One of One

May 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Creative

One of One

One of one.
That’s how I’m treated.
I’m not special,
Nor is anyone in this school.

But we, the many thousands
All stand here
Side by side.
And, surely the teachers,
the counselors, and the staff,
They do know us.

By face, and name.
In halls they greet us.
In mornings they meet us.
To ensure our excellence.

Now, critics do cry.
In their fluster they say
That: we are overcrowded
That faces are blended
And there is not an individual.

But here, in public schools
We can see the individual.
We are known and we are heard.
Our people, our staff and students.

We are not ones of millions.
We are ones of one.
So are the claims false?
Does the demeanor they set,
Does it lie?
Can we deny these charges?

In a perfect world the answer is yes.
But merit can be given to claim,
For there are some,
The rogue few.

The rogue few, they know of none.
The faces, the voices are blended.
They deny the rights of the students
And, the staff too.
They do deny the individuality.
For they are the robotic society.

We, the ones with voices can help.
We can ensure the benefits for all.
We make the mark.
We are the voice.

If we can set the goal.
If we can get the voice out.
To other schools both public and private.
We can ensure that
They will not be one of million.
But, rather one of one.

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Inner Animal

May 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Creative

So cute, fluffy or furry.

So calm, scaled or smooth.

So wise, yet so vague.

And always, to remain under watch.

A paradox inside a cage.

A labyrinth within a tank.

So many lessons of life.

Yet, inside such a small body.

How can it do this?

How can it teach us without words?

Both questions physical and metaphysical,

is entrapped inside?

Lessons of science.

Anatomy we can learn.

The differences of humans and animals.

They can become apparent.

Lessons of logic.

How it thinks; how it lives.

It comes into question,

and we can look into our own society.

Lessons of art

The world within the human mind

Elapses with the world of the animal

To see what will come next

And lessons of math

The body of the creature

How can it be so perfect?

Well, time to take a closer look

So can we answer why they are so important?

Why they are so magnificent

They may sometimes be so simple

But, to a mind of power, they are a plethora of questions




Shingler, M. (2011, April 07). Benefits of classroom animals article. Retrieved from

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The Crowd Roars

May 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Creative

The crowd roars

For honor and glory

For Thunder and the Pride

From the top to the bottom

The bleachers are loud

The crowd roars

For that game Soccer

The game of kicking

Where contact is fleeting

But the blows are harsh

The crowd roars

For that game Basketball

The game of passing

The hoop is quite tall

But so are the players

The crowd roars

For that game Football

The game of tackles

The pride of schools

But the downfall of budgets

The crowd roars

For all the sports

For their honor and glory

But also for their Thunder and Pride



Gibson, Owen. 3 May 2013. Warnings against School Funding Cuts.  Retrieved from



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Logic Prevail

May 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Creative

Logic does prevail

When one tries to ensure

The future of all

Through perseverence and unity

Logic does prevail

That we stand together

Hand in hand

No discrimination

Logic does prevail

That we never said no

Race, ethinicity or gender

We accept all

Logic does prevail

Here we are proof

We stand each hand a brick

In this building’s foundation

Logic does prevail

Can we not deny

That we stand the strongest

United together under one district?

Logic does prevail

It is not only the district

But also every school in part

They work together every person united

And thus logic does prevail.

We, everyone and every school

We are best united

In logic and in strife




Bloom, S. (2013, April 23). Ace on government regulation. Retrieved from

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Are Public Schools the Deficient Ones?

May 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure

A variety of studies conducted during the past several decades have studied the differences between public and private schools.  These examinations, however, have given a hardly unanimous opinion on the subject.  This, however, does not mean that they are wrong; rather, they all contain sections of the whole truth.  Therefore, this essay looks at two of the most comprehensive of the reports and attempts to put their truths together into a cohesive whole.The two reports, one by Harold Wenglinsky and the other by the National Center for Educational Statistics, are fairly similar in makeup but differ importantly in their conclusions.

One of the prime differences between the studies is that the Government study operated on the idealized grounds that low-income students have the same advantages in public education that their wealthy counterparts do.  The report by Wenglinsky, while not as large or as well funded, studied students in six different monetary brackets.  “The study took into account key background characteristics, including students’ achievement before high school, their family’s socioeconomic status (SES), and various indicators of parental involvement” (Wenglinsky, 2007).  Clearly, Wenglinsky did the right thing, while the government study made a mistake (or omission) it never should have made.  Interestingly however, both studies found that, once income and IQ was taken into account, students in public high schools performed at the same level as students in private high schools.

“The general conclusion from the study was that demographic differences between students in public and private schools more than account for the relatively high raw scores of private schools. Indeed, after controlling for these differences, the presumably advantageous ‘private school effect’ disappears, and even reverses in most cases” (Braun 2006).

Private schools have different opinions on the subject, from mildly reproachful to scathing retorts directed at public education’s perceived shortcomings.  “Available research indicates private-school student performance is superior to their public school peers, even after controlling for student background differences”(Alger, 2013).  Technically, while this is all true, it does not account for the fact that private school superiority is ingrained into the public psyche, thus causing more talented students to choose private over public schooling.  What private school supporters cannot refute, however, is the greater socioeconomic diversity in public schools.  “Public high schools in the U.S. offer, on average (according to, new enrollees nearly 15% more diverse student bodies than private schools.” (Fowle, 2009).  Both of the studies point to socioeconomic diversity in public schooling being much higher than in the private schooling system.  The reason for this is because minorities in America are less likely to go to private schools, while the entrenched and privileged white majority often opts for the more expensive education offered by private schools.  In addition, it often has to do with prejudicial moves made by parents when choosing a school for their students to go to.

“… Had decided to send her son to a private high school because she didn’t want him going to a school in the kind of environment, with “the kind of people” at my public high school. The kinds of people she was no doubt referring to were those of color, of varying ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. To her, the type of learning environment these students presented to her son seemed hostile. ” (Fowle, 2009).

Clearly, prejudice trumps realities when choosing schools.  This would easily help tip the balance in studies made without provision for such occurrences.  However, the most current studies include modifiers for things such as this, and have found that, when socioeconomic modifiers are applied, there is absolutely no difference between private and public education other than the price.  Thus, public schools have a clear advantage over private ones.




Alger, E. Vicki. 15 February 2013 “Midlands Voices: Private schools offer great choices” .

Retrieved from


Fowle, Erik. 9 August 2009. “What Diversity in High School Really Teaches Us”

Retrieved from


H. Braun, F. Jenkins, W. Grigg. July 2006. “Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools Using

Heirarchal Linear Modeling” Retrieved from


Wenglinsky, Harold. October 2007. “Are Private High Schools Better Academically Than Public

High Schools?” Retrieved from



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American Education: A History

May 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Bills

American education has come a long way in a hundred years. Today, our students learn in racially and sexually integrated classrooms, using some of the most advanced technology. We can trace the perilous journey taken by our education system backwards through time in order to see just how far we have come. In 1972, congress passed Title IX, banning gender discrimination in education. In 1965 student loans were established to allow more students to go on to college: “As part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the U.S. Congress passed the Higher Education Act of 1965; this important legislation established a system of low-interest loans and scholarships to make college education more affordable for everyone” (“American public education:,” 2013). In 1954 the Supreme Court voted on the case Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, stating that segregation had no place in education and racially integrating our classrooms. This landmark case set hundreds of young African Americans on the path to a better life, a path which led one young African American into the White House. Preceding these groundbreaking developments were the major reforms in the early nineteen hundreds. These reforms included the establishment of public colleges and a new application based learning system. Today, the usage of hi-tech devices in the class room is allowing children of all ethnicities to learn equally and together. Tomorrow, perhaps all teaching will be done electronically, allowing students who miss school, not to miss a beat.



American public education: An origin story. (2013, April 16). Retrieved from


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Importance of Foreign Languages in High-School and Life

May 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Foreign Languages, Public Education Programs

In a world of seven billion people all speaking different languages and dialects, it is important to be able to communicate outside one’s local community. Knowing even one or two foreign languages will be helpful in years to come. Learning new languages is especially easy as a child or adolescent and is a good way to prepare for future jobs and vacations; and, as always, public schools are here to help. Foreign languages are essential in this fast-paced, interconnected world, and public school allows students to take the world by storm. With a wide variety of classes available, many teens get the chance to explore different cultures and become bilingual in the process.

Learning a new language is an important part of the education system. For years, many experts have been noticing the drastic educational benefits associated with learning a new language, and they cannot wait to integrate foreign language as an essential part of all schools, as shown by College Board’s recommendation: “College Board recommended expanding basic skills to include foreign language education for all students in 1983, and in 1996 the American Association of School Administrators identified knowledge of foreign languages as one of the most important skills students need to develop to prosper in the 21st century” (Bell & McCallum 2012). Very few elementary and middle schools in the US have mandatory language programs, but there are public high schools that maintain a beneficial two year minimum language requirement. These schools also offer a variety of languages, levels, and times for student convenience and advancement. Public high schools even play host to more intense summer immersion programs. Learning these new languages will prove to be beneficial, now and later.

It has been proven that knowing and understanding a variety of languages helps SAT participants. Learning multiple languages allows one to fixate on not only the grammatical nuances of the new language but also the inner workings of his or her native tongue. The English portion of the SATs can, in fact, be influenced by how well the taker knows other languages, as many studies have shown: “[Experts] noting that students who averaged four or more years of foreign language study scored higher on the verbal section of the SAT than those who had studied four or more years in any other subject area” (Bell & McCallum 2012). This shows that knowing other languages can help one in all areas of life, from great high school SATs, to top-ranking universities, and this unique qualification will lead to amazing jobs.

Knowing a foreign language allows for amazing trips to the many countries. As students take a public high school language class, they begin to understand the culture as well as the words. When they later visit that country, they can speak to natives, and have an easier time integrating themselves into customary traditions. Study abroad programs are wonderful for those who understand the language and want to know more. In a study, which revolved around students who traveled to Sweden, there was a noted difference between those students who knew the language and those who did not. The teacher assessing the success of the student exchange noticed:

Max appeared less assertive than the other participants, with regard to seeking meaningful contact with Swedes […] his Swedish proficiency was markedly lower than the other three participants. […]Faith seemed genuinely happy and exhibited a sense of humor regarding her own culture and the culture of her hosts. This sense of humor made her popular with her classmates. During our January visit, I witnessed numerous occasions where Faith would initiate or partake in jokes and humor. (Spenader 2011).

This study consisted of a mixture of students with varying degrees of understanding the Swedish language. Faith, who had taken several Swedish classes, was able to understand the language, the culture, and even the humor. Max, who knew very little of the language or culture did not get along with many people in the country; and, he left knowing nothing about the culture, and with the same amount of words he had known before. Languages can certainly help one integrate into a whole new world, which opens many possibilities.

Public high schools are leading the way in foreign language studies. Without their extensive classes and cultural immersion, new languages would be difficult to comprehend. It is wonderful that these schools offer, and sometimes even require, foreign languages, because they can help in so many ways for the rest of a student’s life: “a number of experts tout that the knowledge of other languages enhances travel enjoyment, encourages learning the roots of one’s own language, increases interest in multiple cultures, challenges the individual, increases neural efficiency, and, as mentioned above, increases cognitive and academic skills” (Bell & McCallum 2012). Without public high schools and their increasingly beneficial foreign language classes, many students would end up like Max, unhappy and disappointed with their learning and travel experience. Hopefully, many more American schools will begin to integrate languages into their elementary curriculum, and America will see a great new chapter begin in her life.




Bell S. E. & McCallum S. R. (2012). Do Foreign Language Learning, Cognitive, and Affective Variables Differ as a Function of Exceptionality Status and Gender? International Education Vol. 42 Retrieved from

Spenader A. J. (2011). Language Learning and Acculturation: Lessons From High School and Gap-Year Exchange Students. Foreign Language Annals; Jun2011, Vol. 44 Retrieved from

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How Prom Became Tradition

May 20, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs


As spring comes around, the anticipation of upperclassmen students increases because with the new season, comes prom. By simply hearing the word ‘prom,’ one begins to imagine girls feeling beautiful in sparkly gowns and guys looking dapper in their tuxedos. All of the students scramble to plan what they will wear, where they will eat, how they will be transported to the prom location, and most importantly, who they will go with. When did this expensive, yet special night become a tradition for high schools? Historians believe that when the Roaring 20s gave birth to lively, youthful dances, colleges began to hold dances for their students; fortunately, high schools adapted the extraordinary event, which currently benefits thousands of students across the nation.

Prom may have begun as a celebration for seniors in college, but the whimsical dance caught on quickly. According to Jason DeRusha, a CBS reporter, prom originated as a formal ceremony for a college’s graduating class. Yet in the 1940s and 1950s, co-ed dances grew more popular proportionally to the growing teenage culture, and prom was eventually transferred to high schools. The evidence was in a journal of a student from Amherst college, who attended a prom at Smith college in 1894 (DeRusha, 2012). Historians claim that by the end of the decade, “a thriving postwar economy allowed high schools to eschew the traditional gymnasium in favor of proms held in hotels or at country clubs” (Suddath, 2010). Students had the right idea that holding a school prom at locations outside of school will create a more intimate atmosphere for a monumental occasion.

As proms became more frequent with high schools, its importance grew as well. In fact, President John F. Kennedy placed a high-school’s prom ahead of his fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton. He insisted on cancelling his event for the prom. Furthermore, in 1975, Susan Ford’s father was President Ford; thus, she managed to pull strings and “held her high school’s senior prom at possibly the best prom location ever: the White House” (Suddath, 2010). Her schoolmates attended a prom at the best location in history. The examples of presidents placing great care for the dazzling school dance proves its climbing popularity and the beginnings of becoming a tradition.

Although proms swiftly entered the dreams of students around the nation, there were some obstacles schools had to overcome. In 1954, the Supreme Court ordered segregated public schools unconstitutional, yet the Georgia Wilcox County high school has not had an integrated prom until this year, as covered by reporter Josh Haskell. Students have adapted quickly to the modern belief of inter-racial communities and scorn segregation. For 2013, a group of students have focused all their efforts into getting the school to approve the first integrated prom. Many who attend the high school admitted that they were embarrassed to be under the name of a school that will not put aside its prejudices. The county superintendent Steve Smith, along with the Board of Education, completely agrees and supports the students. On the other hand, he explains that their parents, who have been raised by racist relatives, cannot attest to the same point of view: “Skin color seems to be a much larger issue for the adults than the students, and my prayer is that this effort will be a huge step toward reconciling the wrongs of the past” (Haskell, 2013).  Living in the 2000s now, the district and students realize that the continuation of segregation must stop. Unfortunately, the district will not pay for the school’s prom; however, the students have a renewed vigor and continue their efforts in fundraising and advocating a new, integrated prom.

In a similar case, students had to rally for the minority at Mona Shores High school in Michigan, though this time, the minority is a transgender. Continuing to this day, there are still a significant amount of people who do not accept all sexualities, such as being gay, lesbian, or transsexual. At the targeted high school, a student, Reed, was voted as homecoming king by the majority of the students and teachers, who accepted him for who he was. Unfortunately, the school district refused to allow him his title since his records claim he is female. After a superfluous amount of complaints and protests, the school now decided to hold a gender neutral affair for the upcoming prom. Some adults refuse to sympathize with the ordeal, such as Carl Morris: “I don’t think that the student should have been allowed to run for prom king. I think that the school was cowardly to bow to political correctness with a ‘gender neutral’ prom” (Bennett, 2011). Thankfully, Morris is among the few insignificant adults who will not stand in the way of the motivated students who want equality for their fellow classmates.

Prom has come a long way, evolving from a formal college experience to a high school tradition. Although prom did not have a smooth ride during its travel through evolution, the results of the challenges, such as in Georgia and Michigan, portray the magnitude of the love for prom and the extent students will go to keep it as a tradition. As proven, nothing will stand in the way of students’ determination when it comes to the magical dance. Through the willpower of students, prom will be a tradition that lives on forever.



Bennett, C. (2011, March 6). How high school proms became battlegrounds for gender identity rights.Edge Boston, Massachusetts. Retrieved from

DeRusha, J. (Writer) (2012). Good question: How did prom become a h.s. tradition? [Web series episode]. In CBS. Minnesota: CBS. Retrieved from

Haskell, J. (Writer) (2013). Georgia teens fed up with segregated proms [Web series episode]. In ABC News. ABC. Retrieved from

Suddath, C. (2010, May 17). Brief history: The prom. Time magazine, Retrieved from,9171,1987594,00.html


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Public vs Private Education

May 19, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Graphics

By: Jessie Chung and Josh Newell

private school education

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Tree of Public Education

May 19, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Graphics

By: Jessie Chung and Josh Newell

tree of education

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Everybody Needs an Education

May 19, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Graphics



By: Jessie Chung and Josh Newell


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School Fund-Public Education

May 19, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Graphics

By: Jessie Chung and Josh Newell

apple of education

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Posters in Desert Vista History Class

May 16, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, DV Education, Graphics


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Seussical (Play at Desert Vista)

May 16, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, DV Theatre, Graphics

theater 1 theater 2 theater 3 theater 4 theater 5 theater 6 theater 7 theater 8 theater 9 theater 10

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Desert Vista Music Groups

May 16, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Desert Vista, DV Music

On Tuesday April 30, four of Desert Vista’s excellent music groups traveled to Paradise Valley High School to partake in the ABODA State Concert Festival. Music groups from all across the state were invited and judged based on their performances and sight-reading skills. Groups were given a rank based on the following scale (from lowest to highest): Good, Excellent, Superior, and Superior with Distinction. The Symphonic Band received an Excellent while the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Strings, and Chamber Orchestra all received Superiors with Distinction. Congratulations to all of these performers for representing Desert Vista in this all-state festival!

orch                            band

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School Lives

May 15, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Desert Vista, Graphics, School Events











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Peer Tutoring Club

May 15, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Desert Vista, DV Education

Desert Vista holds a new club on campus called Peer Tutoring Club. This school club consists of several student tutors who offer their time in the morning or after-school to help other struggling students. Everyday the cafeteria at the school is converted into the Institute of Academic Excellence which is open an hour before and after school (except for Monday mornings and Friday after-school). This club offers students the opportunity to improve their grade by either teaching or learning from a fellow peer.

For more information visit the following sites:

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Say Yes To Public Education

May 15, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Important Posts, Public Vs. Private, School Structure

The relationship between Fantine and Cosette from the recent film Les Miserables, effectively shows how parents always want the best for their children. Fantine, even though she loses everything, tries to provide all the necessities for her child, Cosette. She eventually sells her teeth, hair, and even her body; however, she overcomes everything constantly by keeping her child in mind. Before her death, she sings a little song showing her love toward Cosette, and telling Valjean, a kind and rich man, to take her child: “Take my child, I give her to you keeping…And tell Cosette I love her and I’ll see her when I wake” (MilknCookies414, 2013). For Fantine, it is probably the most difficult choice to beg a stranger to take her child; however, even right before her death, all she could think about is what or who will afford her daughter the best life. This love is not just made up for a heart-warming movie or novel scenes, but it definitely is the love and care of all ordinary parents toward their children. In the lives of children, there are numerous of choices children or their parents make for as they grow. When children grow old enough to go to school, education becomes the main concern of their parents because it could be one of their child’s life changing decisions. The education choices could be strictly narrowed down to public education verses private education. They both have different kinds of benefits, but most parents eventually choose for their children to attend public schools; a statistic by U.S. Department of Education shows that the percentage of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, 90%, clearly beats the private schools, at 10%. (U.S. Department of Education, 2012) There are numerous triumphs of public education, and most notable of these successes comes from public education’s easy access and diversity.

            The United States Education Department released a controversial report comparing public and private schools in terms of student achievement as measured on the federal math and reading tests known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. As a result, “The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, quickly asserted that the study showed public schools were “doing an outstanding job’’” (Public vs. Private Schools, 2006). With the same result, the researchers end the report saying “the country should stay focused on the overarching problem: on average, American schoolchildren are performing at mediocre levels in reading, math and science — wherever they attend school.” If the education system is almost the same, why is it necessary for parents to be so picky, and send their children to private schools, shelling out unnecessary money? Through public schools, students can be taught well. It is just a matter of how much students desire to learn and how much parents care to keep their children on the “right” track.

Furthermore, public school prepares students for the competitiveness of society. Even though it is still in small environment, the competition is fiercer than in those small private schools. Common public schools are usually bigger than the average private school. More people means more competition. Students will learn more through competitive environment and build up and learn how to survive. The SAT is one of the most significant tests during high school. Both private and public school students study for the same exact test and research shows that:

“It is no surprise that the average SAT score at Thomas Jefferson is 1470, with a 690 average in verbal and 760 in math. This average surpasses the national average by a couple of hundred points. The SAT scores alone prove that magnet schools have the potential for being just as good as the best private schools” (Walker, 1999).

The goals of high schools, both private and public, are to lead students one step closer to success in life, and prepare for college. Seeing that there is no big gap between private and public schools in national testing, what effect do both kinds of high school have? Regardless of how much parents support high school education, society sees college education more important. When children are thrown into adult society, and required to write a resume for a job, they will most likely not be asked to report about high school.

Public education may not be the best; however, it does have numerous strengths. It is free and available to everyone, and the competition rate is much higher than private schools. Public schools should not be generalized into ideas a lower rank than other educational systems just because of a few negative facts in isolated schools. There is a well-known quotation saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover” (Elliot, 1860). Public schools seem to have less of everything than private schools; however, they have enough to compete and prove that they are not far off from private schools.



Elliot, G. (1860). The Mill of the Floss. London, UK: William Blackwood and Sons

MilknCookies414. (2013, Feb). Come To Me (Fantine’s Death) [Video file]. Retrieved from   

Public vs. Private Schools. (2006, July) The New York Times. Retrieved from             http://www

Walker, R. (1999). Public Education vs. Private Education. Ethics of Development in a Global     Environment. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Education. (2012). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from   


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Seattle Schools Back Down From Standardized Test After Protests

May 14, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Several schools in Seattle use a standardized test, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), to asses the teachers’ ability. However, many teachers and students held a boycott against this test. They believe that the measurement does not accurately provide results. Originally, a punishment was created for teachers that refused to give the test. The punishment was eventually revoked; and a statement was made that the students do not have to take MAP as long as another assessment is put in place. Even though many students and educators believe that the MAP holds no purpose, the Seattle Public Schools Superintendent, Jose Banda, sees it differently. He said that the MAP was useful in detecting at-risk students and to measure the growth of the students. Even if the Seattle schools manage to get rid of the MAP another standardized test is on the way.

Johnson, Eric. (2013). Seattle Schools Back Down From Standardized Test After Protests. Reuters. Retrieved from

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DV Orchestra

May 14, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, DV Music




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Latin Arts

May 14, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, DV Education, Graphics



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Nature at it’s Finest

May 14, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Graphics

CIMG0039 CIMG0033 CIMG0027 CIMG0028 CIMG0029 CIMG0018 CIMG0017

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School Lives

May 14, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Desert Vista, Graphics

CIMG0008 CIMG0004 CIMG0009 CIMG0013 CIMG0012 CIMG0011 CIMG0016 CIMG0019 CIMG0020 CIMG0021 CIMG0022 CIMG0023 CIMG0030 CIMG0031 CIMG0032 CIMG0035

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Grasping for Knowledge

May 14, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Common Core, Important Posts, School Structure

Intellectual, societal, and technological standards are progressively proliferating day by day. Our children are one step behind those of Japan, Denmark, China, and Czech Republic. (Bennett, 2006). It is only necessary that our generation meet the standards of the rest of the world. This is attainable only by the augmentation of time spent focusing on academics. Homework is a vital part of successfully achieving academic ascendancy. Public schools incorporate daily assignments to help students prioritize, manage time, become responsible, review the lesson learned, and comprehend the curriculum.

Like any issue, there are advocates and critics of this subject. Advocates against the implementation of homework argue that too much homework is excessive and demeaning to a student. “A recent Associated Press-America Online poll found that the average elementary school student does 78 minutes per night and middle schoolers 99 minutes, amounts far exceeding suggested guidelines of 10 minutes per grade per night.” (Bennett,  2006). There is little correlation between assignments and achievement in elementary and middle school. In high school, excessive amounts of homework are considered to be “counterproductive” to students. The time spent on homework since 1981 has increased 51%, according to a study of 2,900 students in 2004. (Wallis, 2006). Harris Cooper, a homework critic, confirmed through studies, that homework does not account for achievement in elementary school. Cooper also concluded from his research that students who are: “doing more than 60 to 90 min. a night in middle school and more than 2 hr. in high school is associated with, gulp, lower scores.” (Wallis, 2006). Teachers in low test scoring countries like Greece, Thailand, and Iran assign copious homework than American teachers do. The author further stated that: ‘“…homework is damaging our kids’ interest in learning, undermining their curiosity.”’ (Wallis,2006).  To summarize this critic’s argument, she is simply stating that homework itself is not causing the harm, rather it is the plethora. Adjusting the amount of assignments assigned is a simple refute to the critics’ advocacy against homework in general. This problem of academic decline, in comparison to other countries, is proportional to profligate homework assigned. It is easily solved with an abatement of the current amount given out.

According to recent statistics, Chinese students are surpassing the US academically through its graduation requirements. Their curriculum is advanced due to its forced implementation of more difficult courses. “…(to graduate from high school, students must complete biology, chemistry, physics, algebra and geometry), but the Chinese school year is a month longer. When regular school time is combined with homework, Chinese students spend twice as much time on academics.” ( Less Homework, More Trouble, 2006). Adding even one more month to the public school year can make a drastic difference. More time spent on challenging students with homework will only result in an increased ability to prioritize the important parts of their lives. With homework assigned, it helps for the younger generation to schedule school activities before recreational activities. (Benefits of Homework). Arranging everyday activities in order of vitality is imperative for future success. Eminence in a child’s future career is directly proportional to the ability to prioritize important events and tasks.

Managing time is one of the many characteristics that make up a productive member of society. “Once they start studying their lessons in the allotted time, they start learning the art of prioritization and also learn how to complete their tasks in a scheduled time. This helps them in managing their time and studies independently which instills self-discipline in students.” (Benefits of Homework). Homework is a daily routine that instills a professional sense of time management. Throughout the twelve years in a public school system, managing time is exercised daily through assigned homework.

Success is more attainable academically; if the material taught every day is reviewed. Homework is an essential tool in review. By utilizing assignments, instructors are able to determine whether or not the curriculum is being comprehended by specific students. Any pupils who need extra assistance with a concept can be easily identified through the completion and accuracy of their homework. It also acts as a bridge between home and school. This bridge connects parents with the ongoing activities, projects, and events. Homework“ …also helps them  recollect and convey information and implement the information whenever need arises. Students are taught to focus and work on their own which gradually develops their interest in new subjects.” (Benefits of Homework). Thus, homework incites students to have an inquisitive attitude towards the curriculum.

Critics for the complete removal of work assigned to be done at home, can only attribute that it is the plethoric amount assigned, rather than homework itself. Public school’s utilization of homework only accounts for a student’s ability to prioritize paramount tasks, manage time, be incumbent, review the concept taught, and fully understand the curriculum. With the world’s academic standards expanding beyond the horizon, our arms must be invariably reaching to grasp this stretch of knowledge.


Bennett, S. (2006, July 2). Homework does not=A’s. USA Today. Retrieved from

Wallis, C. (2006, August 29). The Myth About Homework. Time. Retrieved from,9171,1376208-2,00.html

Benefits of Homework. Retrieved from

(2006, July 2). Less Homework, More Trouble. USA Today. Retrieved from



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Arizona public schools wait for budget answers

May 13, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Important Posts, NewsFlash

Governor Jan Brewer is in talks with the GOP-led legislature to determine funding for Arizona schools. School superintendents across Arizona are not sure how much money they will have to employ teachers. They are also awaiting lawmaker’s decisions on performance funding, school standards and other policy changes that could impact school funding. The funding could further impact the rest of the decisions that are about to take place with the new legislature that has passed.

Silva, C. (2013, May 13). Arizona public schools wait for budget answers. Retrieved from

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Sandy Lowe: Why I’m Optimistic about Education Today

May 13, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Guest, Important Posts

Sandy Lowe is currently serving as board member at the district.  She has two sons that graduated from Corona del Sol.  Mrs. Lowe continues to be active in the public school system.  She has B.S. in Social Work and an M.B.A.


Why I’m Optimistic about Education Today

Sandy Lowe

May 10, 2013


All one has to do to negate just one article about what is bad in education is to look at our students today, especially in TempeUnionHighSchool District.  What they will find are:


Students that are excelling beyond anyone’s expectations in all fields whether it be Math, Bio-Med, Science, Art, Music, or Culinary (just to mention a few).  They are passionate about learning and have the support to succeed.


Students that overcome serious obstacles in their young lives, and still manage to not only graduate, but earn scholarships and awards for their courage, effort and success.   These are the kids that face personal addictions, violence, homelessness, bullying and abuse, but manage to stay focused on learning because they understand the significant impact education has on one’s life.


Students that overcome physical, emotional and learning challenges in our classrooms.   It may take them longer to pass a test, a class or even to graduate, but they do despite sometimes an uphill battle.


Students that are selfless in giving their time to help others.  They give up free time and their talents to help others in their community that is less fortunate then they are.


And standing close behind all of these achievements are families, teachers, principals and community volunteers that lend moral and/or financial support, a helping hand in passing a tough class, or perhaps just a word of kindness on a day that isn’t going so well.  It’s that special teacher that buys clothing for a needy student or stays late every day to tutor a failing student (without anyone knowing) or  that principal that finds a way to help a family struggling with a tragedy that  truly makes a difference and gives us reasons to celebrate.  There will always be challenges in our lives, but the good news is we continue to move forward with optimism about the future because of our outstanding students!


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Student Debt Slows Growth as Young Spend Less

May 12, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Student loan debt recently exceeded $1 trillion in total. This large amount of debt is making it very hard for many graduates to purchase major items such as homes, cars, and other expenses. People investing in their future has landed them with well paying jobs and good benefits. Along with that comes years of chipping away at debt. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York did a study and found that 30-year-olds with student loans are less likely to have debts on home mortgages than 30-year-olds without student loans. This same pattern has been found in 25-year-olds with car loans. The economy and tight credit standards are making it very difficult for people to establish themselves with large purchases. This restraint on students is the reason that some economists say is holding back the economic recovery.

Works Cited
Lowrey, Annie. “Student Loan Debt Is a Drag on the Economy, Too.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 May 2013. Web. 13 May 2013. .

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May 10, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Desert Vista, Graphics, School Events

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Student Engagement

May 10, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Fine Arts, Public Education Programs

Almost every high school in the U.S. offers some type of extracurricular activity- music, sports, and academic clubs, etc. These activities provide opportunities for students to learn the values of individual and group responsibility, physical strength and endurance, diversity, and competition. These extracarriculars provide a channel for reinforcing the lessons learned in the classroom, allowing students to apply academic skills in a real-world context, and are thus considered part of a well-rounded education that public schools include.

It is important that each child is given an equal opportunity to participate in extra courses beyond the classroom. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “Virtually all public schools have extracurricular activities available for students, including sports, performing arts, publications, and honors societies. Furthermore, despite concerns about scarce resources in schools serving poor students, no important differences in availability of these activities were found” (Finn 2005). Regardless of whether the schools attended are large or small, in rural, urban, or suburban settings, they all have extra programs to offer students.

Research included in author Lamborn Brown’s book, Putting School in Perspective, suggest that participation in extracurricular activities may increase students’ sense of engagement or attachment to their schools, and thereby decrease the likelihood of school failure and dropping out. The National Education Longitudinal Study found that there is a strong correlation between extracurricular participation and student engagement at public schools, and it is important that all students have this opportunity. This study continued to explain the relationship between activities and students’ success in school: “Indicators of successful participation in school include academic achievement, consistent attendance, and aspirations for continuing education beyond high school. Extracurricular participation was positively associated with each of these success indicators among public high school students” (O’Brien 2008).  During the first semester of school, participants reported better attendance than their non-participating classmates. Students who are involved are three times as likely to perform in the top quartile on a composite math and reading assessment compared to those who are not. These statistics support the claim that students who are involved in school activities, are more likely to succeed.

While looking at the positives of being involved in extracurriculars, it is also important to see who is taking advantage of them. Keleese Edwards explains this further in her article Student Activities for Students at Risk: “About four of every five students are involved in at least one extra activity. Sports have the widest participation, followed by performing arts and academic clubs. Honor societies, publications, and student government are less popular, but still important and effective for students” (Edwards 2000). Although differences in availability of extracurricular opportunities between less affluent and more affluent schools were almost nonexistent, students of low socioeconomic status (SES) are less likely to participate in activities. The involvement of low SES students is consistently lower than that of high SES students in each type of activity, with the exception of vocational or professional clubs, such as Future Teachers of America, in which low SES students were twice as likely to participate. Edwards continues: “Some researchers have suggested that the social context of the school might have a positive or negative influence on student behavior, depending on whether the individual student is in the relative minority or majority in the school. However, this data shows that regardless of their socioeconomic background, low SES students participate at the same rates whether they attend  a more or less affluent school” (Edwards 2000). Schools all throughout the nation have a wide variety of students, coming from all types of backgrounds, participating in extracurricular activities. These are the students who are excelling and showing outstanding performance.

It is clear that participation and success are strongly associated. This is evidenced by participants’ better attendance and higher levels of achievement. The data indicates that differences in involvement are not related to differences in availability, as extracurricular activities are available to virtually all high school students; regardless of the affluence, size, location or minority status of the schools students attend. Public schools have such a wide variety of extra opportunities, and benefit all students. It is important that students are aware and encouraged to be involved.




Edward, Kl., & D’Onofrio, A. (2000). Retrieved from Student Activities for Students At

Risk. Reston, VA: National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Finn, J. D., & Rock, D. A. (n.d.). (2005). Retrieved from


Karweit, N., & Hansell, S. (n.d). (2004). Retrieved from “School Organization and

Friendship Selection,” in Friends in School, ed. Joyce Epstein and Nancy

Karweit, New York: Academic Press.

Lamborn, S.D., Brown, B.B., Mounts, N.S., & Steinberg, L. (1992). Retrieved from

Putting School in perspective: Student engagement and achievement in American

secondary schools.

O’Brien, E. (n.d.). (2008).  Retrieved from


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Recess, Affecting the Recesses of Student Minds

May 10, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Athletics, Public Education Programs

The future, a concept inconceivable to some but fully embraced by others, is something everyone desires to be faultless. In order to create a prosperous society in the future, it is first necessary to assure that those living in the society are well-rounded. How do we do this? We begin with children who are bursting with potential. Recess is the key ingredient for creating the model student, in addition to establishing the fundamentals for crafting the model adult later in life. Public school administrators, who offer recess to their students, also offer an opportunity for physical and mental success.

It is evident that due to the economic decline adults have been reducing their time spent at home and increasing their time spent at work. Because they are not at home, adults are unable to supervise or encourage their children to play outside. The Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine conducted a survey which Greg Seaman summarized: “In interviews with almost 9,000 parents, researchers discovered that only 51 percent of children went outside to walk or play once a day with either parent” (Seaman, n.d.). Therefore, children are locked indoors, protected by the safety of sedentary walls. While at home, children succumb to static activities such as watching television or playing video games. Because they lack the opportunity to venture outside, children ought to have access to other sources of exercise and creativity. Children essentially have two homes, one which consists of the nuclear family, and the other including classmates and teachers. If one’s home is incapable of fulfilling the needs of the child, the other should pick up the slack. In order to affirm such goals, school administrators must provide recess for each child.

As simple and innocent as recess is, administrators seem to have difficulty wrapping their minds around the necessity of this play time. Due to this ignorance, playground equipment is diminishing and has even become extinct in some schools. Many argue that equipment is too expensive and requires costly repairs. However, Adams, author of Recess Makes Kids Smarter, explains that blacktop can be painted for less than $5,000 with different games and activities that foster creativity and more importantly, activity in general. Children do not need fancy toys or a 10 foot spiral slide. What they need, is time to run outside and to invent games of their own. Exercising the body and mind is vital medicine for their susceptible state of life. In The Value of School Recess and Outdoor Play, the author plays devil’s advocate, claiming that recess “is a waste of time better spent on academics, that playground injuries promote lawsuits, [and] that children are at an increased risk of coming in contact with threatening strangers while outdoors.” An occasional injury may occur on the playground, but has the question been asked, how many children would suffer from mental and physical injuries over time, if recess were eliminated? The answer: every student would experience some sort of grievance. As recess time and equipment are stripped away, obesity and lack of attention creep closer into the lives of once exuberant children.

When play is placed on the sidelines, so are academics and physical fitness. The sequence of events is tumultuous.  Down time is essential even in the workforce: breaks are enforced in order to increase productivity. If adults, who have lengthy attention spans and a fully matured brain, require breaks, it is imperative that developing children have time to relax their mind and are able to freely express themselves. Williams, author of Recess in Schools: Disposable or Essential? confirms that recess “has shown to be extremely beneficial for children with special needs and diagnosed attention deficit disorders.” By releasing large amounts of their energy outside of the classroom, students are able to cease fidgeting and disruptions, leaving them clear minded with the capability to focus on school work. Long days are accompanied by stress. Hours of constant cramming and overwhelming standards set by the community can be strenuous at such a young age. It has been proven that high stress levels during childhood can result in depression later in life. Students fortunate enough to partake in recess exhibit the opposite of these detrimental results.

Children who have yet to be robbed of recess, exhibit such characteristics: “are less fidgety and more on task, have improved memory and more focused attention, develop more brain connections, learn negotiation skills, exercise leadership, teach games, take turns, and learn to resolve conflicts, [and] are more physically active before and after school” (Adams, n.d.).

These admirable traits describe the model student. However, school administrators who outlaw recess are ultimately crippling their students and setting them up for failure.

Stationary lifestyles have grown increasingly more common as the use of technology has been implemented into daily life. Technological advancements have resulted in children occupying a substantial part of their day surfing the internet or watching television: “Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years” (Williams n.d.). This startling truth is something that those in power agree needs to be changed. However, few seem to act seriously upon this threat to the health of the future generations. Many claim that students have the opportunity to venture outside after school hours. However, “studies have shown that students who are more active during school hours are more likely to stay active after school hours than students who have no physical activities” (Williams n.d.). By eliminating recess, stationary habits are promoted and more likely to be practiced by the youth. If this trend continues, it is highly likely that these children will encounter complications in health such as: type two diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, and several types of cancer once they reach adulthood. It is evident that mental and physical health is impaired once recess is abandoned, and some school administrators enable these poor lifestyle choices.

