Superintendent Says Sorry For Letting Students Drink Lead-Tainted Water

The superintendent of Oregon’s Portland Schools has apologized for letting staff and students keep drinking water at two schools after tests indicated dangerous levels of lead.
“Portland Public Schools regrets not having notified families and staff as soon as the tests indicated that there were elevated levels of lead,” wrote Carole Smith in an email sent to families Friday, which local news site KGW published. “While PPS staff worked quickly to replace all fixtures that indicated elevated levels of lead, we did not turn off the water in those faucets and drinking fountains prior to them being replaced and we should have.”
The district arranged to have water tested at two schools in March and April after local communities requested it, the Willamette Week reports. Those schools were Rose City Park, where about 550 students from first to eighth grade attend classes, and Creston School, a K-8 school with about 400 students.
In both buildings, between six and eight water fountains and sinks had lead levels higher than the maximum amount that the Environmental Protection Agency allows. Some of those levels were double the allowable amount of 15 parts per billion, the Oregonian reports.
The district initially told the news outlet that they immediately cut off the water supply to those fixtures when they got the test results. However, Smith later admitted that the school did not cut off the water supply — or warn people about the lead — while they were repairing the fixtures. That meant that at Rose City Park, students, teachers and staff were using the water as usual for eight school days after the district had the test results, the Oregonian reports. It’s unclear how long students at Creston continued to have access to lead-tainted water. Portland Public Schools did not immediately return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
The school district plans to test schools across the district over the summer. In the meantime, Rose City Park and Creston will use bottled water for drinking and food preparation.

By 10pm tonight all drinking fountains in all @PPSConnect schools will look like this— Mike Benner (@MikeBennerKGW) May 28, 2016

The schools will also use disposable plates and utensils, to avoid having to use lead-tainted water for dishwashing.
Though lead poisoning can affect anyone, children under six and pregnant women are especially at risk. The EPA warns that even low levels of lead in the blood can cause learning and behavior problems, anemia, hearing issues and slowed growth in young children. In adults, lead exposure can also cause problems like high blood pressure, reproductive issues and decreased kidney function. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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To Those Who Can't Go To College: Dreams Don't Have Expiration Dates

To the graduating class that can’t go to college,

It’s the end of May. This is the month where tons of students are graduating high school. For months now, students have been talking about what colleges they got into, where they’re going to study, and what major they’re taking.

But there’s a small group of students who don’t talk like that. They’re not talking about what college they’re going to because they’re not going to college. It’s not because they don’t WANT to, it’s because they can’t due to financial situations, family obligations or as I like to call it, “life getting in the way.” I want to talk to those people because I don’t think enough people do. You need to hear what I’m going to tell you because I speak from experience. The truth is, I was you. I still am.

I grew up in South Texas, in an area called The Rio Grande Valley. When I was growing up there, it was an extremely low-income area, where families worked non-stop to be able to survive. Surviving life is different than living life. Surviving life is about sometimes making big sacrifices for the good of everyone else. When you’re busy trying to survive, it’s easy to forget about your dreams. Nobody ever explained college to me. I didn’t really hear anything about it until my junior year of high school. Nobody told me how expensive it was or what student loans or grants were. When I decided to try and go to college, I realized it was all on me; I had to pay for everything myself. My mom used to make $150 dollars a week cooking at a restaurant. We could barely survive and here I was, this kid with a desire to learn and no way of pulling it off. I had to do all the paperwork to get scholarships, grants, loans and it still wasn’t enough for me to pay for school.

Aside from the financial restraints, the bigger reason I couldn’t graduate from college was because I had to help my family out. I tried to go but had to quit a couple times for personal reasons. The first time was to help take care of my sister’s kids so that she could go to work, and the second time was because my mother got sick. After the second time, I never went back. I didn’t want to drop out of college, because I loved learning. I wanted to graduate but I couldn’t. Again, “life got in the way.” I remember the day I left college and realized I wasn’t going back. It felt so final. I remember the sadness that came over me because I felt like I was getting something so special taken from me. I remember thinking, “This is it. I’m done.”

