I couldn't return to Martial Arts for at least six months. For ten years, I had never gone a week without martial arts. Six months seemed unbearable!

Music lifted me from my despair. After surgery, I had copious amounts of time for my guitar and violin. Previously, I practiced music outside of school about twice a week. After the injury, I practiced every day. I began to see the notes differently as music offered what physical therapy didn't: a way to express myself. The instruments became extensions of myself as I got lost in the music I played. The slow, downbeat pieces laced with somber and melancholy notes perfectly reflected and described my emotional state in the first weeks after therapy.

Yet, one small moment profoundly changed my outlook on music: the words of a physician's assistant teaching me to care for my leg. "When you're young you should make sure not to rush recovery and remember you won't be able to do some of the things you can do now when you're much older." The words hit me while I was practicing guitar. I won't be able to perform some of the martial arts techniques that require substantial skill when I'm older. Yet I could play my violin and guitar for years beyond retirement, just as Mr. Eckfeld can. His talent grew with age, as I hope mine will. However, my limitations in martial arts may grow as I age. Had the injury not happened, I may not have fully appreciated my future with music or the true meaning of Mr. Eckfeld's last night conducting my orchestra. It was a moment emphasizing the potential for a long future with my instruments on my own terms. I may not have a career as a musician but the instruments will always be there for me to pick up and will offer a mode of expression.

Brandon Lloyd, a graduate of White Plains High School, will be a freshman at George Washington University in September.
An Education Revolution in One Word

An Education Revolution in One Word

We live in a one-size-fits-all system of educating our children. It's similar to a manufacturing plant where we place our children on the conveyer belt of school, move them along from grade to grade while the teachers shape them at each turn, remove or ignore the kids that aren't the right shape, and then finally spitting them out at the end, hoping that they find success. And if they don't -- oh well, it was probably the parents' fault, anyway, right? The lucky few arrive in fair condition to meet the expectations of the world around them. However, most arrive wide-eyed and scared, unable to find their footing or figure out who they are. They are not prepared for a world that requires them to think creatively, question the status quo, or feel much of anything at all, since FEELINGS are not part of what is measured inside the manufacturing plant. Even worse, some children are so traumatized by their conveyer experience that they lost hope and gave up somewhere within the machine. These kids were left behind and forgotten about inside the system. Tossed aside like an M&M that came out square and not round. And nobody seemed to care. Nobody.

So, what went wrong? Where is the problem? Here is where one, very small, four letter word comes in. LOVE. And by love I mean compassion, connection, meeting the student where he is, understanding the social and emotional lives of our children, caring about their inner world, their external world and their relationships. Our current education system is lacking all of that. Nobody seems to care about the emotional state of our children. Why? Why is that? We all have emotions and a vast inner life. Don't we? Did I miss a meeting or something? And, at the end of the day, as an adult, do you measure your own success only by how much knowledge you've acquired and how much money you have in the bank? If I had to bet I would say you would include your happiness and your emotional state as part of the answer. Am I right?

I once read a book by the late Leo Buscaglia, called Living, Loving, Learning. It was written in the 1970s and still resonates with me today. In it, Mr. Buscaglia states, "Maybe the essence of education is not to stuff you with facts, but to help you to discover your uniqueness, to teach you how to develop it and then to teach you how to give it away." He went on to say, "Imagine what this world would be like if everyone had the opportunity to be encouraged to be a unique human being. Unfortunately, the essence of our educational system is to make everybody like everyone else." He then quoted Leonard Silberman when he wrote, "Affect is what is lacking. Schools are joyless and mindless places that are strangling children and destroying creativity and joy."

I don't understand why we consistently measure the success of a student by their ability to spew out facts, dates, regurgitate the teacher's knowledge and score high on standardized test scores. Why do we measure success by final exam grades, AP scores, and college acceptances? If our purpose is to send out emotionless drones who can regurgitate acquired knowledge then I want no place at that table. I'm not eating that!

What our kids are missing is a sense of acceptance, tolerance, compassion and connection in their schools. They lack love in the classroom. In most cases, the world's most outstanding examples of excellence--be it academically, artistically, or through the far-reaching (but harder to define) qualities of compassion, humanity, vision, and caring--are often found in students whose individual gifts and talents were nurtured individually, compassionately, and on a case by case basis. Not happening in our current manufacturing plants known as public schools. But love in the classroom is happening in some, private smaller schools. And to them I say thank you for embracing the lovin'!

What I want to do is completely shatter the manufacturing plant and start over.


It's an outdated, useless system -- killing the creativity, curiosity and joy of our children. I want to start with a foundation of LOVE and build a new system from there. And, like Leo, imagine a world where everyone had the opportunity to be encouraged to be a unique human being. Just imagine that.