School is highly valued because of its sole effort is to promote education that students can eventually utilize in the career world. When entering adulthood and searching for an occupation, it is necessary to have: communication, imagination, cooperation and socialization skills in order to be hired. However, if school administrators exterminate recess, they are not only robbing children of their physical capabilities, but their aptitude for creative and intuitive thinking along with their communal skills. During recess, children freely interact with others and invent their own unstructured games. These games along with pretend play develop skills necessary for the future.  Business owners seek non-conformers, those who can add an edge of competition and fresh-thinking to the company. In addition, business owners look to hire those who work well with others. It is difficult to develop teamwork in a classroom that consists solely of structured lecture time, deprived of any individuality. Carlee Adams, author of Recess Makes Kids Smarter interviewed Nelly Torres, a parent of a first and a fourth grader in the Chicago Public Schools. Torres commented that recess “taught me how to get along with others- whites, African-Americans. Nowadays, kids don’t know how to socialize among other groups.” Torres’s comment revolves around observations of her own children and is a common, yet troubling opinion. Recess requires collaboration, whether it is assigning roles in a game of hide-and-go-seek, or taking turns on the swings. Recess fosters originality and socialization-skills, which are assets highly valued in the business world.

Many, but not all public school administrators have acknowledged the numerous repercussions (previously discussed) of eliminating recess. In order to cope with the faulty schedule, some schools have introduced: short exercise breaks, a longer school schedule, or have hired recess coaches. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to combat childhood obesity cooperates with public schools; it promotes the importance of short exercise breaks during the day, and the priority of physical activity, including recess.

Goodwin, author of After Years of Recess Erosion, Schools try to get Kids Moving Again, explains how a public school in New York has been inspired by “Let’s Move!”; “Geller [teacher at PS166] cobbled together $5,000 in grants from New York City’s education department and other sources to institute regular two minute physical activity bursts every morning, which the school calls “brain breaks.” Teachers are also trying to add another 15 minutes of other exercise, particularly Tai Chi movements, as a way to compensate for the school’s infrequent recess, which leaves some of the children restless and antsy.”

Geller’s effort to relinquish play time for children, demonstrates that not everyone is neglecting childhood fitness. Brain breaks and Tai Chi may not be the ideal recess; however, any activity is better than remaining stationary.

In addition to Michelle Obama’s and Geller’s support, the National Wildlife Federation has launched their “Ranger Rick Restores Recess Campaign.” Burnette, author of Bring Daily Recess Back, informs her audience that “National Wildlife Federation will be advocating the return of daily recess to our nation’s schools by working with state legislatures and state boards of education to implement policies that ensure recess for elementary students. This initiative is an integral part of NWF’s goal to get 10 million more kids outside over the next three years” (Burnette, 2013).

The NWF recognizes and condones the importance of recess; therefore, is striving to restore childhood creativity and fitness. In order to achieve success, the NWF has outlined a few goals: each student, not excluding those with poor grades nor behavioral issues, will receive at least 20 minutes per day of recess; recess will be scheduled in addition to, not in replacement of lunch and physical education periods; recess equipment must be safe and outdoor; and students must have access to a natural play area. These requirements assure that every child- rich, poor, black, white, misbehaved, or well-behaved, has the opportunity to put aside their differences and explore the great outdoors together.

Some public school administrators, who value time spent outside, have begun to extend the school day in order to accommodate recess time. For instance, a low-income public school in South Lawrence, Massachusetts guarantees that their “students get two hours of physical activity each day, including a 20 minute recess, to break up their 80 minute blocks of academic classes. But in order to fit in all the exercise, the school has had to expand to an eight-hour day” (Goodwin, 2013). This compromise meets children’s academic and physical requirements. One of the school founders, Thomas Bean, has reported that attendance and academic performance have recovered impeccably since the alteration of their schedule. Children look forward to having a daily recess, which staggers the long periods of classroom time. By having breaks throughout the day, students also renew their focus upon returning to the classroom.

Chicago public schools are now following this trend of reinstalling recess. Lengthening the day allows room for playtime. Every Chicago public school allots at least twenty minutes of recess for the students. However, time is not the only aspect necessary for a quality recess. Equipment and staff are essential. Many Chicago public schools no longer have any recess equipment and are lacking staff members to monitor break times. In order to combat this deficiency, recess is sometimes held in the school parking lot or at a local park. Jump ropes, balls, hula-hoops, etc. are supplied in order to occupy children. Gutierrez, member of Channel 7 ABC News, covers the story, Recess returns to Chicago Public Schools. She addresses the staff shortages by interviewing a “Recess Coach.” Coach Easter explained: “We introduce games, teach them the rules to all the games, but also we teach them how to interact with each other” (2011). These coaches are hired in order to ensure students’ safety, dissuade idleness, and to mediate quarrels. Exercise breaks, extending the school day, and hiring recess coaches are the first few incentives to revive the fruits that recess once bore.

The endeavors to achieving daily recess in every public school have not full affect. In order to obtain a brighter future for the younger generations, it is vital, that children develop the skills that recess foster. Such skills entail: creativity, communication, leadership, love of nature, physical fitness, and a healthy attention span. As a member of society, it is our responsibility to guarantee the future is in good hands. These hands must be those of past students who have sported calluses from monkey bars, and whose finger nails were once embedded with sand. An online article, Bring Back Recess, highlights simple measures anyone can take to help the cause of brining recess back. Being informed and dedicated is the first step. The second step is getting other parents involved. The article advices the reader to: “Contact the head of your PTA or other parents association.” Team work is necessary to tackle this problem. Third, by talking to administrators and shining a light on the benefits of recess, those in power will feel motivated to take action. Lastly, alerting the media can promote widespread knowledge on the issue at hand. In times of trouble, competent communities will reunite and address the situation, no matter how cumbersome, until it is resolved. By following these steps, school administrators will feel the pressure to reincorporate daily recess.

Recess is the time when children are allowed to be what their name and reputation entail- free-spirited. However, this reputation is slowly becoming a misguided and misrepresented shadow of the past. Children have moved onto a more cliché and predictable lifestyle- one that is unhealthy for their present state and their future. Devoid of recess, a hollow human being is produced, crafted from long classroom hours and a stationary home life.  “Ignoring the developmental functions of unstructured outdoor play denies children the opportunity to expand their imaginations beyond the constraints of the classroom” (, n.d.). Because children are incapable of developing ingenuity at such a vital state in life, it is impossible for them to utilize creativity as adults. The youth have adopted the belief that life is sedentary. Therefore, they too have grown inactive. In order to spark the youthful vitality that once ran rampant throughout students, all school administrators must reinstall and enforce an allotted time for recess during the school day.











Adams, C. (n.d.). Recess Makes Kids Smarter | Retrieved April 18, 2013, from

Bring back recess. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2013, from

Burnette, M. (2013, January 29). Bring daily recess back. National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from (n.d.). The Value of School Recess and Outdoor Play. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from

Goodwin, L. (2013, March 22). After years of recess erosion, schools try to get kids moving again. [Web log message]. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from

Gutierrez, T. (Member of News Team). (2011). Recess returns to chicago public schools [Television series episode]. In ABC News. Chicago: WLS-TV/DT. Retrieved April 20, 2013 from,

Seaman, G. (n.d.). Are Children Spending Enough Time Outdoors? | Eartheasy Blog. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from

Williams, S. (n.d.). Recess in schools: Disposable or essential?. Informally published manuscript, Retrieved April 18, 2013, from

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Huge Milestone for Minority Education

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Last year Latinos passed a huge milestone for minority education as they became more likely to go on from high school straight to college. There are though many significant gaps still facing the Latino community. Overall Latinos are still less likely to attend a four year college than Asians, whites, and blacks. The Latino dropout rate though has fallen by 50% though since 2000. These positive changes are due to a new generation of Latinos in school, ones who are native to the U.S and are fully educated in its schools. This new generation may have an even lower rate of dropout because included in the statistics are those who have not lived here their entire lives.

Perez-Pena, R. (2013, May 9). As latinos make gains in education, gaps remain. New York Times. Retrieved from

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Public Education: A Brief History and a Glimpse Into the Future

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, History of Public Education, School Structure

The history of public education in the United States dates back to the mid-1600s, when the pilgrims of the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony instated that any town of 50 families or more must have an elementary school. Originally the goal of these public schools was to educate children on the lessons of the Bible and morals of the Calvinist religion. However, clearly there has been a massive shift in the goals and objectives adapted by modern public schools. How did the nation start with a meager slew of elementary schools that only focused on the teachings of the Bible, and end up where it is now: a vast expansion of all varieties of schools that teach anything from speaking Mandarin Chinese to Physics, Calculus, and Advanced Composition? The history of public education in America is an extensive one, but the twists and turns and obstacles faced along the way have slowly molded it into the impressive system it is today. What started as a Biblical institution for upper class Americans slowly began molding itself into an equal opportunity system which allows children to socialize and educate themselves in order to become fully-functioning and successful members of society.

It all began with a question. Hypothetically, that is. That question was of course, how can a system be created in which the general public can receive an equal capacity of learning as the upper class without burning tremendous holes in their pockets?  In 1779, Thomas Jefferson fabricated a plan. A two track educational system: one for laboring and one for learning. However, he proposed to shell out small amounts of scholarships to the brightest of the bunch which would allow for lower class kids to get an upper class education. It was not perfect, but it was a start. In 1790, before the nation had drafted a collective Constitution, the state of Pennsylvania declared that it would provide free public education. However, it would only be for underprivileged children- the rich still had to pay for their children to attend school. In 1817, a greater cry sounded out from the masses at a Boston Town Meeting. There was a demand for the establishment of free primary schools that was supported by much of the middle class. However, with little of the lower class understanding the importance of nationwide education, they were unwilling to pay the taxes necessary to fund these would-be new schools (Applied Research Center). The economic situation of the people at this time was not stable enough to make take such a formidable step towards educational progress.

Finally, in the 1840’s, the gears of compulsory education began to start turning. Because there were so many Irish and German immigrants of the Catholic religion migrating into the country, Protestant Americans felt the pressure to preserve their religious ideals. By creating more public schools, the Protestant faith could be better taught and dispersed throughout the minds of the nation’s future people, as well as preserve democracy which the American people felt was threatened by Catholicism.  The school movement began to take hold of many intellectuals of the Progressive movement who believed that education was the key to a developed society. They popularized the idea of the state being completely in charge of the education of its citizens (Smith 2013). With the state leading the way, public education could expand in a way like never before by incorporating things such as math and science. Schools would no longer be restricted by the strict bindings of religious institutions.

As of now, public education has grown tremendously. The number of children attending public elementary and secondary schools is 49.6 million, and the ways of paying for these kids to go to school has also changed over the years. As of now, property tax accounts for the majority of money going towards public education (Watson 2008). Although critics claim that America is losing its “edge” over competitors around the globe, there are many reforms underway to help give education the boost it needs. Whether it be moving vocational education to community college, or even going so far as to eliminate the 12th grade as some are suggesting, there are ways to patch up the system and return it to its former glory. President Lyndon Johnson said that “public education is the engine that powers all economic growth in our nation,” and of course, he was right. Without public education, the entire system of the country would collapse (Wright 2012). Before public education, the American public was ignorant and trapped in the same monotonous lifestyle. However, with the introduction of this free schooling, the country saw a major growth spurt in intellect and economy. Yet, the journey is not complete. The United States still has a while to go until it achieves the education perfection that it is seeking, but as of now the American people can be satisfied of what has been accomplished thus far.



Applied Research Center – Historical Timeline of Public Education in the US. (n.d.). Applied Research Center – Home. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from

Smith, H. (2013, February 13). A Brief History of Public Education: School Choice in America Part II | FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks . Retrieved April 12, 2013, from

Watson, S. (2008, February 13). HowStuffWorks “Public Schools”. HowStuffWorks “People”. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from

Wright, L. (2012, February 18). Restructuring Public Education for the 21st Century. National Center for Policy Analysis. Retrieved April 22, 2013, from

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Serving Up Some Grub

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Health

High school students may remember the plastic-wrapped bean burritos and the watery apple juice they were served during their elementary school years. Although some foods prepared by school cafeterias are delicious, they are often unhealthy and do not provide enough nutrients for growing children. With one-third of the nation’s children being obese, many Americans have been demanding a drastic change for healthier foods in school. In order to meet the childhood obesity issue, the national government has been implementing effective modifications that take steps towards creating healthier foods for schools across the country.

One of the most significant programs that has brought tinges of green vegetables and colorful fruits into lunches is the National School Lunch Program. The organization, which was established by President Truman in 1846, serves more than 100,000 public and non-profit private schools with meals that are either nutritionally balanced, low-cost, or free. After the given proposal for change in 2011, the government association has finalized its plans for taking small steps towards healthier school foods: “The new meal pattern goes into effect at the beginning of SY 2012‐13, and increases the availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the school menu” (NSLP 2012). One major aspect missing from school lunches is the lack of these three major parts of the food pyramid, a diagram of a balanced diet. With the increased availability these different food groups along with the milk and meats already served, the students are now more likely to have a healthier lunch. With changes to a national program that affects millions of students across the country, the positive effects are able to spread some green across the nation’s youthful seeds.

Another national entity that has gone through positive changes for children is the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Although the program is only offered to elementary schools that have 50% of students receiving reduced-price or free lunches, the added fruits and vegetables have shown a positive comparison to students who are not participating in the program (Table 1). Americans who look at the issue from an economic standpoint believe that the fruits and vegetables will not be consumed by the students who prefer foods like burgers and pizzas, and then the produce will be thrown away. However, the data proves that students under the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program willingly eat the produce that is offered to them. Individual school districts willing to partake in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program can alleviate their concern over wasted food. The federal policy provides a significant portion of healthy foods to elementary school children who are willing to partake in the change for a better diet.

Table 1

Cups of Fruit and Vegetables Consumed Daily, 2010-2011

nicole donos graph 1

Note. The data on produce consumption is adapted from “Evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – Summary” by Bartlett S., Olsho L., Patlan K.L., Blocklin M., and Klerman

J., 2013, United States Department of Agriculture, pp. 2.

The acceptance of these national benefits has not gone as smoothly as the Washington government wanted. One dispute that tainted the proposal phase for changes in the national programs is that students might not consume all of the foods that are given to them. The nutrition and wellness programs of the Illinois State Board of Education have provided an example of the “offer vs. serve” concept for the National School Lunch Program, where students are given options instead of being served a certain amount of each food group and can choose to decline some part of the meal but must keep at least a portion of produce (Fig. 2). Under the proposal, students have a choice in the foods that they eat, and the likeliness of food being dumped and wasted is reduced.  All of the dietary requirements may not be met when a student chooses to reduce the size of the meal. However, he may still change the amount of food or the type of foods that he eats any other day. The “offer vs. serve” concept instigated decreases the chance of food being wasted and provides an opportunity to students in all grade levels to have a choice in the foods they eat.

Figure 2

Example of a Reimbursed Meal under the Offer versus Serve for Students 9-12 Grade

   nicole donos 2

nicole donos 3

Note. The figure is adapted from “National School Lunch Program: Offer versus Serve- 9-12 Grade Grouping” provided by the Illinois State Board of Education, pp.6, 8.

The concern for student health has brought positive changes to national policies for school meals. An example of a federal policy is The National School Lunch Program which daily provides for millions of students, and all changes to the program have an extensive impact. Another governmental entity is the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that provides the produce needed for a balanced diet. Students under the “offer versus serve” option have the opportunity to make changes to their menus and maintain a healthier diet. The national government, working with individual state governments, has made substantial changes to its policies so children have the chance to live lives free from the sequela of obesity.



Bartlett, S., Olsho, L., Patlan, K., Blocklin, M., & Klerman, J. US Department of Agriculture,

(2013). Evaluation of the fresh fruit and vegetable program – summary. Retrieved from


Illinois. State Board of Education. National School Lunch Program: Offer versus Serve- 9-12

Grade Grouping. Retrieved 11 April 2013 from:

United States. Department of Agriculture. (2012, August). National School Lunch

Program. Retrieved 11 April 2013 from:

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Money Saved

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Health, Important Posts, Laws Affecting Public Education

Education throughout the history of mankind has done wonders. Without education paving the way for new advances in medicine, technology, and philosophy, human culture would be a fragment of what it is today. However, these progressions often overshadow another benefit to education such as money. Public education rids people of many unwanted crimes while saving the government and tax payers countless amounts of money.

Those who receive a high school diploma have access to a myriad of benefits. One of these benefits is the ability to find work more regulatory than those without a degree. Thus, without a degree it is easier to slip into poverty: “Social scientists generally agree that unemployment, especially persistent unemployment, leads to individual poverty and that residential concentrations of poverty lead to higher crime” (Labor Markets, Employment and Crime, 1997). According to the Office of Justice Programs, unemployment can lead to poverty. Unfortunately, poverty can lead to crime which in turn costs the government money. Without providing a basic high school education to young citizens, the community is sentencing many of them to a life of crime. Therefore, the importance of public high schools is greater than ever. With more students getting a valuable education, the schooling will provide our community with less crime and more law abiding citizens. This also reveals another benefit that can actually help the economy.

Today in America, millions of people are in our prison systems for various crimes. Some for petty theft, and some more serious crimes, like murder. It costs a huge amount of money, resources, and man power to run these prisons.

Table 1. Percent of Criminals

thomas forrest graph

Note 1. Statistics on inmates convicted and unconvicted. Based on percentages. 1,822,555 inmates were surveyed for this information.

This is why public education is so important to the community and even the economy. This demonstrates this correlation between education and those who are sentenced to prison. On average around forty percent of these inmates do not have a high school diploma; likewise ,around ninety percent do not have a college degree. These huge percentages of uneducated individuals make up the majority of the prison system. By putting more focus on public education, a profound difference can be made in the lives of these children.

Educating the masses can provide the country with much needed benefits. With less people committing crimes and providing their efforts toward useful jobs, it will increase the economy while keeping the community safe. Providing a basic education to our citizens is a win-win situation.



Characteristics of inmates: Education of prison and jail inmates. (2005). Retrieved from

National Institute of Justice . (2007). Labor markets, employment, and crime. Retrieved from











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Get Your Head Out of the Books

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs

 In every nation, an exceptional education is what everyone should strive for. In fact, most of the world’s leaders compete to have the smartest students on the globe. These statistics of the “smartest” countries are measured by the nations’ standardized test scores. Although sky-high test scores and grades are outstanding, they are not the only important attribute of a great student, nor are they the only aspect that defines a person’s intelligence. A student’s skills outside of the school walls also define his or her overall intellect. In truth, the best colleges will take an average student who has done activities outside of school over an honors student who only spends his or her time buried in textbooks. This is because they desire a student who is well-rounded and can handle the schedule of various tasks. For academic and various health-related reasons, the incorporation of a variety of extracurricular activities and schoolwork gives students an advantage in school and future achievements by forming them into well rounded and competitive individuals.

When students attend beneficial activities outside of school, they tend to be more successful and involved. Taking part in school functions makes the students more aware of their community and their peers, keeping them connected to important events or opportunities. Moreover, involvement in school keeps the students from committing harmful or negative actions off school hours. There have been many studies on the effects of extracurricular activities, and all of them have concluded with similar results as the one done by the NationalCenter for Education Statistics (NCES) study of public school senior successes.

Table 1. Percentage of public school seniors reporting selected indicators of school success by participation and nonparticipation in extracurricular activities, 1992

Indicators                                      Participants    participants
No unexcused absences*                             50.4             36.2
Never skipped classes*                             50.7             42.3
Have a GPA of 3.0 or above                         30.6             10.8
Highest quartile on a composite math and
 reading assessment                                29.8             14.2
Expect to earn a bachelor's degree
 or higher                                         68.2             48.2

* During first semester of their senior year.

Note. The average percentage of high school senior success, comparing seniors who participate in extracurricular activities and those who do not, was studied by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), June 1995, Extracurricular Participation and Student Engagement, retrieved from

Because students are engaged in school-related activities alongside their bookwork, they are able to create their own schedule that fits both commitments. This helps train the students to be more organized in college as well as future jobs. Furthermore, the subtle lessons and skills they acquire from these activities flow into their work and improve their educational status, as seen in the above data. Above all, when students participate in positive extracurricular activities, their optimistic behaviors can be seen in their school and social relationships as well.

Not only can extracurricular activities increase the chances of academic success, but they can also build a student’s sense of self-awareness. Whether it is a sport, a club, or a music ensemble, supplementary events are great ways “to have fun, make new friends, learn about yourself, and open the door to possible future careers” (PBS, 2005). While participating, students are able to explore their likes and dislikes, thus, creating a more stable state of mind that will help them discover their own path to travel on. For example, Andrew Mirasol of the University of Michigan stated that religious private schools and some public schools have faith-based groups that are “effective in playing a role in forming identity” (Mirasol, 2006). Not only are these students solidifying a relationship with their religion, but they are also forming bonds with other students of the same belief. Clubs that are not faith-based can do the same. With an array of educational groups, students can discover more about themselves while they search for what is right for them. When the students find a group where they fit in, their newfound relationships give them a sense of belonging and stability which is vital for a growing teenager’s wellbeing.

Along with self-awareness, additional activities outside of school can prepare students for the real world. Test results and grades are excellent ways to mark a child’s understanding of critical subjects; however, the student’s secondary activities teach them bonus skills that can benefit them later on:

“Christy Lleras, a professor of human and community development, says that ‘soft skills’ such as sociability, punctuality, conscientiousness and an ability to get along with others, along with participation in extracurricular activities, are better predictors of earnings and higher educational achievement later in life than having good grades and high standardized test scores” (Ciciora, 2009).

In school, teachers constantly feed their pupils facts and test-taking skills but rarely have the opportunity to put their students in a real-life situation. For instance, thousands of students receive outstanding SAT and ACT scores because they were taught the subjects and have practiced positive test-taking strategies. Nevertheless, many of these students have difficulties with completing a thesis for their college applications or succeeding in a job interview. This is due to the fact that they are so trained to take standardized tests that they have trouble expressing their thoughts and answers in words. Out-of-school activities can help them learn additional skills that will make them more capable to communicate with others. Activities such as sports teach students how to be competitive, as well as how to become a teammate. Phil Ciciora, the Education Editor of the Illinois News Bureau claims that these skills will help give the students a drive to compete in the world’s economy and work properly with others: “employers value workers who can not only boast about their GPAs and SATs, but are also able to get along well with the public and co-workers” (Ciciora, 2009). It is the goal of millions of people to acquire a stable job; therefore, it is extremely important for incoming employees to learn the proper abilities to obtain any job of their choice. All across the globe, it is best for students to be well-rounded and find a happy medium between fun and work.

If a student only spends his or her time studying and writing papers, the work load will eventually lead to an overflow of stress. In some cases, the student’s environment can pressure them into committing to one subject more than the other. This is a common issue in most private schools: “Because they tend to be more academically rigorous, private high schools may wear down students” (NewsCore, 2012). When students are encouraged to “be the best,” some of them tend to take this very seriously, and they end up dedicating all their time to their school work. This sounds fine, but when students cannot find the time to take a break, socialize, or sleep for an appropriate amount of time, their minds will feel overworked, and the mental consequences could seriously harm their health. Conversely, if students only dedicate their lives to an outside activity, their grades will slip, giving them a lesser chance of passing their classes. Not only will this negatively affect their likelihood of finding a quality college, but this also increases the odds of them dropping out of school. This is why many public schools will suspend a student from his or her sport if he or she does not have high enough grades.  In order for students to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a solid education, it is essential for schoolwork and outside activities to walk hand-in-hand.

In order to achieve a successful future and become a more respectable person, supplementary activities are vital to the academic life of a student. Students are basically children growing into adults, discovering their place of belonging in the world, which is why it is important for them to look around their school and community in order to find their purpose. There is a saying that too much of anything can be harmful, and although these little expressions may seem cliché, they hold an immense amount of truth. If anyone spends too much time with one’s face in a book or one’s head in the clouds, that person will never truly get anywhere. If a variety of everything is mixed into one’s life, then that life generates meaning, and that individual is destined to go far.



Ciciora, P. (2009, March 25). Social Skills, Extracurricular Activities in High School Pay off Later in Life. News Bureau. Retrieved from

Mirasol, A. (2006). Comparison of Private and PublicHigh Schools. Retrieved from

NationalCenter for Education Statistics (NCES). (1995, June). Extracurricular Participation and Student Engagement. Retrieved from

NewsCore. (2012, July 18). Decision Points: Public or PrivateHigh School? Fox Business. Retrieved from

PBS (2005). High School: Get Ectra-Curricular! It’s My Life. Retrieved from



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Keys to Life

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Athletics, Health, Public Education Programs

Participating in sports at a young age gives kids an opportunity to expand their minds, as well as their bodies, while becoming more comfortable with their social environment. Athletic involvement is key to any child’s future. Fortunately, public education offers all students the opportunity to take part in sports; this not only provides the child with an enjoyable activity but also a variety of social, mental, and physical benefits as well.

Students who partake in school sports are more likely to be socially interactive with their classmates and teachers. According to research by the U-M Cardiovascular Center “children who are physically active are more likely to demonstrate good social skills, such as leadership and empathy” (Kirkendoll, 2010). The ability to demonstrate these skills in a classroom is crucial. Unfortunately, it is quite rare. Often times, kids are too afraid to step up and take charge of a situation. This may be because the school environment is daunting, especially to young students. Sports can change a child’s outlook on school entirely. With a smaller group of people, atheletes have an easy time finding friends who have similar interests. Athletics make each participant work together ultimately resulting in a strong sense of comradery. The social skills discovered in sports allow children to make friends and prosper in their school environment.

The teenage years can be a difficult rollercoaster of self image disapproval. There have been many studies done on how to improve self-esteem levels, and “participation in sports seems to be something that positively correlates to higher self-confidence levels in both boys and girls” (Participation in Athletics= Higher Self Esteem). An elevated level of self esteem is important to students academic careers because they will not only enjoy their time at school but also focus more on their studies. Asking questions in class can be a very intimidating experience. Without the confidence to even raise their hands, students suffer immensely from low self esteem. Their grades will plummet without the ability to ask a question when they do not understand a lesson. When confidence is gained in practice, this is mirrored in their classes, giving them the power to speak up. Students who partake in sports gain a higher sense of worth which benefits them on and off the field.

Sports also encourage athletes to take better care of their bodies by avoiding dangerous activities. According Jeanne Rose joining a youth sport causes students to be “less likely to engage in risky behaviors, which can harm his or her health. A child that is involved in youth sports will be more likely to stay away from drugs and alcohol during his or her school years” (Rose, 2011). This is because the possibility of injury is higher when doing questionable activities which would prevent them from being able to participate. Athletes tend to stay away from drugs and alcohol because they have the ability to lower the student’s athletic performance. Any serious athlete would consider the negative outcome of less playing time and decide it is not worth the risk. According to Yahoo Sports “children get involved in risky activities because they are bored, and might not feel very good inside” (Rose, 2011). Playing a sport will take away the extra time that children have to become bored and consider trying drugs. Sports will also raise their self esteem causing them to be less likely to use drugs as a way to feel better about themselves, or avoid negative thoughts. Children who join school sports will avoid drugs and other risky activities including alcohol because they will negatively impact their playing ability.

Not only do youth sports reduce the opportunity for dangerous behavior but also provide an environment where children can learn skills needed to be successful in life. Coley states that sports teach children “how to work together and how to deny the wants of an individual for the good of the team” (Coley, 2007). Teamwork is an attribute that will be needed for the rest of their lives. In school, group projects will be assigned that require students to cooperate to produce decent grades. In a job, employees must work together to increase sales or expand their clientele. Another life skill gathered from youth sports is how to win and lose. On one hand, “sports can give children a taste of what winning feels like” (Coley, 2007). This will create a desire to duplicate that positive feeling in other areas of life. On the other hand, “after a loss, children learn how to hold their heads up with dignity and congratulate the winning team” (Coley, 2007). In life, there will always be winning and losing. It is important to have the ability to take both with dignity, and, when it is a loss, work harder to have a better result next time. One of the most important attributes taught in sports is the capability to take instructions. Taking commands from a coach “preps a child to take orders later in life from professors, military commanders, government officials, and bosses” (Coley, 2007). No matter where a student goes in life there will be an authority figure barking orders. Overall, sports teach many life skills that will be used for the rest of their participants’ lives.

Athletes learn to set goals for the team and themselves which allows them to set objectives for their own lives and ultimately have a more fulfilling future. They also learn how to work hard to make their ambition a reality. Aspirations in sports show that the child knows what he wants and is willing to work diligently to achieve it. Kelly Anton writes that athletes who are not motivated to develop their skills “will probably not achieve their potential, and inadequate skills will not allow athletes to achieve their goals” (Anton). Setting goals shows athletes that their dreams are possible if they are willing to put in the effort to reach them. However, learning to establish objectives can be challenging without the help of athletics. Figures such as “parents and coaches help the children set targets to reach those goals” (Lee, 2013). School sports assist students in learning to set goals for themselves which will cause them to have a higher level of athletic ability. Ultimately, it teaches them how to work hard and achieve their objectives in life.

The prevailing benefit of youth sports is the benefit to overall health. This can be an immediate and long term advantage. In the short term, athletics reduce the amount of worry that a student experiences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that “playing sports may reduce anxiety and depression and promote positive mental health” (Poole, 2011). Exams and homework contribute to the majority of a student’s fretfulness about school. Physical activity releases endorphins which reduce this feeling of angst. Sports also contribute to a higher quality of life. Research shows that “teenagers who are physically active and play on sports teams are more satisfied with their life” (Study Shows Physical and Mental Benefits of Sports Participation in Adolescents, 2010). When teenagers believe their lives are fulfilling, it lowers their likelihood of attempting suicide as well as increasing their confidence. According to an article writton by David Patullo “a decline in depressive symptoms has been shown in numerous studies to be a direct result of an increase in physical activity” (Patullo, 2010). Exercise can even save a life when it increases confidence. In the long term, physical activity in sports reduces the chances of developing certain diseases. When kids stay involved in youth sports “the likelihood of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, liver and renal disease will decrease significantly” (Health Benefits of Youth Sports, 2012). These will greatly affect the rest of these children’s lives. Still, there is a more significant health affect to engaging in physical activity. One of the most significant health benefits of getting a child involved in youth sports is that “it can decrease the risk of him or her becoming obese” (Rose, 2011). Exercising as children promotes healthy life-styles which they will continue into their adult lives. Participating in athletics benefits the child in the present with less stress and a satisfied outlook on life. Also the child’s future will be more fulfilling with a decreased chance of multiple life changing diseases.

The advantages of school sports include mental, physical, and social aspects. These attributes are not only crucial to childrens lives in school, but also their entire future. The skills taught in sports can be used in every area of life. Public school makes it possible for all students to participate in athletics and better their lives. Private schools encourage students to join their schools with the sole purpose of using their impressive athletic skill to better their sports programs. Public education hands the keys to a successful future over to its students when it allows everyone the opportunity to play a part in their sports.



Anton, Kelly. How to Increase Motivation and Performance through Goal Setting. Blues Youth Sports Scene. Retrieved from

Coley, Tiffany. (1 December 2007). How Sports Can Help Develop Life Skills in Children. Helium: Where Knowledge Rules. Retrieved from

Kirkendoll, Shantell. (14 March, 2010). Research shows link between physical activity and social skills in children. University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved from

Lee, Donita. (6 March 2013). Top Seven Benefits of Youth Sports. The Empowerment Zone for Kids. Retrieved from

Participation in Athletics= Higher Self Esteem. Women in Sports: Bowdoin and Beyond. Retrieved from

Patullo, David. (13 February 2010). Benefits of Sports, Health and Fitness. Retrieved from,-Health-and-Fitness&id=3753831.

Poole, Jennifer. (15 January 2011). What are the Health Benefits of Youth Sports? Live Strong .com. Retrieved from

Rose, Jeanne. (13 December 2011). Three Health Benefits for a Child Playing Youth Sports. Yahoo Sports. Retrieved from

(22 September 2010). Study Shows Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Sports Participation in Adolescents. News Medical. Retrieved from

(31 July 2012). Health Benefits of Youth Sports. YMCA of Central Florida. Retrieved from


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Early Childhood Development and Public Schools

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs, Reforms in Public Schools

Pre-K schools have helped improve the abilities of many students. There are many stages to the mental growth of a person, and many of these stages occur at a young age,  making the early development of children very important. The public education system helps to provide an early education for the public which encourages good habits for many children’s lives and will improve the overall well being of our nation if implemented.

Getting a head start in school helps with child development. Preschools and other programs have proven effects in tests, such as those conducted by Barnett from the Head Start Impact Society (HSIS): “ The estimated cognitive effects of nine months of Head Start range from 0.05 to 0.25 standard deviations” (Barnett 2008). This is based off of a large sample of children from ages 3 to 4.27 who were chosen to either go to a program or not. Barnett also states that in the study: “No evidence was found of any negative effects on socio-emotional development, and behavior problems and hyperactivity were significantly reduced (0.13 to 0.18 standard deviations) for 3-year-olds. Access to dental care was improved and child health, as reported by parents, was modestly improved (0.12 standard deviations) for 3-year-olds.”

As seen in this study, early childhood development programs have great gains for the students in the early stages of development. This includes development outside of just mental ability and makes the importance of early programs even greater.

Positive effects are also measured beyond just school. Graduation rates improve for those who have taken Pre-K, along with rates of getting jobs, and basically having a better quality of life in later stages. The study done by Laurie M. Anderson, Carolynne Shinn, and other doctors show their results here:

stephen gerrish graph

Figure 1. Anderson, L., Shinn, C., Fullilove, M., Scrimshaw, S., Fielding, J., Normand, J., Carande-Kulis, V. (2003). The Effectiveness of Early Childhood Development Programs.

As seen here, there are numerous effects taken from a little help early on in these programs, including having an income above the poverty line. This is getting more and more important because there is a fairly high rate of unemployment as this study was occurring. In 2011 the United States Census Bureau measured 11.8% unemployment. A universal head start program can lower this number, along with other statistics that are included in the table.

Of course, one of the major problems is funding. As of March 2009, only six states have had a publicly funded preschool program.This policy of only offering this to low income families is appealing to states because there is a higher reward to them in the long term than to a family who could afford a similar type of program. The main problem is getting the voters to endorse something that is aimed at those who have very low family incomes. Even though it would be at a low cost to them, it is hard for voters to help people other than themselves (Debra J. Ackerman, W. Steven Barnett, Laura E. Hawkinson, Kirsty Brown and Elizabeth A. McGonigle 2009). As revealed in Barnett’s 2008 analysis of multiple available tests and groups shows that the lowest income families have the greatest margin of improvement, although all groups gain positive effects. After his large analysis of over 70 wide and varying tests, he concludes: “If a universal preschool program substantially increased the enrollment of disadvantaged children, however, the achievement gap might also be reduced” (Barnett 2008). A chance at lowering this gap would mean a better quality of life for everyone.

The importance of this early start is discussed by the National Scientific Council in January of 2007. They confirm that: “All of society would benefit from a coordinated effort to reduce significant inequalities in the skills of young children at school entry. Substantial progress toward this goal can be achieved by assuring high quality early learning experiences both at home and in community-based settings, through a range of parent education, family support, early care and education, preschool, and intervention services” (2007). This distinguished group of people have confirmed through the development of the brain overtime that early programs get healthy connections set up in the brain, which lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Public programs for children who are too young for kindergarten, but want the head start to be gained from early schooling, are starting to happen in several states. This helps not only improve later test scores and the academics of a state, but it also improves the wellbeing of the people who live in them. These programs should become nationwide, which would improve on many statistics such as raising employment and lowering the amount of welfare use. Even though it would be hard to make it available to all children, it would help those at the bottom of the economic ladder get raised out of poverty to a healthy income and life.



Anderson, L., Shinn, C., Fullilove, M., Scrimshaw, S., Fielding, J., Normand, J., Carande-Kulis, V. (2003). The Effectiveness of Early Childhood Development Programs. Retrieved from website:

Barnett, S. (September 2008). Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects:

Research and Policy Implications. Retrieved from website:

Boynce, W., Cameron, J., Gunnar, M., Knudsen, E., Levitt, P., Lozoff, B., Nelson, C., Phillips, D., Shonkoff, J., Thompson, R. (January 2007). The Science of Early Childhood Development. Retrieved from website:

DeNavas-Walt, C., Proctor, B., Smith, J. (2012). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance

Coverage in the United States: 2011. Retrieved from website:

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All Work and No Play

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Athletics, Health, Public Education Programs

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  This common proverb professes the need for a little fun in life.  While attending school, it is important to realize that a well-rounded education involves more than strictly school work.  It is beneficial for a student to participate in other interests and activities.  Public school administrators know the importance of extracurricular activities. The National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), provided evidence to the long time theory that extracurricular activities positively affect high school students.  It is because of this study, as well as similar studies, that public schools continue to encourage participation in extracurricular activities, and make them more accessible.  While participation in extracurricular activities correlate with a high success rate in school, they also appeal to many different types of students, and are, therefore, beneficial for the student’s current and future health.

In the 1992 NELS, researchers found a positive correlation with students who partake in after school activities and their success in school.  Students were more likely to attend college if they were part of other activities.  According to the National Center for Education and Statics:  “Participants were also more likely than nonparticipants to aspire to higher education: two-thirds of participants expected to complete at least a bachelor’s degree while about half of nonparticipants expected to do so” (NCES).  Those who participated in after school activities not only increased their likeliness to attend college, but they also strived in other aspects.

Table 1



Indicators                                      Participants    participants


No unexcused absences*                             50.4             36.2

Never skipped classes*                             50.7             42.3

Have a GPA of 3.0 or above                         30.6             10.8

Highest quartile on a composite math and

reading assessment                                29.8             14.2

Expect to earn a bachelor’s degree

or higher                                         68.2             48.2

* During first semester of their senior year.


 Note.  Percentage of public school seniors reporting selected indicators of school success by participation and nonparticipation in extracurricular activities, 1992

According to the above table, those who participate in extracurricular activities, have fewer absences, higher grades, and greater aspirations. This table draws a clear correlation between success in school and participation in activities outside of school.