But it wasn’t “it.” I wasn’t done because my desire to learn still lived within me. Now, I don’t want to sound like your grandmother, but back in my day I didn’t have the Internet. If I wanted to learn something, my brother would drop me off at the public library and I’d research it. The first time I got introduced to the Internet was when I was eighteen. It had been around for a couple of years but I had never heard of it. It’s funny how sometimes the lack of money makes you unaware of things that exist around you. When I first discovered the Internet, I thought, “The Internet is amazing! It’s like an encyclopedia that is never outdated (FYI, an encyclopedia is like the book version of the internet that people used back in the day)!” When I dropped out of school the first time, I was taking care of my sister’s kids during the day and she had the Internet. I started using it to look up things that my friends still in college were learning, so that I could keep learning along them. I’d go online and try to find out as much as I could to keep up.

The truth is, for me there was no other option. There was something in me that loved this thing more than anything else. I couldn’t shut it up. It was bigger than me. I used to tell my mom, “I know you don’t understand what I’m doing but trust me, if it works out, life is going to change for all of us.” She would laugh.

Writing that line was very painful for me because my mom passed away before ANYTHING started panning out for me. I started crying the moment I wrote that line because it still hurts to think about it. But that’s why I write it. Because what I’m about to tell you is VERY important.

I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this so I’m going to: You matter. Your dreams matter. Don’t let anyone tell you they don’t. If you can’t go to college right after high school, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning. It doesn’t mean that you hang up your dreams next to your coat. It just means that you have to make your own path.

I think of it like this: There’s that old saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I’m a believer in it but I think the problem I have is that I think there are a couple words missing from it. I think a more appropriate saying is: Where there’s a will, eventually there’s a way. It’s just that sometimes, you have to wait.

I’m going to be honest. I spent years feeling inferior to people who had the luxury of going to college and graduating. I thought they were better than me. I felt as if they were living their lives ten steps ahead of me. I used to get depressed because I kept thinking that it was impossible for me to compete against people who had a “higher education” because I felt they knew so much more than me.

I think the reason behind that is that no one ever told me what I had to figure out myself. Just because you have to make your own path, doesn’t mean you won’t end up where you want to be.

I hope you understand what I’m saying. I’m not saying that if you want to be a doctor, you don’t have to go to medical school. What I’m saying is that if there’s something you REALLY want to do, you shouldn’t let anything stop you from doing it. One of the things I say constantly is that dreams don’t have expiration dates. Sometimes they take longer to happen, but if you put in the work, it will happen.

I’m writing this because no one told me any of this when I was growing up. I had to figure it out on my own. When college became a luxury I couldn’t afford, I figured out my own way to keep learning, and about fifteen years after I had to drop out of college, I got the chance to have my own TV show. When I went through the process of creating the show, I realized that all the reading, the studying I did on my own gave me knowledge that helped me immensely. I knew the history of TV from reading about it. I learned Final Draft by Googling it. I learned about theater from reading numerous plays that no one asked me to read. I read them because I loved them.

I had no idea that the knowledge I was getting from the studying I was doing on my own could be beneficial, but now that I know that, I want to tell others that they can do it too.

Our society bases so much of what we do, what we accomplish, on age. If you’re eighteen, people assume you have to go to college, and I hate thinking like that because what does that say to the people who CAN’T? What happens to the people who have to move away to get a job moving furniture so they can send money back home to help the family (my brother)? Do we just assume that they’re done learning?


Have you ever heard about iTunes U? It’s a part of iTunes where you can go and see courses on pretty much everything you want to learn more about. I have a brother who watches courses on science all the time on iTunes U, and it’s free. There are lessons on YouTube to learn about pretty much everything you want to learn about. My point is, the internet doesn’t have to solely be about watching videos of cute puppies (which I do).

Why am I saying this? I’m saying this because I want you to know how powerful you are. How much more powerful you can be. Do you know how amazing you are for being the person who puts their life on hold to help others? You’re so amazing. You need to hear that. You need to know how incredible that is. You’re an incredible person for taking on such big responsibilities at such a young age. I think about my experience with my mom. At the age when most of my friends were going out drinking and dating, I was at home making sure my mom took her pills. There was no social life. There was no formal education. I just kept thinking, “One day, I’ll get my shot. One day.”