Michelle would love to connect with you! Find her at:
Why I Am Illiterate in Math & How P...

Why I Am Illiterate in Math & How Public Education Can Fix It

I read the New York Times Magazine cover story about Americans' struggle with math, with special appreciation: I stink at math. I always thought my problems were a result of my unfortunate timing as a pre Title IX child. At a superficial read, I guess it's good to know the real problem is teachers--they can't teach math so we can't learn math. But, seriously, it's too bad we return over and over to the blame the teacher answer. It might make for good politics, but it doesn't make for good education.

There's been a lot of buzz this week about the Elizabeth Green article, "Why Do Americans Stink at Math?," which is an excerpt from her new book Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone). It even made my local public radio station, where the author and a bunch of teachers spent 20 minutes discussing over-testing in America, Common Core, and why teachers are being placed under too much stress. It's a conversation totally lost on parents and the general public and sounded disappointingly far from commitment to students.

Why are teachers so defensive? I think at least part of the answer has to do with how public policies are created. Public officials perceive a problem and seek change. That's what we want in our leaders, right--leadership! Yes, but we also want a voice in the government we pay for and that exists for us. The question remains--who is "us"? Presumably, students are the focus of education policy. But, what about parents? Teachers? Employers? They all have a stake in the education game too.

Green explores how good ideas germinate and flourish into innovations in America but we can't seem to fully embrace the breakthroughs. She compares Japan, where generous amounts of time (and resources) are invested in teachers honing their skills and practices, and the United States, where teachers are given new directives on how or what to teach with little time to adjust their approaches to the new material or methodology. Fixing this disconnect is critical to our ability to assure all American children have a chance to gain the knowledge and skills to be equipped for life in a global economy.

We've got a great start with figuring out what American students need to know in the Common Core State Standards, a set of learning goals in math and language arts that outline what students should know at the end of each grade, so they can finish high school prepared to succeed in the next step on their chosen life paths. They are the result of collaboration of our nation's governors and state education leaders. Federal stimulus funds gave the U.S. Dept. of Education the opportunity to provide incentives to states that adopted these new, higher standards. Allegations of "top down" abound.

Unfortunately, instead of using the introduction of Common Core as an opportunity to educate the public on what it takes to learn new teaching methods, or explain the complexities of implementing new policies, too many teachers have fallen back on complaining about mandates foisted on them by public officials. It's not a productive response, even if public officials play the power game first. And I promise you politicians are certainly playing the power game in this case. Parts of the Republican party are already developing a stance that opposition to Common Core is a necessary plank in the anti-government agenda for the next election cycle.

If public leaders took more time to work with teachers to make education policy change, and if teachers embraced innovations as opportunities instead of mandates to be resisted and ignored, we'd be able to implement our homegrown breakthroughs with as much success as our global competitors.
Music to Your Students' Ears

Music to Your Students' Ears

Of the most underutilized educational techniques are music and song. We know that musical intelligence is one of the eight identified intelligences of Harvard researcher Howard Gardener but we may not appreciate the role that music and song can play in deepening student learning and promoting memory.

Music and song can help students to remember information, particularly lists or unrelated content. I, for example, used to integrate song when teaching names and other minutia in history class. By putting the names to a tune, the students were not only more engaged in learning the content, but would remember it far better. Two years after they left my class (I taught high school sophomores) my former students would still retain much of the information, as evidenced by their ability to "visit" my new class as seniors (some would pop in from the hallway when they heard the familiar song being sung) and join right in as if it they had learned it the day before.

Of course, students with musical intelligence may see music as a career pathway and should be encouraged to explore that possibility.

Playing fitting music in the classroom can set the environment of the class room. Teachers can also introduce the subject or lesson for the day by using a song that is related to the lesson. Some music picks up pace whereas other tunes can infuse calm or create a welcoming environment.

An extreme example of this is in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. Sderot is geographically very close to Gaza. Due to its proximity, all residents are at constant threat of rocket fire from hostile neighbors and have but a few seconds (15) to seek shelter. Naturally, such disruption and emotional stress can be hard on any person. Children in particular can be traumatized, and have a particularly difficult time returning to their studies after facing such a threat. Research conducted during an earlier period of heavy attacks (in 2009) showed that children were demonstrating signs of trauma, such as bedwetting, nightmares and the like.

In order to reduce the tension, one Israeli teacher, Sderot teacher and art therapist Shachar Bar, composed a "code red" song. The song has helped many children deal with the barrage of hostile fire by articulating their actions and feelings in a manner that is child friendly (at least on relative terms). It also helps students return to class more readily by helping them undergo a restorative process.