There is a large range of extracurricular activities that may appeal to many different students.  Whether one is interested in athletics, performing arts, or clubs, students show that all are beneficial to a student’s education.  Some argue that those of a lower socioeconomic class do not have the same opportunities for extracurricular activities as those in a higher economic class.  However, according to studies, there is, surprisingly, only a slight difference between the number of students involved in activities in wealthier schools as compared to those in less privileged schools.  The results of such a study conducted by the National Center for Education and Statistics are displayed in the table below.

Table 2

                                      Low SES students   High SES students
                                     -----------------  ------------------
                                        Less      More      Less      More
                               *All  affluent affluent  affluent  affluent
Selected activity          students  students students  students  students
Any activity                   79.9      74.7     73.0      86.8      87.6
Sports                         42.4      34.3     33.2      48.6      53.1
Performing arts                27.5      25.0     20.7      32.0      29.2
Academic clubs                 26.2      20.2     20.5      36.2      32.3
Vocational/professional clubs  20.8      29.2     25.6      16.0      11.8
Honor societies                18.1      10.3     10.0      30.8      29.9
Publications                   17.0      17.6      9.5      22.4      20.0
Student government             15.5      12.6      9.9      17.5      20.9
Service clubs                  15.2      10.0      9.4      25.0      21.1
Hobby clubs                     8.5       8.2      6.9       9.4       9.6
Note. Percentage of public school seniors participating in selected extracurricular activities by SES of student and affluence of school, 1992
The outcome of this study shows that there is no more than a five percent difference between low social economic students (SES) and high social economic students.  However, this study also revealed in some instances, there are a greater percentage of students participating in after school activities at less affluent schools.  Therefore, the accusations that have been made stating less fortunate schools do not give as many opportunities to students, are often false.  Public schools make an effort to ensure that all students have a fair opportunity to pursue their interests in extracurricular activities.

Although athletics are not the only extracurricular activity, they may benefit students throughout their lifetimes.  Partaking in school athletics at a young age, betters a student’s health.  Erica Roth, a professional journalist, insists that:  “Children who play sports or participate in daily physical activity have a lower risk of becoming obese and developing related medical problems” (Roth).  Being active at a young age is beneficial to a student’s health.  This is also a good time in a student’s life to develop healthy habits.

Participation in extracurricular activities is often a good indicator of a successful student.  Since these types of activities can widely vary, there is some type of activity that will appeal to everyone.  A well rounded student is best prepared for academic success as well as future success in life.  Schools prepare the younger generations for the future.  When there is an opportunity to help students succeed in school, educators strive to take advantage of that opportunity.  Extracurricular activities are one of the many improvements in the public school system today.  Studies show that activities outside of school benefit students in and outside the classroom.  It is important that kids have the ability to relieve their stress of school and life by spending time doing something they enjoy.  Public schools have made this possible.


O’Brien, E. (1995, June). National center for education statistics.

Roth, E. (26 M). Livestrong.


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The Public Crisis

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Reforms in Public Schools



Many people in today’s society fret over the dismal economy or inflexible government, but they are incoherent of the main issue this nation faces: public education. Education is the key root to success, but many overlook this hidden part of our economy, only seeing the leaves on the end of its branches die and fall. If the roots are not placed in fertile soil and given water, the tree will wither and expire. The United States is stuck at an unrelenting crossroad between budget and power; here, the nation must decide which direction will provide a permanent solution for the countries public crisis. By improving and reforming public education, America’s excelling, innovative culture will be revitalized.

Arizona had a chance to help revive its economy: Proposition 204; however, the bill did not pass. Proposition 204 was created to help improve Arizona’s funding for public education. Azcentral stated: “the Legislature has cut nearly 19 percent of K-12 funding in the past five years” (Fehr-Snyder, 2012). This decrease in funding has caused strain on the already minimal budget. Paper, textbooks, and innovations—all vital aspects to a high quality learning experience—would have been purchased with the one-cent tax increase. The East Valley Tribune explained: “Prop 204 is Arizona voters’ chance to take control and decide for themselves that education funding is a top priority — rather than leaving that decision to partisan politics at the state level” (The East Valley Tribune, 2012). Unfortunately, the voters did not take control, for 63% of Arizona’s voters chose “no” during the 2012 voting period, and the proposition was not passed. The rejection of this proposal was due to the countless dollars spent on anti-Prop 204 advertising. People marketed that the money earned from the one-cent sales taxes would not only go towards education but also go towards other funds. These accusations were irrational and incorrect, but as stated in the Arizona Daily Star: “Even if the tax did not have other beneficiaries, Ducey said voters were right to reject more funding for education. He said he’s not convinced more cash is necessary. ‘I want to more effectively spend the dollars we have now,’ he said, before talking about additional resources” (Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services, 2012). Ducey, the state treasurer who led the opposition, is a portrayal of today’s society. When cash is tight, few are willing to give money to help. This unwillingness is caused by the belief that money does not affect test scores. To a certain extent, this point is accurate; however, Proposition 204 would not have just innovated and upgraded schools, but would help schools—with limited funding—stay afloat.  In other words, proposition 204 would have kept many teachers employed and thousands of kids in an education. As depicted by Edtec:

Table 1

Failing Charter Schools

josh ten graph

Note. Adapted from National Charter School Research Project, September 2008

People, like Ducey, would rather save one-cent and hide in their ignorant world than admit that they could spare the tax to improve the current state of the United States’ education system.

Though Arizona is only a single state, the small change could have made a vast difference on millions of lives. In 2009, the number of students attending public schools, in the United States, was around fifty million. (Center of Public Education, 2013). The nation has displayed its lack of concern for education, while other countries have made tremendous strides in the topic. PBS once stated: “many experts say the U.S. should rethink its approach and model itself after countries that offer rigorous, challenging coursework in their vocational schools” (PBS: News Desk, 2012).  The United States education system has fallen behind several countries, currently being ranked 17th in the world. Many Americans are surprised by this astonishing thought; however, they are unwilling to make a change. Jonathan Zimmerman, writer from the Los Angeles Times, vividly describes the bottom line of American Education: “Some kids still get a rich education and others get a poor one, depending on the wealth of the school district where they reside. Ditto for charter schools, which allow children to enroll in privately operated but publicly funded schools of their choice — so long as these schools are also located in the same district” (Zimmerman, 2012). Not only is an increased budget a necessity, but reforming the way the budget is used can cause an improvement in education. Constantly at Desert Vista High School—an institution in Tempe Union High School District—there is a shortage of paper, but there is always new technology being added to the classrooms. This irony is caused by the budget’s separation into different sections.

America needs to reform its ideals on education. Society must conclude that education is the way to improve the United States economy. By refining and expanding current schools’ budgets, the United States will become a highly recognized educational country once again.  New students enter kindergarten as petite seeds and grow into the trees of the economy. But as the tree keeps losing its leaves, it is the nation’s job to nourish and give the plant water. Though money does not grow on trees, our economy thrives off education’s roots. As a community, this country can solve this horrific public crisis.




Center of Public Education. (2013). How many students attend our school(s)? Retrieved from Data F1rst:

Edtec. (2008, September ). Character Quality. Retrieved from Edtec:

Fehr-Snyder, K. (2012, November 5). azcentral. School boards worried over funding if Prop. 204 fails.

Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services. (2012, November 7). Prop. 204: Bid to retain 1-cent tax fails after flood of last-minute ads. Arizona Daily Star.

PBS: News Desk. (2012, August 13). Education Olympics: How Does the U.S. Rank? Retrieved from PBS NEWS HOUR:

The East Vally Tribune. (2012, October 28). Our View: Prop 204 gives voters some control of school funding. Retrieved from eastvalleytribune:

Zimmerman, J. (2012, September 07). Romney’s radical vision for education. Retrieved from Los Angeles Times:



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Public vs Private

May 9, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure


Public or private, the choice has baffled parents since education became mandatory in the 17th century. Private schools have created a sense of false advertisement that they will automatically get students accepted into prestigious colleges and have belittled the education of public schooling. The positives of public institutions are tremendous, and the truth behind private educations laws must be revealed.

The most common misconception about education quality is that by paying for one’s education, he is intern having better teachers; however campus explorer states: “Public school teachers are required to become certified, meaning they hold at least a bachelor’s degree and have passed the testing and training required. Teachers at private schools can be hired under less strenuous standards. It’s not always necessary to have a teaching credential to teach at a private school” (Campus Explorer, 2013). A student in a private school might not even have a teacher who knows anything about the subject he is learning. Credentials aside, the quality of teacher cannot be measured quantitatively, but on how much a student learns from that instructor.

The Center on Public Education preformed a test to determine if private or public schools were better. These are its findings, students who attend private schools: do not perform better on achievement testing in math, reading, science or history; are not more likely to attend college; will not have more job satisfaction later in life and will not be more likely to attend civic activities

(Center on Education Policy, 2007).  These results could be extremely alarming to parents spending upwards of ten thousand dollars on their son or daughters high school education. The question: why pay for a private school soon arises. As stated by Canyonville Christian Academy: “Students attending boarding schools, in particular, will learn how to clean their rooms, take care of their own laundry, and be forced to deal with personal conflicts in a way that can never be learned in the protective shell of home”(Canyonville Christian Academy, 2009). This point seems very logical. If students are forced to mature at a younger age, they will be more prepared for college’s rapid style of learning and be more likely to succeed later on. Most private schools are not boarding schools, and in many cases, the students at these institutions are “babied” instead of forced to mature. Naomi Wolf, writer for The Guardian, explains: “Many educators in these schools complain that parents’ – and, increasingly, students’ – attitude to educators is that they are consuming a costly luxury product, and that the teachers work for them; rather than serving as authority figures to the kids” (Wolf, 2012). By allowing adolescence to think this way, parents are teaching kids immaturity instead of its counterpart.

Public schools have the same opportunities as private, and often have countless courses private schools are unable to provide. Brophy College Prep—in Phoenix, Arizona—only has 1,270 students (Parenting Informed, 2013). While a public school—specifically Desert Vista High School—has 2,966 students. (Great Schools, 2013). Because the school is half the size, many of the course options offered at Desert Vista are not presented at these private schools. Many of these courses not offered are in the fine arts department. Classes like photography, multimedia applications, even ceramics might not be offered at private schools because they are too expensive and there are not enough students willing to attend the class.

The numerous fallacies of private schools, that have been falsely communicated, outweigh the few positives these institutions are able to give to their students. In essence, where a student goes or how much his parents pay for him to attend a school will not affect how bright he is. Public schools have as high, or even better, quality teachers, technology, and course selections than private schools.





Campus Explorer, (2013). Campusexplorer. Retrieved from College Admissions


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Not Guilty Pleas Entered in Atlanta Cheating Case

May 8, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Beverly Hall, former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools accused of a conspiracy in which school teachers allegedly cheated on standardized tests of low performing students to receive the rewards of good marks, plead not guilty of the crimes. Hall’s attorney has promised for a strong defense for his client who is one of 35 educators accused in this case. The trial is set for May, 2014. These educators could face 5-20 years in prison if convicted of this crime.

Cassidy, Christina A. 3 May 2013. Not Guilty Pleas Entered in Atlanta Cheating Case. Retrieved

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Quinn Offers Plan to Add Slots for Gifted in City Schools

May 7, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

New York’s City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, is looking to change the gifted programs of schools. She wants to be able to create more seats for students in the programs; and her plan will create up to 8,700 new seats for children. Quinn is not alone in her vision. The schools chancellor, Joel Klein, set up cutoff scores for the standardized exams that tested admission. However, this did not turn out to be beneficial as more Asian and white students were admitted. While there are many who believe in the test as an accurate measurement for the gifted programs, others do not. Some think that the teachers know what the students are capable of; and that a portfolio of the student’s work would be a more accurate test. Either way, both parties are looking to improve New York’s gifted programs.

Hernandez, Javier. (2013). Quinn Offers Plan to Add Slots for Gifted in City Schools. New York Times. Retrieved from

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How to Get Teachers to Teach and Children to Learn

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Rita F. Pierson has been an educator for more than 40 years and has seen education change. She states that most of the ideas about educating children come from people who have never taught. It is a fact that students who attend school regularly do better in school, but what can be done to motivate the ones that don’t come? According to Pierson, educators need to pick up on cues from their students about their home life. They need to develop positive relationships with their students and encourage them to want to learn. Through this idea, hopefully more students will attend school, leading to better test scores and grades.

Pierson, R. (2013, May 6). How to get teachers to teach and children to learn. Retrieved from

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Print Making by DV Student Monica Szeto

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Creative, Graphics


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Print Making by DV Student Kelly Simons

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Creative, Graphics


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Print by Jessica Rusnock

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Creative, Graphics


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Painting by DV Student: Annaliese Schneider

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Creative, Graphics


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Painting by DV student: Alina Duwyenie

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Creative, Graphics


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Painting by DV student: Jalen Jelks

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Creative, Graphics


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Dance It Out

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Athletics, Fine Arts, Health, Public Education Programs


Dance is a way to express oneself. Dance is exercise. Dance is passion. Dance cannot only be a hobby, but also an outlet for creativity and fitness. Childhood obesity is a leading social issue facing the United States today. Many educators say that dance programs need to be properly implemented in public schools all over the country. Dance education benefits students by keeping them active, and giving them advantages in the classroom.

According to the Center for Disease Control child obesity rates of children 12-19 have increased over the past 45 years have increased almost 15% at a national scale.  With the increasing numbers of obese children in America, people are starting to take a stand. Inspirational figures, such as Michelle Obama are speaking up about the topic; encouraging physical education. Dance education supporters are taking this opportunity to make greater connections in order to share their visions. One might say: Why dance? Why not just a normal P.E. class? At the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, it is said that dance provides greater benefits than a regular physical education course. To the educators at this organization, dance “increases flexibility, agility, coordination, and spatial awareness. At the same time, it develops children’s expressive, musical, motor, and auditory skills” (“The Kennedy Center,” 2010). These are all important abilities for individuals to have. Keeping healthy should not be the only outcome of physical education. Dance keeps this the main priority, but also includes the additional teachings.


(CDC, 2011)

Educators believe dance plays another role as well. Research from the University of Illinois, says that 20 minutes of physical activity everyday increases storage capacity in the brain for other school activities, especially reading. Dance also gives ways to relate with math and different sciences (“The Kennedy Center,” 2010). By stimulating the brain, dance makes it easier to take in new information. It also provides a break during the school day. An hour of dance during the day gives students time to get away. It allows them to regain their thoughts and just be free.

Dance education translates from benefits in fitness to benefits in the classroom. With dance programs placed in public schools, children will be allowed to keep healthy. They will be able to engage their minds and bodies once a day and keep a positive outlook. Dance may not seem to be beneficial, but with the integration with public schools, dance to be brought to children all over the country; providing the benefits not all thought were there.



The kennedy center arts edge. (2010). Retrieved from http://artsedge.kennedy-q

CDC. (2011, January 21). Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Retrieved from

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Defusing the Bomb

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Bullying

Bombs are very complex creations that can be very erratic. They can be very unpredictable and, with one wrong snip of wires, explode unexpectedly, injuring many people in the process. Bullying is the bomb of the school environment. Children today bully to hurt their peers, seemingly for a quick laugh, and affect many students around them. Are all the negative connotations that come with bullying affecting how children learn in school? Many say yes: “It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students” (Left, 2009). Schools around the country cannot let bullying be the cause of why their students are not learning to the best of their abilities. Bullying creates fear in students and is a barrier blocking them from having a positive experience in school. As a nation, there has to be a common goal in mind: defuse the bomb.

Bullying is a rare concept that has absolutely no positive qualities. Everything about bullying is wrong, and horribly misconstrued by adults as something that cannot affect students in much later years of their lives. In fact, according to John Left of Make Beats Not Beat Downs: “86% of students said other kids ‘picking on them, making fun or them or bullying them’ causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools” (Left, 2009). Although some refuse to believe it, bullying takes a toll on a student’s mental well being, and one incident of bullying can haunt him for the rest of his life: “Bullying can have long-term mental effects on children. Typically, bullied students are already physically and emotionally weaker, and the bullying only compounds these already present emotions. Intense bullying can be linked to anxiety and depression before physical violence is ever involved” (Team Teachers, 2012). Clearly bullying only harms students, yet there seems to be no significant reaction to this equally significant issue. Unfortunately, people often become aware in the worst way possible: after a student’s moral has been beaten down so violently that he decides to take his own life. Society needs to stop bullying at its source, inside of schools, in order to create a safe environment where children feel free to learn and enjoy absorbing new information.

In addition to feeling like prey to the bullies while at school, these students also struggle to maintain good grades. A group of researchers, who are associated with US News, compared GPAs of 9,590 students from different schools and found that out of those who were bullied, the students had a 0.049 drop in their grades (US News, 2011). Bullying is terrible on its own, but when this issue affects the likelihood of a student to get accepted into college, eventually, many people are much more aware of the effect it has. Students who are witnesses to the bullying experience these situations first hand and still do not attempt to stop the bully. After watching idly by, it seems amazing that not even the friends of the victim seem interested to help. In doing this, they are hurting their peers more than they are helping them: “Children are adept at hiding bullying— related behaviors and the unequal ‘shadow’ power dynamics that exist among them. Because of this secrecy, adults underestimate the seriousness and extent of bullying at their schools” (Committee for Children, 2012). By not stepping up to help their peers, students are making themselves more susceptible to being bullied by not making the problem visible to the adults who have the authority to stop it. Many organizations, Rachel’s Challenge being one, strive to promote peaceful behavior and student unity in schools throughout the nation. Rachel’s Challenge is a special program that is centered around Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shooting of 1999. This tragic event took Rachel away from a world she envisioned that she could touch with her compassion and kind heart: “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go” (Scott, 1999). Her vision of kindness lives on: today this program is taking her vision and pushing it on millions of students around the nation, trying to get them to be considerate of each other’s feelings. If public schools incorporate more anti-bullying programs into their curriculum, great amounts of bullying would be replaced with gentle communication.

Bullying is the worst form of student interaction in the history of schooling. The need for students to victimize their peers is atrocious and should not be tolerated. Physical violence is easy to spot and terminate, but emotional bullying is the most hurtful and effective form of bullying, and is incredibly difficult to see. Emotional abuse is labeled by Psych Central as: “The most painful and destructive form of violence” (Focus on the Family, 2013). Although physical violence is easier to stop, the only way for teachers to end emotional bullying is to cut it at its roots: the parents. Parents are the only people who can re-educate their children on how to interact in a positive way, without leaving emotional scars. If teachers can convince the parents of bullies to bring a close to their children’s bad behavior, bullying would be significantly reduced. Similarly, if parents change their behavior to set a good example for their kids, there is an enormous chance that the children will follow their parents’ behavior. “Bullies usually come from homes where the parents fight a lot, so violence has been modeled for them” (Psych Central, 2010). If we can get parents involved and also train teachers to keep an eye out for specific behavior, the fight to stop bullying will be aided incredibly, and in turn, create a safer environment in schools around the country. After all, one needs to put effort and time into being taught how to defuse a bomb to do it correctly.



Committee for children. (2013, August 23). Retrieved from

Focus on the family. (2010). Retrieved from

Focus on the family. (2013). Retrieved from

Left, J. (2009). Make beats not downs. Retrieved from

Left, J. (2009). MBNBD. Retrieved from

Scott, R. (1999). Rachel’s challenge. Retrieved from

 Team teachers. (2012). Retrieved

 Us news. (2013, August 23). Retrieved from


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A Closer Look

May 6, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure

For most families, before a child enters his or her first year of schooling, the parents must ask themselves, public or private school? In some cases, finding an answer is easier than others, but the choice always must be made with caution. Private schools are thought to be the superior of the two options, due to the myth that children will achieve higher test scores if they go to private schools and will get a much better overall education. This belief is very far from the truth, as public schools are not only on the same level as private schools, but they are better, too.

A delusion that many parents have is that private schools will generate much higher test results than public schools. The University of Illinois did a study on 10,000 students in public and private schools and put their test scores up against each other. Their findings were shocking to many parents. The data was based on two math scores, one recorded in kindergarten and another in the fifth grade, to show the progress made by the students. Results from the first test show both types of schools achieving roughly the same the scores. In the fifth graders’ scores, however, public schools achieved much higher marks, roughly equal to a whole extra year of math (Chamberlain, 2008). The myth has been proven wrong, and a new fact has arisen: public schools, by statistics, are a better option than private schools in terms of test scores.

Many parents believe that paying an extraordinary amount of money will automatically make their children more efficient learners than those who go to school for free. What many parents overlook are the intricacies of the private school system. One of the biggest concerns that parents should avoid overlooking are the requirements that it takes for a teacher to be able to work at a private school. In all public schools, teachers are required to have a teaching degree and certification from the state education department in order to work. The state of North Carolina finely states this in the doctrine that displays the laws required for teachers to obtain in their state:

“All professional employees of public schools must hold a professional educator’s license for the subject or grade level they teach or for the professional education assignment that they hold…The standard basis for professional educator’s licensure is the completion of a state approved education program at a regionally accredited college or university.”  (North Carolina, 2013)

The same cannot be said for private schools. Private schools often do not require teachers to have a degree or a license. When a parent sends his or her child to a private school, they are unknowingly hoping that the teacher has knowledge of the course. Thus, public school teachers are more reliable and knowledgeable about the subject in which they teach. Even if private school teachers are on par with public school teachers, there is no reason to pay for the equal education that is free.

The biggest difference between a public and private school can be boiled down to one simple point, cost. Public schools offer a free place for any child to learn. Private schools present a place to learn only to those who can afford to pay for the education. Some private schools, such as the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, can cost over $45,000 to be able to go to the school (Zeveloff, 2011). The cost is more than some of the nation’s top universities. The cost is more than some of the nation’s top universities. To pay an outrageous amount of money in order to send a child to school, when the child could go to the same school for free and perform just as well with just as qualified or more qualified teachers is an outlandish idea.

A major separation between public and private schools is found right in their names. Private schools only allow those who can afford to pay the price tag that they put on their education. Public schools are just for that, the public. Robert Niles, a writer for the Huffington Post, explains just this in his reason why he sends his children to public schools instead of having them obtain a private education:

“They don’t get to cherry-pick only the brightest or wealthiest students. And that’s a large

part of their appeal to me. Attend a public school, and you’re getting to know people from            every corner of your community, not just people of the same religion or social class.”

(Niles 2011)

Public school put children in real world settings, with diversity flooding the halls. Private schools are cookie cutter, the same type of children in every classes, only allowing certain social classes  and often times certain ethnicities to attend the schools. Children who grow up appreciating diversity will become tolerant adults to all races and kinds of people.

Public schools have proven that money is no variable to how well educated children will become. Without thousands of dollars, or even one cent, public schools have continually proven themselves as top places to teach the youth of America. Not only are test scores showing the advantages of public schools, but the advantages of qualified teachers and diversity are also helping the youth for the future. Public schools are unfairly judged based on false stereotypes. If people were to take a closer look, they may find their opinion changed.




Chamberlain, C. (May 23, 2008). Public schools as good as private schools in raising math

scores, study says. News Bureau Illinois. Retrieved from

Niles, R. (October 9, 2011). Why I Send My Children to Public Schools. The Huffington Post.

Retrieved from

North Carolina Public Schools, FAQ. (2013). North Carolina Public Schools. Retrived from:

Zeveloff, J. (April 10, 2011). The 28 Most Expensive Private Schools in America. Business

Insider. Retrieved from


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The Get-Into-School Card

May 5, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

In many highly populated cities, parents are moving to houses located within a top-notch public school zone. This is occurring in cities where placement in elementary schools is determined by home address, such as New York. It is becoming harder and harder to move to move to a certain school zone because of rezoning. When a school becomes overcrowded they must give part of their zone to a less crowded school. This angers many parents who bought specific houses so that they were located in the preferred school zone. Waiting lists of over a hundred children is not uncommon in New York elementary schools. Once June begins, students on waiting lists receive offers from alternative schools. Many people try to lie and cheat their way into schools. The most common way of doing this is using a friend’s or relative’s address. If they are caught doing this their children lose their seats at the school.

Works Cited
Higgins, Michelle. “The Get-Into-School Card.” New York Times Education. N.p., 3 May 2013. Web. 5 May 2013. .

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Maine School Grading System Under Fire as 75% Get C or Lower

May 4, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

The new system of grading that the Maine Department of Education has implemented has ranked 3 in 4 of Maine’s schools as either C’s or lower. While some say this is an opportunity to look hard at what the sources of these low scores are and then fix them, superintendents across the state are quick to blame the system. Some are calling it too simplistic, and others mention that the criteria (standardized test scores) is unfair and inaccurate to base the grades on. Still, despite the criticism, the governor, Paul LePage, stands by the system and makes clear that his only intention is to improve education. He states that his goal is to improve standardized test scores by at least 20% in the next few years.

Lawrence, J. (3 May 2013). Maine School Grading System Under Fire as 75% Get C or Lower. Retrieved from

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With Any Sort of Certainty

May 4, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Reforms in Public Schools


Dedicated teachers, reasonably high standards, and meaningful assignments are all necessary in order to create engaged students with a desire to learn. However, which teaching methods are the most effective may vary by subject. While copious reading of the text book and memorization of key points may be required for a well-rounded education in the realm of history and social studies, other fields of study can best be taught by integrating more hands-on participation by students. American education officials have taken note of the different types of teaching best suited for specific subjects and have made appropriate changes to optimize learning potential. The development of interesting curriculum and the implementation of engaging methods of teaching are much needed changes that are helping to improve science education in American public schools.

Ten years ago, science teachers released a document stressing the importance of equipping students with the skills necessary in order to learn about the world through scientific observation, as well as the systems needed to do so. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), a group whose goal it is to improve the state of scientific education in the United States, recognized that the teaching methods for science could use improvement. Rather than angrily criticize, they compiled goals and means of achieving them. A key term used in the report is “scientific literacy,” which is the NSTA’s goal for America’s students: “Scientific Literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. It means that a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena” (“Beyond 2000 – teachers of,” 2003). The idea of people being curious about the world can be seen as the first step in, as the oft-used phrase goes, lifelong learning. Wanting to learn about the world is an important foundational ability needed to continue one’s education beyond high school and college. The NSTA also wishes to teach students how to go about discovering and internalizing new knowledge pertaining to what they are curious about. Using science to teach students to think critically is a practical way to encourage the prevalent idea in American education of lifelong learning.

Science curriculum has been developed and refined, but there is always room for improvement. This year, a group of qualified professionals from numerous relevant fields released specific standards for what students are taught in public schools, called the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards are similar to the Common Core standards already used by many states, but for a different subject (Gillis, 2013). The teachers, scientists, and government officials who contributed to these standards are some of the most qualified people to be making decisions about science in public schools. When the three occupational fields combine to consult on an issue, the result is a highly reputable entity, the recommendations of which can be taken seriously. The changes to course structure and shifts in materials covered were undoubtedly critically considered and heavily scrutinized before being published; they can therefore be assumed with some certainty to be a positive renovation to public education.

Despite the reliability of their source, the recommended science standards are being met with opposition. The group Citizens for Objective Public Education released a document containing opinions staunchly against ideas presented in the Next Generation Science Standards. The group’s letter claims that the proposed changes to science education are one-sided and do not take into consideration important possibilities regarding scientific theories. They claim that the methods of scientific observation and learning detailed in the standards are biased and do not allow students to think for themselves:

The Framework and Standards are designed to cause all children to accept the core ideas presented. To achieve this result they utilize a method of progressively increasing knowledge about a “core idea” over the 13-year educational experience so that by the end of the 12th grade the child will be proficient in understanding and accepting the core idea. (Lassey, 2012)

Furthermore, they mention numerous “flaws” with the theory of evolution, which the Next Generation Science Standards call to be taught on a more standardized level. (“The next generation,” 2013) The general idea of the letter is that scientific principles are a controversial method of learning that should not be taught in public schools.

Unfortunately for denouncers of science, physical observation is all that one can rely on while remaining unbiased in an educational setting; the degree to which one believes in the reliability of observation is an individual choice that parents can discuss with their children. There appear to be two alternative strategies to teaching the scientific method: teaching students about the divine and its role in the physical world or abandoning science in the classroom altogether. The first would obviously be a violation of the separation of church and state. Citizens for Objective Public Education claim in the letter that not talking about God when teaching science is an equivalent infraction of the Constitution: “It appears that the Framework and Standards promote Religious (“Secular”) Humanism” (Lassey, 2012). However, since many phenomena can be satisfactorily explained without bringing religion into the discussion, there is no reason why they should not be explained. Such topics should be discussed in objective ways by schools, while others (such as the afterlife or the universe before the big bang) should be pondered at home or at church. The second means of not complying with the suggested standards – not teaching science – is a ridiculous idea. The results of not educating future generations would have disastrous consequences for the United States’ ability to compete globally in areas such as business, defense, and technological advancements. A considerable amount of the technology used daily by Americans has come to fruition due to science striking a child as interesting. If public schools were to stop teaching children about these concepts, the trend of progress America has been following since its birth would suffer a regression; their discontinuation would lead to a nation lagging behind the rest of the world.

Science is one of the most important fields of study taught in public schools. It has been fundamental to discoveries that have led to developments in every field imaginable; there is not a single subject in school that has not been affected by science in some way. In order to continue assisting this beneficial relationship, there must be a continual push for improvement. The positive effects of these efforts will be felt by teachers and students alike. The efforts of groups such as the NSTA should be commended for ensuring American education’s enduring path of betterment remains unobstructed. Constructive, practical plans such as the Next Generation Science Standards prove that Americans care about public education and understand its implications for society as a whole. If anything can explain the observable world with any sort of certainty, it is people with scientific knowledge. It is the duty of the education system to instill these important thinking and learning skills into the young people who are of the United States.



Beyond 2000—teachers of science speak out. (2003, February). Retrieved from

Gillis, J. (2013, April 9). New guidelines call for broad changes in science education. Retrieved from

Lassey, A. (2012, June 1). Cope letter to achieve inc. Retrieved from

The next generation science standards. (2013). Retrieved from

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School Uniforms: Yes or No?

May 3, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

School uniforms have been debated back and forth for years. As children enter high school, their image becomes more and more important to them. In high school students are able to really find out who they are as an individual. Parents believe that if schools enforce school uniforms, children will not be able to express themselves. According to news reporter, Mansi Chitranshi: “Uniforms take away children’s identity” (Chitranshi, 2009). Some schools also have strict rules on the amount of make up they wear. Parents believe that forcing their children to dress a certain way restricts how unique and independent they are.

Chitranshi, M. (2009, March 2). School Uniforms Debate. Retrieved May 3, 2013, from

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Tools for Educational Success

May 3, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs, Technology

More than ever before, technology is being used to facilitate education. Nationwide the demand for computers ad tablets is increasing. The rise in use of computers in schools shows how districts are able to incorporate the ever advancing world of  technology into lesson plans. Intertwining computers and school assignments is just one of the methods for teaching real-world skills. With the world constantly shifting towards a more digital age, the rise in use of computers is a valuable tool for both students and teachers.

The idea behind technology in schools is to introduce a whole new way of teaching. By using technology, teachers can draw from a myriad of online resources to teach new and interesting lessons to their students. In January of 2013, the Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm began a new class in which the video game Minecraft is played by students. Through this program, students learn a multitude of life skills in an enthralling and captivating manner. As the school teacher, Monica Ekman explains: “They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future” (Halloway, 2013). This school is taking a resource based video game and turning it into a creative process for its students. Students are taught important lessons through simple acts of building and resource managing. The concept of technology in schools is a simplistic notion; give students the ability to create. Ingenuity is a valuable skill kids need in the future.

The point of concern revolves around the idea of students abusing the technology presented to them. However, technology is a more captivating teaching medium. The lessons that use computers as opposed to conventional academic lessons are more likely to engage students in assignments. In a study about the effects of technology on classrooms and students, it was found that:  ”The student is actively making choices about how to generate, obtain, manipulate, or display information. Technology use allows many more students to be actively thinking about information, making choices, and executing skills than is typical in teacher-led lessons” (Effects Of Technology On Classrooms And Students).  Instead of allowing children to play on the computers, they take part in captivating lessons that stray from typical lectures. Activities range from attentiveness to problem solving. The use of applications and computer programs in schools can be extremely beneficial to both students and teachers.

The practical uses and applications of technology to education are widespread and all-encompassing. From online tests, assignments, creative projects, multimedia design, surveys to collaborative activities, the uses for computers and other technologies open brand new avenues of teaching to schools across the world. In a study done by the National Education Association, Roekel explains the satisfaction accompanied with technology in schools: “While teachers are generally positive about technology, newer teachers are even more enthusiastic. More of them are satisfied with their general knowledge of technology and see it as having an impact on their job effectiveness” (Dennis Van Roekel). While technology is not only more engaging to students in class, but also it enables teachers to create more successful and captivating lesson plans. The major benefits of technology in schools are attributed to both teachers and students. Overall, Increasing student performance and engagement while also giving teachers a higher level of job satisfaction.

Overall, the usage of technology has little to no negative effects on the student population. At its core, the idea is to increase student involvement in academics. Computer activities instill more motivation in students to complete activities and assignments, making it an increasingly effective education mechanism. With more schools adding computers into lesson plans and offering online classes, schooling institutions continue to make education more accessible to students. The broad and successful implementation of technology in educational institutions further cements the fact that technology truly is a tool for a meaningful and effective education.



Dennis Van Roekel, R. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Effects Of Technology On Classrooms And Students. Retrieved from

Halloway, J. (2013, 01 14). School imposes compulsory minecraft lessons. Retrieved from


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School Safety

May 3, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Laws Affecting Public Education


After the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December, school safety has been an important issue at both the national level and within schools themselves. To prevent such a horrific event from ever happening again, it is evident that the security of schools must be reevaluated and improved. Groups that are in favor of gun control laws and those who are opposed to them continue to debate the issue, while some state and local communities have taken matters into their own hands. Several schools have opted to erect fences around school grounds; some have required their staff and students to wear identification badges, and a number have even armed designated officials and security guards to protect the students. No matter the method, it is imperative that measures be taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all who attend public institutions of education.

Before the methods of enforcing school safety can be discussed, it is important to understand exactly what a safe school entails. A safe school can be defined as “a place where the business of education can be conducted in a welcoming environment free of intimidation, violence, and fear. Such a setting provides an educational climate that fosters a spirit of acceptance and care for every child” (Bucher, 2005). In their journal article, “Creating Safe Schools,” Katherine T. Bucher and M. Lee Manning explain that school safety must extend beyond physical protection: students should feel emotionally and psychologically safe as well, and should not dread coming to school because of bullies, or a fear of ridicule of any kind. They outline several indicators that are crucial for schools to possess in order to be considered safe (Table 1).


Table 1. Indicators of a safe school (Bucher, 2005).

Perhaps the most important of these points are the care, attention, and support of teachers towards students. Bucher and Manning state that “in order to be emotionally and intellectually safe, schools must go beyond the obvious checks for physical safety to create a sense of community, increased student-teacher cooperation, and a common conflict management language” (Bucher, 2005). Instead of focusing too heavily on the curriculum, teachers should take time to encourage their students and discover if they have any personal problems or concerns. This will not only make students feel better and more confident about themselves, but they will also feel emotionally safe every day as they walk through the doors.

As the gun control dilemma continues, The National Rifle Association has offered their own solution to the question of school security, which they believe will be effective, albeit controversial: change the law to allow teachers and school administrators to carry concealed firearms in schools (Sanchez, 2013). The NRA has been the subject of much criticism, and even condemnation by Connecticut Senator Chris Brown, for their opposition of gun control laws after the Newtown shooting. Despite this controversy, the plan may be beneficial in ensuring that teachers and students are safe in their classrooms. National Public Radio interviewed Kevin Mays, an English teacher from Missouri, who has a concealed weapons permit and would like to be able to carry it in school: “I’m not looking forward to something like this…I’m not some kind of gun-wielding nut. I would be willing to do it for the sake of the protection of my students” (Sanchez, 2013). Despite the potential benefits of the NRA’s plan, the federal government has refused to fund the training programs that would be necessary for teachers to take in order to become certified to carry a weapon (Inskeep, 2013). Until funding is realized, the initiative to arm teachers may not come to fruition.

Another answer to the school safety dilemma has been provided by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio has been in the news on numerous occasions for his controversial methods, which are often deemed harsh and unforgiving. “Sheriff Joe” has taken matters into his own hands by recruiting his volunteer posse of nearly 3000 civilians, 500 of whom are licensed to carry a weapon, to patrol the premises of Maricopa County schools so as to prevent violent incidents from occurring, especially those in which an intruder enters a school (Moran, 2013). By having members of the community keeping a watchful eye out for trouble, it is very likely that any potentially dangerous offense will be stopped before anyone could get hurt. Critics of Sheriff Arpaio’s tactics, especially supporters of gun control, believe that having armed civilians close to schools will actually be detrimental to students’ safety. Donna Wetzel, a mother whose child attends Paradise Honors High School, states “they are not police officers, they are not military folks and, maybe, they may not like the look of a kid walking down the street. And I worry about instances like what happened in Florida with Treyvon Martin” (Moran, 2013). Despite public disapproval, Arpaio has full confidence in his posse’s ability and stands by them.

School safety is one of the most important issues facing this country today. When considering the many options for solving this problem, some questions should be taken into account. To what extent are we, as a society, willing to relinquish our personal freedom in order to ensure student safety? Is a safe school really one in which all exits are sealed off and surrounded by a tall fence, while armed guards patrol the halls and intimidate the students? This would certainly prevent physical harm, but the students would not feel emotionally safe in such a prison-like environment. It is crucial for governments and schools to develop a method of security that reaches a balance between freedom and protection.



Bucher, K.T. & Manning, M.L. (2005, Sep. – Oct.). Creating safe schools. The Clearing House, 79(1), 55-60. Retrieved from

Moran, T. & Capote, N. (Reporters). (2013, April 5). Sheriff Arpaio’s answer to school safety: Armed civilian posse. ABC Nightline [Television broadcast]. ABC News.

Sanchez, C. (Reporter). (2013, April 3). NRA task force issues plan for school safety. NPR News [Radio broadcast]. National Public Radio.

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Recovery of College Attendance?

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

As the U.S Supreme Court takes on a case of whether or not affirmative action is constitutional regardless of the result there are other options. In California which banned affirmative action in 1996, minority college attendance rates have recovered from a drop immediately after the ban to increase from 15% to 25% for Latinos. This change shows that there are alternatives to race based admissions. The California colleges reach out into impoverished neighborhoods to find promising young students. They then provide support, assistance, and information to the student in order for them to be applicable to a selective college. By using admissions based on advantage the colleges can help to fix not only the racial gaps but also the economic gaps in student demographics.