I get to do a lot of great things because of the job I have, but don’t be deceived — I’m not done. My goal is to go back to college and graduate. I want to do it because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The dream of an education always exists and nowhere, not in any book, does it say that I have to give up on it because I’m in my late 30s. That goes for me. That goes for you.

I write this because I know that there are people out there who feel like I felt when I knew I wasn’t one of the “fortunate ones” to go to college. I just want you to know that because you might not be able to do it now, it doesn’t mean that you’re done. In fact, this is only the beginning. I believe in you. Because I AM you. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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School Kids In Sudan Narrowly Escape Bombing Of Catholic School

The Sudan government continues to target children in the ongoing conflict in the Nuba Mountains. On Wednesday afternoon, a government warplane bombed a leading primary school in Kauda, Sudan, wounding a Kenyan teacher. The Sudan Sukhoi jet dropped two parachute bombs into the compound of the St. Vincent Primary School, damaging classrooms and library.
“I don’t feel safe, it’s inhuman,” said a shocked sister Cinta Mutisya, a principal at the school from Kenya. Sponsored by Catholic churches in the US, several international staff from East Africa and Australia work at the school. This is not the first time –in May last year the jets had bombed the same school.     
 “We just thank God that the children were not in the primary school because these metal pieces would have probably killed them,” Australian Education Coordinator Cathy Solano said. Only teachers were present since it was a correction day for exams.
Norway, the U.K. and the U.S. said in a statement they were “appalled” by the bombing of the school, and other aerial attacks on civilians in Kauda and the Heiban area of South Kordofan.

Over the past month, Sudan has significantly increased aerial attacks on civilians in the rebel-controlled Heiban County, South Kordofan state – where Kauda is located. According to Nuba Reports, Sudan has dropped 68 bombs in Heiban County over the past month. On May 1, one bomb killed six children, aged 4 – 13 and wounded another civilian, sparking a national outcry protesting the incident. During the memorial service of the six children on May 23, another Sudanese jet dropped two bombs in the same area, wounding four more children and killing a 6-month old baby.  
Civilians, especially children, are routinely targeted in Sudan’s five-year civil war with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North rebels in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, killing thousands and displacing nearly 400,000 people. 
“Despite all the challenges, despite the hunger, despite the drought, despite the war, despite so many problems of poverty and yet they want to go to school,” Solana added. “They don’t deserve this, what have they done wrong? They have done nothing wrong.” — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Watch These Chinese Kids Scale A 2,600-Foot Cliff To Get To School

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Never complain about your commute again.
Recent footage of Chinese schoolchildren scaling a treacherous, 2,600-foot cliff to get to school is shocking social media users worldwide.
The dangers facing the dozen or so schoolchildren — all of whom are between the ages of 6 and 15, and hail from a remote, impoverished village in Sichuan — first gained widespread attention after Beijing News, a state-owned local newspaper, featured the photos earlier this week.
Children can be seen climbing a rickety ladder with no harness up an almost vertical mountain. Most of them are bare-handed, and none of them appear to be wearing any safety gear. The journey takes about 90 minutes uphill and an hour downhill, Beijing News noted.
“Every single climb felt like rubbing shoulders with death,” said photographer Wen Jie, who accompanied the children on the commute and captured the harrowing images for Beijing News. About seven or eight people have died as a result of this journey, the village chief told the newspaper.
Watch a video of the terrifying journey above.

“This has to be fake!” one user exclaimed on Weibo. “Doesn’t our mighty country receive millions of dollars in international aid every year? How can it not even build a road for young village schoolchildren?”
“The government is turning a blind eye to this plight,” another user wrote.
Part of the reason these children have to make this life-threatening journey is that their village can’t afford proper infrastructure, according to Wen. County authorities have tried to build a road in the area, but the project grew too expensive for the government and the impoverished villagers.
“I hope the story that my photos tell will ultimately bring some change,” Wen said.
Some 1,200 miles away, schoolchildren in Nepal face similar obstacles. Many kids in the country’s remote mountainous regions have to cross rivers by pulling themselves along suspension wires — a method that’s cost some children their fingers, and others their lives.
Read more:
Heartbreaking Video Shows How Nepal’s Children Still Struggle To Get To School One Year After Earthquakes
China’s Glass-Bottomed Bridge Looks Downright Terrifying — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Dad Yanks Children Out Of School Over Transgender Bathroom Policy