In case you are curious, the (translated) lyrics are as follows:
Color Red, Color Red
Hurry, hurry, hurry, to a safe area
Hurry, Hurry cause now it's a bit dangerous
My heart is beating, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom
My body is shaking, doom, doom, doom, doom, doom
But I am overcoming
Cause I am a little different
Falling down - Boom
We may now stand up
Our body we shake, shake shake, shake, shake
Our legs we loosen, loosen, loosen, loosen, loosen
Breathe deep, breathe out far
Breathe deep, we can laugh
It's all gone and I feel good it's over - Yesssss!

Obviously, this is an extreme example. But it does bear the point that music can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the classroom environment, as well as to teach behaviors and allay personal concerns. As you consider ways by which to engage students this fall and beyond, I strongly suggest that music take on a central place in your planning.

Naphtali Hoff (@impactfulcoach) served as an educator and school administrator for over 15 years before becoming an executive coach and consultant. Read his blog at impactfulcoaching.com/blog.
AP American History in the Rocket's...

AP American History in the Rocket's Red Glare

History is the most difficult subject to write K-12 standards for, and for one simple reason: the discipline is bursting with information. There's not enough time, even over 13 years of public schooling, to teach students everything that is good to know in the subject. Of course, that doesn't stop pundits and parents from protesting -- often loudly -- when some preferred person or event is left out.

The new AP U.S. history framework is the most recent effort to raise howls. The College Board has begun revising many of its frameworks and tests in order to reflect changes in scholarship and better align with current college freshman-level survey courses. According to the College Board, the new AP course will emphasize students' "ability to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue." Gone are the lists of topics, replaced by 27 "key concepts" each supported by 3-4 related concepts.

By my estimate, that's over 80 content standards. That sounds like a lot, yet it's still not enough for some. In an analysis for the Heartland Institute, retired AP teacher Larry Krieger denounced the framework for, among other things, the alleged "excising" of James Madison and Benjamin Franklin from the historical record (because they were not specifically named); its "dismissal" of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson and Washington (although all are specifically addressed, just not enough); and an imbalance in content that, Krieger claims, stresses America's negatives over its good.

Krieger's critique was soon picked up by the National Review, Breitbart and Glenn Beck who see something pernicious in the rewrite amounting to "left-wing indoctrination." They have also conflated the AP revisions with the Common Core standards, even though one has nothing to do with the other. In Texas, the possible connection concerned a member of the state board of education enough that he is introducing a resolution to "rebuke and reject" the teaching of AP U.S. history in the state. Texas could be just the first.

Which brings me back to the first point: it is really difficult to write history standards. I am reminded of a very sensible question a former colleague would often ask: "if we add [favorite topic here] to the standards, what are we willing to take out?" History courses are already packed. Great political figures and major military engagements represent only a part of what a rigorous program should provide today's students. A half century of scholarship has opened up social, economic, cultural and other lenses for viewing the past that add depth and texture to the historical picture. Every subject area -- math, sciences, the arts and technology -- also has a history that contributes to our understanding of those fields. On top of all this, teachers need time to help students develop their capacity to think critically and analytically about the material.

So educators have to make choices, and there's the rub. Every story has its champions ready to engage in metaphorical combat over what should survive out of the many worthwhile stories to tell, not to mention how to tell them. And nowhere is the battle more contentious than in deciding what is important in U.S. history to teach our future citizens.

That leaves standards writers with the thankless task of trying to reconcile disparate camps. Compromise has typically been achieved one of two ways: by drafting statements that are so broad they please everyone, offend no one, and provide little guidance for teachers; or by including every topic that everyone wants, resulting in history standards that move from one fact to the next with no room for students to develop any real understanding.

Educators have often charged that the AP U.S. history framework took the latter route, something the College Board was attempting to correct with the new revision. How successful they were is clearly a topic worthy of discussion. But as a long-time standards reviewer, I'd like to offer a few things to keep in mind when considering the content of the new AP framework:

First, the framework is not a curriculum. Rather it is designed to leave decisions to teachers about the particular topics to teach and concepts to emphasize. Likewise, the AP test will feature questions that can be answered effectively by drawing from a range of historical topics for evidence. This means that no AP classroom will look exactly like the next.

Second, AP courses are intended to model college-level survey courses, and the College Board consults with universities and faculties to validate that they do. Critics who are concerned about the content might do better to direct their barbs toward higher ed.

Finally, students have history every year in public school beginning in at least first grade, and likely study American history yearlong in both fifth- and eighth-grades. We can assume AP students already know who George Washington is. If they don't, we have much bigger problems to deal with than worrying about what the College Board is up to.

I have my own quibbles with the new framework. For example, I think it could have done more with science, technology and the arts and their role in defining the U.S. But in order to include this content, what am I willing to take out?

I'll need to think about that.

A version of this appeared on the EDifier at www.centerforpubliceduction.org.
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