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Read Across America Day

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Bills

This bill, introduced by Senator John “Jack” Reed, proposes March First of every year to be designated as “Read Across America Day.” This bill has been designed as a more child-friendly way of trying to improve reading skills in public and private schools. The bill calls for proper ceremonies and also traditions which honor the day. Senator Reed chose this day, March 1st, as the designated day in order to honor the late Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. A resolution was reached February 27th, 2013 to pass this bill. making March 1st officially Read Across America Day.

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DV Girls Basketball

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Athletics, Creative, DV Sports, Graphics


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DV Girls Cross Country

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Athletics, Creative, DV Sports, Graphics

girls corrs country

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DV Boys Basketball

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Athletics, Creative, DV Sports, Graphics


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DV Cross Country

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Athletics, Creative, DV Sports, Graphics

boys cross country

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Student Role Performance

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs


What is the key to unlocking a student’s productivity in education? The first step is to choose whether to enroll the student in a private or public school. Children are significantly affected by the world and the environment around them. Comparing both private and public schools, there are distinct differences in the atmospheres they create. Jennifer Barry with a Bachelor’s degree in arts wrote a thesis on Student Role Performance. Student Role Performance (SRP), a term coined by Barry, is the measure of how well an individual performs in an educational institution: “SRP was analyzed with respect to factors including: age, religion, sex, ethnicity, and extra-curricular activities” (Barry, 2005). However, the key independent variable identified in her findings is extra-curricular activities. Public schools offer a plethora of school activities, compared to private schools. The extent of including extra-curricular activities in students’ lives can significantly change the students’ pursuit to achieve academic goals.

It can be argued that, instead of spending time on extra-curricular activities, students should be taught more about the core subjects presented in school, from the arithmetic’s of math to the analysis of literature. However, this is not the only way to strengthen the students’ learning experience. There are other activities which can create stronger leadership and social skills. These activities may include: band, Latin club, soccer, student government, and more. Each of these helps contribute to the student’s comprehensive development, which are not found in every day core classes. Holland and Andre, both researchers and teachers, have suggested that extracurricular activity participation is an important source of positive influences: “which are not part of the regular school, curricular program; and they are structured in some way not just socializing, but working towards some prosocial mission or goal” (Holland & Andre, 1987). Both assert that students who participate in these activities learn important skills, some of which may help them in the future. For example: students might learn important teamwork and leadership skills. These skills are not as common to learn in class; however, by participating in competitions and extra activities, students are able to find their strength and further develop them in the future.

A major factor in changing students’ lives is through their involvement in extra-curricular activities. Extra-curricular activities are a reflection of the students’ personalities and interests. With extra activities, students are able to become unique individuals, with their own ideas and passions. Grant Will, a father seeking the quality of education for his child, wrote an article “Benefits of Participating in After-School Activities”, explaining that outside activities: “Can serve as a break from school environment and children can unwind and do something different. Occupying their minds with something that is fun and interesting to do is a welcome diversion” (Grant, 2009). As every father would desire, Grant believes that enrolling his child in an after-school activity is beneficial because it allows the child to experience other influences that schools do not provide. Larger public schools are well rounded for children’s education, due to their ideal size.

Another article, written similarly with Grant’s idea, encourages parents to enroll students in after school activities to branch out their skills in many areas. Marrie Clarie helps give after school new ideas for activities. Clarie, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, has more than eight years of experience in the child-care profession. She is inspired by the children’s potential to make a positive and meaningful impact on other’s lives. Her child care experience gave her insight into the benefits of participating in out of school activities. She believes that these activities can: “encourage the building of personal and social skills such as raising hands, manners, taking turns, respect, responsibility, and more” (Marie, 2010). She has seen the direct correlation between club activities and their benefits to the children. Many public schools offer a plethora of clubs due to the large enrollment population; therefore, this allows students to open more doors of opportunities. On the other hand, private schools are relatively small, due to their expensive admission fees and offer only a few activities. However, lowering the number of students enrolled, in turn lowers the number of choices in activities students can select. Public education, in the long run, outweighs institutions like private schools by supporting various after school clubs.


Figure 1. SRP studies set up in a multiple variable chart. The variables are shown on the left column. While the corresponding data values are shown in their rows. Adapted from “The effect of socio-economic status on academic achievement,” by Barry, Jennifer, 2005, p. 33 Copyright 2005 by Wichita State University. Adapted with permission.

SRP studies by Barry support that hours of extra-curricular activities, spent in a week, can dramatically alter test scores. For example, an average of five hours was spent involved in after school activities based on the data from students’ test. The top 33% of the tested group participate in six hours with a standard deviation of 0.3, while the bottom 33% of the tested group is accounted activities for three hours with a standard deviation of 0.8. The difference in their test score is 10%, the equivalent of a letter grade. In this case, a ratio of one hour spent on extra-curricular activities is equivalent to an addition of 10% on a test. Another, deduction can be made because the effect of both club activities and family activities are similar to one another.

Even though family activities are less effective in increasing test results, they still increase the results to some extent. Family activities in the lower 33% of the children who scored 47% show that those children only spend on an average of 44% of their week with their family. Family activities in the higher 33% of the children who scored 57% show that those children spend an average of 60% of their week with their family. The difference on family time spent between the higher 33% and the lower 33% is 16%, and the difference between their test scores is 10%. The ratio of the percent of time spent in a week with families interacting together is 5:8, which means that every 5% more time spent with family activities increases the score of the child by 8%. Through data analysis, the public can see that an increase in group activities can help improve the students’ test scores.

Extra-curricular activities are a great influence and motivator for students. Helping them branch their skills out of the area of core studies taught in many classes. Due to the size of many public schools, children are able to join a larger variety of clubs. Through firsthand experience, from both parents and teachers, parallelism is drawn for the desire of their children to interact with outside events other than school to help their students’ education. Finally, the multi-variable data table shows the distinct similarity of increasing test scores, due to an increase in after school activities. Most large public schools give a greater range of activities to increase the student’s well-being.



Figure 2. Easier representation of the effects of Extra-Curricular activities. Adapted from “Effects of Extra-Curricular Activities Through Standardize Testing,” by Alex Burton, 2013, Copyright 2013 by Burton. Adapted with permission.


Figure 3. Easier representation of the effects of Family activities. Adapted from “Effects of Family Activities Through Standardize Testing,” by Alex Burton, 2013, Copyright 2013 by Burton. Adapted with permission.




Barry, Jennider. (2005). The Effects of Social-Economic Status on the Academic Achievements. Retrieved from: sequence=1

Clarie, Marie. (2010). The Psychological Benefits of After School Clubs | After School Club Ideas. After School Club Ideas. Retrieved from:

Grant, Will. (2009). The Benefits of Participating in After-School Activities. Ezine Article. Retrieved from:

Holland, Alyce, & Andre, Thomas. (1987). Participation in extracurricular activities in secondary school: What is known, what needs to be known? Review of Educational Research, 4347-466. Retrieved from:

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Uniformly Different

May 2, 2013 in Archive, Articles, School Structure, Uniforms


There is plenty of debate intertwined in America’s education system, debates that deal with budget, books, class sizes, and teachers.  A particular dispute that is very important to the students is the one that decides what they get to wear. Appearance can mean everything to a young student.  It is because of this that the uniform debate is of such importance.  Uniforms are able to bring students together, but is it at the expense of their creativity?  The originality aspect is the biggest problem educators have when siding with the uniforms.  In President Bill Clinton’s 1996 union address, when discussing uniforms in public schools, he stated: “If it means teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms”  (Mitchell 1996).  President Clinton required students to wear uniforms so they could focus less on their clothes and more on their education.  The President brought up a valid point then and it is still a valid today.  Uniforms take the worry out of the wardrobe and put the worry into the work.

When starting school in the heat of summer, the first code that is usually broken is the dress code.  Dress codes make sure students are not dressing inappropriately so as to distract the education of others.  These clothing regulations are hard to control, because a piece of clothing may be teetering on the line of acceptable and unacceptable.  Educators believe that having uniforms in school will not only make it easier to spot a student defying the dress code, but also make it easier for students to follow the dress code.  Having a system where everyone wears the same outfit eliminates all the dress code restrictions (Education Bug).   Having everyone wear identical clothes will create less work for everyone in the school system.  Uniforms take away the students’ fear that they will be dress coded and make administrators job easier as well.

Many educators are advocates for uniforms, because they take away most of the initial stereotyping.  As a teenager, it is hard not to stereotype people as they walk by.  Even as adults, it is hard not to label students or kids based upon their appearance.  First impressions are the most important.  Uniforms can help with these impressions.  With everyone wearing the same thing, stereotyping becomes harder.  It is also harder to create cliques or gangs by dressing the same.  Sonal Panse, an advocate for uniforms in public schools state: “School uniforms cramp the style of gang members…instead of ‘my gang’ and ‘your gang’, they also have to think in terms of ‘our school’” (Panse S.).  Public schools that have switched to wearing uniforms have found it to be a great success.  According to a study done in a California school, after switching to uniforms, the school’s crime rate dropped by 91 percent; the suspension rate dropped by 90 percent, and sex offenses was reduced by 96 percent (Harden, S.).  These mind boggling statistics exemplify the benefits of having uniforms.  Wearing the same outfit as everyone else may seem drab, but in the end it eliminates many stereotypes.

This past year, an immense problem has arisen in the American education society: school shootings.  The horrendous act done at Newtown Elementary has affected everyone.  From the students to the faculty, everyone is worried that his/her school might be next.  This may seem to have no correlation with uniforms in schools, but it is quite the contrary.  With all students wearing the same clothes, it makes it easier for people of authorities to pick out the intruders or people that do not belong: “A school uniform makes it easier for the school authorities to recognize students belonging to their school. Authorities can also decipher if someone doesn’t belong to a school, if someone just manages to sneak in” (Panse S.).  Panse reiterates the usefulness of uniforms.  They are not just for looks or conformity but also to keep the students safe.

Uniforms may have numerous benefits, but at what cost? The biggest issue students and parents have with uniforms is the creativity aspect.  Great deals of students express who they are through their clothing, but they cannot express themselves if they are required to wear a uniform.  When psychologist, Jessica Richburg, surveyed students about their opinion on uniforms it was pretty clear what the students wanted.  A freshman at the high school Richburg surveyed stated: “The whole point of being in high school is to find out who you are and where you belong, with uniforms this would be hard to do, I feel like if I were forced to wear a uniform to school every single day, I would eventually lose my identity” (Richburg J.).   Numerous students feel that what they wear is whom they are.  If this outlet were taken away from them, they may feel like they have lost themselves.  Many people see uniforms as a violation of a student’s freedom of speech and expression.  Teenagers have very minute legal ways to show who they are, and most believe they can do this through their clothes (Wilde, M.). In a world where students have very little say in what they do, they are in fact, able to chose what they wear.  In the rebellious teenage years of any student, an outlet is needed.  This outlet of creativity is often found sewn in the seams of their wardrobe.

To be uniform is to fit and be together.  The idea of togetherness and coerciveness is what the students need.  Uniforms make it easier for students and administrators to focus on work and not their wardrobe.  As a society, it is often of concern that a student’s creativity will be lost if everyone wears similar clothing.  People believe that if everyone is wearing the same clothes, they must be the same.  This is simply not true.  It should not be the clothes on the students that set them apart but their underlying personality.  Everyone is unique in his or her own way, and having uniforms should not change that.  Instead, it should exemplify a student’s uniqueness through his or her personalities not the threads he or she wear.  Students can still be different but uniformly different.



Education Bug. Retrieved from

Harden, S. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Mitchell, A. (February 25, 1996). Clinton Will Advise Schools on Uniforms. Retrieved from

Panse, S. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Richburg, J. (2010). School uniforms: good or bad idea. Retrieved from

Wilde, M. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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One Step Ahead of the Game

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Gifted Program, Public Education Programs, School Structure


Many students enter high school with their schedules planned out for all four years. As time progresses, the teenagers will change and mold their classes to their unique interests. At many schools, students are able to gain college credit for select upper level classes. These credits are beneficial to the high school students because they allow them to get a head start on their college careers while still taking the classes they enjoy; the credits also allow them to prepare for the rigorous academics they will face in college.

Presently, colleges are constantly increasing the requirements needed to be accepted into their institutions. With the changes taking place, students need to be able to increase their workloads drastically during high school to ensure they will be accepted into their college of choice. In order to aid the students, schools offer multiple ways to gain college credit before graduating from high school. Advanced Placement (AP) courses and dual enrollment are two of the most common methods used to attain these credits. The Princeton Review points out: “If you pass Intro to Psych as a ‘college’ course while in high school, you won’t need to take it again in college… Depending on your future undergraduate school, such classes may also satisfy core curriculum requirements. Basically, you can free up your college schedule so that you’ll be able to take more of the courses you want to take” (2011). AP classes have the same basic curriculum as normal high school courses, but at the end of the year, students take a test to pass out of the college level course. The colleges will decide whether or not to accept the credit based on the score the student receives on the AP exam. These Advanced Placement courses are offered in almost every core subject at the school. Dual enrollment also provides college credit, but in a different manner. Students who do not wish to take AP classes, but still want to attain extra credits can take dual enrollment courses: “Dual enrollment is a partnership between your high school and a college, usually one that is nearby. The partnership identifies specific classes at your high school. If you take these classes and pay a small fee, the college will award you a certain number of credits for passing the class” (The Princeton Review 2011). These classes are not taught by college professors, but by regular teachers at the students’ high school who have the qualifications to teach the courses. The grades students receive in the class will be placed on their college transcript, and at the end of the year they will not have to take an exam to earn credit. The dual enrollment option provides a less stressful environment for students, as their credit does not ride on a single exam. However, the downfall is that not all universities will accept the credits received by these kinds of courses. AP courses and dual enrollment give high school students the opportunity to get ahead in school so they may fulfill the requirements to enter into college, or start college with credits already under their belts.

Another important benefit of early college credits is the preparation of high school students for the college world. Over time, more students have begun to enroll in advanced courses that provide them with college credits. (See Fig. 1). Rigorous AP and dual enrollment courses give students an opportunity to immerse themselves in college subjects while still in high school. This allows the students to get used to the layout and workload of college courses. The differences between high school and college are often overlooked by many, but college freshmen can attest to the unexpected changes: “only 49% of high school seniors polled report that their school did a good job in preparing them for success in both college and the workplace” (Driscoll 2012). Students are surprisingly under prepared to go to college after graduating from high school. The implementation of these AP and dual enrollment options have allowed students to assimilate slowly to the rigorous schedule of college students. The executive director of AP Curriculum and Assessment at Collegeboard, Auditi Chakravarty, states that: “The pace, the amount of reading and writing, the types of lab experiences, and the research and other projects required are similar to what students can expect in college” (Fox Business 2012). By taking these advanced classes, students can better prepare themselves for their college experience. The direct benefits of AP classes and dual enrollment courses enable students to make the transition from high school to college in a smooth and calm manner.


Figure 1. The average number of credits received by high school graduates between 1990-2009. Adapted from “Student Coursetaking in High School Mathematics and Science,” by National Science Board, 2012, Science and Engineering Indicators 2012. Adapted with permission.

High schools around the country offer many options for students to attain college credit while still in high school. The most common of these opportunities are Advanced Placement courses and dual enrollment. By participating in either of these programs, students are able to meet requirements needed to enter college and possibly start ahead of others; furthermore, students are also able to help themselves assimilate to college academics faster by introducing themselves to these college courses throughout high school. With the utilization of these unique opportunities in high schools, students across the country are able to get ahead of the game and prepare themselves for the future.




Driscoll, E. (Writer) (2012). Getting college credit in high school: Why wait? [Web series episode]. In Fox Business. Manhattan, NY: Fox News Network.

The Princeton Review. (2011, Februar 09). [Weblog message].

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Feed the Hungry

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Health, Public Education Programs


The food in school lunches has been a topic of discussion for many generations. The view of school lunches has gone from grotesque globs of inedible morsels to a grand buffet. These new age meals are not the frightening medieval foods that cause nightmares, but an assortment of healthy choices for kids. Since World War II, bills have been created to help schools provide healthy lunches for their students. The evolution of school lunches has provided a new hope for distressed families and hungry children to find healthy food. Modern school meals not only provide help for impoverished families but can also improve a student’s school performance.

Every child is told to eat lunch when he are young, but what happens when that child’s parents do not have enough money to feed them? School lunches give aid to this type of circumstance.  The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) was created in public schools to aid impoverished families: “The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) makes it possible for all school children in the United States to receive a nutritious lunch every school day” (Food 2010). This program was created to give nutritional lunches to all students in public schools. The program also  gives money and farm grown food to schools that give students healthy lunches: “NSLP provides per meal cash reimbursements to schools as an entitlement to provide nutritious meals to children… Schools participating in NSLP also receive agricultural commodities (unprocessed or partially processed foods) as a supplement to the per-meal cash reimbursements, in amounts based on the number of lunches they serve” (Food 2010).This helps the schools with funding and helps children stay well fed. These meals contribute many benefits to the children receiving them.

The benefits that kids reap in schools funded by the NSLP are huge. This NSLP is raved by the USDA: “USDA research indicates that children who participate in School Lunch have superior nutritional intakes compared to those who do not participate” (Food 2010). The more nourished kids are, the better they will do in the classroom. This plan started after World War II, when army physicians realized the connection between men being turned down for health reasons in the draft was directly related to the malnutrition in childhood.  The government saw this lack in nutrition for American children as “a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children” (Food 2010). The government saw this as a way to help society’s children.

However, with this fund come guidelines for schools. The guidelines for the NSLP are quite simple and are focused on helping the nation’s children. This program will provide one-third or more of a child’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). This means “These lunches are required to provide no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat” (Food 2010). The goal of this is to decrease the obesity rate in schools. Another guideline for this program is that the school must enact a local school wellness program.  These programs are geared towards “…an opportunity to address obesity and promote healthy eating and physical activity through changes in school environments” (Food 2010).  These lunch policies are geared towards improving a child’s health and can also improve school performance.

Students who eat properly throughout the day are shown to have a better performance in school. By eating, student’s minds are more nourished and focused throughout the day. The stress of wondering whether a meal is coming or not can leave kids at a disadvantage in the classrooms. In a Quebec based study, it was found that “The researchers looked at high school students in disadvantaged neighborhoods and found that “household food insecurity”—basically not knowing where your next meal is going to come from—was strongly linked to academic difficulty in school” (What’s 2010).  These students are hindered by the constant distraction of not having enough food. Without this stress, students do better in schools: “They scored better in language testing, were less likely to be held back, and even rated their own performance higher” (What’s 2010). By not having the stress of food on their minds, students are more equipped to handle the everyday struggles.  The link between food and school performance is evident. The better a student eats, the better he will do in the classroom.

School lunches are a major part of school life and have improved over the years into great healthy options. Programs like the NSLP have helped impoverished families feed their children. These programs improve both the community and the schools. Also, by having these lunches schools improve the academic performances of the students. Eating well can help kids focus and be healthy. Having school lunches has an impact on a child’s education and his well being.



Food Research and Action Center (2010). Retrieved from:

What’s for Lunch Program (2010). What’s for Lunch? Retrieved from:

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Parenting 101

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Health, Public Education Programs


One of the largest taboos facing American culture is teen pregnancy. Often, society scolds the expecting parents, labeling the two as “irresponsible,” or the girl simply as “slutty.” However, with shows such as Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnant becoming increasingly more popular, the social stigma that comes with pregnancy at such a young age is being overlooked. Instead, the struggles that these girls are facing are being put on display. One of the largest of these dilemmas is the mother’s schooling. Many believe that girls who do find themselves with child should drop out of school to spend the majority of their time discovering the joys and tribulations of parenthood. Public schools, however, are providing alternative options of education for these stressed out teens, allowing these mommy-to-be’s to graduate from high school and find success in the years to come.

Teenagers -who are essentially children- often do not have the emotional stability to raise a child correctly. For this reason, many teenage mothers decide to drop out of school once they realize they are expecting. According to studies done by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, “Only 38% of teen mothers who have a child before the age of 18 graduate from high school, compared to approximately 75% of women who delay child bearing until 20-21… 30% of teen girls cited pregnancy or parenthood as a reason for dropping out of high school” (Teenage Pregnancy and Education). While this statistic is disheartening, it is not surprising. These moms are often not given the help they need by close family and friends to support both a school career and time to nourish a healthy parent-child relationship. In fact, within the first year of becoming a teen mother, 50% of these girls end up on welfare (Smith, 2005). To prevent these women from throwing their futures away along with the dirty diapers, public schools need to be providing services to help these helpless, and often time, troubled students.

Currently, public schools have been trying to allow their pregnant students a few amenities to alleviate the burden of tackling an education and parenthood. In her WNYC article, author Beth Fertig analyzes the state of public schools in New York and the options made available for teenage mothers. She happily reports that, “The New York City school system has a number of programs for pregnant and parenting teens. There are daycare centers in several high schools. And there are four separate schools just for pregnant teens and young mothers” (Fertig, 2004). Other states have followed New York’s attempts to accommodate these struggling girls. California, a state that bolsters an above-average teen pregnancy rate, has been implementing programs to help with expecting teens, instead of forcing them into low-budget, poorly managed alternative schools. In fact, more than 100,000 pregnant and parenting students participated in a program that provided tutors and other social services. The program had a 73% graduation rate for its students, mirroring the graduation rate for non-pregnant students in California public schools. However, this program has been recently cut due to major budget slashes: “California lawmakers…ruling [the program] was no longer mandatory, and allowed school districts to use the money for other programs…‘It’s unfortunate that this effective program fell prey to the enormous budget challenges we are facing as a state,’ said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson” (Kennedy, 2012). School boards need to be cognizant of decisions such as these; by slashing successful programs, such as the one in California, teenage mothers feel unimportant and overlooked, leading to increases in drop-outs. Allowing for a generation of dejected, uneducated mothers could lead to possible increases in teenage convicts, teenagers on well-fare, and in extreme cases, teenagers engaged in prostitution.

Schools are not only implementing and proposing programs to deal with teen pregnancy, but they are also looking for new ways to prevent teens from even becoming pregnant. According to an article posted in the Public School Review, “the US has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world—almost twice as high as those of England, Wales and Canada and eight times as high as those of the Netherlands and Japan” (Chen, 2008). However, New York is trying to combat this ridiculously high statistic. The Bloomberg administration is currently trying to mandate sexual education in high schools. It also encourages nurses currently working for the public school system to provide contraception, and the morning-after pill. (Taylor, 2013). These efforts will greatly reduce these unwanted pregnancies and will possibly eliminate the need for programs that support pregnant teens.

Problems facing today’s generation of teens include pimples, prom dates, and profile pictures. For a small portion of teenagers, however, their problems have become far more critical. A few girls and boys have to deal with late-night diaper changes and breast feeding. This margin of current youth has to juggle adulthood and the completion of childhood, which includes graduating from a standard four year high school. Because of this struggle, schools need to keep providing and improving on alternative forms of education and amenities to accommodate these future parents. America needs educated parents who can provide great care to their children, in order to ensure that the next generation is not only equipped for life, but are also happy.



Chen, G. (2008, September 20). Public Schools and Sex Education | Profiles of USA Public Schools | Retrieved February 25, 2013, from

Fertig, B. (2004, January 6). High School for Pregnant Teens and Young Mothers – WNYC. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from

Kennedy, K. (2012, November 22). Teen Pregnancy Study: Students Need Better School Support. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from

Smith, A. (2005, July 21). Teen Pregnancy Statistics – Teen Pregnancy . Teen Help – Advice for Parents and Teens. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from

Taylor, K. (2013, March 6). City Campaign Targeting Teenage Pregnancy Draws Criticism – The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from

Teenage Pregnancy and Education. (2003, March 19). Retrieved April 15, 2013, from

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Stripped of Originality

May 2, 2013 in 2012-2013, Laws Affecting Public Education, Reforms in Public Schools, School Structure, Uniforms

With the pressure on adolescents to be perfect, children do not need the added interference of school uniforms affecting their daily lives. These young students spend so much of their time and effort trying to fit in. They are in constant worry of the crude judgments by others. The addition of a strict regiment of required clothing would spike their anxiety levels to a new record high. For some students, their wardrobe is their comfort zone and may be the only entity helping them throughout the school day; these shy students would no longer be capable of using their clothing as a shield of protection from the outside world. This time in children’s lives is also essential for finding out who they truly are. Individuality is such an important part of growing up, that to take it away would be horrendous. By enforcing a strict dress code of school uniforms on campuses at all times, it strips the children of individuality that is necessary for their growth. In addition, restraining every child to the same clothes every day makes school feel like the inside of a barred jail. If schools are searching for a way to make school a stricter learning environment, there are other ways to go about it that do not include school uniforms. The demand of uniforms should be banned from public schools in order to make school an environment in which children feel they can prosper. Children need to feel that they can be themselves at school. When the school board tells them that they need to wear a certain outfit or else they are not allowed to participate, students feel as if their decision to be who they want to be is destroyed. Two parents, Laura and Scott Bell, are filing a lawsuit against having uniforms in public schools. They feel their rights as tax-paying individuals and as citizens to the United States of America are being infringed on: “The Bells’s suit makes two claims: that the uniform requirement violates their children’s constitutional right of free expression and that it violates the guarantee of a free public education” (Motsinger, 2007). Many students feel self conscious and restricted in these dull uniforms. The Bells recognize that it is unconstitutional to tamper with the students’ pure individuality. For some, the inability to express themselves through their clothing choices may be just as bad as if they were restricted from participating in class discussions or sharing their opinions. Schools are supposed to accentuate students’ strengths, but how can they do this if they are masking others in the process? McDermott, author of the article Real Moms Talk, introduces more key issues that uniforms generate. In agreement with the Bells, McDermott discusses the major cost concern with school uniforms. The extra expense of new, formal clothes added to an already tight budget is unwelcome, especially for families who are already on free or reduced lunches. Families register their children for public education, thinking that it is free, but by adding in the cost of a uniform, the “free” education will leave their wallets barren: “Uniforms can be a financial burden for poor families because they are an additional expense for parents who pay taxes for a free public education” (McDermott, 2009). With the cost of just five uniforms priced at around 650 dollars, this public education is not as free as originally thought. Uniforms then begin to put pressure not only on the children wearing them, but also on their parents. To ensure a safe and educational learning environment does not mean uniforms have to be added to the mix. Enforcing a dress code that lets children express themselves and feel comfortable at school while still maintaining teaching standards is easily achievable. No one wants to deprive children of the little perks that bring happiness to their eyes. The excitement of bouncing out of bed in the morning to put on a shiny dress or a new pair of pants would disappear from their daily lives all together. Uniforms can remain necessities for jail, but they do not belong in schools. References McDermott, Michelle. (2009). Real Moms Talk. She Knows. Retrieved from Motsinger, C. (2007). Ironing out Policies on School Uniforms. USA Today. Retrieved from

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Mary Lou Taylor: Opinion on Public Education

May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Guest

Mary Lou Taylor is currently the vice president of the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board.  She has been on the board for eleven years.  Also, she has taught at numerous public schools for 38 years.

In my opinion, public education is the most valuable program in America. Our Founding Fathers placed high value on education. Every young person in America is privileged to experience the very best free K–12 education.

Over the years, schools have changed, curricula have changed, and how students learn has improved and expanded. Today students have many choices about where and how they will be educated. With competition from charter schools, private schools, and opportunities for online classes, public education has made many changes to keep up. Competition is good, however, and public schools are all the better for it.

With updated curricula; technology; common standards; online classes; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics emphases; and many other programs, students in public schools have the opportunity to get a world-class education that will prepare them to meet the demands of the workforce of the 21st century.

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May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs, School Structure, Technology


Education has been an important topic in America for decades. Whether motivated by foreign superpowers or an increasingly competitive global job market, there has always been an effort to improve further the American public school system. In the late 1950s, President Eisenhower’s Science Advisory Committee stressed the importance of strong academic achievement, as well as the real-world need for scientists and engineers – fields which rely on well-educated individuals. Today, much progress has been made in the goals outlined by the committee. Schools and organizations continue to push forward in order to create a country of accomplished young people who are prepared to succeed in the world and continue learn for their entire lives.

In 1959, the President’s Science Advisory Committee released a report containing twenty-two recommendations for improving public education in America. The proposed changes pertain to such areas as incentives to make teaching more attractive to quality candidates, programs for gifted students, and an increase in the education budget. (“Strengthen education,” 1959) Over 40 years later, public education has made great improvements in regards to these goals. For example, one would be hard-pressed to locate a teacher at Desert Vista who does not show dedication to the job and exert a remarkable level of effort in order to create optimal learning conditions. This contrasts with the less-than-motivated teacher stereotype depicted in generations past, such as in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which is now more than 25 years old. Commendable progress clearly has been made since the release of the report, as shown by the continued improvement of the state of education.

For as much positive change as there has been, it is equally as remarkable that the progress-oriented attitude of hard-working Americans has resulted in efforts to continue the beneficial growth of education. One suggestion made in the Eisenhower committee’s report is receiving increased attention today: “We should move much further in the direction of adapting our educational programs to the widely varying competence of students, and seek especially to meet the needs of the most gifted students” (“Strengthen education,” 1959). Interestingly, a strong supporter of this idea is the Khan Academy, a non-profit organization founded by Salman Khan. Khan’s web site offers instructional videos on a variety of school subjects, from arithmetic to college-level concepts; the primary focus is mathematics, science and economics, although there are also videos pertaining to computer science and humanities. Khan, although not a trained educator, has developed a new type of curriculum in which students watch Khan Academy lessons, and then do practice problems, provided by either the web site or the teacher. Teachers then focus individually with students who are struggling with a concept, while those who have mastered it are able to move on to the next lesson. This self-paced model of education is not a traditional approach to learning, but it does resemble the ideas put forward in the Eisenhower report.

Khan has developed his personal philosophy on education without any hard evidence supporting his position. However, schools across the country are reaching out to his organization, looking to incorporate his lessons into their teaching strategy. On the topic of how schools can use the tool, Shantanu Sinha, President of the Khan Academy, wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post describing how it has already been implemented in a small number of American schools. In the 2011 school year, the Los Altos school district in California began using the Khan Academy. What the involved parties observed convinced the people behind the Khan Academy to stand by their innovative teaching format:

At the end of the school year, we all knew it was a success. Teachers could see a dramatic change in their students’ excitement and enthusiasm towards Math. Students who traditionally struggled with the material were more confident and engaged. Other students were challenging themselves to levels we never thought possible. Common sense told everyone involved that we were on to something. (Sinha, 2011)

Despite support from the majority of the teachers and students involved, the Khan people are not trying to force their curriculum on anyone. They have continued to add more lessons on an increasing array of subjects, but wait for schools to reach out to them, at which point a unique cooperative plan is formed. Their strategy could be compared to how a library operates: it is available to everyone for free, but instead of trying to make library cards mandatory, people must discover it for themselves. Despite the academy’s unobtrusive promotion, thousands of students from numerous schools have had its videos directly embedded into their learning experience.

There exists some amount of hard evidence supporting the benefits of the Khan Academy. Data taken from the Los Altos school district compares standardized test results from the years 2010 and 2011, measuring performance before and after integration if the Khan Academy. Seventh graders who were in classrooms utilizing Khan Academy saw improved scores:

Math performance levels

Percentage of students at each level


Figure 1. Math performance levels. Adapted from “Does Khan Academy Really Work?” by S. Sinha, 2011, Huffington Post Blog, Copyright 2011 by the Huffington Post. Adapted with permission.

Even after the students had spent the school year focusing on whatever Khan Academy lessons they needed or wanted (rather than ones strictly modeled around the state tests), when they were tested on standardized material, there was an 18% increase in the number of students who scored “Proficient” or “Advanced.” The improvement is clear and is unique to students who were part of the pilot program. Other students showed no noticeable improvement in their test scores. (Sinha, 2011) While not a formal scientific study, the Los Altos data provides preliminary evidence in favor of the Khan Academy.

Test scores, testimonies and speculation all seem to point toward the Khan Academy being a potentially revolutionary development in education. If the Khan Academy really has such an advantage over the one to twenty-something teacher-to-student radio for lectures found in most classrooms today, does that mean there is no longer a need for teachers? If Salman Khan were asked, the answer would be “absolutely not.” In a Khan Academy video discussing the group’s view on education, he brings up the goal and question of, “How do we use [the tools and resources of the virtual] to actually empower the physical?” (Khan Academy, 2012) On the virtual blackboard which the video depicts, Khan draws an arrow from the words “Tool/Resource” to “Physical,” the latter of which he underlines extensively, stressing the importance of the teacher. The purpose of their educational plan is not to do away with teachers in the classroom, but rather to allocate more time for one-on-one teaching, group work and hands-on projects. For all of these important learning needs, a physical teacher is required.

While the overhaul of the present public education structure has the potential to be perceived as radical or impractical, there is a growing amount of data supporting the idea that it may have potential to enhance the learning experience of Americans. Returning to the ideas of the President’s Science Advisory Committee, it seems that the Khan Academy is simply taking further steps to meet the goals of providing more opportunities for academically talented students and tailoring education to each student’s abilities. While many districts already have excellent gifted programs with rigorous coursework and healthy levels of difficulty, the American spirit contains within itself the necessity and ability to strive for eternal improvement. Thus, regardless of  one’s opinion on whether Khan’s ambitions are a viable means of improving public education, there must exist a certain respect for his drive to expand the capabilities of the country’s education system and the children for whom it is responsible.



(1959). Strengthen education. The Science News-Letter, 75(23), 357. Retrieved from

Khan Academy. (2012, August 3). Khan Academy vision. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from

Sinha, S. (2011, October 12). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

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A Delicate Flower

May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Abstract, Archive, Articles, Fine Arts, Public Education Programs


Think of education as a delicate, yet adaptable flower. The roots of it grew through the seeds of agriculture and continued to be watered as history progressed and technology advanced. As far as history can recount, the existence of the first civilizations derived from Egypt. As other tribes began to form, an incessant need for communication became imperative, and measures reached new heights where communication became possible for the first time. Thus, the seed began to grow its roots into the ground of education.  Arguably some of the most intelligent minds in history, Egyptians began to create tablets and paper in order to have an object that could aid in the attempt for communication. When a language was finally developed, memorization and motivation became the key devices for implementing this vernacular, and physical punishment was cursed upon those who were not able to progress with the rest of society. Through the Egyptian culture initiating language and writing untensils, the creations of buildings, cars, factories, and homes started the educational stem of the flower. Once industrialization began to expand off of the basic theories that had been developed by Egyptians many years prior, schools were installed in hopes of continuing the legacy of societal improvement; from this, the developing weed bloomed into a vivacious flower. Once education became a key component in society, positive futuristic visions formed from the communications, buildings, and cultural diversity that triggered intellectual involvement today.

It can be inferred that communication is the building block to all success, due to the amount of collaboration and brainstorming society has used to increase its success rate. Acting also as the seed of the educational flower planted back in 3100 BC, communication triggers the creation of paper, language, and writing. According to multiple sources, such as online article, History of Our World, the past creates the present. If it were not for the invention of these methods of communication, there would be no recording of historical activities, which leaves the world empty in the sense of comparison to the improvements time has brought:  “To be able to function in complex societies, man needed some way of accumulating, recording, and preserving his cultural heritage” (Newman 1). Communications provides various forms of recreation for the world as it allows people to talk with one another, facts and inferences to be recorded, and beholds historical information at it is passed down from one generation to another. With the creation of communication came the formation of a language, the gateway to a past, and the planting of a flower.

A few thousand years after the rise and perish of Egyptian civilizations, Roman cities began to make their appearance. Rising from the ruins, Romans obtained the communication skills from the base of the Egyptians, yet longed for homes that were more complex and luxurious than those of huts. Creating buildings from similar condiments that Egyptians used for their communicational tablets, Roman architects mastered styles that had never been seen before. However, before building homes for citizens, as common sense would hint, schools were constructed. With aims of world domination, the Roman Empire forced all children to attend schooling by the age of six in order to be taught the procedures of military conquest. Roman laws, history and customs were emphasized on the minds of young girls so that the educational facts, forgotten by the combat motivated boys, were not forgotten: “Along with laws, history, and customs came the emphasis on oratory superiority; a life without the ability of charismatic speech was a useless life” (Newman 2). With focus on such petty subjects, the Roman Empire was vulnerable to defeat, and fell, teaching the world what to avoid when progress in technology and unity is the desired goal. With these events, the roots of the educational flower were able to absorb the knowledge of unique building skills that Romans obtained and demolish the governmental plans that were unsuccessful.

The most prominent aid in historical education would undoubtedly be cultural diversity. Through the collaborations of the beliefs, rituals, and intelligence of different communities, a world void of diversity was evaded. To say the least, the advancements society has breached today are largely attributed to the varying skills of the numerous communities who have lived before us.  Through the myths of the Greeks, the architecture of the Romans, and the inventions of the Egyptians, the educational flower of the world’s past was nurtured with immense amounts of water and sunshine. Many of the words existing in the English dialect are contrived of Latin words, whereas, many of the world’s greatest architects are inspire the foundation of today’s communities. By using schools to discover about facts such as these, students learn the root of all success and the history of how their education began: “The history of the world’s education lies solely within the depths of the numerous cultures amid the mists of a forgotten past” (Newman 3). Although some students despise education and find the repetitive nature of it pointless, it is crucial that they understand that everything they know derived from a little thing called cultural diversity.

An agricultural seed, a communication root, an architectural stem, and diverse leaves call for the blooming of a beautiful flower that is called education. The history of education began with Egyptians creating objects they found necessary for survival. From the concoctions of the Egyptians, the world began to piggy back off of the success that had been accomplished, adding new twists and reaching compromises along the way. If it were not for the ancestors of this world, today’s society would be nonexistent. As long as the flower of education remains in tact and is cherished through the increasing advancements the world makes through its knowledge, prosperity will always be a reward.



The Education of Our World. (2003). Benefits Never Cease. Chicago: Blake Newman

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The Outweighing Benefits of Public Education

May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure


There has long been a debate surrounding the overall supremacy of public school over private school. However, it is easy to surmise that that longevity and seniority rule in this situation, thus making public schooling far superior. A definitive conclusion can be drawn on superiority based on multiple aspects, such as: longevity, cultural blending, and economic stability. When studying these three aspects of educational progress, it comes down to the fact that public schooling is superior Due to Private schools are taught by a teacher’s aide, funded by private organizations and reliant upon both the generosity of student’s parents and the endorsements from organizations: “Funding for private schools is generally provided through student tuition, endowments, scholarship/voucher funds, and donations and grants from religious organizations or private individuals” (Wood, 2011). Public schools are consistently funded by the federal government: a continuous, worry free stream of funding.