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A Michigan father says he’s yanked his three sons out of a public elementary school over the district’s decision to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Matt Stewart told The Detroit Free Press that his 9-year-old son came home from Southwest Elementary School in Howell, Michigan, on May 20 and informed him that “there was a girl in the [boys’] bathroom.” Stewart said his son, and other boys, were told to stand closer to the urinals when using the restroom, while the transgender student was instructed to “look at the wall.”
In addition, Stewart said his son was told he could use a single-use restroom if he felt uncomfortable. But the father told local network WDIV-TV that he was “frustrated” that parents had not been notified that the school district was implementing the Obama administration’s directive to extend civil rights for transgender people.
Issued May 13, the directive requires public schools to allow trans students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity or risk losing federal funds. 
As a result, Stewart told WDIV-TV May 26, “My children are having to choose between embarrassment and intimidation.” He responded by pulling the three children, who are all under the age of 10, from Southwest Elementary until the school puts “a policy in place that keeps them from being humiliated or intimidated.” 
Officials at Southwest Elementary School have not yet replied to The Huffington Post’s request for comment. However, a letter sent home to parents and cited by ABC affiliate WXYZ Detroit noted that transgender bathroom use was “a new and rapidly developing area of law.” 
“Howell Public Schools intends to comply with its legal obligations in this, as well as all other, respects,” the letter continued. “Measures will, therefore, be implemented consistent with this guidance in a way which ensures the safety, privacy, and dignity of all involved.” — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Is a Virtual Internship Right for Me?

Online education has rapidly expanded, creating countless opportunities for students to explore new fields, enroll in classes otherwise unavailable to them, and even earn full degrees online. However, this advancement in technology does not just impact these areas of education, as numerous companies are now creating remote work roles, including internships.

But is a virtual internship right for you? Here are several pros and cons to consider:

Positive #1: The ability to work from virtually any location
For many students, internships have become an expected–and, in some instances, mandatory–element of college. An internship may be a necessary step in your major, or it may be essential for securing a job in your industry.

Unfortunately, many internships are unpaid. If your ideal internship is in a city or town other than your own, you may incur several thousand dollars of additional debt while pursuing the opportunity. Thus, completing an unpaid internship while working remotely from your apartment, dorm, or parents’ house may make financial sense. In addition, a virtual internship allows you to intern with companies across the globe, and to select the best company with the most meaningful learning opportunities, rather than the organization closest to your home.

Negative #1: Fewer opportunities for mentorship
Taking full advantage of your internship allows you to learn as much as you possibly can about your field, and to truly prepare for your future career. This is why identifying a mentor (who may or may not be your supervisor) is so heavily recommended. The ideal mentor is someone who will take the extra step to explain every nuance of your industry and to fully commit to teaching you as much as he or she can.

Of course, it is difficult enough to find an individual who is willing to take on that responsibility in a brick-and-mortar office, where you will naturally cross paths. It can be even more challenging with a virtual internship, as not everyone will be willing to mentor you remotely over the telephone or via Skype.

Positive #2: A flexible schedule
Working from home has many advantages. The dress code is looser, and there is no commute, which frees time in your schedule. If you are meticulous with your search, you may be able to locate internship opportunities that operate outside the typical 9:00-5:00 office hours–perhaps even one that suits your classroom schedule.

This can provide you with a tremendous advantage over other students, as it essentially enables you to add an additional internship to your resume. For example, say you intern during your junior year of college, as well as during the summer between your junior and senior year. Then, you complete an internship during the first semester of your senior year, while also taking classes. Other students in your year may only have one or two internships, but you may have three.

