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Calculators: Permitted in High School, Banned in College

You could enter just about any high school classroom in the United States and find students using a calculator. A number of students use expensive calculators with advanced features, like the ones from Texas Instrument, which are pretty commonplace in the classroom, usually starting around middle school. These mini computer, which often run for about $100, are also found in a number of home offices, and some calculators serve as mementos for students who have recently completed their SATs or Advanced Placement calculus exams.


However, when it comes to using calculators in college, professors can’t seem to get on one accord. A number of college instructors wants students to use pencil and paper in math class to ensure they understand the concepts. According to a national survey from 2010 by the Mathematical Association of America, about 50% of all Calculus 1 college professionals don’t all students to use graphic calculators for exams.


The calculator debate has been going on for about forty years, which is almost as long as modern calculators have been around. Previously, the abacus was the counting tool used for accuracy, and in 1958, Jack Kilby from Texas Instrument invented the integrated circuit. This made is easier to use affordable and extremely small computer chips in many of the handheld technological devices we use today. Later, Kilby won the Nobel Prize for physics. Prices for graphic calculators have gone down slightly as well; from about $100 to around $80.


Those who support the use of technology in the classroom say that calculators with algebraic symbols reduce the need for students to memorize certain mathematical formulas. This could make figuring out math problems less time consuming. However, others in the educational system think that depending on calculators will reduce students’ understanding of mathematical algorithms.


Key Figures in the Education Sector

The governance and control of schools are distributed among different departments of the government. President-elect Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos to be the U.S. Education Secretary. However, DeVos will not be the only influential figure in education matters. Below are five candidates who could influence the American education system:


Tom Price

Price has been nominated for the U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services position. The Administration for Children and Families falls under his docket. He will be in charge of Children’s Welfare Bureau’s welfare initiatives, federal foster care money, and funding for Head Start. It facilitates early-childhood education to low-income children.


Jeff Sessions

Sessions has been nominated for the U.S. Attorney General position. Many activists and civil-rights groups have proposed that the Education’s Department’s Office for Civil Rights be moved to the Department of Justice. Sessions said that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was objectionable. The act was developed by the Obama administration to help students get work permits at universities.


Ben Carson

Carson has been nominated for the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development position. The link between his docket and education seems to be less perceptible. However, the current Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Education Secretary have work on numerous projects like racial diversity and absenteeism in schools.


Ryan Zinke

He has been nominated to be the next U.S Secretary of the Interior. He will be influential in classroom matters through the Bureau of Indian Education. The department is responsible for ensuring tribal children receive education and grant money.


Rex Tillerson

Tillerson has been nominated for the U.S. Secretary of State position. His docket is in charge of federal funds, international scholarships, and corporate cultural-exchange programs.


Randi Weingarten Opposes Betsy DeVos’ Appointment

The President of the American Federation of Teachers Union (AFTU) criticized Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education. Randi Weingarten stated that Betsy DeVos was the most anti-public education nominee to be chosen in the department’s history. Weingarten said that DeVos is not qualified for the job. Moreover, she said that the businesswoman has no experience to serve in the powerful docket.


Weingarten continued by saying that DeVos’ attempts to privatize the education sector was a destructive move because it would negatively affect public schools and the success of children. She said these remarks at the National Press Club.


The union had endorsed Hillary Clinton for Presidency. Weingarten and Clinton have been personal allies for a long time. The union was critical of DeVos’ appointment because she has never served in a public school. Weingarten showed a lot of support of the new Every Student Succeeds Act that is set to replace the No Child Left Behind Act. Weingarten continued by saying that if DeVos’ confirmation was passed, she would oppose the new act. Her actions are likely to undermine public schools.


DeVos has been criticized heavily because her billionaire family has funded charter and private schools in the state of Michigan. In 2000, the DeVos Family was at the forefront of an initiative that was meant to allow students to attend private schools. The initiative was to be funded by taxpayers money. DeVos has also invested a lot of money in expanding charter schools in Detroit. Many people have criticized her support for charter schools in Michigan because they perform poorly on national tests.


Weingarten asked DeVos to spend more time and resources in public schools. DeVos’ confirmation is set to be postponed until the Office of Government Ethics reviews her financial holdings.


Why Ideas About Modern Education Fail to Work

An education researcher in Australia has reached a concerning conclusion about the state of education in Western societies. According to a news report published by National Public Radio, the researcher delved into a thousand ideas and concepts developed in the 20th century about education, and it turns out that these ideas have not worked very well in practice.