One of the major debates is that of diversity-cultural and social blending- in the schooling environment. Generally private schools offer education prices and religious presets that do not apply to some minorities and racial groups. The average cost for a private day school in America is forty thousand dollars: “As of 2012, quality private schools in the United States charged substantial tuition, close to forty thousand dollars annually for day schools in New York City, and nearly $50,000 for boarding schools.” (Wood, 2011). Public schools blend all different kinds of children, not only providing a cultural experience, but also a social education. Public schools give kids the opportunity to learn about different social and economic groups that private schools simply cannot offer: “Public schools have played an important part in closing the gap between wealthy and poor students on measures of intelligence” (Mitra, 2010). This quote by Professor Dana Mitra, Associate Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State University, fully explains and exemplifies the way that public schools contribute to the people gumbo that is the American cultural society. In addition to a social education, public schools offer education to any and every child they can.

Public schools are more than willing to accept any child who wants to and is willing to learn, while private schools only accept few who meet their exclusive standards. This all-are-welcome notion that public schools hold leads to a more positive up and coming outlook on the rest of the student’s life: “The cumulative impact of these educational benefits helps individuals to have more options for and to make better decisions about their lives.  Improved options and decision-making includes better choices about work, better risk assessment concerning deviant or criminal behavior, and better personal health choices” (Mitra, 2010). This quote shows the incredible impact that public schooling can have even years after a student has graduated.

Many advocates of private education will raise the fact that, on average, most private school students score higher on reading exams than public school children. This point, however, is incredibly biased and self-guided. Private school students make up a mere 10% of the country’s students, a total of about 5.5 million. This vastly inferior percentage leads to a lower “per-classroom” count of students, which in turn leads to increased personalization of teaching for the individual student. Public schools, while not having the luxury of small class sizes, still make sure to the best of their ability that students understand the information being put forth. Private school teachers hold the same mindset as college professors, and both are paid regardless of how a student preforms in class. This mindset sometimes hinders the student’s ability to learn and excel by creating a hostile and ignorant attitude.

Considering these points, it is increasingly apparent that public schools hold benefits that the vast majority of private schools simply cannot reach. Combined with public school’s longevity and cultural advantages, one can easily surmise that public schools offer very different experiences than private schools. However due to the reasons listed above, combined with the messages and cultural advantages that public schools display more than outweigh anything a private school has to offer.



Mitra, D. (n.d.). The Social and Economic Benefits of Public Education. Pennsylvania’s Best Investment, 42.

Wood, D. (n.d.). Private vs. Public: The Great Debate | | An Education & Child Development Site for Parents | Parenting & Educational Resource.  Retrieved from

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Facts on the TUHSD Education Override Full Essay

May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Bills, Education Override, Important Posts

By: Tala Mujahed and Mina Coste

The Modern Titanic

             Imagine you are on a ship, the ship of society. Government is on one deck, recreation on another, and education on yet another. When everything is fine, society keeps functioning and the ship remains afloat, as it is supposed to. The problem arises when the ship begins to leak. Perhaps it hits an iceberg, or an engine breaks down. Then, slowly but surely, the entire ship goes down. In such a situation duct tape will not solve the problem. There would need to be an increase in investment to patch up the hole permanently or replace the engine. As of now, one of the weakest parts of the ship is the education deck. It is creaking and groaning, yet it continues to hold up. If the future were certain, it would be easier to ignore the weaknesses and maintain faith in society. But it is not. Why? The future is not in the hands of us, the students; it is in yours. You have the power to provide the fuel for our education and our future. We depend on voters.

In the November 2012 election, voters rejected the proposed budget override for the Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) by only 51.7% (Martinez, 2012). Therefore, the TUHSD governing board has decided to present the issue again in November of 2013 and ask the voters to rethink their decisions. The best way to do so is to understand exactly what the override is, and what the money coming from it will be used for. In 2008, voters passed a 10% override, allowing the district to spend their tax money on a very specific list of expenses. This override has been in place since then, and the money, as per the district office, has been used to fund basic instructional programs, athletics and extra-curriculars, gifted and English language learner programs, staffing for smaller class sizes, fine arts and career technical education programs, facilities maintenance programs, and staff development (Baca 2012). Your tax funds have helped enrich our schools and our community. Recently, regulations regarding district funding have changed, allowing for a maximum of a 15% override, not just 10%. Thus, when the district had to resubmit the override at the 2012 election, the board decided to increase it to 15%. TUHSD estimates that this would generate an additional $3.3 million to be used for additional reduction in class size, reduction in student to counselor ratio, reduction and elimination of course and activity fees, expansion of non-traditional learning programs, tutoring and intervention, and transportation for such tutoring and intervention (Baca 2012). Voters rejected the 15% override. As for the 10% override in place since 2008, it is now in the final year before it must be re-approved by voters. If this does not happen, it expires and a three-year “phase down” begins. Now we have come to the real issue. Whether the district chooses to put a 10% or 15% override on the ballot in 2013 is yet to be decided, but regardless of which is chosen, it is imperative that voters pass this measure to ensure the continued success of our schools and to prevent our schools from spiraling into unsatisfactory education.

The override’s impact on specific schools will become painfully obvious if the program is abandoned. Although this is not the only far-reaching effect, it will be the first domino in a series of unprecedented impacts. Mr. Richard Foreman, a former Tempe Union governing board member, is still highly involved in Tempe’s education. He was able to outline what would happen were the override to fail once again: The override is set to be phased down over three years. This means that override funds will dwindle by 33% per year for three years until it is completely eliminated. Unfortunately, the effects would grow with the decline in resources. In the first year alone, the district would lose programs and faculty. Difficult decisions would have to be made regarding which programs should be cut. We would have to face questions such as: Should we fund P.E. or art? Which teachers can we keep, and which do we have to lay off? Which sports can we no longer fund? In the second year, schools will lose entire programs. Class sizes will increase, and the decline in money flow will lead to systematic layoffs and vacancies that cannot be filled. Many wonderful teachers will be encouraged to retire. The third year will illustrate the true proportions of such a disaster. Elective programs may completely disappear. With no more chances for extra pay, teachers will leave for wealthier opportunities. Entire buildings may be shut down to avoid the cost of air conditioning in the Arizona heat. Eventually, schools will end up laying off teachers and anyone above average will leave for better pay. Tempe Union will lose its competitive edge.  And the worst part? This is not an exaggeration (Foreman). Now you’re thinking: ‘Well, maybe there are other ways to get funding’. Sadly, in light of the recession, the sequester, and the already relatively low levels of funding afforded to TUHSD, any additional cuts would be devastating and leave a long lasting impact. Foreman continues: “The impact would be generational…it takes a long time…to recover” (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). Reviving programs, hiring additional teachers, and fixing facilities takes time and money. Dr. Kenneth Baca, superintendent of Tempe Union High School District, explains how cuts will not end there. As all of the above impacts set in, the quality of education in various schools will begin declining. This will cause students to leave the district, looking for better schools. The problem is that the district gets funds from the state based on student enrollment. As enrollment declines, so will funding, which will lead to even less quality schools, which will in turn lead to even less enrollment and thus less funding. This creates a continuous cycle. (K. Baca, personal communication, April 2, 2013). By the time funding becomes available, the impacts will already have set in. Students will have already graduated and, voters, whether they have schoolchildren or not, will begin to feel the hit: “What we found was that properties near schools with a rating of 4 or 5 stars were almost completely insulated from declining values while those near schools with 1-3 stars experienced massive losses in value over that 3 year period” (Corsini, 2011). Various studies have proven that there is a direct correlation between successful schools and property values. It is proven that there is “a fundamental tie between healthy schools and good neighborhoods irrespective of the number of kids” (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). People are more willing to pay for houses in stable neighborhoods, near successful schools. It is empirically proven that homes near failing schools are not as valuable. If the override does not pass, home values will fall in the Tempe area, and it will take years for realtors and homeowners to recover. Such effects have already taken place in areas like Levine and near the Phoenix Union District. We cannot allow this happen in Tempe, as it will impact each and every homeowner in a nearly irrevocable manner. The common voter is also affected by our schools’ success in terms of pride. Mr. Foreman notes that our excelling district has a national reputation, with schools coming from across the U.S. to offer scholarship money and to recruit students (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). In such a way, we develop a sense of community pride that allows us to be proud of who we are, where we live, and how we educate our kids.

Despite all of the above benefits and implications of the override, it still failed to pass in the November election. The number one reason for this: taxes. Ironically, if the 10% override were to pass, there would be absolutely no increase in taxes, and, the district estimates suggest that if the 15% override were to pass, the increase in taxes would amount to only $17 annually, only $1.50 a month!


Note. Tax implications of proposed 2013 override. Adapted from “Fact Sheet,” by K. Baca and G. Wyman, 2013, 2012 by TUHSD. Adapted with permission.

Just think about the figures for a couple seconds. For about $1.50 a month, you can help our schools excel and you can boost your property value! That definitely seems like a worthwhile tradeoff. In addition, you are helping to educate the future workers of Tempe. Think about it this way when prioritizing education in the budget: without successful schools and a great education, there is “no pharmacist to write the prescription for you and no doctor for your operation (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). Less education will actually lower your standard of living, regardless of the number of school age children in your area. Finally, higher taxes actually lead to lower ones in the long run: “The most common reason for voting against the override is higher taxes. It is also a reason to vote for it. Not because any of us want to pay more taxes, but because the investment will improve our schools, which will make [Tempe] much more attractive to businesses, which will yield economic development, which will add significantly to the taxpayer base. Sharing the community’s tax burden among more than just homeowners will lower our taxes” (Bartle, 2012)[1]. It is astonishing to think of the far-reaching impacts of the override. An increase in businesses and the resulting economic upswing will benefit everyone, again, regardless of the number of school age children in the community.

With this in mind, it becomes virtually impossible to think of an argument against the override that outweighs what has been set forth by proponents. The override must pass to improve schools, help teachers, maintain the district’s reputation, increase property values, and lower taxes. If this Titanic were to sink, more than just a few lives would be lost; the future of our district will be in peril. TUHSD is an important link in Arizona education and can provide a strong precedent for the future of school funding throughout the state, and across the country. Do not just grab a lifeboat and expect to escape the vortex to the bottom of the ocean, because that vortex is strong and will pull you down along with the rest of the ship. Instead, grab a ballot this coming November, and check yes. As Dr. Baca has explained: “When you’re paralyzed into inaction, people suffer…we need to exchange the fear for hope…we’re going to be able to pass that override” (K. Baca, personal communication, April 2, 2013).






Baca, K. (2012). “Fact Sheet”, Tempe Union High School District Information


Bartle, S. (4th October 2012). Bartle: Vote ‘yes’ for lower taxes, higher property values. Retrieved from

Corsini, K. (6th April 2011). Do Schools Really Affect Property Values?. Retrieved from

Martinez, D. (9th November 2012). Local school governing boards gain Ahwatukee representation: Bond approved for TUHSD while override fails. Retrieved from

[1] The original article was talking about Maricopa, not Tempe, but it was in regards to an extremely similar situation, making it applicable to Tempe.

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Rachel Leaves her Mark on Desert Vista

May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, School Events


The Columbine High School Shooting went down in American history as two senior students created the deadliest mass murder on a high school campus. In the city of Columbine, Colorado, a total of 12 students were killed, including Rachel Joy Scott. She was a bright, young girl who touched the lives of hundreds of people. Her smile was contagious and spread among the communities as her voice was heard, loudly and clearly. Shortly before her death she wrote: “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go” (Rachel Scott). These words were in her diary, written right before her life was ended. Rachel left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others, or who were new at her school. Unfortunately, despite her kind message, over 160,000 students are still afraid to go to school due to the bullying and harassment. Her mark on the school campus was still imprinted after she was killed, as Rachel’s Challenge was introduced. On Monday, January 28th, 2013, a spokesperson from this non-profit organization came to Desert Vista High School. The administration gathered the students in the gymnasium. The room went silent as the students intently listened Rachel’s story. This program is based on the life of Rachel Scott and it is important for the students to her message of the chain reaction of kindness and its importance on public education.

The program was founded after the tragedy in a nationwide effort to prevent teen violence. Her dad and stepmom founded the program when they realized their daughter was an influence on her friends and classmates, as well as complete and utter strangers. Rachel was passionate about life and knew with certainty, one day she would change the world. Another aspect of public education, besides excelling in school and performing well on standardized tests,  is the environment and the people that make up the student body. Rachel’s Challenge is a series of student empowering programs and strategies that equip students and adults to combat bullying and feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion. Many students today say, “Rachel, thank you for coming to our high school and saving me” (Morgan Smith, student at Crookston High School). Multiple teenagers show their gratitude towards Rachel through various forms of communication including social media and websites. More than 18 million people have been touched by Rachel’s message, and they continue the legacy of making a difference in their communities. Each year at least two million more people are added to that number (Parker, 2013). These are just a couple of the results of Rachel’s Challenge. In one survey, 78% more students indicated they would definitely intervene in a bullying incident in their school after seeing Rachel’s Challenge.

This organization came to Desert Vista to spread the kindness, and make the campus a better environment both socially and academically. Rachel Scott’s personal statements captivated Desert Vista students as they listened in silence to the description of her life and the horrendous tragedy to end it. Shortly after the presentation, many students were in tears as promises were made. The teenagers on campus vowed to become better people and signed up to take Rachel’s Challenge. Included within this big project are five little challenges students can achieve on their own time, whether it is on campus or in the Ahwatukee community. Rachel’s Challenge encourages participants to take part in these five opportunities to change the world: look for best in others, dream big, choose positive influences, speak with kindness, and start your own Chain Reaction (2003). After the assembly, 100 students were chosen as the founding members of Desert Vista’s Friends of Rachel Club. This unique program helps by spreading the kindness around school. Students continue to support the community in any way they can and recognize those who do not get the recognition they deserve. The main goal of this club is to help create a permanent cultural change in Desert Vista.

While her life was tragically cut short during the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999, Rachel Joy Scott’s shining example of kindness and compassion was not defeated that day. In 2001, she was posthumously awarded the National Kindness Award for Student of the Year. She is still remembered today as her story is spreading like wildfire, traveling throughout the schools, echoing through the halls of Desert Vista High School. By turning the story of a tragic death at Columbine High School into a mission for change, Rachel’s Challenge is helping create safer learning environments and making a worldwide impact.




Parker, L. (2013, March). School’s to Take on Rachel’s Challenge. The Daily News. Retrieved from:

Rachel’s Challenge. (2003, April). Retrieved from

Scott, R. (n.d.). A Journey of Faith at Columbine High. (1999).


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Penn State Applications Down 9 Percent This Year

May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

The number of applications turned into Penn State has dropped from 59,000 to 54,000, a 9 percent drop from last year. The admissions office at the university believe the drop is due to concerns of how to pay for tuition and long-term demographic trends. Less out-of-state students have been applying because of economic reasons (out-of-state tuition is $27,864) causing the percent of Pennsylvanian students has grown to be about 54 percent. Recently, the Jerry Sandusky scandal has surround Penn State, but the admissions office does not think this is a factor in the number of applications submitted.

Armas, G. 25 April 2013. Penn State applications down 9 percent this year. Retrieved from

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A Local Family’s Dilemma, Public or Private High School: An Interview

May 1, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Guest

My brother’s friend Aidan has been struggling with a tough decision. “Do I go to the public school, which has a strong reputation for excellence in academics or do I go to the private Catholic school, with an impressive academic reputation and is top in the state in my sport?” I had a chance to sit down with his parents and talk to them about their decision making process and their ultimate final choice.

Jake: What grade is your student in?

Schramms: He’s currently an 8th grader at Altadena Middle School

Jake: Has he always been in the public school system?

Schramms: Yes he has along with our daughter, a 5th grader at Cerritos Elementary School

Jake: What were some of the key decisions you had to make to decide where to send your son Aidan for high school?

Schramms: Class size, academic reputation, cost and extracurricular activities are just some of the factors we considered. It certainly isn’t all of them, but these played a big part in our decision making process.

Jake: Can you tell me the thought process you used to ultimately make your decision?

Schramms: In order to determine which was best there were several factors to we had to consider.  The private High School we were considering was much smaller that our local public school with smaller class sizes, which reportedly can result in students having closer relationships with their teachers and guidance counselors than those in public schools.  This in turn can improve chances when it comes to getting into a good college, as does the general reputation of the private school.  The private school we were considering has a fantastic reputation and all the families that we know whose sons attend speak extremely highly of it. However, at a cost of at least $13,500 per year we had to determine if this was cost–effective.

Our local public school is also rated very highly with good academics as well as many extra-curricular activities/opportunities.  Its students do well in national testing and are offered a diverse choice of electives, including those that earn college credit.  However, as our son is a swimmer the private High School is superior as it has the best swim team in the State.  It is also a male-only school which we believe is an advantage because it removes a lot of the drama form the classroom, leaving more time to focus on what is important.   But, it is also almost 30 miles away and would require a long daily commute, whereas the public school is 2 miles away with a school bus stop 100 yards from our home.  The local High School has the same school breaks as our younger child whereas choosing the private school would necessitate separate fall and springs breaks, which would disturb our ritual vacations. This was definitely a factor for us as a family. 

Jake: There was a lot of soul searching and agonizing wasn’t there?

Schramms: Yes. We talked about this for quite some time and tried to come up with the best decision possible. Although we didn’t feel we could go wrong either way, it still was a very difficult decision.

Jake: What do you think was the hardest part of the decision making process?

Schramms: There isn’t a huge difference in the schools when it really came down to it. Both are academically strong, which is the most important consideration. However, that made the decision even harder.

Jake: What was your final conclusion?

Schramms: Ultimately, while we believe that the private school would open more doors and provide somewhat better opportunities for our son, we chose the public High School because the difference between the two schools was not sufficient to justify the cost and the upheaval that choosing the private school would cause to our family.

This is one families dilemma of public verses private school. It highlights some of the key areas to consider when making the final decision. The Schramms were very thorough in their process and feel justified in their ultimate decision. My brother Kris is very excited that his friend Aidan will be joining him in High School next year.

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Peer Tutoring in Public Schools

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs

                One of the most successful benefits of a public school is the massive amount of help that a student can receive from peer tutoring.  Peer tutoring clubs can offer free help for struggling students that will help raise both their confidence and academic performance. Peer tutoring not only benefits the struggling student, but it also helps both the tutor and the school. Tutors can also receive a boost in their leadership and communication skills as a result of teaching their peers. Peer tutoring has a wide variety of benefits for the tutor, the tutee1—and the teachers.

Peer tutoring has had a significant impact on public schools but more especially on the tutees. Students have the flexibility to decide when they will be tutored. Peer tutoring also provides the students with much more confidence than they had before they started being tutored because of the comfortable environment where they learn. This higher level of confidence results in the tutee performing better in school and the tutee’s positive outlook towards school. According to the National Tutoring Association, peer tutoring: “Improves self confidence, self-esteem, academic achievement, and the student’s attitude towards the subject matter and school in general” (2002). Students not only improve their grades but also receive an increased level of confidence and self-esteem as a result of peer tutoring.

There are also some benefits in receiving peer tutoring, rather than just teacher instruction. Students feel more comfortable around their peers than they do around teachers, which can lead to better retention of information and help the students learn much more than they would have with the teacher. According to Brendan Dabkowski, writer of The History of Peer Tutoring: “Studies have been done to support the claim that many students may feel more at ease, and thus can concentrate better on the subject matter, with a peer tutor rather than a professional teacher or consultant” (2000). An increased level of comfort is extremely essential to the quality of the student’s learning, which helps improve the student’s academic performance. Students tend to seek out help from their peers because of the connection they may have with their tutors. The one on one instruction that is received through peer tutoring can result in the student constantly paying attention and showing higher levels of responsiveness than when learning from their teachers. According to the Learning and Teaching Resource Centre, Goodlad and Hirst, writers of many peer tutoring books, proposed: “There are four main benefits for tutees when they seek out peer help: tutees receive individualized instruction, tutees receive more teaching, tutees respond better to their peers than to their teachers, and tutees can obtain companionship from the students that tutor them” (2004). Through peer tutoring, students can make more friends and learn more with higher levels of comfort than in the classroom.

Many students take advantage of peer tutoring for one crucial reason: peer tutoring is cheap.  In comparison to other tutoring agencies such as Kumon and Sylvan, peer tutoring is very inexpensive, and at many schools it is even free. Students feel comfortable knowing that they can easily get help when they want it, and they do not have to pay in order to get help. The National Tutoring Association states: “Peer tutoring is well worth the cost and effort when compared with the efforts of many alternatives that are teacher or computer mediated” (2002). Struggling students who also come from low-income families may have a hard time paying for tutors, but peer tutoring provides students with free tutoring that can even put poorer students at ease. According to Freddie Silver, former writer for the Toronto District School Board: “Peer tutors also do not usually receive monetary payment for their services. This is especially beneficial for families who cannot afford the expense of home tutoring” (2012). The low cost of peer tutoring is helpful for all students, but more specifically, for the low income students who need to be tutored. All students have the opportunity to be peer tutored due to its cheap price. The fact that peer tutoring is available to all students is very important and one of the reasons why peer tutoring is extremely effective.

Peer tutoring not only benefits the tutee but also the tutor. Tutoring helps the tutor as much as it helps the tutee and is beneficial for the tutor in many ways.  Tutors gain a heightened sense of responsibility which will be very helpful when they start their professional jobs. According to George Mason University: “Peer tutoring can lead to increased self-confidence, real-life experience, and preparation for the collaborative work often done in college and in the workforce” (2009). Through tutoring, students can be better prepared for what they will have to face later in life. Furthermore, even though the tutors are teaching others, they are also teaching themselves. The tutors learn more than they did before they started tutoring and begin to score better on tests. The National Tutoring Association stated: “Tutors improve subject specific knowledge and facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject matter. They also improve their knowledge of learning, studying, and test-taking techniques” (2002). Although, peer tutoring is meant to teach the tutee, it consequently teaches the tutor at the same time. Peer tutoring may seem like it is mostly beneficial to the tutee, but it is equally beneficial to the tutor.

In addition, teachers experience the results of the implementation of peer tutoring clubs into public schools. One of the most obvious benefits is less work. Because peer tutoring has started to become more popular, the weight on the teacher’s shoulders has been lifted. According to Rebecca Mayglothling, lesson plan writer for eHow Moms:

Teachers, particularly those in larger classrooms, can use peer tutoring to ensure that every student will receive one-on-one instruction. The teacher has the advantage of having material explained to the students twice in two separate methods. Not every person learns best in a large classroom setting, and grouping students into smaller pairs assists those students who need a more narrow focus to concentrate on the classroom concepts. (2010)

Peer tutoring provides teachers with the advantage of offering their students differentiated instruction and individualized help. For teachers who struggle to find time to offer their students one on one help, peer tutoring is the perfect solution. Teachers can enjoy the rewards that come from taking advantage of the opportunity to utilize peer tutoring.

Although peer tutoring has displayed many beneficial results, there are reasons why some people do not agree with the concept. There are parents who are not fond of having their children being tutored by a peer and would rather have their children tutored more professionally by teachers. The parents’ disagreement with peer tutoring can affect their children’s involvement in the program. According to Erin Schreiner, contributor for eHow: “If a parent is not committed to the program, he may, intentionally or not, transmit this lack of excitement to his child, making his student less committed to the program” (2011). When the parent is not involved, then the student does not feel like he or she has to participate. The parent’s involvement in the program can easily affect whether his or her child benefits or suffers from the program.

Another problem that is currently being debated is the selection of tutors. People may argue that tutors may be selected based on their academic successes alone. Contrary to popular belief, students need much more than brains in order to become tutors. According to Freddie Silver: “The tutor must be reliable and committed to the success of the student in need, or the program could lead to additional frustrations for the special-needs student” (2012). If the tutors are aloof or torpid, then the tutees will not receive the quality learning that they should be receiving. There are many characteristics to take into account when selecting tutors. Intelligence is not the only qualification for becoming a tutor.

The truth of the matter is that peer tutoring can be a more effective alternative of learning in the classroom. Students get the one on one help that may not have been possible to receive from the teacher. According to the National Tutoring Association: “When children teach children, the result is marked improvement in student learning which increases the productivity of the school” (2002). Peer tutoring is a very efficient program that greatly improves the academic performance of many students. Although parents may think the tutors unfit and people may not agree with some of the tutors that are selected, the benefits that arise from peer tutoring significantly outweigh those that come from in-class learning. Peer tutoring is the most effective way to ensure that the student increases academic performance and improves his or her outlook towards school.

Across the nation, there are many examples of where the implementation of peer tutoring into a high school has proven to be extremely beneficial. For one high school in particular, Desert Vista High School, the addition of a peer tutoring club has proven to be utterly useful for the student body. According to Brian Johnson, founder of DV Peer Tutoring, peer tutoring: “benefits the tutor by reinforcing what the tutor already knows.  It also benefits the tutee by giving him/her additional and individualized academic assistance” (Apr. 25, 2013). Not only does DV Peer Tutoring help students academically, but it also increases the student’s level of confidence by providing a comfortable one on one learning environment. Brian Johnson continues:

In class learning is much different because you have one teacher and 35 students.  In peer tutoring you have one “teacher” and one student.  It’s so much better to learn from a one-on-one basis.  In addition, students oftentimes feel more comfortable getting help from peers so they are able to learn the material even better, and students are able to form a mentor type relationship which can boost self confidence and self worth. (Apr.25, 2013)

Students who participate in DV Peer Tutoring are not only helping themselves but also their teachers. Brian Johnson also states: “Peer tutoring helps teachers with the responsibility of helping all students learn.  Teachers are so busy these days so they need extra help in reaching their students, and peer tutoring does exactly this” (Apr. 25, 2013). Teachers now have the ability to get work done and feel assurance that their students are receiving quality help. This peer tutoring club, known as DV Peer Tutoring, has proven to be extremely essential for the tutors, tutees, and teachers of Desert Vista High School.

Peer tutoring has produced many benefits for public schools across the nation because of the many people that it helps. Tutees receive free, comprehensive, and individualized help while the tutors learn more about what they teach and gain a sense of responsibility. Academic achievement and preparation for the future are among the many benefits that peer tutoring can offer. Teachers also benefit from peer tutoring because it helps their students perform better in class. Peer tutoring improves academic performance with less time and effort that may have been expended if the student sought out help from the teacher. The benefits of peer tutoring far exceed the idea of improvement in academic performance because peer tutoring does much more than that. It can increase self confidence, improve behavior, and provide the tutors with important life skills. Peer tutoring is important for some students because it can be seen as a great alternative for learning in class or for enrolling in a tutoring agency such as Sylvan, but for other students it can even be seen as an only option. Today, thousands of students and teachers enjoy the benefits of peer tutoring.




Dabkowski, B. (2000). The History of Peer Tutoring. Retrieved from

George Mason University (2009). The Writing Center. Retrieved from

Johnson, B. (2013, April 25). Email Interview.

Learning and Teaching Resource Centre (2004). Retrieved from

Mayglothling, R. (2010). eHow Mom. Retrieved from

National Tutoring Association (2002). Aristotle Circle. Retrieved from

Schreiner, E. (2011). eHow Mom. Retrieved from

Silver, F. (2012). eHow Mom. Retrieved from


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Preparing for the Future

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Common Core, School Structure

When teachers and students think of the most intelligent countries in the world, the United States does not usually come up as a choice. The children of the United States are capable of being equally as intelligent as the rest of the world; however, the children in the U.S. have lower standards and expectations than much of the other countries. Arizona has begun to take the initiative in changing those standards. Common Core Standards, in Arizona, are creating harder and more rigorous expectations for the K-12 to prepare students for future endeavors.

On June 28, 2010, Arizona adopted the new ACCS (Arizona Common Core Standards). These criteria provide a framework in language arts and mathematics to prepare students for college (Trevizo, 2013). Kathy Hrabluk, ADE’s Associate Superintendent of High Academic Standards for Students, explains Arizona’s Common Core Standards and what they mean for Arizona educators, students and families: “common core standards are aligned to strong standards internationally and these standards are designed to build deep think and critical thinking skills in our students” (Hrabluk, 2012). The standards also line up with college and work expectations. They are clear, logical, and reliable. The CCS builds upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards so the change in learning is not too drastic or blown out of proportion. In order to ensure that the teachers are consistent in their teaching, Arizona is a leading state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC test. This test will replace the existing AIMS tests that students must pass to graduate high school (Trevizo, 2013). It will go into effect in 2014 and will be an assessment of the new Common Core Standards. PARCC states have committed to building a K-12 assessment system that: “builds a pathway to college and career readiness for all students, creates high-quality assessments that measure the full range of the Common Core State Standards, supports educators in the classroom, makes better use of technology in assessments, and advances accountability at all levels” (Achieve Inc., 2013). This ensures that the students are learning and understanding the tougher expectations the state has implimented. The bottom line is a high school diploma is not enough in our 21st century. Our K-12 system is also not adequately preparing our students for college. Having this new testing will generate many positives for students, teachers, parents, and the state. Students will know if they are on track for college. Furthermore, teachers will have access to timely data to guide learning and instruction. Parents will have a great idea of their children’s progress throughout their school life, and the state will have valid results that are comparable across borders. In general, these tests will prepare K-12 students for the future.

To understand the complete difference between the old and new standards, specific details must be explained. In the language arts section of the standards, the type of text that is read has changed. For example, in the primary grades K-5, the students used to read a great deal of fiction and narratives. However, with the new standards, younger grades are required to read more informational text. This is an illustration of a change with the new standards. As far as mathematics goes, children in grades such as first will begin learning remedial algebra. Instead of knowing 2+3=5, the students will need to know 2+what=5. This idea is to guarantee that students have a good understanding of place value and addition. In the higher levels of math, kids are encouraged to think of multiple ways to solve the same problem. In high school, the state is expecting the students to: “use the processes they have learned and apply it to real world application . . . taking the mathematical concepts and determining themselves where they need to use those particular math skills in, let’s say, a robotics class” (Hrabluk, 2012). In order to make this shift, the teachers and educators must be re-trained. There are three phases that the teachers are required to go through. The first phase is deconstructing standards. This means informing the teachers about the new standards. Phases two is teaching the educators the best, most effective way to go about teaching the new expectations. Phases three is the idea of project based learning. The teachers will not be teaching completely linear to the standards, everyone is at different spots, but all these areas are extremely important. The state has trained 360 trainers who will retrain the teachers by using these three phases.

Many people ask why a change is needed. Kathy Hrabluk addresses this question in her interview: “about 40% of college graduates must take remedial course work post-secondary . . . the business world is telling us there simply are going to be no jobs available to students who only have a high school diploma or less” (Hrabluk, 2012). Kathy, as well as many other concerned educators, is worried about our graduating high schools students. They stress that our children are our future, and without them, our education system will fail. The new Common Core Standards have so many benefits to public schools as a whole. The main advantage of these standards is to prepare high school students for the future. As Kathy stated, without this shift in educational efficiency, our youth will not be able to acquire any type of job; the requests that high schools demand are too low.  Another benefit of Common Core is it will provide more stability for the mobile student. We have to have consistency with the learning targets for each grade level. Having a clear idea of what the standards are, will help create stability for students who move often. It will allow credits and learning ideas to be similar throughout Arizona as well as other states in the country. Finally, the Common Core State Standards will improve teacher partnership across the nation: “When teachers across the nation are using the same standards and common language, collaboration becomes more meaningful” (Core4all, 2010).  Professional growth at meetings, professional organizations and across systems will be more powerful than ever. When teachers share best practices, students will benefit significantly. This switch in how students learn will tremendously help the public schools. It will help prepare all students more for college courses.

Common Core Standards in Arizona, as well as many other states will change the way our country is taught. We will no longer look at ourselves as “the less intelligent country.” Implementing these standards will hopefully allow Arizona students, as well as all of the country, to compare themselves to other leading educational countries. Having these more rigorous criterions will prepare our students for their future career and the work force.


Achieve Inc. (2013). About parcc. Retrieved from

Hrabluk, K. (2012). [Video Tape Recording]. Arizona common core standards., Retrieved from

Top 3 benefits of common core state standards. (2010, October 01). Retrieved from

Trevizo, E. (2013, January 07). Common core funds lacking. The Arizona Republic. Retrieved


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School Sports: A Benefit to Society

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Athletics, Public Education Programs

Everyday, millions of kids come home from their classes in anticipation of playing their favorite sport later that afternoon. It is estimated that “30 million to 40 million children get involved in organized sports in the course of a year” (Wilson, 2011, para. 1) according to Kimberly Wilson, a writer for Livestrong. But how many of those students participate in club sports versus school sports? Club sports are the right fit for millions of kids but certainly not all; in a time when club sports cost more, do not promote community, and do nothing to help students in school, public schools do a service to their communities by providing school sports.

Public schools benefit student-athletes everywhere by providing a significantly cheaper alternative to club sports. When budgets tighten, every dollar counts. Fortunately, school sports do not cost nearly as much as their club counter parts. According to Bob Rohwer (1994), a prep sports editor for the Los Angeles Times, club sports cost around $2,000 per year (Rohwer, para. 4); whereas, only some schools charge any fees to participate in their sports programs. Mary Masson (2012), with the University of Michigan Health System, says that only “61 percent of children playing middle or high school sports were charged a pay-to-play fee. The average fee was $93, according to the poll respondents” (Masson, para. 3). Even though school budgets are tighter than ever, they still find a way to provide school sports at an affordable price. Without that opportunity, families would be forced to funnel their money into a system that charges more than 20 times as much as they are currently paying. Worse yet, many students would be denied the opportunity to play any sports due to their financial situation. School sports are not always perfect, but they do offer considerable benefits at a reasonable price.

Unlike club teams, public schools promote community involvement through their athletic programs. For generations, kids have grown up playing in their town little leagues and then moving on to their local high school team to compete against rival towns. As Unigo (2012), a college resource guide, points out, when an individual play on his high school sports team, “[he] will participate against other communities and enjoy the sporting rivalries that have developed over numerous generations” (Unigo, 2012). People from all over the community come to local rivalry games and bond over a mutual desire to beat the other team. However, club teams do not bring communities closer together. Instead of playing for their high school, many kids who participate in club sports “miss out on playing with their friends; they miss out on the school experience and the status that goes with that” (as cited in Jayne, 2012, para. 15) according to Jon Eagle, Camas High School football coach. Although club sports draw kids away from their communities, public schools help bring them back by offering school sports.

In addition to promoting community involvement and charging less than club sports, school sports assist students academically. Students who participate in high school sports usually perform better than their non-athletic counterparts. Angela Lumpkin and Judy Favor (2009), professors at the University of Kansas and Baker University respectively, conducted a study that measured the academic success of student-athletes in comparison with that of non-athletes. They found that “athletes earned higher grades, graduated at a higher rate, were much less likely to drop out of school, and scored higher on state assessments than non-athletes” (Lumpkin & Favor). This academic achievement is caused overwhelmingly by the academic eligibility requirements that are in place for high school athletes. In 1984, when Texas schools introduced academic standards that athletes had to achieve, many students were declared ineligible. After only two years, “the percentage of students who were declared ineligible was the same as before the rule was enacted” (Bukowski, para. 2) as stated by Dr. Bruce J. Bukowski, a writer for The Sport Journal. Thus, academic eligibility requirements do not work to exclude students from participating; instead, they help students perform better in school. But why is this? Why do students get better grades when they are involved in an activity that takes time away from studying? The reason is the incentive that sports offer struggling students—if they do well in school, they are allowed to play sports. Thus, they work harder in school in order to get a chance to participate. As Adekemi Oguntala (2010), MD – Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, points out, “the sport is the incentive, but graduating with grades that meet the minimum are the real goal” (Oguntala, para. 2). If parents want their kids to succeed academically, school sports serve as an excellent incentive to encourage them to work harder.

School sports may help students achieve in the classroom, as well as in the gym, but their club equivalents do nothing to encourage kids to better themselves academically. Often times, the only eligibility requirement for club teams is based on age. Students are allowed to participate in club sports even if they are failing classes, as long as their parents give permission. In a survey discussing the pros and cons of school and club sports, Elena Brownell, a volleyball player at Cedar Springs High School, listed eligibility requirements for school sports as a reason to turn to club sports  for some athletes (as cited in Wight, para. 7). Although club teams put emphasis on hard work, it is focused exclusively on the playbook, never on the textbook.

Some may argue that school sports are not nearly as useful as club sports because they do not provide the same level of           competition. However, that is the wrong way to look at it. An athlete who comes from a club team where he is just one great player among many great players will never stand out. When college recruiters see him play in club tournaments, he will not make an impression because there is nothing special about him; as Wichita Heights girls’ soccer coach, Steve Parks (2011), explains, great players “are not always looked upon to be the game changer because there are so many other possibilities out there.  If an elite player is the best offensive threat on her high school team, then her game has to change” (as cited in Joanna, para. 8). Furthermore, college recruiters will be able to see a skilled player stand out not only for her athletic ability but also for her skill in leading a team. Even though an athlete might face tougher competition in a club sports league, a high school team might be the best opportunity for her to showcase her talent.

School sports are a benefit to society because they are provided at a reasonable price, involve the community, and contribute to the academic achievement of student-athletes. Even if school sports cannot provide all of the advantages that club sports offer, they provide much more important benefits; school sports help to give students everywhere the tools necessary to succeed: a sense of belonging and a well-rounded education. If sports were eliminated from schools, the effects could be devastating—students would be left without an affordable option to pursue their dreams. It is up to us to make sure that the sports, themselves, are not cut.