Negative #2: Limited access to certain projects
In some instances, it is just too challenging to complete work projects virtually. In order to truly excel on them, you would need to be present for training exercises, daily or weekly status meetings, brainstorming sessions, and so on. You may also need access to resources that are only available in a physical office. As a result, you may find that your supervisor avoids sending certain types of projects your way, which may impact the scope of your learning experience. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Police Called After Transphobic Preacher Trolls Teens Outside High School

A purportedly Christian woman who stormed through a Target store May 15, raving about the company’s pro-transgender bathroom policy took her right-wing cause to the streets.
The woman, identified by Raw Story as Angela Cummings, touched down on the campus of Scotia-Glenville High School in Scotia, New York, on Monday and berated students and staff members about sex and drug use, among other things. She also captured the moment for posterity on video, which can be viewed above. 
“The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Many of you don’t have knowledge,” she yelled in the video. “You watch too much MTV, gangster music, and you live for the devil. Some of you even smoke pot! It’s time to repent!”
It wasn’t long, however, before Cummings’s diatribe circled back to transgender bathroom use. “Next year, Obama is going to let you men, you young men, use the girls’ bathroom,” she told passersby. “It’s time for you to start homeschooling!” 
As seen in the video, Assistant Principal Thomas Fyvie tried his best to hush Cummings to no avail, according to the Albany Times-Union. Eventually, local police officers intervened and warned Cummings that she would be arrested for disorderly conduct. She then left the premises without incident. 
It’s the latest in a series of disturbing videos that have made the Internet rounds in the wake of the ongoing controversy over transgender bathroom use. Many of them were filmed in the aisles of Target stores around the country following the Minneapolis-based retail group’s pledge to allow transgender patrons and staff to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. 
On May 20, Faith2Action, a group which describes itself as a “pro-active launching pad for the pro-family movement,” announced plans to organize a “Don’t Target Our Daughters Day” protest on June 4. 
Organizers said they wanted the protest to be a “moment to stand together” and warn shoppers about Target’s policy allowing “predators and sex offenders” into women’s restrooms and fitting rooms by protesting outside stores. 
We’re not sure what any of this has to do with students at Scotia-Glenville High School, but then, it doesn’t sound like there’s much use trying to reason with Cummings.  — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Helping Children Succeed (Will Require Doing Pretty Much the Opposite of Just About Everything We're Doing Now)

A conversation with Paul Tough about his new book Helping Children Succeed – which you should really read, even if the whole “grit” thing drives you bonkers…

Jennifer Berkshire: Your new book is subtitled *What Works and Why.* But if I may, I’d like to suggest a different subtitle: *Just About Everything We’re Doing to Low-Income Kids in School is Wrong and Here’s the Neuro-Biological Research to Explain Why.* Was it just me or does the research you write about upend some pretty fundamental assumptions?

Paul Tough: I was struck by that too. Some of the basic principles we have, in terms of discipline, in terms of pedagogy and how we run our schools are not advantageous to kids who are growing up in adversity. This research on just how boring school is really resonated with me, especially the research about how when you’re growing up in a low-income community, school is more likely to be repetitive, boring and unmotivating. I hadn’t really picked up on that as being a significant problem before doing this reporting, but this research was really persuasive to me, not only that it’s true for a lot of kids but that it really matters in terms of their motivation. I think I was also more attuned to what happens in American schools and in classrooms because my older son is now in school.

Berkshire: Do the curiosity worksheets your son is filling out indicate that he’s going to be curious? And note that I didn’t take this opportunity to make a crack about predictive *grit* measurement.

Tough: He’s not filling out curiosity worksheets. He’s in first grade so there’s still a lot of play and interesting stuff but it’s this glimpse of what public school is like for so many kids, and how different it is from the way that he actually learns things–by doing experiments, by getting interested in something and staying interested in it for a week or even a month. The expeditionary learning model is how he naturally thinks, and I think it’s the way most kids naturally think. You get interested in something and you ask questions, and if you have a parent or a teacher or a tutor who can help expand your interest rather than quash it, you can have a great experience with learning. But very few kids in school today get to have that experience and the ones who do are more likely to be well off. The expeditionary learning model is how he naturally thinks, and I think it’s the way most kids naturally think. You get interested in something and you ask questions, and if you have a parent or a teacher or a tutor who can help expand your interest rather than quash it, you can have a great experience with learning. But very few kids in school today get to have that experience and the ones who do are more likely to be well off.