Professor John Hattie of the University of Melbourne explained that his longitudinal research looked at the academic lives of 250,000 students around the world. Professor Hattie identified five modern practices that are failing to get the desired effect:


1 – Achievement exams: Some of the most successful academic institutions in the world do not require too many standardized test from their students. It is more important to provide teachers with constant feedback to improve upon their profession and their classroom performance.


2 – Class size: Smaller classrooms are not as effective as they are believed to be. Some private and public classrooms in Japan comfortably sit 35 students and regularly get high marks from educational analysts. It is more important to train teachers adequately and to give them tools and feedback.


3 – Academic standards: Minimum academic standards can easily backfire because there will always be some students with learning disabilities while other will be gifted. Standards should only be set at the lower grades; after the third grade, the progress of students should be individual.


4 – School choice: Parents are often misguide in their decisions about the schools their children should attend. In the private school sphere, parents often fall for marketing schemes.


5 – Education budgets: Some of the best performing nations in terms of math, reading and science do not spend too much money on public education. The difference is that some countries encourage student-teacher collaboration to improve the classroom experience.

California’s Cheap Community Colleges

California has many colleges and universities. However, not every student can attend them because they cannot afford to pay for their high tuition fees. Numerous community colleges are affordable. It is not advisable for students to take loans to pay for their tertiary education when they can easily attend community colleges. You should also remember that many community colleges have high acceptance rates and offer financial aid to the incoming students. Below is a list of the cheapest community colleges in California:


Cypress College

The college has approximately 16,000 students enrolled in their various degree programs. Cypress College charges a tuition fee of $1,135 per student. This amount is easily affordable. The college is an excellent choice for students seeking the traditional associate degree.


Las Positas College

The college has a population of 8,500 students. It is located in Livermore and covers 147 acres. Las Positas College charges $1,140 for tuition fees.


Yucaipa College

It is a great college for students seeking to pursue radiology courses. Many students earn a degree at the beginning of the year from Yucaipa College. Each student pays $1,126 as tuition fee. The college has enrolled approximately 5,549 students. It is also a great institution and a cheaper option for students taking political science.


Antelope Valley College

The college has enrolled 14,324 students. Its tuition fee stands at $1,114. Antelope Valley College is a good selection for honor programs. The school offers live discussions of important topics to enable the students to grasp concepts of critical issues.


Barstow Community College

It is a good institution for students interested in arts. The college recently opened a performing arts center. The tuition fee is $1,232. There are approximately 3,455 students enrolled in the institution

How Much Should a School District be Forced to Pay for Special Education?

Did you know that a critical court case involving education law is being argued in front of the Supreme Court? It’s true! The outcome of this case could change everything for school districts across America. Basically, the case involves the rights of disabled children. For example, it is considered unconstitutional to simply refuse to educate a student who has a disability. The school district is responsible for educating all students. This means school districts often have to hire additional staff and splurge for extra resources to help certain students.


For the most part, districts are happy to provide extra money for special education services. Naturally, this seems like the humane thing to do. However, a family in Colorado felt that the services the school district provided for their autistic son weren’t enough. In protest, they removed their son from the school, and they placed the student in a private school that employed a host of experts and plenty of resources for their son. Not surprisingly, the parents felt their son did much better in this private school.


The case before the Court is about who is supposed to pay for this expensive school. The tuition for the school exceeds $70,000 a year. The parents feel the school district must pay for the tuition, as they stress it is the school district’s responsibility to educate their son. The school district is arguing they already offered more than enough support, and it is not realistic to expect the school district to pay for such an expensive school based upon the preferences of the parents and their child.


So far, the justices seem to struggling as to how to rule. They understand students should be helped, but school districts shouldn’t be forced into bankruptcy to do it. What do you think the ruling should be?


What Does The Every Child Succeeds Act Mean For Public Schools?

The discussions began the minute President Obama signed the Every Child Succeeds Act back in 2015.


The act is a stark opposite to Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. The new act will go into effect the start of the new school year beginning in 2017 and will give educators a unique opportunity to try new ways of reaching student’s potential.


The most talked about aspect of this new act is that it allows the school leaders the power to create their own measure of success. The act was built around the idea that every educational system is unique and has different issues.


Of course, educators from struggling schools see this as a chance to finally find a way to help their students succeed academically. They will no longer have to cater their curriculum around quarterly standardized testing, Instead, they will be able to teach their students in whatever style seems to work for the specific demographic of their particular school.


So, how will schools deal with this new change when the time comes? Some teachers argue that while the new act has great potential, educational leaders might not be open from allowing teachers to deviate from the curriculum that has been used for years. This could hinder any progress to be made from the new measures.