Bukowski, B.J. (n.d.). A comparison of academic athletic eligibility in interscholastic sports in      american high schools. The Sport Journal. Retrieved from

Jayne, G. (2012 May 20). Jayne: Battle between club, high school sports continues. The  Columbian. Retrieved from

Joanna. (2011, April 11). High school sports vs. club sports. Varsity Kansas – The Blog. Retrieved from

Lumpkin, A., & Favor, J. (2009). Comparing the academic performance of high school athletes  and non-athletes in Kansas in 2008-2009. Retrieved from

Masson, M. (2012, May 14). Pay-to-play sports keeping lower-income kids out of the game. U of  M Health. Retrieved from

Oguntala, A. (2010, December 13). Using sports as a carrot to help academic performance.  MomsTeam. Retrieved from

Rohwer, B. (1994, February 2). Prep voices: Club sports provide polish, but at what cost? Los  Angeles Times. Retrieved from

Unigo. (2012). 5 major benefits of playing high school sports. Unigo. Retrieved from

Wight, H. (n.d.) School vs. club sports: The students share pros and cons as athletes. Hawk Nation. Retrieved from students-share-pros-and-cons-as-athletes/

Wilson, K. (2011, August 11). Statistics on kids involved in sports. Livestrong. Retrieved from   

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Public Education: The First Line of Defense

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Laws Affecting Public Education

The United States public school system was set up to prepare America’s youth for adulthood through compulsory education. Because of our public schools, Americans can expect a community of responsible citizens to emerge from each generation. Some dissenters cite the inefficiencies of public schools as argument for their abolishment; however, they neglect all of the unseen positives of a system that educates children regardless of financial circumstance. In a world where the impoverished turn to lawbreaking for survival, public education helps the community by reducing crime.

Many criminals are forced to resort to delinquency because they are under-qualified for a well-paying job. Caroline Wolf Harlow (2003), a statistician at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, estimates that high school dropouts make up nearly half of prison inmates, even though they constitute less than 20% of the overall population (p. 1). The director of the Center for Human Capital and Productivity, Lance Lochner, who researches the relationship between education and crime, can explain why the figures regarding dropouts in prison versus those in the population are so disproportional. He claims that “more educated individuals commit less crime because they have more human capital and can earn higher wages” (Lochner, 2004, p. 3). Lochner defines “human capital” as a person’s value in terms of ability, competency, knowledge, and personality. Intelligent people commit less crime because they have the human capital to get a good job that pays well. Thus, there is no need to steal to obtain food; they can buy it. Lochner implies that those who do break the law usually have a more difficult time getting a job to finance their needs because they do not have the level of intelligence needed.

More people would turn to crime to solve their financial hardships without public schools because they would go uneducated due to both access and expense. Nancy Kober (2007), a writer for the Center on Education Policy, wrote in her report “Why We Still Need Public Schools” that “public schools were established to make education universally available to all children, free of charge… [They] are accessible in all parts of the country, including areas where few or no private schools exist” (p. 7). The only way to guarantee that all children receive an education is to provide one free of charge; if the federal government did not provide a public option, kids living in poverty would likely never be given even an elementary education; it would be too expensive to afford. Thus, there would be more people turning to criminal acts each day just to make ends meet.

A public school system (to which everyone has access) may stunt the development of potential criminals, but our nation’s taxpayers must know exactly how crime affects the public. It is well known that crime is a negative aspect of any society; however, that economic toll may be higher than most expect. Between the cost to the victims and those to the public (incarceration, the judicial system, and crime prevention measures) criminal offenses reached nearly $200 billion in 2007 according to Kathryn McCollister, Michael French, and Hai Fang (2010, para. 2), professors at the University of Miami and University of  Colorado Denver. As a nation, if we could reduce crime, we would provide taxpayers emotional reassurance, in the form of safer streets and some much needed cash that would no longer be needed to handle criminals.

Crime certainly takes a place on our nation’s annual balance sheet, but Americans must understand how public education can change that amount. If we could increase graduation rates among high school seniors, then, there would be less crime, which, in turn, would save taxpayers money. In their study, “The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America’s Children,” Henry Levin, Clive Belfield, Peter Muennig, and Cecilia Rouse (2006) found that “the average saving per new high school graduate is $26,600” (p. 14) as seen in Table 1.


Table 1

Total Present Value Lifetime Cost-Savings from Reduced Criminal Activity

















Note. The data on lifetime savings is adapted from “Total Present Value Lifetime Cost-Savings from Reduced Criminal Activity” by H. Levin, C. Belfield, P. Muennig, & C. Rouse, 2006, The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America’s Children, p. 14.


These savings are due to lower costs for incarceration and the criminal justice system; but these statistics do not reflect the additional revenue that would be collected from income tax or the savings from money spent on welfare programs. In determining the average savings per additional high school graduate, the professors accounted for the costs of new teachers, an expanded pre-school program, and even a 10% increase in teachers’ salaries; thus, the $26,600 in savings that they have predicted will not be dampened by the costs associated with raising graduation rates.

Among other benefits it brings us, public education helps reduce crime. Henry Levin and his colleagues argue the potential savings if we expand public education, but think of the reverse. What if we did not have a public school system? There would be untold sums of money spent each year on criminals who had been forced onto a path of lawlessness because they had no other option. How much money would we spend? We can only estimate such expenses because the costs associated with criminals who never materialize are hard to figure with absolute certainty. Regardless of their exact size, the cost of incarcerating an uneducated public would be substantially greater than that which we endure today. A public school provides more than just a cheaper alternative to private schooling; it is the first line of defense against crime.

Kober, N. (2007). Why we still need public schools: Public education for the common good.

Levin, H., Belfield, C., Muennig, P., & Rouse, C. (2006). Total Present Value Lifetime Cost-Savings from Reduced Criminal Activity. The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for All of America’s Children, p. 14.

Levin, H., Belfield, C., Muennig, P., & Rouse, C. (2006, October). The costs and benefits of an excellent education for all of America’s children. Retrieved from

Lochner, L. (2004, May). Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach. Retrieved from

McCollister, K., French, M., & Fang, H. (2010, January 13). The cost of crime to society: New crime-specific estimates for policy and program evaluation. Retrieved from

United States. U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2003). Education and correctional populations. Caroline Wolf Harlow. Retrieved on 26 February 2013 from

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The Logic of it All

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure


Many believe that public education is not as challenging as private education, but is this really true; or is there more that      meets the eye? It is not often published that public schools offer more opportunities for students to bond with all other ethnic groups and races, but they also offer a wider variety of AP college prep classes and a better communal society that is cheaper than private schooling.

When looking at the public school system, one has to keep in mind that public schools are completely free. The majority of society does not acknowledge that  paying for private school is a waste of time, energy, and money. According to Mr. Doug Park a city councilman : “ Parents need to realize that a voucher will not pay the full cost of a private school. I have contacted several private schools and have learned that most schools charge $6,000 or more per year” (Doug Park). Parents still send their children to private schools, and for what? The illustration below, shows a bar graph comparing public and private schools cost as a child grows up.

carson graph

Figure 1. Comparison of Private and Public school costs. Adapted from “ Planning For The Cost Of Higher Education,” © 2011 McGraw-Hill Financial Communications.

As one may determine from the graph above, this would be the annual cost per child and as seen above it can cost up to three times more than public education.

Today, schooling depends on the opportunities that the students are given, and the life skills that they are taught that will later be needed. Public schools are better adapted to handle an array of student ethnicities, races, and religions. This is why public schools are so much better at teaching all students. In reality private schools are given higher scores, even though their scores are not actually available to the public. However, one has to realize that their positive media is only because of the fact that they are selective in the process by which students get in. In some cases the larger wallet student is accepted before the more talented one. With the perspective of acceptance, it is also not required that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to get accepted to private schooling. The public schools accommodate those with special needs, which further proves why they are better than their private counterparts as stated in “The American Imperative”:

Private schools, by contrast, are not legally bound to provide equality in     admitting or retaining students. Indeed, it is only the public schools that have the      legal obligation to accept many students with special needs. Under federal civil      rights laws, public schools must provide educational and related services to meet               the needs of children with disabilities. Likewise, they must meet the educational          needs of students who do not speak English or whose proficiency in English is       limited. (American Imperative).

What really matters in the end to private schools, is the money and that they can be as selective as they want in order to increase school rating. This is why public has more advantages.

So as parents, educators, and students we need to break the barrier that private schooling is better than that of public schools. Since public institutions allow everyone an equal opportunity to education and the ability to work at higher standard, why would parents not want to send their children there? Also, they have a staff that is more qualified to meet individuals needs. Parents have a job to understand that private schooling is not made to accommodate everyone, while public education is. Teachers who have learned to accommodate all different students, are better trained than those tailored just to gifted and selected students. The students are only as good as the teachers teaching them. Ultimately, it comes down to which can offer a better, broader, cheaper education. In the long run public institutions are able to provide the best education.



“An American imperative: Public education.” Center for Public Education. N.p., n.d.         Web. 4 Feb. 2013.          education/An-American-imperative-Public-education-.

Figure 1. “Planning for the Cost of Higher Education.” Axa Equitable. McGraw-Hill         Financial , n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Park, Doug. “Advantages of a Public Education.” Smart Voter by the League of Women Voters. Comprehensive, Nonpartisan Election Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb.    2013. <




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Advantages Beyond the Classroom

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs

Parents often ask themselves what they can do to help ensure their child’s success in school. The answer is simple: extracurricular activities. Parents from three different continents all agreed on one thing, “activities are important for children’s success” (Fatigante, 2010). Out of school activities help ensure a student will have a positive social experience, higher GPA, and community involvement.

Despite their background, most students enjoy an enhanced social life when they participate in additional activities. Studies show that teenagers learn how to build solid relationship skills through school activities. According to Joy Burgess, an expert on child development, students need to “learn how to appropriately act in social situations and these activities give them a chance outside of school to do this” (Burgess, 2009). Furthermore, clubs help make new friends. A website devoted to teen’s health states that, participating in organizations “may bring [teens] in contact with people [they] did not know who share [their] interests and curiosity” (Dowshen, 2010). A club is sponsored by the school as a method of encouraging student engagement. Associations allow students to collaborate with others who share similar interests, making kids feel less isolated in school.  Meeting new people leads to less boredom on the weekends and more meaning to daily routines.

Clubs and sports have been shown to improve performance in school. Extracurricular activities have been proven to increase GPA through an increase in “academic self-concept, time spent on school work, and through time management” (Bush, 2003). When students are involved in an out of school activity, they meet new friends which, leads to a higher self esteem. With a high morale, pupils are more driven in scholastic matters. Most sports require athletes to maintain a certain grade point average. No one wants to sit out, especially because of grades. This leads to an increased amount of time devoted to school work.

brandon graph

Figure 1. Note: Extracurricular vs. GPA. Adapted from “Stat Crunch” in 2009. Retrieved from Adapted with permission.

The chart above shows the positive correlation between the hours involved in out of school activities and the increase in GPA. A difference of just ten hours can mean the difference between a 3.6 and a 2.6 GPA. Therefore, extracurricular activities have a profound influence in a student’s performance in the classroom.

Extracurricular activities have larger implications than just school. Many clubs require community service, or include service projects. According to a website that focuses on analyzing what a quality education is composed of, community involvement through clubs is a significant component that often ends up being over looked (Quality Education 203, 2013). Community service can be extremely personally rewarding. Volunteer work often leaves a person with a sense of satisfaction. Involvement in the community may also lead to the formation of new friendships. Community involvement not only brings a sense of fulfillment but also a sense of connectivity.

In conclusion, involvement in extracurricular activities has many unseen advantages. Friends lay the ground work for a positive educational experience, and clubs allow you to make a variety of friends. The more activities someone has on his or her plate, the more improvement there is on report cards. Clubs even encourage members to become more involved in their community. Turns out biting off more than you can chew is beneficial in the long run.




Burgess, J. (2009). Extracurricular School Activities and the Benefits. Retrieved April 11, 2013, from

Bush, J. M. (2003). Retrieved April 11, 2013, from

Dowshen, S. (2010). Extracurricular Activities. Retrieved April 11, 2013, from

Fatigante, M. (2010). Retrieved April 13, 2013, from

Quality Education 203 (2013). The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities. Retrieved April 11, 2013, from

Stat Crunch (2009). Extra-curricular activity vs. GPA [graph]. Retrieved from



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Lunch for All

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Health

If there were a way to help feed hungry children who cannot afford food, how many people would really attempt to assist? Governor Peter Shumlin aims to address this issue in the public schools of Vermont. His ideal bill will offer free meals to students who already qualify for receiving reduced meals at school. Although meals for these students have already been reduced, Morrisville food service director, Jeff Brynn, elaborates on the family struggles to purchase school meals: “It seems as though 40 cents is not a lot to charge but for many of our students it proves to be enough for them not to eat” (Freese 2013). So, with the placement of Governor Shumlin’s proposed bill, Vermont will be the first state to offer free meals to eligible students. A change to lunch costs in public schools will benefit the education and health of students across the nation.

Along with Gov. Shumlin’s bill to make all school meals free for participating students, the state of Vermont has already passed a similar bill in 2008. The bill established that students currently receiving reduced-price meals may receive free breakfast. Therefore, the bill may prove to be promising because of the 2008 bill’s success. It has been recorded that less students have applied for reduced-price school meals, which, will result in less funding from the state. Alicia Freese states that Governor Shumlin’s bill is greatly encouraged by hunger relief organizations: “Hunger Free Vermont has been advocating for the change for three years” (Freese 2013). Currently, Gov. Shumlin’s bill has a high chance of getting his bill passed in Vermont; hopefully, the first public schools to implement this bill will demonstrate a positive outcome from students.

Adding a meal to students’ days can encourage them to try harder in school and at home. A student’s involvement can greatly be influenced by the presence of food. Think about how weak one feels after just one day without food; some children do it every day. It is people like Governor Shumlin and organizations like Hungry Free Vermont that are trying to prevent such events from happening within the state’s public schools. With Gov. Shumlin’s bill, students can eat a nutritious meal without any cost to themselves or their families. There is not much sacrifice to the school or meal providers, and there is nothing but gain to the ones who receive the generous offer of the bill. If states across the nation enforced a bill like Gov. Shumlin’s, the youth hunger rate would decrease and student involvement could very well increase.




Freese, Alicia. Advocates make their case for school lunch bill. VT Digger, Vermont Journalism

Trust. 2013

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The Pros and Cons of Common Core Standards

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Common Core, School Structure


Every year we receive reports from various firms saying that the U.S is trailing behind countries like Sweden and South Korea in terms of test scores, and every year we ask the question: What can we do to change this? The first step is by looking at what those countries have that we do not. All of these countries share, among other things, a national curriculum- something that has been missing in the U.S. until now. Starting in 2010, the Obama administration has been working on getting the Common Core standards accepted by all 50 states. Currently only five states have yet to adopt these standards (Heinz, 2012). However, the fact remains, Common Core Standards are what our public schools need.

A nationwide curriculum would certainly have its perks. Students would all learn with the same set of standards. That would mean students from one state would not be behind those from another state. It would help immensely when preparing students for college as well, since all students would be learning the same set of standards at approximately the same time. More emphasis would also be placed on difficult concepts, like fractions. Hailey Heinz, a writer for the Albuquerque News, interviewed some teachers and asked them their opinions about the Common Core standards: “Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera said the Common Core standards emphasize critical thinking and mastery of key topics, rather than a shallow understanding of many topics. ‘Part of the emphasis in Common Core is the ability for students to think critically and process,’ Skandera said. ‘It’s moving beyond the first level of thinking to higher levels of thinking’” (Heinz, 2012). Teaching students to think through their problems rather than just memorizing the steps would have merit. Students would be able to think through more difficult problems, not only on tests, but in life. Critical thinking would also help students wrap their heads around more abstract concepts. Linda Sink, the Albuquerque schools chief academic officer says: “through research, we found that students didn’t have a good understanding of place value, and from that misunderstanding, a lot things went wrong from there on, and then we have these people failing algebra” (Heinz, 2012). Not failing algebra would definitely help students who otherwise struggle in school. Every school, especially public schools would love to have all their students excel, something Common Core would help.

However, with all these obvious benefits, why would five states want to hold out? Chester E. Finn Jr., from Education Next, theorizes that these states’ apprehension to the new standards is not just a form of protest at the loss of an individual set of school standards but rather rooted in six major arguments. These arguments range from economic worries, to educational worries, to doubts that the federal government may be over reaching itself with these new standards. Finn provides us with a brief description of these concerns:

First, a few earnest critics are convinced that the standards are substantively flawed…Second, the Common Core will be difficult and expensive to implement… Third, the Common Core won’t make any difference in student achievement…Fourth, states have done as well, or better, on their own, and switching over to the Common Core will just mess them up…Fifth, “national” is not the right way to do anything in American education…Sixth, and closely related to the blurring of national with federal is the expectation that Uncle Sam won’t be able to keep his hands off the Common Core (Finn Jr., 2012).

Finn postulates that states main complaints are that the standards will not actually help students, that they will be too expensive to implement, and that the government will interfere with the standards too much. The government certainly has shown that it is willing to interfere in public education, most recently with the no child left behind policies enacted by the Bush administration, which withheld federal funding from schools that had subpar performance. The cost is also very prohibitive; teachers will need to be trained, and entire curriculums will have to be overhauled. Finally, if students are already failing school, will introducing abstract concepts really help them? If a student is already failing math, would teaching him the abstract reasoning that allows us to add and subtract fractions really help them out in algebra? Many people would say no. If a student just does not “get” algebra, how would teaching them even more advanced concepts further their knowledge?

While the opposition raises good points, Common Core Standards really are what our public schools need to help our students. America has established itself as one of the leaders of the world community. Without educated students rising to take the place of their retiring parents, how can America continue to lead the world? Math and science are huge subject areas that are used in a myriad of fields including, but not limited to: engineering, medicine, and finance. Without educated men and women in those fields the USA risks losing its hard earned reputation for innovation to another country. Is that really what we should allow to happen to what was once the greatest country in the world?





Finn Jr., C. (2012, May 03). The war against the common core. Retrieved from

Heinz, H. (2012, April 09). Common core standards usher in teaching reforms. ABQ Journal. Retrieved from

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The Common Core Standards and How They Relate to Math

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Common Core, School Structure

Perhaps you have heard about the Obama Administration’s new initiative: a set of new nationwide education standards. However, how much do you actually know about these standards? It is true that they will be universal, but what will they teach? Will they make our students better at math and science? Will these new standards fall short of their goals and ultimately be abandoned? While only time will tell what the future holds for the Common Core Standards, we can see what they will do to our education, and specifically: math.

The first part about the standards is the goals they set; these standards were put in place to achieve certain goals in education, not just to nationalize it. The goals are as follows:

1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them…2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively…3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others…4 Model with mathematics…5 Use appropriate tools strategically…6 Attend to precision…7 Look for and make use of structure…8   Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning (“Common core standards,” 2012).

These goals are certainly quite high reaching. They call on students to know not only how to solve problems, but also to know why they are using the tools they are learning about. They ask students to consult graphs and other models to make sense of their problems, and to understand the underlying principles in these problems. So, how do they intend to follow through with these goals? These goals will be implemented throughout several levels of schooling. Kindergartners, for example, will learn to describe and compare traits, to identify shapes, to use the numbers 11-19 as a basis to understanding place values, and to understand that addition is putting together and subtraction is taking away from (“Common core standards,” 2012). But, the Kindergartners are not the only ones with such high expectations. The Department of Education released a chart detailing the standards that should be achieved in both addition and subtraction.

Addition and Subtraction Situations

 anshu graph 1

Note. Adapted from “Common core standards for mathematics.” 2012. Department of Education. Adapted with permission.

The standards set by this table may seem simplistic, but they would seem unconquerable for a Kindergartner, or even a first grader. The goal, however, is laudable, to teach students from a young age how to conceptualize the abstract principles which work in tandem to make math work. Teaching these abstract principles to students would benefit them immensely as they moved on to high order mathematics.

Higher order mathematics are difficult for most students to wrap their heads around, with terms like derivative, matrix, and trigonometry being thrown around freely. However, with clear goals, and ample build up these cryptic terms can be brought down to size. By learning the fundamental concepts behind these higher order mathematics, the students will be able to receive the benefits not only in school, but also beyond it. Whole fields of jobs make extensive use of these esoteric calculations, and by achieving a mastery over difficult subjects like physics, and chemistry students are opening up new opportunities for themselves down the road. All of this is possible with the new Common Core Standards.




Department of Education, Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2012). Common core standards for mathematics. Retrieved from website: Standards.pdf

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Street Smarts

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure

When only the fundamental statistics are examined, one of the most glaring differences between public and private schools is the size of enrollment.  On average, private schools possess a much lower student population due to the large price tag attached to them.  Many families cannot afford to buy their child such a costly education, especially when public schools offer basically the same knowledge for no cost.  This small difference between private and public schools has much larger repercussions than campus and class sizes.  In addition, private schools lack involvement in extracurricular activities, possess limited social interaction, have fewer opportunities for elective classes, and shelter students from diversity and situations common in the larger public schools.

While private schools have been advertised to receive better scores on national test averages, they also have several deterrents that discourage enrollment.  The most obvious of these is price, as the average tuition cost for American private schools is between eight and nine thousand dollars (Council for American Public Education, 2013).  This added cost to the price of living is too much for many households with an income at or below the average income.  Also, many private schools are religiously affiliated, further narrowing the number of families who are interested.

Table 1

Enrollment in Elementary and Secondary Schools by Control and Level of Institution

alex cook graph 1

Note. The data on School Enrollment is adapted from “Enrollment in Elementary and Secondary Schools by Control and Level of Institution” by the NationalCenter for education Statistics, 2009, Fast Facts, par 4.

As shown in Table 1, the cost restraint is quite effective, as only about 10% of students are currently enrolled in private schools, with the number increasing at a very slow rate.  Overall, the average enrollment in each private high school is half that of average public schools in the same area (Chen, 2007, par. 6).  Usually, smaller class sizes are also associated with private schools, but this is not necessarily a benefit.

In their high school careers, a majority of students take part in extracurricular activities; however, the choices at private schools are limited.  With less students and teachers, only some of the normal sports and clubs can be offered at private schools.  Apparently, the lack of participation can also affect academic performance.

Table 2

Percentage of public school seniors reporting selected indicators of school success by participation and nonparticipation in extracurricular activities

alex cook graph 2Note. The data on Senior Success is adapted from “Percentage of public school seniors reporting selected indicators of school success by participation and nonparticipation in extracurricular activities” by the NationalCenter for education Statistics, 1995, Extracurricular Participation, par 3.

Based on Table 2, extracurricular activities are associated with substantial benefits in school attendance, as well as grade point average and future education achievement.  This is because after school activities teach important life lessons; sports, for example, teach dedication and punctuality.  Another advantage of possessing multiple commitments is to learn how to balance a busy schedule, a valuable skill that will help young adults later in life.

A downside to private schools is the lack of diversity in choices and situations.  With fewer students, there is not a large need for teachers.  This means that there is a “less diverse choice in subjects,” and there are fewer specialized courses (Driver, par. 5).  In addition, private schools are usually the preferred choice of the privileged members of society.  This lack of diversity and cultural interaction causes the students to “sometimes be too sheltered from the real world” (Driver, par. 5).  The consequences of associating oneself with such a specific group is that social and situational skills are less likely to be developed, which is a disadvantage in a capitalist society such as in the United States.

Learning social skills, such as how to interact with friends and foes, and building a resume with extracurricular activities are major parts of high school which are not focused on as much as academics.  Without a large student body to maintain interest and diversity in school activities and communication, these valuable elements die out, especially in private schools.  These components are especially helpful later in life, for tasks such as preparing for a successful job interview or cooperating with co-workers.  With a balance of activities and academics, a situation found most commonly in public schools, students learn to be “street smart” as well as acquire the knowledge to help them in their careers.



Chen, Grace. (2007). Public School vs. Private School.  Retrieved from

Council for American Public Education. (2013). Facts and Studies. Retrieved from

Driver, Christi. Public vs. Private Schools. Retrieved from

NationalCenter for Education Statistics. (1995). Extracurricular Participation and Student Engagement. Retrieved from

NationalCenter for Education Statistics. (2009). Fast Facts. Retrieved from


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A+ Education

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Reforms in Public Schools, School Structure


It is the goal of every hardworking student to receive an A+ on his or her report card.  After striving for an entire semester, the feeling of accomplishment is more than anyone could ever ask for.  But what if an entire school could feel this way?  The Arizona Educational Foundation provides a comprehensive school assessment entitled The A+ School of Excellence™ Program.  This program is based on three criteria:  identifying and giving recognition to outstanding schools, making available key information of school effectiveness, and assisting communication and sharing practices between the best schools. For the schools that meet these three criteria, it is an honor to win such a prestigious award.  The Arizona Education Foundation has found a way to improve schools statewide by initiating a competition for an A+ on their report cards.

The application process for an A+ school takes the majority of the school year.  Applications are made available in August and are due in mid-January.  Schools that are qualified are selected and notified in early February; between late February and mid-April site visits are conducted.  In late April, the winners are announced.  Selection panels include principals, teachers, and community leaders.  Although the process may be stressful at times, the prize is certainly worth it:

Each school receives $500 and a banner designating it as an A+ School of Excellence™. All staff and faculty at awarded schools are eligible for partial scholarships from Argosy University/Phoenix: 20% for a Master’s degree and 15% for both Undergraduate and Doctoral degrees. (Arizona Educational Foundation 2013)

Recognition also provides a great experience for the community of the school.  From the award’s beginning, the Arizona Educational Foundation has noticed that acknowledgement of a school’s achievements increases students’ and parents’ pride.  It also re-energizes the staff, students, and parents.  Awards such as this can help schools gain the outside support they need from the community in order to endorse school programs.

Once a school is considered A+, it is granted the title for three years.  After this time, the title expires; if the school wants to uphold its title, it must reapply.  Within the past year alone, twenty-one schools were presented with A+ honors.  One such school was Kyrene Altadeña Middle School.  Principal Nancy Corner accepted the award proudly and stated:  “Receiving the A+ School of Excellence Award from the Arizona Educational Foundation is such an honor and appreciated recognition for what community is able to accomplish!” (Corner, N. 7 (10). 1.)  There are currently sixty-six A+ schools statewide, and the number increases each year as more and more schools apply.  This includes local high schools such as Desert Vista (accepted in 2011) and Mountain Pointe (accepted in 2010.)  Unfortunately, due to the three year limit, the number does fluctuate.  However, this is understandable, as competition is necessary for a program like this one to succeed.

Earning straight As is hard enough for one student, but earning straight As for an entire school is an even more challenging task to accomplish.  However, for the sixty-six schools currently featured as A+ Schools, the task was most certainly attainable.  Thanks to the Arizona Educational Foundation, every student statewide has the chance to earn an A+ on his or her report card.



 (2013). A+ School of Excellence. Arizona Educational Foundation.

Corner, N. (01 June 2012). Panther Post News. 7(10). 1.

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Get Physical Education Off of the Sidelines

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Athletics, Health, Public Education Programs


In today’s society, school can be compared to a game. However, instead of everyone having equal playing time, only the core academic classes are allowed to play. This relates to schools today because with the pressures of students to do well and improve their scores on standardized tests, physical education has been stuck on the sidelines. Physical education in schools is more important than people perceive it to be, because it is the only opportunity for many children in America to engage in any form of physical activity. As children grow up less active, there is a growing problem of obesity and other various health problems. Schools have the responsibility to educate children not only in academics, but also on how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief, implementing more physical education classes in public schools would not only benefit children physically, but will also help students academically in the long run.

Among today’s youth, there is an overweight and obesity epidemic. The Centers for Disease Controls and Preventions explains that children are no longer playing outside after school and eating unreasonable, unhealthy portion sizes. Therefore, children are more overweight than ever before: “The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period” (Adolescent and School). This is constantly a growing problem, and public schools need to take action to help stop this increase in unhealthy lifestyles. Weight problems are a major issue because it causes great damages to one’s body. Kathy Speregen, from the University of Michigan, explains how being overweight over time will have various negative effects on the body: “Not only do weight problems lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint problems, asthma, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and diabetes, but children who are overweight miss as much as four times as much school as children of normal weight” (Speregen). If physical education were implemented into public schools, students would be healthier overall. Being physically active improves circulation, increases blood flow to the brain, and raises endorphin levels which will help lower a student’s stress and also improve his mood. All of these will have a major impact on students now and in their future lives.

As the obesity rate is growing in America, many schools have begun to undertake significant reforms. Public schools are beginning to implement new health and physical education classes not only to help prevent illnesses caused by obesity, but also to promote wellness overall. Grace Chen, from The Public School Review, gives one example of a school reform that takes place in North Carolina: “Public schools across the state are implementing mandatory physical education and recess programs to combat the many health issues plaguing young students” (Chen, 2008). These schools are now making physical education and health class part of the mandatory curriculum in elementary and middle schools. Other schools should follow North Carolina’s example because they have taken the first step in improving the lives of this generation’s children, by giving them the necessary tools to begin to live a healthier and better lifestyle.

In recent years, physical education classes have been pushed aside in order to make more room for core academic classes. Providing more physical education courses not only has the obvious physical and health benefits, but it also has a great impact on a student’s performance in school. One reason that physical education has become less important is because the main focus of schools is for children to do well on tests, but their actual focus should be to prepare children for life in American society. Many children do not participate in physical activity or eat healthy at home, so it is necessary for public schools to teach children how to live an active lifestyle. Al Baker, from The New York Times, explains how budget cuts also play a role in the decline of physical education: “Principals most frequently blame budget cuts, and in New York, they also cite pressures to devote resources to test preparation, and what one union leader called a lack of interest from the department headquarters” (Baker, 2012). These budget cuts have led schools to cut back on spending for physical education because it is thought not to be as important as the necessary academic classes.

Many people believe that schools need to focus solely on academics for a student to perform well academically, but physical education actually leads to an increase in academic performance. When students are physically active, they are less likely to miss school and participate in risky behaviors, unlike their unhealthy counterparts. Also, being active can help concentration; thereby making students perform better on tests: “Several studies have stated that providing increased time for physical activity can lead to better concentration, reduced disruptive behaviors and higher test scores in reading, math and writing” (Speregen). A study in France proved that when the schools increased their physical activity to eight hours a week and reduced the time devoted to academic subjects, the students became physically and psychologically healthier and actually had an increase in academic performance (Speregen). Many schools believe that they need to make students be in more academic classes in order for them to perform better on tests, but this is not true. With the utilization of physical education, students will actually end up performing better on tests.

With the problem of obesity growing among America’s children, it is necessary for physical education to be provided in all public schools across the nation. The Huffington Post looks at Bryan McCullick’s study that shows that barely any schools fulfill the daily requirements for physical activity: “Only six states nationwide require the recommended 150 minutes of elementary school-based physical education, according to a study by University of Georgia kinesiology professor Bryan McCullick” (Physical Education Programs, 2012). Without the opportunity for students to participate in physical activity at school, obesity will continue to be a growing issue among children. Schools have made their primary focus on academics, but many studies have proved that physical education greatly increases a student’s academic performance. Also, with successful health and physical education programs, children will learn how to adopt an active lifestyle and will grow up healthier. The health of America’s future generations are at stake, and without the involvement of public schools the situation will continue to grow worse. Without the participation of physical education, America will most likely lose the game. Public schools need to pull physical education off the sidelines as soon as possible and throw it back into the game in order to win this battle of obesity.



Adolescent and school health . (n.d.). Retrieved from

Baker , A. (n.d.). Despite obesity concerns, gym classes are cut . (2012). New York Times. Retrieved from

Chen, G. (2008, Septe 12). Physical education reform in public schools. Retrieved from

Physical education programs in school not enough to beat obesity in most states: Study. (2012, August 9). Retrieved from

Speregen, K. (n.d.). Physical education in america’s public schools. Retrieved from

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Developing Developers

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs


It is quite odd for students to think that their teachers were actually former students themselves. What may be even more odd is that those same teachers are still learning new teaching skills every day. This may come as a shock to many students, but it is true. There are a plethora of programs set up to aim directly for the further advancement of teachers. With the advancement of teachers, it is easier to set higher standards for both teachers and students. This will help students obtain scholarships and give them the chance to go to college.

There are an excess of ways that teachers are taught to be a better teacher. What are some of the ways that public schools help their teachers improve? At Desert Vista High School teachers have Professional Learning Communities (PLC) meetings every other Wednesday with their department coworkers. Todd Ford, the PE Department head at Desert Vista, explains why these meetings are extremely beneficial:

The meetings are beneficial because you can pick people’s brains and see how they teach the subject. It opens your eyes to new ways to do things. In PE it is probably a little different but those developmental meetings are very helpful for being a better teacher. It’s something that private schools do not really focus on. (Ford, 2013)

This is a great way for teachers to learn about their coworkers and try new techniques that they may have never thought about before. With these programs in place, the teachers can make adjustments every other week to ensure that they are constantly improving. Development should be something all teachers strive for in order to give their students the best chance to be successful.

Now, just because a teacher received his or her degree does not mean he/she is done learning. A great teacher is always looking for new ways to get better at what he/she does. In order to be great, there cannot be any decline. There has to be a constant uphill battle to get better. No matter what it takes to improve students in every area of their education. Joan McRobbie, an author, highlights some key points in her analysis of teacher development: “To help practicing teachers improve and become increasingly expert over the course of their careers, we must start by recognizing that teaching is a lifelong journey of learning rather than a final destination of “knowing” how to teach. Our policies must then ensure that teachers have the support needed to make this journey” (McRobbie, 2000). When programs are in place, it gives the teachers an opportunity to expand their knowledge and be supported by their schools. This is where programs like PLCs come in handy. Such programs are not very complex and cost little, if any money. The benefits are so substantial that they must be passed on.

While the teachers work to improve themselves, their efforts should directly correlate with students’ achievement. In a professional developmental plan formed by Deborah Mahaffey, Kathryn Lind, and Laurie Derse, they share some areas where students could improve based on data the school district has created: “Improving students’ reading and writing achievement is one of my school’s goals based upon our school-wide student achievement data” (Professional Development Plan). When teachers increase their standards, in reaction students will increase their standards. It is almost like a domino effect, when a teacher increases his/her standards; the students are bound to go through the same exact process by increasing their knowledge.

In the graph presented below, the results show that, increasing the education of teachers will cause the students to do much better in school. All the results show that by developing the teachers’ education, the students gain a better education and a higher school budget. Basically, the schools are getting the most for their money by increasing teacher improvement.

Effects of Educational Investments:

Size of Increase in Student Achievement for Every $500 Spent on:


Chart 1

Note. Achievement gains were calculated as standard deviation units on a range of achievement in the 60 studies reviewed. Source: Greenwald, R., Hedges, L. V., & Laine, R. D. (1966). The effect of school resources on student achievement. Review of Education Research, 66(3), 361–393.

In conclusion, increasing teacher development is extremely beneficial. Both teachers and students benefit from higher standards. If no one takes advantage of opportunities, such as thorough developmental programs, students may not be reaching their full potential. Through these programs, teachers can learn new techniques from all fellow employees and bring it into their classrooms. So now the real question is, why would you not develop teachers so their students can reach the highest potential possible.



Derse, L.; Lind, K.; Mahaffey, D. (2005). Professional Development Plan. Retrieved from

Ford, T. (2013). Interview conducted by Mason Ford on February 18, 2013

Greenwald, R., Hedges, L. V., & Laine, R. D. (1966). The effect of school resources on student achievement. Review of Education Research, 66(3), 361–393.

McRobbie, J. (2000). TEACHER DEVELOPMENT: Policies that Make Sense. Received from

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The Soul of a School

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs, School Structure, Technology


Cicero said “To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul” (Goodreads, n.p). When envisioning a library, some may picture dusty catacombs full of tall shelves where books by the greats—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton—are stacked. Others may consider one small bookshelf filled with their favorite stories. A library may simply be a pile of one or two: the books they have read over and over again. In a high school setting, a library is the locale for last minute studying, printing, and finishing homework. Public schools are beginning to catch up with the fast times by equipping their libraries with some of the newest technology available and setting higher standards for librarians.

When our parents’ generation was still in school, libraries looked very different. Maureen Quinlan paints a picture in her article “Libraries in Schools Keeping Up with Times”:

Back in the day, students stacked books onto numerous shelves that filled large, dusty rooms. Others sat at tables and took notes from huge volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Librarians flipped through card catalogs to find book titles that aided students’ research (Quinlan, 2012).

The high school library is no longer a room at the heart of the school filled with dusty books that have not been checked out for ten years. Today, Quinlan says, the high school library is “a multifunctional space meant to unite a community and aid the creative and innovative learning and teaching process” (Quinlan, 2012). The metamorphosis of the school library has occurred rapidly, especially in the last decade. Susan Ballard, President of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) says that libraries “have morphed into a hybrid model that pulls resources from the traditional print format and the newer digital format” (Ballard, 2012). She goes on to say that the AASL cannot be “bashful when advocating for students and 21st century learning standards” (Ballard, 2012). To give an idea of the kinds of technology schools are arming themselves with, Quinlan lists a Massachusetts school’s inventory: “laptops, Skype, a video chat program that various classes have used to talk to people in other countries, e-books, Nooks, and Kindles” (Quinlan, 2012). Librarians are creating a place where students feel comfortable spending time and providing resources more familiar to the average 21st century adolescent.

In addition to the great amount of technological inventory, librarians are being pushed to achieve higher standards. Librarians in Arizona, for example, must all carry a teaching degree and have had at least one year of teaching experience—sometimes even a Master’s Degree is required (Perritt & Thomas, 2003). Ballard says her passion is “for strong, school library programs with effective, certified school librarians at the helm…[who] make a tremendous difference in assuring excellence in teaching and learning” (Ballard, 2012). AASL approves universities and colleges attended by future librarians and media specialists and assure that the heart and soul of a school—the library—has the very best people running it.

Public schools are rife with benefits for each student, such as after school activities and clubs, but perhaps the most overlooked is the access to a great amount of information, resources, and sense of community that is provided by the library. Thanks to committees and organizations such as the AASL, libraries are guaranteed to be beneficial places of study for all those who seek them.



Ballard, S.D. (2012). AASL President’s Page. Retrieved from aslpres/presidentspage

Ballard, S.D. (2012). School Library Advocacy Impact Quotes. Retrieved from

Cicero. Quotes about Libraries. Retrieved from _login_attempted=true

Perritt, P.H. & Thomas, M.J. (2003). A Higher Standard. School Library Journal. Retrieved from

Quinlan, M. (2012). Libraries in schools keeping up with times. Retrieved from

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The Center of Public Education

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure


In today’s society, there are several ways a student can acquire a pre-college education, each of which has certain benefits and detriments as compared to the other choices.  If the main objective for a student is to obtain the best available education that will prepare the student for work and life after school, attending public school is the best option for most. It has significant advantages over attending private schools or being home schooled. Among those advantages are the quality of the broad-based education, the diversity experienced in attending public schools, and the affordability of public schools.