The expeditionary learning model is how he naturally thinks, and I think it’s the way most kids naturally think. You get interested in something and you ask questions, and if you have a parent or a teacher or a tutor who can help expand your interest rather than quash it, you can have a great experience with learning. But very few kids in school today get to have that experience and the ones who do are more likely to be well off.

Berkshire: Your new book is quite short and, in my experience at least, doesn’t require much perseverance to complete. But on the assumption that not everyone who starts it will finish it, could you highlight a particularly disadvantageous education policy or approach?

Tough: There is a lot about the way we punish and discipline kids that the research increasingly shows just doesn’t work, especially for non-violent offenses. The idea that all kids need is no excuses schools and strong discipline to succeed is clearly not supported in the research. The other is the general disconnect between early childhood and K-12 schooling. My first book was about the Harlem Children’s Zone, and part of what I was drawn to more than a decade ago when I first reporting on it was that Geoffrey Canada thought that we needed a pipeline that started with kids and parents at birth and continued on through early childhood, pre-k-, kindergarten and onto school. But what he did and his thinking hasn’t been replicated. All the way from the federal government down to local school boards, there are very few places where we think about a continuum of schooling, where the kindergarten teachers are thinking about what’s happening when kids are one or two or three. At the same time, science is pushing us towards understanding how important those early years are. To me that’s a long overdue conversation.

Berkshire: I want to pick up on that because I live in a state, Massachusetts, where there is a heated debate about the future of urban schools in particular, and yet you almost never hear mention of what happens before kids get to school. The idea seems to be that if we can just get the kids into the high-performing seats, then we can make up for their early adversity without ever having to do anything about the adversity itself.

Tough: You’re right. There are moments that it feels kind of daunting and like we’re not even close to having that conversation. Part of that, by the way, is our reluctance to spend money on low-income kids. There’s more universal Pre-K now than there was five years ago, which is important. But where I’m trying to push people in this book is to think beyond Pre-K. Pre-K is great, but so much of the development of kids’ brains, minds and psyches happens in the first three years. If we want kids to be able to persevere through difficulties and deal well with criticism and complications and be able to concentrate on things for a long period of time–all of these things that are really hard to measure on tests of kindergarten readiness but turn out to be really important in terms of kids overall success, it’s those first three years that are so important. But because we’re so focused on reading and math skills, that helps to push us towards Pre-K and kindergarten as the right place to start. There are some good programs that are intervening to support families in those early years, but those are really rare and underfunded.

Berkshire: Let’s talk about money. One of my takeaways from the book is that supporting kids before they ever get to school costs a lot more than just scaling up the high-performing seats. The Educare program, which I’m going to check out in Omaha this summer, costs more than $20,000 per kid per year. Is this a problem?

Tough: I do talk about interventions that are less complex than, say, Educare, but I think part of the answer is that if we are really serious about leveling the playing field for kids who are growing up in serious adversity, it is going to be complicated and expensive, and it is going to take a serious investment, not just of money but of time and attention. But because the stuff that seems clearly to work is so expensive and arduous, you’ll hear people make the argument that “obviously we can’t do that stuff so what’s the easier version?”

Berkshire: Then there are the programs you’re drawn to that defy what I think of as *saleability,* meaning that there’s no clear way to make money off of them. How do you cash in on the Becoming a Man workshops, for example, where kids sit around and talk about their experiences?

Tough: I don’t think the place we’re going to a lot of help from the corporations that are involved in education because, you’re right, the Becoming a Man workshops don’t have an app or a textbook. There’s nothing except for human interaction, which kids need more of. It’s a very low-tech solution, and in a lot of ways it’s fighting against a lot of the trends in education right now. My hope is that, like a lot of what I’m arguing for, the success of programs like Becoming a Man turn out to be based on science and that that pushes enough people towards a kind of rethinking that the fact that there’s not a big profit opportunity becomes less important.

Berkshire: It probably won’t surprise you that I’ve already got a subtitle in mind for your next book about kids growing up disadvantaged. I’m thinking along the lines of something like *A Scathing Indictment of Capitalism.* In other words, at some point, might we have to do something about disadvantage itself beyond just helping kids triumph over it?