It is important to note that schools will still have to report student’s progress, especially those that are considered undeserved, such as special education students. Schools will also need to create goals and report on the progress they have made to reaching them throughout the school year.


It will be interesting to see how the new measures will play out in public school districts across the country.



Public Education in Arizona Set for Change with Proposed Law

At his first official address for 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey delivered a substantial portion of his speech to talking about Proposition 123, which is considered by many to be a reform of the state’s school system.


The amendments and improvements being proposed include a new funding system that would stay ahead of the looming inflation. This new financial system would not require an increase in taxes; however, it only guarantees adequate funding for the next few years. Log-term funding would have to be tackled by the next Governor, who may very well be Ducey if he seeks reelection.


What is interesting about Proposition 123 is how it intends to obtain funds to cover public education: Arizona is one of a handful of states that has a public Land Trust that can serve as a source of funding. Proposition 123 calls for active management of the State Land Trust so that all the revenue earned goes back into the trust for reinvestment.


Prior to the introduction of Proposition 123, the Arizona public school system used to receive 2.5 percent of the State Land Trust, currently valued at $5 billion. The new law increases that rate to 6.9 percent. What is important about this reform is that the Land Trust managers must be very skilled in keeping it profitable. The Wall Street climate of 2016 certainly helped in this regard, but this is not a guarantee for 2017.


With the new reforms in place, Arizona now has plenty of money to ensure that all public schools can provide textbooks to their students. Proposition 123 also guarantees raises in the salaries of Arizona teachers; all the same, these raises may not be enough to prevent educators from fleeing to neighboring states such as California and Colorado, where the are bound to earn more.

Free Tuition for New York Students

The state of New York has unveiled a plan that will make college free for middle class and low-income students.


On Tuesday, January 10, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to get rid of tuition fees for students from families that earn $125,000 or less per year. This proposed plan, known as the Excelsior Scholarship, would be applicable at state and city universities in the state. Community colleges would also be eligible.


Throughout the 2016 presidential election, college tuition was an issue that galvanized many younger voters. Citing the high cost of tuition and the economic stress it places on many families, Cuomo believes that the Excelsior Scholarship is a necessary form of aid. When unveiling the plan, he compared graduating college with thousands of dollars of debt to “starting a race with an anchor tied to your leg.”


The proposed plan was revealed at LaGuardia Community College. Governor Cuomo was joined by Bernie Sanders, who stressed the importance of free tuition when he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Sanders said that the Excelsior Scholarship was a “revolutionary” idea. He also noted that if the plan succeeds, many other states might follow.


This isn’t the first time free tuition proposals have gained a foothold on the state level. Tennessee, for example, provides students with free access to two-year community college. The Excelsior Scholarship is the first plan, however, that aims to give students free access to four-year institutions.


The program would work by supplementing existing grant programs, and to implement it would cost the state approximately $163 million. Governor Cuomo hopes to get the scholarship program off the ground without haste. The state of New York is currently planning a three-year roll out. When it is enacted in 2019, as many as 200,000 students may qualify for free tuition.



JPMorgan & Co Offers $20 million in Grants to Help High School Students Find Jobs

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Council of State School Officers have stepped in to help battle the unemployment issues plaguing the nation. During a conference in Washington on Jan. 11th, they announced $20 million in grants dedicated to “dramatically increasing the number of students graduating from high school prepared for careers,” writes Mark Silva of U.S.News. There are 10 states set to receive $2 million each to help boost their educational prowess, and they are the following: Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Ohio, Delaware, and Oklahoma.


According to JPMorgan Chase’s CEO and chairman, Jamie Dimon, this is “a national catastrophe” as the unemployment rate for people between ages 16-24 is nearly 10 percent. However, the majority that do have jobs are either part-time or working for low wages. The program’s sponsors say only a mere 50 percent of Americans in their mid-20s have the education necessary in order to survive the job market after high school. It is estimated by 2024 there will be over 16 million well-paying jobs for people without a bachelors degree. Unfortunately, there will be a significant shortage in the number of people with the ability to successfully fill these positions.


Dimon went on to say, “Jobs, growth, training…those are the ways we’re going to fix our problem. We’re hoping that this is a demonstration of how this can work and then multiply it.” JPMorgan plans to invest $325 million during the next five years in its global effort called “New Skills for Youth” with hopes of instilling the necessary skills for adults and the young to become an asset in the workforce. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction to eliminate the increase poverty worldwide and provide a better quality of life for everyone.