Opinion

Opinion and commentary on some of the most controversial education issues including, unions, Latin, and technology. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any Public School Review.
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Dissatisfied with your local public schools? When parents are faced with under-performing public schools in their area, what alternatives do they have? In most cases just three options are available: they can keep their children at home and homeschool them. They can also consider sending their children to private school. Or they could relocate to an area with good schools. Let's leave out the last option which is a real stretch for most families. Selling a home and finding a new one is not a project for the faint-hearted.
 
Fact: Approximately 2 million children were homeschooled in the United States in academic year 2011-2012. Source: Parent and Family Involvement in Education, From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012.
 
Fact: Approximately 4.5 million students attend private school. Source: Private School Universe Survey.

The mothers in this video explain why they are thinking about homeschooling their children.
 
 
The other underlying condition which we have to appreciate is that we are talking about average middle class families. Typically these hard-working folks bring in less than $100,000 a year. In many cases much less than that. I feel that this is a very important factor to deal with up front. Why? Because in most cases parents in this income bracket simply feel that they cannot afford private school. So they don't even bother exploring private school options. They are convinced that private schools are for rich kids. In their minds a private school education for . . .read more
You and I are conditioned to expect to be able to comparison shop for everything we buy. When we search for an item on Amazon the website presents us with other options. We can read reviews by other purchasers. These factors together with our own understanding of value and price point help us make the decisions which drive our purchase. So, why can't we do the same with private schools? Why isn't there some way of ranking schools? Wouldn't rankings make our task of selecting the right private school for our child a whole lot easier?
 
For starters, choosing a private school is not like buying a set of towels or sheets online. We have confidence buying towels and sheets online from a trusted vendor using a secure credit card because we know what we are buying. Choosing a private school is much more complicated. Why? Because in the first place it is a major decision. We won't be able to return it and get our money back if we don't like it, which is what we do when we buy merchandise which turns out to be unsatisfactory. And the amount of money involved in the transaction is large. Furthermore we are talking about a decision which will have a serious impact on us and our child for several years.

This brief video lays out the process for you.
 
 
Major decisions have many more factors and variables involved than minor decisions such as purchasing those towels . . .read more
How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

 

The summer “Brain Drain”, also known as the “Summer Slide,” is a term commonly used by educators and parents alike to describe the learning loss that takes place for many students during summer months.

 

 

Brain Drain occurs when the extended break from structured learning and scheduled academic work makes the mind lazy and makes it easier to forget material that has already been learned. It is a major concern for American legislators, educators, and parents alike. We’ve paneled some of the top experts in education to get the best advice for parents to help kids avoid summer Brain Drain. From CEO’s to Technologists to PhD’s and more, we’ve got the expert advice to help kids of all ages stay sharp all year long.

 

 

 

 

1. “We’re always learnings, but what are we learning?”
 
First thing’s first: take time to get to know your child’s interests. Dr. Alice Wilder, Chief Content Officer at Speakaboos, is a huge proponent of tapping into children’s interests to maximize their learning potential. Dr. Alice is a leader in children’s media and research, with senior production roles on landmark franchises and programs like Blue’s Clues, Super Why!, Speakaboos, and Amazon Kids (to name just a few of her many projects and accomplishments). 
 
Dr. Alice says parents should allow their child to be bored at times to uncover their interests. “See what they come up with. Watch them play and get to know what they’re into, so you can support them in . . .read more
A couple of years ago when tenure for professors began to look like a thing of the past, I remember thinking that tenure for K-12 teachers would probably be next on the chopping block. And so the rumblings which I thought I heard off in the distance were indeed the precursor of a serious storm. With that in mind let's explore the issue and try to understand what is happening with the concept of teacher tenure in the United States.
 
The California decision
 
The judge in the case certainly came down hard against teacher tenure. I am not a lawyer but it seemed to me that the root of his judicial displeasure was the way the California statutes had been written. To understand where those laws originated, you have to go back in time to the early part of the twentieth century and indeed even earlier. Back then teachers could be fired when ever a school board or administrator decided. Essentially teachers had no due process. Teacher protection in the form of tenure was a German idea which began to take hold across the United States back in the 1920s and 1930s. Tenure also curbed another abuse of the teaching profession which was interference from politicians. Teaching positions were considered patronage plums that politicians handed out.
 

 
In my opinion tenure for public K-12 teachers was a necessary protection a hundred years ago. But as with all things the times have changed. Since pbulic education is governed and . . .read more
There was an interview article entitled Early Decision in Inside Higher Education which examined the issue of having a tutor or other professional help write your child's college admissions essay. It got me thinking about the type of parent who feels he or she must always 'improve' their child's work. Up to and including things like admissions essays which are supposed to be their children's own work.

 

Well, the article to which I referred above was focused on college admissions essays. Might not the same practice take place in private secondary schools? I suppose it is possible but probably unlikely. I remember when I was interviewing students for R-E-S-P-E-C-T Academy in Nassau, Bahamas. Part of the interview process included having the applicant sit at another table while her parents and I chatted. The applicant was given a sheet of paper and a pen and asked to write a paragraph or two about some simple topic. "My favorite meal" or something like that. There was absolutely no way the parents could interfere with their child's writing. She had to do it all by herself.

Think of the admissions essay as a snapshot

Why is writing your own admissions essay so important? Because the admissions staff wants to know what your child thinks, what her opinions are and how she arrives at those conclusions. An essay synthesizes so many things which your child has learned over the years.  An essay provides a window into your child's . . .read more
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