There have been ongoing debates about whether private schools provide a better education than public schools. Although there are benefits for going to a private school, the rewards for public schools outweigh the advantages of going to a private school. Statistics demonstrate that private schools have equivalent test scores in comparison to those in public schools. As seen in Figure 1, although the private schools can show higher than average test scores in a greater percentage of private schools than public schools, the variability of those scores among private schools is greater than the variability among public schools.  This suggests that other factors, such as the student’s background, economic status of the family and level of effort put into his or her education are important factors in the outcome of the scores in the private schools as compared to the public school (or the private schools may simply be teaching how to take standardized tests).  Despite this, the additional cost of attending a private school is significant. There is simply no explanation as to why students would pay extra money to get the same basic education when they could be paying less. Students in public schools who have the drive and will to learn have an equal or even greater success rate to those who go to private school.  Overall money does not dictate on how well educated a student will become. It depends largely on the commitment and philosophy of the schools that the student attends and the effort he or she puts into learning.


Figure 1

Note. The data on tests scores is adapted from “Public and Private Average Test Scores,” by Rusin, M.

In the last couple of years, there has been an increase in the enrollment of online classes and home-schooling. Although these students may be able to learn the same material as traditional schools, they often miss out on several life lessons that cannot be learned from a book. For example, attending a public school allows students to gain social skills, which are very important to life and ultimately to their success in the workforce. Every job requires some kind of social skills. Along with social skills, students attending public school are provided with greater opportunity to make new friends and have a shared enjoyment of their schooling experience. Public schools generally have a varied student body representing different social classes and backgrounds. This is the type of community that most people will experience and interact with as adults. In addition, public schools allow students to be exposed to other people’s points of views, beliefs and ideologies. The choices of classes that are available in public school are much broader than those attained though homeschooling: “The number of students in a public school classroom provides opportunities that don’t exist in most home-schools, from large-scale projects to team sports” (In Defense of Public Education, 2012). Besides the social skills gained, public school provide an array of clubs and sport activities such as soccer and Spanish clubs that provides them with a broader-based education. Home-schooling isolates students and does not provide them the opportunity to experience school activities.

Every type of school has potential benefits; however, a public school education is available to everyone and provides a quality education for free. Obtaining an excellent education is very important for college and attaining a prosperous job. Public schools also provide solid educational opportunities and allow students to develop social skills and participate in activities that will prepare them for life as an adult. Statistics prove that public schools have the same academic level as private school, and provide school activities that are not available for students that are home schooled. Allowing students to attain a quality education and preparing them for the future is the ultimate goal for attending a public school.



Moore, J.(December 17 2007). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Versus Private Schools. February 1, 2013,  public-versus-703249.html

Park,D.(November 7 2000). Advantages of Public Education. February 1, 2013,

Rusin,M.(November 18 2012). In Defense of Public Education. February 1, 2013,

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Benefits of Public Education

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Laws Affecting Public Education, Reforms in Public Schools


The government of the United States of America is constantly seeking ways to cut spending. Several strategies have been proposed to address this issue, but what many fail to realize is before cutting billions of dollars in expenses, this country’s priorities need to be set and education must be at the top of the list. On the surface, allotting additional funds to public education may not seem a priority to some, but ultimately, this plan will save money. Providing a quality education to our nation’s children insures success and security for the general population and maintains the United States’ position in the world.  Everyone benefits from a publicly funded quality education.

Supporting public education is an investment in this country’s future. Having a highly and diversely educated population will insure a progressive economy that will contribute to new advancements in the future.  Government funding is essential to creating a quality education system that will earn results.  The top educated countries in the world generally allocate significant amounts of money towards education. Currently, the U.S. government allocates more money for education than any other nation in the world, but that figure is deceiving because the US population is greater than most countries.  Despite this spending, the US is ranked fourth in world for the highest number of college educated people.  In addition, providing a quality education to all, increasing the high school graduation rates and creating avenues where graduates can learn career skills at universities, trade and technical schools will foster individual success in finding jobs that will provide suitable living conditions:  “Research shows that individuals who graduate and have access to quality education throughout primary and secondary school are more likely to find gainful employment, have stable families, and be active and productive citizens” (Economic Benefits of Public Education 2013). The people who are able to provide for themselves will help contribute to fixing the economy.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for individuals to afford a post-secondary education. This particularly affects lower income families who lack of funds. Helping fund public education at all levels – primary, secondary and post-secondary education is the solution for insuring a more robust economy for the U.S.

Change in Unemployment rates


Figure 1.

Note. The data on test scores is adapted from “Unemployment Rates in Current Society,” by Mitra Dana

Many people may ask how being better educated will save the government money. To start, high school dropouts are more than twice as likely to be unemployed and three times more likely to receive welfare assistance which ultimately costs billions of tax dollars each year.  If public schools decrease the number of dropouts by half, the U.S. would save 45 billion dollars per year.  Increasing graduation rates will create dramatic government savings that can then be used to support other worthy governmental goals. As seen in figure 1, the least educated have the lowest chance of obtaining a job.  In addition to high school dropouts costing the government several billions of dollars each year, they start a chain reaction that leads to more welfare handouts being poured into the penal and justice systems. Statistics state that 41% of all prisoners have not completed high school. The cost of incarcerating each prisoner is about $32,000 annually while a quality public education costs around $11,000 per student annually.  High school graduates will now generate revenue instead of draining scarce governmental resources. Even if graduates decide not to attend college or other trade schools, they still have a 4% greater chance of finding a job than those who drop out of high school.

Providing a quality education for all citizens should be a top priority when deciding how to spend government funds. Allowing everyone to obtain a quality education will ultimately save billions of dollars that are spent on welfare and Penal systems that are populated by those who dropped out of school or failed to receive basic education. Having a solid education allows people to be more self-sufficient and contribute positively to the economy, which will ultimately reduce crime rates. If the U.S. government allocates substantial funds to public education, it will reap positive results.



Esler, E (November 4, 2012). Positives of Public Schooling. March 25, 2013,

Mitra, D (January 22, 2012). Fiscal Year 2013 Proposed Budget. March 22, 2013,

Thorton, B (January 31, 2012).Most Educated Counties in the World. March 25, 2013,

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Detroit Recieves $1.5 Million Grant

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

On Monday three schools in Detroit received a $1.5 million grant from JPMorgan Chase. The three schools receiving this generous gift are: Western International High School, Harms Elementary, and Maybury Elementary. JPMorgan gave the grant to the nonprofit organization Southwest Solutions, who will use the money to “expand Centers for Working Families” (Chambers). Southwest Solutions also wants to give 115 homeowners up to $15,000 each to help renovate homes or clear blighted areas. This is not all, the three schools receiving the donation will also employ “success coaches” who will help staff, students, and their families. With all of these positive changes everyone in Detroit is looking up.

Chambers, Jennifer. (2013). Three Detroit Public Schools Receive $1.5M in Grants. The Detroit News. Retrieved from

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Public Schools Act as a Salvation for the Struggling Artist

April 30, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Fine Arts, Public Education Programs

Public Schools Act as a Salvation for the Struggling Artist

            Drawing, dancing, acting, and practicing instruments are skills that are often taken for granted, especially referring to curriculum’s values. Standardized testing focuses strictly on the necessities, such as math and English. However, public schools have begun to change their outlook on the classes once mislabeled as frivolous. “Fine art is part of the state-required curriculum that all school districts must offer from elementary through high school. Fine arts classes that meet during the school day are inarguably curricular by nature and by law” (Floyd, 2011). Fine arts are imperative to a student’s potential in further education, in the career world and in social settings. Public schools are ensuring a bright future by offering fine art classes which entail endless benefits.

Through the constant maintenance of various fine arts, one’s brain will flourish earlier and blossom brighter. Hamblen, author of Benefits of Arts Education states that the arts “stimulate and develop the imagination and critical thinking, and refine cognitive and creative skills” (Hamblen, 2009). Fine arts programs nurture academic achievement, motivation, self-confidence and self-discipline. A few of these programs that are offered are: dance, drawing, and singing in a choir. Dance connects the mind and body creating a sense of self control and coordination. Drawing and other visual arts foster spatial acuity. Group activities, such as singing in a choir or acting build social skills. Art is an emotional outlet that everyone can profit from, especially the green and malleable minds of children. Without these classes, one would be denying future generations of prosperity.

Public schools have taken strides to safe-guard students’ rights to enroll in fine art classes. In an online article, titled Why Arts Education is Crucial, the author informs that “Forty-seven states have arts-education mandates, forty-eight have arts-education standards, and forty have arts requirements for high school graduation, according to the 2007-08 AEP state policy database” (Smith, 2009). Fine arts are no longer being dismissed as a trivial school subject but are getting recognition by the majority of the United States.  For example, California’s “State Board of Education has newly adopted arts standards for what students need to know at every grade level. An arts test is being considered. And some California universities will soon require students to have taken at least one year of arts in high school” (Hamlin, 2002).  By doing so, California public schools have placed an emphasis on the importance of fine art. “In classrooms across the Bay Area, musicians and artists are sitting down with classroom teachers to pass on skills and tips, ranging from how to make instruments to how to mold clay” (Hamlin, 2002). Artistic ideas and techniques are shared with school teachers by professionals, therefore ensuring that students will receive maximal information and the best fine art education possible. The values of these classes are pertinent to school administrators and board members. Upon analyzing the graph below, one can notice the soaring percentage of public schools nation-wide that offer at least one music course.


Figure 1. Percent of Schools with at Least One Music Course by State (2011). Note: From School Band and Orchestra. Copyright  2013 Symphony Publishing. Reprinted with permission.

            Under scrutiny, it is discovered that fine art classes produce an endless harvest of physical and mental health. However, with any advantage, people are likely to seek out shortcomings as well. Like many parents, Donna Alexandria expressed her concern “One disadvantage is the pressure children often feel in competing” (Alexandria, 2008). The pressure to compete can be in auditions for orchestra or jazz band, or achieving a specific level in choir or dance. But whoever said competition is a bad thing? Because there are stakes, students are more likely to put more effort into their activity. This could entail frequent practice, or taking lessons outside of school. Pressure is not necessarily negative. Pressure can be replaced with passion.

Public schools that have adopted fine art programs reap the benefits. Narrator of a study depicting Florida’s music education, MacArthur incorporated many convincing statistics; “Students taking courses in music performance and music appreciation score higher in the SAT than students with no arts participation. Music performance students scored 53 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math. Music appreciation students scored 61 points higher on the verbal and 42 points higher on the math” (MacArthur, n.d.). Students who are enrolled in a music class have also been proven to receive more As and Bs along with more honors and academic achievement awards than students who do not participate in a music class.

Hamblen found that student enhancement occurs because “the arts engage all the senses and involve a variety of modalities including the kinesthetic, auditory, and visual…The arts can play a crucial role in improving students’ abilities to learn, because they draw on a range of intelligences and learning styles, not just the linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences upon which most schools are based” (Hamblen, 2009).

If students are given the opportunity to explore the arts at a young age, they are likely to lead a successful and creative life. By offering fine art classes, public schools allow students to utilize the tools they are given and ultimately establish a profitable future.




Alexandria, D. (2008, January 11).The Pros and Cons of Fine Arts. Retrieved from

Floyd, R. (2011, March 26). Students benefit from fine arts courses. Retrieved from

Hamblen, K. (2009, April 04). American for the arts. Retrieved from

Hamlin, J. (2002, May 15). Schools short on fine-arts teachers / districts get creative to take up the slack read more:

MacArthur, D. (n.d.). Florida school music association. Retrieved from

Morrison, R. (2011, June 23). School band and orchestra. Retrieved from

Smith, F. (2009, January 28). Edutopia. Retrieved from

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The Importance of Art in Public Education

April 29, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Fine Arts, Public Education Programs


School is an extremely important part of a child’s life. It is the place where he can learn and express himself in different ways, depending on his favorite topic to study. One option these young pupils have is to attend a public institute. Unfortunately, many people strongly oppose free public education. They believe private schools offer better teachers and a more advanced learning experience. While this may hold truth in some aspects, other factors disprove the theory. For example, most private schools do not require their students to take a form of vocational or fine arts; whereas, those classes are offered on a regular basis in elementary and secondary school. In fact, the courses are part of the graduation requirements for most public high schools. Offering art courses in public schools is considered a benefit because it allows students to express themselves and provides an opportunity to better their education experience.

Throughout the course of many decades, several organizations have joined the fight to keep art education in public schools. One such organization is the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA for short). Congress established this program in 1965 to “support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities” (National Endowment for the Arts, 2013). With countless surveys and hours of research, the NEA has worked to show the positives of art in public schools. Another group that fights alongside the NEA to keep art education in public schools is the Center for Arts Education in New York City. Both of these programs have uncovered many benefits of art programs and classes within public schools.

Director Doug Israel of the Center for Arts Educations research department has worked with the NEA to determine whether public schools should continue to offer art classes or not. He discovered that: “kids that are struggling in other academic subjects or do not do well sitting behind the desk the entire school day actually respond and perform when given an opportunity to engage in arts learning, whether it be dance, theater, music or the visual arts” (Ni, 2012). Because kids are able to express themselves in their own innovative and creative way, they are able to perform better in these classes, as opposed to solely taking seemingly endless notes for hours on end. Israel determined that it is imperative that students take one form of art in school in order to ensure that students do not lose their creative thinking, as well as have the chance to keep their cultural background. With the chance to incorporate a student’s cultural background, the student will be able to express himself in his own creative way.

Not only do art classes offer a way for students to be creative, but they also improves their education. Lisa Bergonzi and Julia Smith, two researchers at the NEA, conducted a study on the effects of an arts education in public schools. One of Bergonzi and Smith’s focuses was whether students should devote more time to art courses or their general education ones. After testing students’ active participation in different types of art, they came to the conclusion that: “getting a solid arts education has a stronger effect on students who have a strong educational background in general, so that arts education simply adds on to the effect of other schooling” (Bergonzi, Smith, 1996). With students acquiring an arts education at the same time as their common core classes, they are able to improve in both subjects, therefore receiving a deeper, more thorough education. This is yet another reason why public school students receive a better learning experience.

Due to the fact that public schools offer many different visual and vocational arts courses, students are able to express themselves while bettering their education experience. While some private schools offer these courses, many do not; thereby, decreasing the effectiveness of paying for an education. The positives of public schools outweigh those of private schools, and one reason is due to the ability of art classes to help enhance a student’s education in public institutions. It is for these reasons why it is imperative to keep these classes in public schools.



Bergonzi, L. and Smith, J. (1996). Effects of Arts Education on Participation in the Arts. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved from

National Endowment for the Arts. (2013). Retrieved from

Ni, Kelly (April 14, 2012). Arts Education Benefits Public School Students. Epoch Times. Retrieved from

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All Students Can Benefit from Learning and Using Sign Language

April 29, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

The author of this article’s daughter had a difficult time with language as a child. When she entered school, it continued. In first grade, she was paired with a student who could not speak due to a tracheotomy, so she learned American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with him. She was able to communicate with hearing and hearing-impaired people which was a huge accomplishment for her. In 2004, a study confirmed that students who receive sign language instruction have stronger vocabularies, improved visual – gestural language, and higher reading levels. There are other studies that support this research and author, Phil Nast felt that his personal experience, paired with education literature would strengthen the claim that teaching ASL can benefit all students.

Nast, P. (2013). All students can benefit from learning and using sign language. NEA Today

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Art in Spanish Class

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Art in Spanish Class

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Rewarding Reasons Why Every Student Should Study Abroad

April 28, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs


When a person lives in the same place for his entire life, it is only natural to have a yearning to escape his normal environment for somewhere more exciting. A change of scenery can be accomplished by choosing a university far away from home; but, if a student is unable to leave his home for school, a second option is to study abroad for a semester. While being alone in a foreign country may strike fear in the hearts of students and their parents, studying abroad can be a valuable experience. There are many personal and educational benefits from studying abroad that can stay with a person for the rest of his life. Students who study abroad gain an understanding of themselves and the world around them. Personal, cultural, and educational benefits can come from foreign study programs.

Any long term separation from one’s parents can be terrifying, but it can also provide a maturity to be able to take care of oneself. When a student is dropped into a foreign country, where norms do not seem normal and everyone speaks a strange language, maturity must come immediately in order to adjust to the situation. In a survey of alumni of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) study abroad program from 1950 to 1999, 97 percent of those surveyed said that studying abroad caused improved maturity. Along with this maturity, better self-confidence was also achieved (Dwyer & Peters, 2004). Despite such a dramatic change, most students found they were able to cultivate a better understanding of who they were, which allowed them to take advantage of the amazing learning experience. Another aspect of personal growth that is affected by studying abroad is personal relationships. The experience created lasting friendships with their American fellows as well as the foreign students. Many of the surveyed alumni also said that the experience affects their current relationships. “73 percent said that the experience continues to influence the decisions they make in their family life” (Dwyer & Peters, 2004). These personal changes can make the students become logical, mature adults who can deal with anything that comes their way in the future.

Table 1. Results of IES Study Abroad Survey


Note. The data on the IES Study Abroad survey is adapted from “Benefits of Study Abroad” by Dwyer, M., & Peters, C., 2004, Clark University. Adapted with permission.

As expected, studying abroad also benefits a student by giving him a new world view. Ninety-five percent of the surveyed said that the impact on their perspectives has lasted throughout their lives (Dwyer & Peters, 2004). As seen in Table 1, the view of their own world had been altered as well. The realization dawns that every culture is dramatically different from one another. The students have been taught to respect other cultures, and foreign political and economic systems, which many study abroad programs hold as their main goal (Dwyer & Peters, 2004). This impact is not fleeting; many said that “the experience still influences interactions with people of different cultures” (Dwyer & Peters, 2004). World leaders have been made from students who have the experience because their views are no longer ethnocentric and understand the world better.

Finally, studying abroad also benefits future education and careers. Nearly 90 percent of the people surveyed said the experience influenced future education; many even changed their path of study (Dwyer & Peters 2004). Nearly half of students pursued international work after travelling. Study abroad programs also developed students’ language skill:. “Continued language usage was greatest among respondents who lived in a homestay, with 42 percent saying they now use a language other than English on a regular basis”(Dwyer & Peters 2004). While this number drops in the two other types of homes, dormitories with foreign students and apartments with other American students, the percentage barely drops under 20 percent, which is still a large chunk of students. This bilingual ability makes students who studied abroad more valuable to employers. Eighty-four percent of students who were in a study abroad program feel like they gained valuable career skills. Employers also tend to pay study abroad students around $7000 more on average for a starting salary (“Career Benefits” 2012). A student’s time abroad can provide heightened success in the future.

All of these benefits have convinced many students to study abroad. Not only do they gain the experience in a new land, but students may also obtain the long-lasting effects. They are able to see the world in a fresh perspective; they gain confidence and maturity that allows them to face adversity; and their resume becomes much more impressive. Every student should consider a study abroad program. Luckily, many public schools, such as Desert Vista High School, offer short-term summer study abroad opportunities that can give students a taste of what could be explored if they decide to do a longer program in the future. Not only would he or she get to experience a foreign country, but there are also many long-term benefits in store.



Career Benefits of Study Abroad . (2012). Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from

Dwyer, M., & Peters, C. (2004, May 01). Benefits of Study Abroad. Clark University. Retrieved from Study.pdf

Dwyer, M., & Peters, C. (2004). Results from IES Study Abroad Survey. Clark University.

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Recent Charter School Research Shows Student Improvement

April 28, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Many studies, including those conducted by the Center for Reinventing Public Education, show that public charter students are showing achievement levels above their public school peers. One of the biggest factors of charter school success is the focus on the academic achievement of its students. Other factors include operational and instructional conditions that supposedly create the best outcomes for students. These studies show that, on average, students who attend the public charte schools for four years have stronger growth and development than traditional public school students in areas like reading and math. It is estimated that these students gain more learning in a year than those in a traditional public school setting.

Lawrence, J. 26 April 2013. Recent Charter School Research Shows Student Improvement. Retrieved from

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Aiming to Serve Free Breakfasts to All Students in Poor Areas

April 28, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

State legislators in Texas are hoping to expand a program that offers free breakfast to all students. This program will be offered to schools located in poor neighborhoods across the state. Senate Bill 376 would require schools to offer free breakfast to all students at public schools where at least 80 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Research does show that students who eat breakfast do much better in school and score higher on standardized testing. In Texas, less than 60 percent of the students who participate in the Lunch Program also participate in the Breakfast Program. Childhood nutrition advocates are blaming this on the stigma students have of eating at school while everyone else eats at home. The Bill passed the Senate very smoothly, but there were some objections to expanding the program. Mainly, that someone has to pay for the meals and because the schools don’t, that means that the government has to.

Hooks, Chris. “THE TEXAS TRIBUNE; Considering Free Breakfasts for All Texas Students in Poor Areas.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. .

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DV Editors

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The Jungle by Samantha Park

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Get a Coach

April 26, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure


Public versus private, that is the question most parents must ask themselves today. It has been stated that public schools are on par with private schools when it comes to the level of education. If this is correct, then why do private school students perform better on standardized tests than those who attend public schools? The widely accepted statement that public schools match up with private schools has been justified.

Research shows that spending the extra money to enroll children in private schools is proven to be beneficial when it comes to acceptance into college. The average ACT score for private school students was 23.6. Public school students, on the contrary, only scored an average of 21.7 (Kelley, 2013).  According to the difference in scores it seems obvious that private schools are doing a better job than public schools when it comes to preparing students. Therefore, success test prep is a reason enrollment into private schools is popular.

On the other hand, the reason those who attend private schools perform better is not actually due to a more advanced education. According to John Cloud, a senior writer for Time Magazine, “The problem isn’t the schools; it’s with social inequality” (Cloud, 2007). Generally kids who attend private schools come from families who have extra money to spend on school. These wealthier families have “the kinds of economic and resource advantages to give to students” (Cloud, 2007). Parents are able to afford coaching for tests such as the SAT. Studies show that “once you control socioeconomic status- students at private schools aren’t performing better than those at public school” (Kelly, 2013). The results from the studies deteriorate the false phenomenon that private schools are superior. In short, public schools teach their students just as well as private schools.

Returning to the subject of private education, parents are eager to send their children to private schools because of the smaller class size. Private schools have classrooms that, on average, have four fewer kids per class than public schools (Rampell, 2009). A smaller classroom allows for more interaction with the teacher. The more students can interact with teachers, the more questions they can ask, which leads to a more positive learning experience. Less students also means there will be fewer distractions. Since private schools are able to select those who attend, kids who would be classified as “trouble makers” can be rejected from the school. Thus, smaller class sizes are a sought after feature of private schools.

The rebuttal to the slighter classroom sizes greatly outweighs the pro discussion pushing for smaller classrooms. Small scale classrooms would not only require more rooms, but also more teachers (Chen, 2008). Smaller, less diverse classrooms means students will not get the experience necessary to function in the real world. Students do not learn how to work with large groups of people. In fact, 58% of those enrolled in public school are Caucasian, while 74% of those enrolled in private schools are Caucasian (IES, 2010). Children in private schools are not exposed to other races of people and their cultures. In today’s modern society, people are not separated into pocket-sized, predominately white groups of people. Therefore, decreasing the number of students in a classroom is not preparing the youth how to function well with others. In the long run, smaller classrooms will do more harm than good.

In conclusion, public schools provide an education equal to that of a private school. The separation factor is the economic gap between families. The less populated classrooms may seem like a pro, but will actually account for more harm in the future. Rather than pay all the money for a private school, you can pay for a tutor for tests such as the SAT or ACT and get the same results.




Chen, G. (2008, April 23). Smaller Class Sizes: Pros and Cons |

Retrieved from


Cloud, J. (2007, October 10). Time U.S.. Retrieved from,8599,1670063,00.html

IES (2010). National Center For Education Statistics. Retrieved from


Kelley, J. (2013, January 13). Private schools top public in average act, sat scores [Web log

message]. Retrieved from


Rampell, C. (2009, September 11). Class Sizes Around the World. The New York Times [New



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Getting Ready for a Globalized Nation

April 26, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Common Core, School Structure


In China there is a 100 percent attendance of both men and women to first and secondary schooling. In Shanghai, exams that test the application of real-life skills have made their education system the best in the world (Singmaster 2010). As the world is changing the Shanghai people have adapted to it and formed an education system that forces the best from their students. Following suit, the formation of Common Core standardized testing is crucial to keeping the education system in line with the modernizing world. These new tests will set benchmarks designed for better preparation of students striving towards college and careers. The new Common Core standards will secure the United States as a leader in the developing world.

The public education system is now on course to raise the standards of every school and establish a base platform for curriculum. Therefore, the government is requiring schools to administer the test PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) or a similar examination plan that scores students proficiency in math and language arts. Improvement is on the cusp for education; the PARCC test is a significant step towards having students in public schools be fully prepared for college and the workforce (Morella, 2012). Adjustment is needed with the approach of teaching in American schools; it is imperative that the schools conform to the new testing and adopt the new curriculum. With this change it is going to ultimately ready students to participate in the ever growing competition for work. Michael Morella, of U.S. News Weekly, reports on Kentucky as they are first state to preview the test (PARCC) and new core standards; he found that students “seem to like it because the content, the standards, they’re more problem solving, they’re more engaging, they require more student responsibilities” (Morella, 2012). The assessment showed a drop in scores of both subjects with preliminary testing, but there was a significant rise in scores in the consecutive year’s test scores. There was also a rise in students being sufficiently prepared, for their future endeavors such as college or the workforce, from a beginning 38 percent to 47 percent (Morella, 2012). These scores demonstrate that there will be a leap in the proficiency of students with the new core requirements if they are implemented correctly. In addition, teachers are becoming profoundly better in delivering the new content. The results from Kentucky enforce the necessity of having and supporting public education in its move to Common Core, as it is working towards restoring the country.

Marc Tucker, president of the non-profit National Center on Education and Economy and internationally known expert on reform, states that as labor markets increasingly become global, people are beginning to compete with individuals all over the world who possess the same skill level. It is now evident that finding what skills and knowledge are necessary for a student is at the peak of importance in education (Tucker, 2013). Knowing the basics in education is essential, and the new test and curriculum will go further by applying critical thinking. What is also being seen is that the economy is changing, and some job opportunities are starting to disappear. Although, with old possibilities closing, inventive people will begin to create new ones. There is no way of predicting the direction in which the world will move in this respect, but shaping the younger generations to be prepared for it is vital. That is why making a more rigorous test is urgent: to create a firm base students can branch off of. Tucker addresses this in his article: “Whatever those challenges turn out to be, I can guarantee you that they will not be met by people without strong quantitative skills, people who cannot construct a sound argument, people who know little of history or geography or economics, people who cannot write well” (Tucker, 2013), which further argues the need of having Common Core to drive students in fulfilling the abilities Tucker mentions. He continues by saying, “Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs” (Tucker, 2013). Tucker reinforces his belief that the Common Core will take the nation in the direction toward making progression. There is a need for finding assessments to test the skills that all students should be learning in school; this will be met with the PARCC test when it is applied.

In Lawrence Hardy’s article, The Backlash Against Common Core, published in the January issue of American School Board Journal, he discusses the opposing ideas against Common Core that are under consideration. Those who are disagreeing with the new form of national testing and elevated core standards feel that schools are taking a step in the wrong direction. Some arguments include that the increasingly high budget cuts to public education restricts the schools from having teachers who are able to teach the new curriculum (Hardy, 2009). This thought on the new standards is flawed; they require a change in style and difficulty of the curriculum, but fundings are being supported through government help. The teachers do not need to be retrained, but instead change the way they teach their courses and implement the material. Another factor that counter groups argue is that the program is funded by the Obama administration. Therefore, it impedes on state rights and matters (Hardy, 2009). This is preposterous, considering public education is being funded by the government; the states’ funds currently are not supplying well formulated tests and curriculum. The state standards on education are in shards, and without this reform for the school system, public education will continue to weaken. Along with fixing the school system, it will allow U.S. students up to compete with children internationally and put the nation among the top-achieving countries. The arguments against the PARCC test and the new curriculum are weak and possess no credibility; the direction the nation is heading is promising.

Globalization is governing where the nations’ children are headed in their educational pursuits. With the pressure to equal the success and abilities of other countries, alterations of education are centered around remaining on top. The country is giving into this change by forming a centralized education platform for students across the nation. Yong Zhao, presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon’s College of Education and previous director of both the Center for Teaching and Technology and the U.S.-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence at Michigan State University, effectively explains, “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers” (Zhao, 2013). Unification in this effort to building a stronger education for the nations’ prospering pupils will go further than separate attempts. Public education must extend to meet the new demands of the twenty-first century. Boundaries have been eliminated within the globe; we have closed the gap of geographical distance, and competition has grown. To continue to be on top of the global food chain, the nation must fight to bridge the gap present with other competitors. Do we have what it takes to be globally competitive?


Hardy, L. (2013). The backlash against common core. (1st ed., Vol. 200). Alexandria, VA: The American School Board Journal. Retrieved from

Morella, M. (2012, December 4). Common core standards: Early results from kentucky are in. U.S. News. Retrieved from

Singmaster, H. (2011, December 3). Shanghai: The world’s best education system. Retrieved from

Tucker, M. (2013, January 15). Common core standards: Arguments against — and for. The Washington post. Retrieved from

Zhao, Y. (2013, January 8). Five key questions about the common core standards. The Washington post. Retrieved from

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Movement toward Healthier School Menus

April 26, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Government officials have now become strict on having healthier menus at public schools. They are getting rid of the candy bars and serving healthier “snacks”. The Department of Agriculture has proposed the idea that vending machines get rid of soda. Vending machines now should sell water, juice and sports drinks. Some officers in Congress believed that schools do not have the right to tell what students are able to eat in school. This is a problem because students are progressively becoming more and more obese. It is time for a change.


Jalonick, M. (2013, February 01). HEALTHIER SCHOOLS: GOODBYE CANDY AND GREASY SNACKS. Retrieved from

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A Momentus Decision

April 25, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure

            As their child reaches his sixth birthday, parents are faced with a momentous decision: public or private school? It is a decision that comes with considerable weight, and many parents hesitate over one or the other before finally making their verdict. Some embrace the private school system, citing ‘better quality education’. On the other hand, the answer for many will ultimately be public school– and rightly so. Among many other services, public schools provide free education, as well as a diverse environment through which students can grow and mature.

Each year, the price of private schools seems to be increasing and increasing. In fact, last year’s median private school tuition in the state of New York was a whopping $36,970, up from $21,000 from a little over a decade ago– that sum is more than yearly tuition at Harvard. (Anderson , 2012) Many families simply cannot afford to pay such exorbitant rates for their child’s education. On the other hand, public schools have their doors wide open and admit everyone and anyone, regardless of wealth or background. Without this invaluable resource, many less wealthy and lower income families would not be able to educate their children.

By the same token, public schools afford a much higher level of diversity among their classes. Students are exposed to an array of different classmates with a wealth of differing backgrounds. With private schools, the extravagant prices often serve to segregate families of various standings unintentionally. Private schools are increasingly made of homogeneous classrooms where racial and socioeconomic diversity is often markedly less than that of public

schools– all the students’ disadvantage (Fulwood, 2011). Like the real world, schools should reflect the increasing cultural diversity in society.  Private schools,simply by nature, are unable to do so. As a result, they fail to provide a holistic environment in which their students can grow and mature as individuals.

In essence, public schools are able to provide certain invaluable services that private schools simply are not built to offer. As such, public schools remain the most ethnically diverse and affordable choice for parents today. Chiefly, they are essential institutions for children living in lower and middle class incomes. The services that they provide, and the environments that they foster are priceless centers of learning for children.












Anderson , J. (2012, 01 27). Bracing for $40000 at new york city private schools. New York Times.          Retrieved from


Fulwood, S. (2011, 12 06). Race and beyond: We need diversity in education. The Center for

            American Progress. Retrieved from  


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Paving the Road to Success

April 25, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, School Structure, Testing

High stakes testing is a system where important consequences are placed on students’ test scores. In turn, these test scores help to evaluate and ascertain student progress. Nationwide testing programs like Race to the Top are continually improving and evolving to fit students’ needs. These tests are the pillars of our curriculum and school system. Without them, educators’ ability to measure student progress and growth in public schools would be severely affected. Thus, high stakes testing is beneficial because it provides a way to measure student achievement, ensures that important standards are met, and verifies that teachers are quality reinforcers of learning.

According to the American Psychological Association, “Measuring how well students learn is an important building block in the process of strengthening and improving our nation’s schools. Tests, along with student grades and teacher evaluations, can provide critical measures of students’ skills, knowledge, and abilities” (Redwood, 2010). Without high stakes testing, there is no comprehensive way of measuring a student’s progress. The program allows public schools to be evaluated on a fair basis, where students are not subjected to the biases of an individual grader.

Moreover, high stakes testing ensures that teachers cover the proper curriculum. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, “High stakes testing can result in teachers teaching

toward the test” (Paige, 2007). That means that the amount of time spent Some argue that the incentives offered to public schools

create formulaic instruction. However, according to the Center for Public Education, “Teaching to the test can be good or bad…[It can be beneficial] if it means teaching a focused and aligned curriculum” (Mitchell, 2010). In addition, Linda Smith, a professor at Liberty University stated, “Today’s educators are looking at it from a standards-based perspective. Their task analysis identifies what standards need to be learned. Their performance objectives are standards-based, and their criterion referenced testing is based on those standards” (Smith, 2008). Furthermore, high stakes testing is proven to secure curriculum so that it better prepares students for the future. In a case study by the Louisiana Department of Education, the study found that implementing high stakes testing raised the amount of students performing at ‘excellent’ levels:

picf 1

Figure 1: Laura Mogg, Percentage of Students Scoring at the Fair, Good, and Excellent Levels on the Algebra 1 End-of-Course Test, 2010-2011, Louisiana Department of Education

Looking at the results after high stakes testing was implemented, researchers found that: “Entering 9th graders in 2010-2011 are generally better prepared for high school than older students due to the improvements that have occurred system-wide since 2005” (Mogg, 2011).  Contrary to what many critics claim, teaching to the test actually helps to ensure that teachers establish a good foundation, from which they can later build on.

Furthermore, high stakes testing helps to ensure that teachers are quality enforcers of learning. Achieve, a non-profit organization geared towards education stated, “The Race to the Top criteria encourages states to adopt policies that measure the effectiveness of individual teachers, and provide high‐quality support for educators and principals” (Pastor, 2013). National testing helps keep the quality and standard of teaching high. The study goes on to say that the way to achieve fair :

Race to the Top also asks states to include measures other than student growth in ratings of teacher effectiveness.  These methods present fewer problems of applicability at the high school level.  They also have the advantage of illuminating not just how effective a teacher has been, but also the ways in which a teacher may need to improve in order to be more effective (Pastor, 2013).

Evaluation through nationwide testing programs like Race to the Top is crucial, because it  creates an environment where students can prosper and gain access to better education.

Nevertheless, some opponents of high stakes testing allege that high stakes tests are too mechanical. They argue that they negatively influence curriculum. Some critics claim that teaching

to the test makes teachers focus only on tested areas. Of course, teachers teach exactly to the test,

because the tests are widely available for everyone to see, right? Wrong. Critics fail to realize that high stakes testing only sets a standard at which students are required, and should learn. According to Dr. Battle, the principal of Desert Vista High School:

The public has been miscommunicating or miscommunicated about…[teaching to the test]. We know what standards kids need to learn, so therefore we teach those standards. That doesn’t mean we can’t teach more than the standards. But we must teach those standards. If that’s what teaching to the test is, then that’s what we have to do. (Dr. Battle, personal communication, October 18, 2012)

Thus, the high stakes tests are the bare bones of what needs to be learned in classrooms nationwide. Without it, schools run a risk of depriving students of a proper education. The quality of learning is not held back or forced by statewide testing, but made better by the faculty that tries to walk on water.  Furthermore, opponents of high stakes testing claim that high stakes testing is too “mechanical,” and that this bias negatively affects some students. Elaine Weber, a professor at the University of Michigan stated, “One of the biggest faults of standardized tests is that they often do not take diversity into account.  Too many of today’s tests are written so that some students are put at a disadvantage. Tests often times don’t take into account things like disabilities and socioeconomic status” (Weber, 2013). However, these criticisms fail to take into account the inherent bias present for minority groups or economically disadvantaged students. These groups of students are always going to be at a certain disadvantage, and dissolving the high stakes system

will not provide any solvency for problem. Thus, critics who assert that high stakes testing is too mechanical, fail to analyse the situation fully.

Programs like Race to the Top are integral parts of the education system today and are an elementary factor in appraising the quality of schooling. They determine student progress and set the bar high for student curriculum and teacher quality. Without them, schools would lack a fair

and comprehensive way to track and record student progress nationwide. High stakes testing thus paves the road to advances and progress in student education.


Mitchell, Ruth. “High-stakes Testing and Effects on Instruction: At a Glance.” Center for Public

Education . N.p., 16 Jun 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2013.

Mogg, L. (2011, August 26). High stakes end-of-course test results are encouraging.

Mogg, Laura. 2011. Percentage of Students Passing the Algebra 1 End of Course Test,

2010-2011.[Table] Retrieved from

Paige, Nancy. “The Dangerous Consequences of High-Stakes Standardized Testing.” The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. N.p., 07 Dec 2007. Web. 20 Feb 2013.

Pastor , Derrick . “Teacher Effectiveness.” N.p., 16 Oct 2012. Web. 20 Feb 2013.

Redwood, Jean. “Appropriate Use of High-Stakes Testing in Our Nation’s Schools.” American Psychological Association. N.p., 15 Feb 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2013.

Smith, Lisa. “Using Formative Assessment to Predict Student Achievement on High Stakes Tests.”Liberty University Education Journal. N.p., 14 Apr 2008. Web. 20 Feb 2013.

Weber, Elaine. “An Analysis of High Stakes Testing.”University of Michigan. N.p., 06 Jul 2010.

Web. 20 Feb 2013.

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Not So Dumb Jock

April 25, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Athletics, Public Education Programs

            Students tend to categorize their peers. From “drama nerds” to “band geeks,” these categories have become very well recognized around campus. One of the most prominent cliques is the jocks, the dumb, but strong sports kids. However, according to USA Today, this stereotype is not entirely based on truth.“Kids who take breaks from their class work to be physically active during the day are often better able to concentrate on their school work and may do better on standardized tests” (Hellmich, 2010). So are we right to assume there is a such thing as a dumb jock? Maybe not. The physical activities performed by “jocks” stimulate their minds, in turn making them some of the more intelligent students in school.