At some point, might we have to do something about disadvantage itself beyond just helping kids triumph over it?

Tough: Thanks for that suggestion. As I say at the end of the book, when you look at the situations that are contributing to the experiences that kids growing up in poverty have, there are ways that you can look at the kinds of interventions I’m talking about and say: *This is just window dressing. This isn’t enough.* I understand that feeling and there are moments when I share it. But the reason that I’m drawn to educational interventions with kids is that they have the potential to be the fastest, most effective and efficient way of improving opportunity and mobility in our country, without having to do grand social re-engineering. I’m open to other ways to level the playing field but I also feel like I haven’t seen lots of evidence that there’s hunger for that in the country or that those interventions are working. The forces that are driving inequality at the top end are pretty powerful right now. So to me, this seems like the best lever to use. We can make things much more equal and create much more opportunity. And those are values that in the abstract at least, a majority of Americans are in favor of. My hope is that by providing more examples and the conceptual infrastructure for how that might work, for what kind of help kids need in order to succeed, we’ll see more of a push towards that. But I hear you on the larger critique of capitalism.

Berkshire: I’ll put you down as a *maybe*…

Paul Tough’s new book is called Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why. This interview appeared originally on — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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The Education System Is Rigged Against Low-Income Students, Even In Kindergarten

Students born into poverty enter kindergarten at a disadvantage to more affluent peers. As they advance through the grades, they receive lower test scores. They’re more likely to drop out and less likely to enter higher education. 
The all-too-familiar cycle, in some ways, is getting worse, according to data in a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The report, titled, “The Condition of Education 2016,” is the 42nd of its kind, produced under congressional mandate by The U.S. Department of Education’s data branch, the National Center for Education Statistics. It outlines the latest data on everything from public school enrollment to the median earnings of degree recipients. 
The report starts with a troubling fact. Low-income students often arrive in kindergarten without a “positive approach” to learning — a mindset that allows them to pay attention in class, follow rules and show excitement for learning. Data collected from kindergarten teachers shows that students from lower socioeconomic households are less likely to demonstrate a positive approach to learning than middle-class and affluent students, which makes it harder for them to excel academically.
“In the early years, even before formal schooling begins, children from socioeconomically disadvantaged households typically have less access to resources that have been associated with learning, such as books and educational toys in their homes and quality preschool settings, than do students from more socioeconomically advantaged households,” the report says. 
Students less likely to demonstrate positive approaches to learning have lower average reading and math scores when they enter and leave kindergarten. They have lower average scores by the end of first grade, and again at the end of second grade.
But there were bright spots for lower-income students. The positive relationship between learning approaches and academic gains is particularly strong for low-income students. That means those students who do have positive learning behavior tend to make meaningful academic gains. 
“Students who were performing at the lower end of that learning behavior scale who never exhibited [positive] behaviors, their gains over time were not as strong as those who exhibited those behaviors often,” said Grace Kena, an author of the report. “Even more interesting, those gains over time were greater for students from lower socioeconomic status households, so having those positive learning behavior skills mastered was helpful to students and most helpful to” students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

In the early years, even before formal schooling begins, children from socioeconomically disadvantaged households typically have less access to resources.

Overall, more students are graduating from high school, although black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native students are still less likely to get degrees than white and Asian American/Pacific Islander counterparts. After graduating, students from low-income households are more likely to enroll in an occupational certificate program or an associate’s degree program. They are significantly less likely to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program. Students who have high grade-point averages or took advanced high school math courses — like calculus or precalculus — are more likely to enroll in a postsecondary institution. 
The impact of educational disparities between affluent and low-income students, as well as between white students and students of color, loom large. In 2014, 20 percent of American children under the age of 18 were living in poverty. That’s 1 percentage point lower than 2013, but 5 points higher than 2000.
Meanwhile, public school enrollment of students of color, especially Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islanders, is increasing rapidly. Students of color disproportionately come from low-income families and are relegated to schools with fewer material resources and less-experienced teachers. 
Still, interventions that boost positive learning approaches appear promising, Kena said. 
“While you do see these patterns, it does bring some promise that there are things that seem to help improve” outcomes for some children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, said Kena. 
Rebecca Klein covers the challenges faced in school discipline, school segregation and the achievement gap in K-12 education. In particular, she is drilling down into the programs and innovations that are trying to solve these problems. Tips? Email [email protected]
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Latino School Segregation: The Big Education Problem That No One Is Talking About — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Ideas from Down Under: Number Literacy for Future Elementary School Teachers

For the past three weeks, I’ve been in Australia studying how two universities prepare future elementary school teachers. I’ve approached this by following teacher education students from class to class, trying to see the process of learning to teach from their eyes.

Some of it feels familiar to me. The students are ferociously busy, with five and six classes and assignments they’re juggling at once. They travel from lectures to group planning sessions to part-time jobs. Sometimes they think and talk as teachers; other times, they are in student mode, and passing assignments feels more important than adding to their teaching repertoire. Among teacher candidates at the University of Michigan, I see many of the same pressures and dispositions.

But sometimes, I come upon parts of their experience that are totally foreign, that I’ve seen neither hide nor tail of in the U.S.

Last Monday, I sat in on a class at the University of Tasmania called Personal and Professional Numeracy. A half hour into class, Professor Robyn Reaburn turned to her next lecture slide and posed a question. “What percent of Australia’s gross national income goes to foreign aid?”

There was a moment of hesitation. No one knew. I had no idea either. It was the type of number-savvy question that had embarrassed me many times before. I’ve always struggled with conceiving of large numbers; billions and trillions could be the same to me.

Then again, as the one non-Australian in the room, there was no shame in being wrong. “5%,” I piped up. Robyn wrote my guess on the board. Others took stabs at it, guessing seven and ten percent.

She then turned to a Charlie Pickering clip – a comedian in the style of John Oliver and Stephen Colbert – to explain that the average Australian thinks foreign aid is 16% of the national income, and eight of ten Australians want to reduce foreign aid. But the actual percentage of gross national income Australia gives in foreign aid? 0.22%.

If we were more number literate, Robyn accentuated, then maybe we would pressure our government to make different decisions.

There were murmurs of assent from the assembled students.

I looked back down at my notebook. My first thought was how would number literacy help these future teachers? Would a teacher with more understanding of numbers and their use help a seven-year old learn more math?

Then I thought again. In Teaching and Its Predicaments, noted historian of education David Cohen writes that teachers are fundamentally dependent on their students; without their commitment, lofty learning goals will remain unattainable.

Convincing students that a subject matter is an important part of a teacher’s job, and seeing the importance of numbers may aid this work. It is much easier to carve out time for math if one believes that number literacy is critical to creating an informed for democracy.

The development of critical numeracy skills is central to the course. At one point in the class, we read a bit from the The Tiger That Isn’t, the course’s primary text. Described by The Guardian as a book that will “delight and empower everyone whether fascinated or scared by the bewildering world of numbers”, the book exposes the use and misuse of statistics in politics and the media. In one of the course’s two assignments, students choose a news article, research the quantitative evidence presented in the piece, and decide whether the evidence supports the author’s conclusions.

If this was the students’ only math course, I would be skeptical of its ability to prepare them for the rigors of teaching place value, operations, and fractions to their future students. But these future teachers were only in their first of nearly four full years of course work, with two more semesters of math content to go. Considering that elementary school teachers with little background in math can be anxious about teaching it, one semester spent on the role of numbers in our lives may be well worth the time. Scholars write plenty about the importance of teachers’ mathematical content knowledge; I’ve seen much less about teachers’ views on the importance of math in their students’ lives.

At the end of class, Robyn posed a series of questions. Could all the people in the world fit in to Tasmania? If all of the people in Tasmania stood on top of each other, could they reach the moon? The necessary formulas sat on the white board; the sense-making was left our small groups.

We sat stupefied by the breadth of the task at first. But like mathematicians approaching a long-sought after proof, we dug in bit by bit. We debated, hypothesized, argued, and used evidence, just as students might do in a well-run classroom.

I came away impressed with the course. In this age of information, perhaps the idea of a personal numeracy course for elementary school teachers is one that should travel a bit farther. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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