Every school strives for continual improvement. When there is the chance to incorporate curriculum that might be beneficial to the students’ learning, whether it be physical or mental, the school board must take a moment to consider the positive potential effects. With the involvement of sports, students are able to take a mental break from all the stress that school causes and focus on different subjects: “Athletic competition and practice require self-sacrifice, accepting a short-term pain for a long-term gain. This is the core mechanic of self-discipline, the ability to make yourself do what you don’t want to do in order to enjoy greater success later” (Wayne, 2011). Sports can not only create an environment for students to release their stress, but they can also create a way for students to hone their discipline skills, in turn making them more attentive students.

The public school system is encouraging a healthy environment where students can participate in sports, if they choose to do so. Athletics in public schools are more beneficial for students versus when they are used in the private school system. Many private schools have been accused of recruiting athletes into their sports programs. It has become such a large issue in Florida that “Mandarin Christian high school was fined $142,000 for 25 violations of illegal contact with student athletes” (Mazenko, 2010). Athletics are vital; no student should be excluded from them simply because of their ability of inability in the activity. The more advanced students should not be put on a pedestal because they may be able to dunk a basketball or run faster than other students. With physical activity having such a high impact on students, who are we to deny them the exercise? There are countless benefits to being active in sports, and every student should have them available in their learning environment.

Figure 1

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Figure 1: This chart shows the relationship between the number of hours playing sports versus a student’s GPA.

Some teachers do not see the positives of school sports and school related exercise. Numerous students can benefit from sports both physically and through their grade point average (GPA). Even if the student contributes five hours a week to playing sports, the results will show that he has a more constant GPA as a result (Figure 1). Having sports in public schools helps the students more than we know. By making them more readily available, we can create a group of students who have the ability not only to graduate high school but excel through it. When students feel like they are losing control, they can use sports as an outlet to release the stress created by hours of schoolwork and to help maintain focus in the classroom. If we continue to encourage student sport activities, maybe one day the stereotype will be changed to “not-so-dumb jock.”


Hellmich, N. (2010, April 13). Study: Physical activity can boost student performance. Retrieved from

Mazenko, M. (2010, December 15). Huge Fine for private schools recruiting. Retrieved from

Wayne, J. (2011, September 1). How sports affect grades in a good way. Retrieved from

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More Money for Mentors

April 25, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Ed Services, School Structure

Today’s youth need teachers who are willing to devote almost all of their energy to the classroom. Teachers are not the stereotypical easygoing, soft-spoken people like most people think; they are strong, tough mentors challenging children in the most exceptional ways. The current teachers’ salaries belittle the most inspirational teachers. Experienced teachers teach the material by engaging the students instead of simply handing out various notes and packets. They challenge their students to strive to be the best that they can be. They create exciting lesson plans that educate without relying primarily on memorization. Above all, teachers must devote their time, energy, and patience to their students. Not only do teachers need a commendable educational background and a satisfactory work ethic, but they must also teach at their fullest potential. At the end of the day, the minds and hearts of future generations rely on the educators of this world. With all of this pressure bestowed upon just a small group of individuals, it is a wonder why public school teachers are getting paid as little as they are. Teachers’ salaries should reflect the amount of time and effort teachers devote to their children.

The truth is, teachers carry a heavy load and need to be more recognized for their efforts. The average public school teacher’s salary before taxes can start out as low as $35,000 a year.  This meager amount is supposed to be able to support a family for a year. Proficient teachers are demanded all over America, but with the current salaries, they are running in the opposite direction: “Money is never the sole reason that people enter teaching. But it is a reason why some talented people avoid teaching–or quit the profession when starting a family or buying a home” (Duncan, 2011).  Teaching should be designated for those who know how to run a classroom and care about the well being of today’s youth. However, highly skilled people are turning away teaching jobs because the salary is not enough to support their families. As a result, those who lack the necessary fervor and passion are filling up these positions. One would think that the government would be eager to educate the next generation, and would be willing to pay an intelligent mentor nothing short of gold. Instead, more and more budget cuts are being made. Waist-deep in debt and unpaid expenses, the teachers of today are struggling to live on the salaries they are given.

Amongst the obvious anguish dealing with teachers’ salaries, two critics produced biased surveys, announcing that teachers are overpaid. These studies report that most education majors graduated in the bottom 50 percent of their class and do not usually have any better classroom skills than the average high school graduate.  They conclude that vacation days, retirement plans, and job security ultimately make teachers out to be overpaid. (Biggs and Richwine, 2011). If this is the case, then why are some teachers still looking for a second job and struggling to take care of their families? Teachers still must meet certain requirements before they can get hired, regardless of class rank. In addition, there are numerous skills learned after high school that lend a hand in helping a teacher become a professional. It takes much more than just intellectual ability to be a teacher. Teachers have to make daily lesson plans, engage all students in their activities, and adjust their plans based on individual students. These are only a few of the stresses teachers must deal with, but still research shows that they are receiving considerably less than people who have attended the same amount of school as them: “The average primary-school teacher in the United States earns about 67 percent of the salary of an average college-educated worker in the United States” (Rampell, 2012). If Biggs and Richwine cannot comprehend that teaching is hard work and not some sort of joy ride, they need to observe classrooms more often. Their studies underestimate teachers and everything they are capable of. Teachers deserve more recognition, and that is exactly what the public needs to give them.

With the fresh minds of the young and innocent in their hands, teachers should be celebrated and appreciated for their hard work. Parents want the best teachers for their kids, without having to pay private school prices for them. Even a person without a child should want the best education for the children that will one day be leading the world and making decisions that could affect hundreds of people. If the nation wants a proficient future, they should be up for the idea of paying the price.




Biggs, A. G. and Richwine, J ( 2011). Average Public School Teacher is Paid Too Much, U.S. News. Retrieved from

Duncan, A. ( 2011). Teachers Should Be Paid a Lot More. U.S. News Digital Weekly, Vol. 3, Issue 46. Retrieved from

Rampell , C. (2012 September 11). Does It Pay to Become a Teacher. The New York Times. Retrieved from

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The Joy of Education

April 25, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Education Services

Discussing special education/ed services is like talking about an elephant in a room. Just like this elephant, the government is choosing to ignore the significance of American special education. The importance of special education is rapidly growing as the number of children with disabilities rises in America. Yet, this is a growing issue: “Of the 53.9 million school-aged children (aged 5 to 17) in the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population, about 2.8 million (5.2 percent) were reported to have a disability in 2010” (Brault, 2011).  This surprising increase is also shown in Figure 1, as it displays how widespread disabilities are throughout America. Public schools have made great strides towards achieving functional programs to enrich students’ learning. However, to further the special education department, they need to make certain changes. To ensure that kids with disabilities are getting the education they deserve, schools must have sufficient funds, add more useful programs, and hire more certified educators.


picf 1
With sufficient funding, one could only imagine all the effective programs public schools would be able to offer. There has been recent research covering which curriculums are most effective for children with special needs.  One of these programs is music therapy defined as: “a creative art therapy that crosses multiple areas of treatment and can be effective in facilitating development in numerous areas of children’s functioning” (Pellitteri, 2000). By adding music to a daily learning schedule, it can be both constructive and essential for a student. Musical experiences are not limited to just instruments but vocalization and singing as well. This allows the students to engage physically in activities and interact with others. The main goal of music therapy is to allow them to voice their creativity and develop their attention, concentration, self esteem, and self expression. This is the kind of environment that should surround students, especially those with learning disabilities.  This is an example of one of the many options for special education but must be looked into if school staffs want what is best for their learners.Money is an important factor when it comes to a valuable education. Considering all the funds that go into providing those with disabilities the schooling they deserve, it is even more necessary.  Acts such as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) serve to provide federal money to schools with the special education programs as long as they comply to the rules covered by section 504. This portion states: “No qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2012). The federal money that is given to support the disabilities program in public schools helps improve the children’s preparation for the future. Although this may be true, on countless occasions, private schools have received an inconsistent amount of funding from supporters such as religious organizations and local school districts claiming: “Many private schools may receive federal funds from the local school district in which they are located, in the form of textbook aid or aid for school breakfast or lunch and, are therefore, covered by section 504” (Hager & Smith, 2003). Not only are they getting federal funds, but they are also receiving income from indirect supporters. Public schools deserve just as much funding for their disabilities department to ensure that students have equal opportunities in education.

It takes a concentration of patience and effort to be an educator for the Special Education Department, which is why the most important factor is teacher’s responsibility when teaching an intellectually disabled class.  There have been innumerable incidents in the news reporting abuse that took place in a Special Ed classroom by a teacher.  If a parent suspects such abuse, he or she has a limited path of action: “a complaint may be filed with the California Department of Education (CDE) under the Uniform Complaint Procedure if: a child or group of children is in immediate physical danger; or the health, safety or welfare of a child or group of children is threatened” (“Information on discipline”, 2005). This issue does not just apply to California but several states as well. Parents want to know their children are secure at school and do not want to worry constantly about what might happen.  This will, of course, benefit the disabled students’ safety as well as their educational experiences.  The best way to avoid the issues of abuse is to choose carefully who the school hires to work in its special education department.  Not only that, but schools must also require prior training classes and a certain degree for teaching disabled children.

Overall, there are a variety of changes that special education programs can make to improve the quality of education.  One of the most necessary adjustments would be to increase funding for these types of programs, which would require the approval of the government.  It is also important to add more effective programs, such as music therapy to enrich students learning experiences. In addition, it is essential to ensure the safety of children and to give parents different ways to voice their opinions.  The aim of special education is to give these students—who live a life of hardship—the chance to experience the joys of learning, something that average students often take for granted.



Adapted [or Reprinted] from “ American Community Survey,” by U.S. Census Bureau, 2010,      Percentage of School-Aged Children With Disabilities Living in Metro Areas. 2010 by     Puerto Rico Community Survey. Adapted [or Reprinted] with permission.

Brault, M. W. (2011). School-aged children with disabilities in u.s. metropolitan statistical areas: 2012. Retrieved from

Information on discipline of students with disabilities. (2005). Special Education Rights And         Responsibilities, Retrieved from    4001Ch08.pdf

Pellitteri, J. (2000). The consultant’s corner. Retrieved from    Therapy in Special Education.pdf

Ronald M. Hager & Diane Smith, (2003). The public schools special education system as an          assistive technology funding source: The cutting edge. Retrieved from            /Disability/NYSAssistiveTechnologyProject/Archives/SpecialEdBooklet

U.S. Department of Justice. (2012, April 16). Information and technical assistance on the americans with disabilities act. Retrieved from



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Gifts for the Gifted

April 25, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Gifted Program, Public Education Programs

            The public school system has many children who learn at different levels.  Over the course of multiple years, public schools have developed ways to help every student.  Many public schools offer programs for students who have strong intellectual aptitude and are considered “gifted.”  These gifted programs are one of the countless benefits that the public school system has to offer.  The public school’s curriculums are very beneficial, because they provide the gifted student with a proper amount of education to excel in the future; the public school keeps students from being restricted, and it raises the students to a higher educational level.

One aspect of the gifted programs in public schools that makes it valuable to students is the quantity of education it provides.  Gifted programs are structured around the child’s intellect.  The structure then allows each student to receive the proper amount of schooling, giving him the opportunity to be at the top of the business world in the future.  In an article by J.H. Van Sickle, the superintendent of schools in Baltimore Maryland, he addresses this point explaining how, “Every child has a right to enough education to make him as useful as the limitation of his natural endowment will permit” (Van Sickle 1910).  The gifted programs offered by public schools help students to reach their full potential for the future.  The programs allow the gifted child’s intellect to grow and use his abilities to be functional in the workforce.  The gifted curriculums have continually grown and adapted, but they still focus on helping the student to be successful in the future.

The gifted courses offered by the public schools also prevent “gifted” students from being restricted by the regular curriculum.  Students with great intellectual aptitudes can often be held back by the normal program in schools.  Gifted students may learn at a quicker pace than the standard curriculum is based on, and the students would have to hold back their intellectual abilities to stay in the limits of the program. Van Sickle discusses in his research how gifted children “cannot profit by instruction as given under ordinary school conditions is undoubtedly in the right direction” (Van Sickle, 1910).    With the gifted programs, these talented students can learn at a more advanced pace.  With gifted programs, public schools are able to teach children with great intelligence at a pace that suits them better than the normal program.  In an article by the National Association for Gifted Children, it discusses how these gifted programs “match high level student general ability and specific talent with optimal learning opportunities” (2008).  Public schools take gifted students and figure out their learning abilities, and put them in a class that will optimize their learning opportunities.  Gifted programs help advanced students to receive the best opportunities by providing classes suited towards their abilities.

The final aspect that is vital to the beneficial gifted programs offered by the public school system is that it raises students to a higher level, pushing them to try harder in school.  The gifted programs drive students to try their best, and to learn more in their educational career.  As time progresses more students are raising themselves to a higher educational level, trying to gain more knowledge.  In a study done by the Gifted Development Center, the amount of gifted children in public schools was measured over the course of thirty years.


Table 1


 IQ Testing in Children

Males above 160 IQ

Females above 160 IQ                                             

1979 –1989




1990 – 2009




1979 – 2009





Note.  The data on gifted children is from “IQ Testing in Children,” by Linda Silverman, 2013,, 1, p.p. 8

As the gifted programs in public schools grow over the years, more students are challenged to do their best in academics, raising the number of gifted children in the public school system.

The public school system offers many benefits to students, such as gifted courses.  These programs provide students with the necessary amount of information as a way to free themselves from the pace of the normal curriculum. Also, the gifted programs push students to reach a higher educational level.  With these types of courses in place, public schools continually benefit students and better prepare them for the future.



Silverman, L., (2009).  IQ Testing in Childhood.  Gifted development center, 1.

Van Sickle, J. H. (1910). Provision for gifted children in public schools. The Elementary   School Teacher, 10(8), 357-366. doi: JSTOR

Why gifted and talented education is important. (2008). Retrieved from





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Newton Shootings Cause Uprising in Proposed Bills

April 25, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Over the months since the Newtown shootings over four hundred different bills have been proposed by state legislatures as ways of preventing such an occurrence from occurring again. These bills include arming teachers, more police or armed security guards at schools, and increasing the security of school buildings. Although the focus of most of the attention has been on gun control bills and those that propose arming teachers the highest number focused on school emergency planning. These bills focus on the reactions of schools to events and help to prepare students and teachers for events like those in Newtown
Shah, N. . Retrieved from

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New York Could Require Students to Write Paper to Graduate

April 24, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

High school students in New York may have to write a 1,250-word essay to be able to receive their diploma. This paper is planned to be used as an evaluation whether student have the skills needed after graduation. This plan was proposed by the state’s Education Department with support of Education Commissioner John King. This paper is in response to the awful percentage, 35%, of graduates in the state believed to be prepared for college and a career.

Lawrence, J. 24 April 2013. New York Could Require Students to Write Paper to Graduate. Retrieved from

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Revoked Charters Could Be Forgiven $12M in Loans

April 23, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Lawmakers in Indiana are deciding if they should forgive loans that were given to charter schools. In total about $12.9 million was given to aid the “failing” schools. The charters are handled and authorized by Ball State University. Unfortunately, due to unsatisfactory results seven out of the eight charters were revoked in January; the eighth school did not pursue a renewal of the charter. Three of the eight schools are run by Imagine Schools; in total they borrowed $6.3 million and still owe $6.28 million. Imagine is looking to challenge the revocation of the charters. Even if the loans are not forgiven, Indiana will have to pay for the loans. The money will come from Indiana’s tuition disbursement fund.

LoBianco, Tom. (2013). Revoked charters could be forgiven $12M in loans. The Associated Press. Retrieved from

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Meditation Could Help Students Get Better Grades, Study Finds

April 22, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Researchers from George Mason University and the University of Illinois conducted a study on students in a psychology class. They taught approximately half of the students how to meditate before listening to a lecture and then gave a quiz to all the students in the class. Those who meditated prior to the lecture did better on the quiz than those who did not meditate. They found that students who meditated did so well on quizzes that researchers were able to predict which students would pass and which would fail the quiz. Researchers believe that meditation helps with mental clarity, focus, and self-discipline. Therefore, meditation may be the future in improving cognitive function with enormous consequences.

Meditation could help students get better grades, study finds. (2013, April 20). Retrieved from

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Climbing the Pyramid

April 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs


A world-renowned psychologist believed that some needs took precedence over others.  With this in mind, Abraham Moslow developed a hierarchy that placed primal necessities above any further desires: “at the base of this pyramid are our physiological needs, such as those for food and water; only if these needs are met are we prompted to meet our need for safety, and then to satisfy the uniquely human needs to give and receive love and to enjoy self-esteem” (Myers, 2007, p. 472).  An education requires each student to have the motivation to succeed, but self-actualization needs, or the aspiration to live up to one’s fullest and individual potential, reside at the highest attainable spot in Maslow’s hierarchy.  In order for a child to learn, he must have the resources required.  Unfortunately, not all children have access to these necessities, but public schools have instituted programs to help.

Nearly sixteen million children were living below the federal poverty line in 2012. (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2012)  With so many people struggling to keep their family fed and safe, their children’s education was not always a priority.  Fortunately, the government already has programs in place to help their children achieve in school.  To provide students with the energy to learn, the government has established a program that will ensure the basic needs of a student are met: “the National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public schools… [which] provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day” (United States Department of Agriculture, 2012).  With this beneficial program, children living in poverty are one step closer to succeeding in school.

To conquer a few more levels of Maslow’s pyramid, schools have developed plans to provide the most stable and loving environment possible to a child living in destitution.  Through the McKinney-Vento Act, if a child loses his home and is forced to live in temporary housing– with relatives or at a homeless shelter –then, the school he originally attended will still allow him to enroll, even if he no longer lives in the district.  Additionally, the school will provide transportation to guarantee that the student is still able to continue earning his education.  With these accommodations, the McKinney-Vento Act has “saved lives and helped hundreds of thousands of Americans to regain stability” (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2006).  Providing them with a few more necessities, schools have helped students overcome their hardships.

Unfortunately, the costs of these programs place a heavy burden on public schools, especially with the recent downturn of the economy.  Since the stock market dropped in 2008, schools have seen a large increase– nearly five percent, in some cases –in the number of students needing assistance. (Weise & Weise, 2009)  The cost of these additional students has made it difficult for schools to maintain the positive programs that allow students to excel and places even greater stress on the school’s tight budget.  Luckily, public schools have recognized the value that these programs have to children living without the adequate resources to succeed and continue to support them.

Obstacles only make a person stronger if they have the basics to defeat it.  A child living in poverty only has the ability to succeed if programs within his school provide him with his fundamental needs.  Schools have risen to the occasion and allowed every child the opportunity to conquer the famous psychologist’s hierarchy; they allow him to climb the pyramid and flourish.



Myers, D. (2007). Psychology. Holland, MI: Worth Publishers.

Nation Center for Children in Poverty (2012). Child poverty. NCCP. Retrieved from

National Coalition for the Homeless (2006, June). McKinney-Vento act. NCH. Retrieved from

United States Department of Agriculture (2012, June 6). National school lunch program. USDA.

Retrieved from

Weise, E., & Weise, P. (2009, June 10). School systems juggle cost of free lunch. USA Today.

Retrieved from


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The Status of Gifted Education Funding in the United States

April 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Gifted Program, Public Education Programs


Gifted children are children who learn at an accelerated pace or at a higher level than their average peers. If properly nurtured and educated, the potential of these children is enormous. However, these children are often overlooked and underfunded. Gifted education is a section of special education, except rather than falling below standards, gifted students exceed them (O’Connell, 2012). Although it is special education, recent legislation, such as the No Child Left Behind Act has shifted the focus of education to bringing up the bottom of the educational spectrum, leaving the gifted students with far less appropriated funds and resources to operate on. In some cases, there is no funding for gifted education whatsoever. Overall, the funding of gifted education in the United States is far less than ideal.

One of the most significant problems facing gifted education in the United States is that very few recognize the magnitude of its importance. According to Scott O’Connell of the Metrowest Daily News, if gifted children are not adequately educated and provided for, they are: “prone to underachievement, depression and, in the worst-case scenario, high school dropout status” (O’Connell 2012). Unfortunately, many gifted children are inadequately handled. For example: “the federal government provides only two cents of every hundred dollars spent on education to gifted children” (Lichtenwalter, 2011). With so little federal funding, most of the burden falls upon the state. However, the states do not effectively shoulder the burden of the funding and education of gifted students either. Some states have little gifted funding, while others have no gifted funding at all. The following graphic exemplifies the dire situation of funding for exceptional students:

adam graph 1

Figure 1. Level of gifted education funding by state in the United States. Adapted from: Davidson Institute for Talent Development. (2013). Gifted Education State Policies. Copyright 2013 by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Adapted with permission.

The above graph shows that gifted education is only mandated and fully funded by the state in four states. By contrast, there are 17 states in which no gifted funding is provided by the state. The remaining states are either not mandated to have gifted programs or are only partially funded by the state. This severe funding issue puts many gifted and talented students at risk of not reaching their full potential. When gifted students do not reach their full potential, their futures as well as the future of the country are put at risk. The children in the gifted education programs throughout the United States are the children who will become the doctors, lawyers, scientists, and leaders of the next generation.

Educational funding is a tricky issue. There is very little to go around as it is, and the money that remains after the educational essentials is a very small amount. However, the money that is left over after the essentials are paid for is misappropriated. The children with the greatest potential are given the least amount of attention and funding. When the geniuses of the current generation are neglected, the future of the country is put at risk. Those who can solve tomorrow’s problems have not been adequately prepared to do so. In order to prepare the doctors, lawyers, presidents and astrophysicists of the future, the government must provide the necessary funding to allow the sharpest tools in the shed to be used to their full potential. Gifted funding is not a drain on valuable government resources, it is an investment in the future of the country, helping to develop the bright minds of today into the lights that lead the world to a better, smarter future.




Davidson Institute for Talent Development. (2013). Gifted Education State Policies.         Retrieved February 18, 2013, from:

Lichtenwalter, S. (2011, January 4). The necessity of increased funding for gifted education and more training for teachers in charge of identifying gifted students.      Essai, 25. Retrieved from

O’Connell, S. (2012, May 27). Gifted education funding falling short on high achievers. The Metrowest Daily News. Retrieved from            funding-falling-short-on-high-achievers?zc_p=0

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The Educational Experience

April 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Vs. Private, School Structure

Public schools and private schools are called such for an obvious reason. The terms immediately inform one of which institutions have open doors, and which have a secret password. Alone, these terms place the systems on opposite sides of the spectrum; however, there is also the number one similarity shown between the two: education. No matter which side a family chooses, the children are going to learn one way or another. Nevertheless, one vital question still lingers in the air: which school is better? Honestly, it is difficult to say exactly what school system is superior. Nevertheless, students of any background can find an excellent education at public schools.

Because public schools are open to nearly anyone in the community, families with disabled children are more likely to attend there. Private schools usually require a placement test to enter the school, as well as a hefty tuition fee. Families who have children with special needs are often “faced with paying for therapies themselves, or making the most of what is provided through public programs” (Interactive Autism Network, 2008), so the idea of sending their children to a private school is usually out of the equation. With this in mind, numerous public schools offer various therapies and aids to these students in hopes of lightening the parents’ loads. The Interactive Autism Network (IAN) Community studied the trends of families with autistic children and revealed that the majority of these families attend public schools.

eva graph 1

Figure 1. Percentage of children with ASD that attend a particular type of school. Total number of children: 5,935.

There are specific private schools for disabled children; however, public schools tend to show more progressive and effective methods of teaching. In fact, for every school in the U.S., “federal law mandates that every child receives a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible” (AACAP, 2011). Although private schools can be specialized for disabled children, public schools relieve most of the stresses that come with admission obstacles because they are, by definition, open to the public.

Aside from accessibility, a common misconception is that students who attend private schools do better on state tests. This is not always the case. Because private schools pick their students individually, they usually choose the best children, and this is what makes the school’s performance so impressive. Conversely, public schools are obligated to enroll anyone, so their rankings tend to seem lower in comparison. Yet, if both schools had the same type of student body, which one would seem more superior? Analyzed in the 2003 NAEP math test results, if demographics and location of the communities were taken into consideration, public school fourth-graders performed better, if not similarly, than private school fourth-graders.

eva graph 2

Figure 2. Test scores from different types of private schools compared to the public school average (represented by the red line). The difference of ten points equals about one grade level.

Based on the data collected from this and other studies, it has become clear that public schools and private schools are not completely distinct from one another. The factors that lead to these statistics range from specific teaching methods to community settings, which, by nature, vary from school to school. If private schools had the same aspects as public schools, the difference would not be so definite. At a glance, private schools seem like superb places to send a child to for a solid education; but up close, public schools also provide exceptional learning environments.

Due to the multitude of student aids and efficient settings in public schools, private schools are not as superior as they seem. Private districts are great for specific learning experiences, but public schools are tremendous places for children to study diverse lessons. Truthfully, the fight over which school is greater will not end for many years, and this generation may not find a solid answer. As of now, all anyone can do is analyze what is better for his or her children, and send them down a path that suits them best.



AACAP (March 2011). Services in School for Children with Special Needs: What Parents Need To Know. Retrieved from

Drum, K. (January 28, 2006). Public vs. Private. Washington Monthly. Retrieved from

Interactive Autism Network: IAN Community (August 25, 2008). IAN “Back to School” Report. Kennedy Krieger Institute. Retrieved from


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Art Benefits in Public Education

April 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Fine Arts, Public Education Programs

Arts education has been a part of the public education system since education was established. Recently, however, there has been a dismaying decrease in arts education as more emphasis is placed on core curriculums such as math and English. This decline is a loss for students as research has found that incorporating the arts into education helps to improve what Fran Smith calls: “motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork” (Smith, 2009) in schools. Art involvement is also associated with “gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill” (Smith, 2009). In this day and age, where test scores are decreasing, as evidenced in The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice’s analysis of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trend exam (as cited in Klein, 2012), while demands for better results are increasing, what public education needs is not more funding or extra emphasis on reading and math, but further integration of arts in the curriculum. Therefore, authorities should be making good investments in public education by incorporating arts education rather than spending more time, money, effort, and attention on core curriculums like math and English.

Studies, like those done by the Department of Education, have shown that arts integration helps students, especially those of low socioeconomic status, to improve their comprehension and long-term retention of learned material. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has also used such studies to formalize their research report on the “potential benefits of arts education for at-risk youth” (Gifford, 2012). The reason arts integration yields such good results is because it utilizes teaching practices that are based on brain research. Because the arts, according to Eisner, are “typically process-driven and relationship based” (as cited in Fact Sheet About the Benefits of Arts Education for Children), they offset the easy-to-measure standardized testing. The arts play an important role in improving the learning abilities of students because they employ a wide range of what Gardener calls: “intelligences and learning styles, not just the linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences upon which most schools are based” (as cited in Fact Sheet About the Benefits of Arts Education for Children). By teaching the students various ways of approaching a subject, the children learn to be more creative in their thinking, and their problem solving skills improve.

Arts education teaches students the importance of cultivating creativity and innovation. It “encourages [in a fun way] healthy risk taking, helps kids recognize new skills in themselves and others, provides a way to differentiate instruction, builds collaboration among both students and teachers, bridges differences, and draws in parents and the community” (Nobori, 2012). In addition, having an arts education, according to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) press release, is also said to be related to “better academic outcomes, higher career goals and higher levels of civic engagement” (as cited in Ni, 2012). Americans for the Arts, a non-profit organization for advancing the arts in America, has also compiled a booklet presenting statistics on how beneficial the arts are to education.

ariel graph 1


Figure 1: Visual of Percentages. Adapted from “Facts & Figures.” Copyright 2013 by Americans for the Arts. Adapted with permission.

ariel graph 2

Figure 2: Visual of Statistics. Adapted from “Facts and Figures.” Copyright 2013 by Americans for the Arts. Adapted with permission.

The data from these charts indicate that the arts are motivating students. This is a significant discovery because in learning, motivation is key. If the students do not enjoy their classes, they are less likely to be motivated to finish their education. Dropping out of school may result in financial success for a select few, but for most students, dropping out of school means inevitable financial destruction in the future. Time and time again, society has shown that those who have either an incomplete high school education or have only a high school education tend to have lower socio-economical statuses, jobs that pay less, and a lower standard of living. That is why, with America’s national test scores as they are now, more arts education in public school curriculums would improve these statistics. If arts integration can help encourage students to learn more and achieve higher goals, then, is it not worth a try? The answer is yes; arts integration is definitely a plausible solution to the current educational crisis. Therefore, because arts education is such a boon to schooling, it should be increasingly incorporated in the curriculum. In any case, the benefits of arts integration are not theoretical; they have actually been proven to work well in the public schools that have woven the arts and standard curriculum together. For example, Maryland’s Bates Middle School has adopted an increased arts education in their curriculum and has seen its students’ test scores and classroom participation soar (Nobori, 2012). Hence, arts education is a possible option that should be looked into as a solution to the current academic crises of America.

While learning, it is vital to have fun. If the students are not enjoying themselves, how can they pay attention and retain class material? Arts integration of school curriculum will not only make the students’ classes more engaging and, most of all, fun, but will also assist in the facilitation of learning and retaining information. Besides, engagement is linked with boosted academic growth and improved discipline (Nobori, 2012). Therefore, arts education is a viable teaching method that may be a helpful solution to the current academic crisis. If arts integration can help students achieve the higher expectations, then why not invest in ways in which they can both learn and have fun? That way, it is a win-win situation for everyone; parents, teachers and other concerned authorities will have the advanced academic progress they are looking for, and students will gain the benefits of arts education.








Americans for the Arts. (2013). Facts & figures. Washington: Retrieved from

Americans for the Arts (2013). Visual of Percentages. “Facts & Figures,” pp. 7.

Americans for the Arts (2013). Visual of Statistics. “Facts & Figures,” pp. 7.

Fact Sheet about the Benefits of Arts Education for Children. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Gifford, S. National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency, (2012). New NEA

Research Report shows Potential Benefits of Arts Education for At-Risk Youth. Retrieved from website:

Klein, F. (2012, November 26). Test scores decline despite increased education spending.

Retrieved from

Ni, K. (2012, 4 14). Arts Education Benefits Public School Students. Epoch Times. Retrieved


Nobori, M. (2012, 8 29). How The Arts Unlock the Door to Learning. Retrieved from

Smith, F. (2009, 1 28). Why Arts Education is Crucial, and Who’s Doing It Best. Retrieved from

Pogrebin, R. (2007, 8 4). Arts Education Benefits Public School Students. New York Times.

Retrieved from

Ruppert, S. S. (2006). Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement. National

Assembly of State Arts Agencies in collaboration with the Arts Education Partnership. Retrieved from



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Innovative Teaching

April 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles, Public Education Programs, Technology


Classroom-based teaching, textbooks, and blackboards have all been conventions of public school in America for centuries. Even today, in an age where the possibilities of creativity are endless, and new technology has changed the way we approach even the simplest tasks, these outdated items still remain in schools. At a time when student success in Asian and European countries is beginning to challenge the achievement of American students, it is apparent that a change must be made to the existing educational system in this country. Using successful trials of innovative teaching in other countries as examples, the United States can begin integrating technology and non-conventional methods of learning into school curriculums. This transition to relevant and more effective teaching techniques will not only improve student understanding of course content and increase test scores, but it will also prepare students to think abstractly about the world around them and will establish the United States as one of the world’s leading countries in public education.

From 2010 to 2012, there were a series of experimental studies in Australia intended to improve scientific literacy of high school students and encourage them to view science as an enjoyable and creative field. The Biostories Project, as the venture was called, merged the previously separate concepts of narrative writing and scientific research. Louisa Tomas, one of the project’s researchers, writes in her article that “situating students’ writing in the context of a socioscientific issue enhances the relevance of the learning activities and offers students an opportunity to explore societal issues and problems with conceptual links to science and technology” (Tomas, 2012). By writing creative stories about scientific topics, students can incorporate aspects of their own experiences into their work and gain a better understanding of the subject matter.

The results of the studies provided evidence of significant improvement in comprehension and enjoyment of the curriculum over the course of the project. Scientific literacy was evaluated through the Biostories, which were written by students before and after the project, and compared. Tomas reports that students “were able to verbalize their understandings in conversations about their stories [and]…could recall or explain concepts two to six weeks after completing the final writing task…” (Tomas, 2012). After completing The Biostories Project, students could apply their newly acquired knowledge to issues that are relevant today, such as biosecurity and environmental conservation. The project was a major success, proving that non-conventional methods of learning could equal, if not surpass, the conventional classroom system.

Those who possess an opposing viewpoint might argue that the educational system should not abandon the tried-and-tested way of teaching, which has seemed to work perfectly since this country’s founding. After all, some of the brightest minds in the history of the United States were educated this way. In her article, Nicole Smith criticizes online classes, a very progressive form of teaching, claiming that they remove the social aspect from student’s education: “Online classrooms lack the ability to be personalized and will have a negative impact on both the social and educational lives of their students” (Smith, 2011). Although students who take online classes do not receive the face-to-face instruction that is offered in a traditional classroom, this does not hinder their ability to succeed in their academic studies. In fact, a study by the East Carolina University, in which 23 students were enrolled in a traditional class and 24 students were enrolled in the corresponding online course with the same instructor, course material, and assignments, showed that the students who took the online course earned a higher grade than their classroom counterparts (Tucker, 2001). While the classroom method is certainly not detrimental to student success, one cannot challenge the fact that the world is constantly changing, and that this change leads to new advancements in science and technology. In order to accommodate the new expectations of the job market, education must keep up with the times and encourage students to embrace technology and learn to master it for the future.

Countries around the world are beginning to integrate innovative teaching methods into their school curriculums and, as a result, are excelling in student achievement. The Biostories Project demonstrates the effectiveness of this ground-breaking movement, and proves that progress is imperative. Whether schools will encourage students to solve problems using technology, or will begin to incorporate abstract activities into lesson plans, it is apparent that education will change in the future. In order for the United States not to fall behind in the world arena, it must accept this change and fully embrace it. The curriculums of our schools must be completely renovated to include current and useful material that is applicable to real life scenarios. When this occurs, American students will excel in school and gain the knowledge needed to be successful in a competitive world.



Smith, N. (2011, Dec. 15). In defense of the traditional classroom: An argument against the move to online classes. Retrieved from

Tomas, L. (2012). Writing narratives about a socioscientific issue: Engaging students and learning science. Teaching Science: The Journal Of The Australian Science Teachers Association, 58(4), 24-28.

Tucker, S. (2001). Distance education: Better, worse, or as good as traditional education? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 4(4). Retrieved from

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The Perks and Downfalls of Uniforms

April 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, Articles


In the American society, a person’s personality or rank can be seen through the garments that he wears. The clothes on someone’s back can make the difference in getting a career and getting into a college. This poses a debate in public schools about whether to let the personality of the student shine or require schools to have uniforms, to make everyone the same.

With all the positives of uniforms, there are many negatives. Uniforms take away a student’s right for free expression, and to show off his or her personality. In an article in The Journal of Negro Education, the writers state: “One primary argument espoused by the opponents of uniforms is that public schools’ interfere with the students’ right to choose their dress—a violation of the students’ First Amendment right of free speech” (Mitchell, 2003). This violation of students’ rights is a major factor in the debate over uniforms.

They can also bring up issues with women’s rights activists, who say that some uniforms are sexist. The requirement of female students to wear skirts is very controversial. In a newspaper article in Off Our Books, the author discusses this debate in schools in New York: “There are enough problems with sexual harassment in school and we should not make it worse [by requiring girls to wear skirts]” (“Sexism and School Uniforms”, 1998). The regulations for the use of uniforms, such as females having to wear skirts and males having to wear pants, goes against many of the beliefs of feminism. By implementing school uniforms officials are taking away from a students’ right to express themselves.

However, sexist and formal uniforms are they do pose a solution to many social problems students have. Many students are judged by their appearance. To solve this dilemma of persecution for one’s attire, uniforms seem to be an adequate solution. When implemented in some schools, uniforms have positively affected the student’s academic life. In an article by Marian Wilde, a reporter on schools, she states: “A 2005 study…indicates that in some Ohio high schools uniforms may have improved graduation and attendance rates, although no improvements were observed in academic performance” (Marian, 2013). These improvements contribute to the fact that the students do not have to worry about what they wear. In 1996, President Clinton agreed with the use of uniforms in public schools stating: “If it means teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms” (Marian, 2013). Uniforms are seen as a guiding light in the fight to improve public schools for students.

Wearing uniforms may seem to be an easy fix for many issues in public education. However, implementing a dress code will not solve problems, instead it will create more. Regulated school attire takes away personal rights and can be sexist towards women. The disadvantages of uniforms outweigh the positives.



Mitchell, W. H., & Knechtle, C. J. (2003). Uniforms in Public Schools and the First Amendment: A Constitutional Analysis. The Journal of Negro Education, 72(4), 487-494. JSTOR. Retrieved from:

Wilde, M. (2013). Do uniforms make schools better. Great Schools, 1.

 (1998 April). Sexism and School Uniforms. Off Our Backs, Vol. 28, No. 4. Retrieved from:

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More in New York City Qualify as Gifted After Error Is Fixed

April 21, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Recently in New York, about 2,700 students were wrongly informed that that they did not qualify for public school gifted programs because of test scoring mistakes. Pearson, the company which created and graded the exams, apologized and is now currently trying to inform the previously turned down students that actually were eligible. A total of 6 students who did not actually qualify were notified that they did, but because of the circumstances their eligibility will not be lost. As a consequence of these mistakes, the city is going to withhold $500,000 from Pearson’s contract.

Baker, A. 19 April 2013. More in New York City Qualify as Gifted After Error Is Fixed. Retrieved from

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Music Education In Public Schools Gets A Passing Grade

April 20, 2013 in 2012-2013, Archive, NewsFlash

Music programs in public schools have steadily been growing. Almost 94% of the nation wide schools have. Most teachers believe this is due to the No Child Left Behind act. There are almost 2.1 million children around the country without a music program in their life. Most elementary school teachers gave their music programs a very low rating.


Pellegrinelli, L. (2012, April 06). Music Education In Public Schools Gets A Passing Grade . Retrieved from

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