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Schooling Scholars on Classroom Success

Teachers are workers who, like the rest of us, need and deserve better working conditions and better pay. What’s good for teachers is good for the rest of us.

Moshe Adler, TruthDig

Beverly Wilson leads her kindergarten class through a song at Lakewood Elementary School in St. Albans, W. Va., in September 2007 AP / Jeff Gentner

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These days everyone seems to think teachers need improving—even people who uncover evidence to the contrary. A group of economists from Berkeley, Harvard and Northwestern recently made headlines when they published a study that was ostensibly about the relationship between teacher quality and student success as adults. The economists made three observations. The first is that when children are assigned to kindergarten classes randomly, test scores in some classes are higher than in others. The authors argue that these differences must be due to differences in teacher performance (as well as peer effects). The second observation is that children who attend high-score kindergarten classes earn more money in their adult life. Based on these two observations, the economists conclude that we should invest in raising the quality of teachers, and The New York Times goes a step further and argues that teachersshould be paid according to their performance.

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However, the economists also made a third observation that they dismissed as having no bearing on their conclusions: Children who attend high-score classes in kindergarten perform only negligibly better on standardized tests than other students in later years. Why? The authors claim this finding isn’t important. As Raj Chetty of Harvard, one of the economists who produced the study, told the New York Times, “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”

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Playing With Teen Sex Statistics: A Lesson in Lies

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If most high school kids aren’t having sex yet, that means that it’s that much more important to get them good sex education, so when they start having sex---and statistics overwhelmingly show that they will---they know how to make healthy choices.

Amanda Marcotte,  RHRealityCheck.org

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There are many goofy aspects to this Life Site News story arguing that because a slim majority of teenagers don’t have sex, we don’t need to teach them about contraceptive methods. Perhaps the most puzzling is why they came out with the story on July 14th, since the report came out a month and a half ago. (In classic Life Site fashion, they don’t actually link the report, for fear that a stray reader may actually read it an clue into the fact that their spin is dishonest.) Did it take the American Life League (ALL) this long to craft a response? If so, you’d expect them to come up with something less transparently silly than this:

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ALL says that the CDC report, entitled “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Child Bearing, National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG),” debunks Planned Parenthood’s constant mantra that most teens will not abstain. In particular the pro-life organization points to the words of Planned Parenthood Federation of America vice president of medical affairs, Vanessa Cullens, from a YouTube video directed toward teens: “Admit that you are a sexually active individual like most of us, and that you are going to have sex and that you need to take precautions in order to stay healthy.”

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Wear wristwatch? Use e-mail? Not for Class of '14

Ron Nief, a former public affairs director at Beloit College (WI), and English professor Tom McBride have assembled the Mindset List for 13 years. They say it's given them an unusual perspective on cultural shifts.

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Dinesh Ramde, Associated Press

For students entering college this fall, e-mail is too slow, phones have never had cords and the computers they played with as kids are now in museums.

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The Class of 2014 thinks of Clint Eastwood more as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry urging punks to "go ahead, make my day." Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.

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UN focus on youth

"87 percent of people 15 to 24 live in developing countries," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the body's General Assembly. "The global economic crisis has had a disproportionate impact on young people. The have lost jobs, struggled to find even low wage employment and see access to education curtailed."

Dan Margolis, People's World

On August 12, the UN launched the International Year of the Youth, aimed at alleviating the grinding poverty, record joblessness and problems affecting millions of young people across the globe while various affiliated agencies noted that, in many ways, the situation for young people worldwide has never been so bad.

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August 12 is International Youth Day, and this is the 25th since it was first declared in 1985. The year's theme is "Dialogue and Mutual Understanding."

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"87 percent of people 15 to 24 live in developing countries," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the body's General Assembly. "The global economic crisis has had a disproportionate impact on young people. The have lost jobs, struggled to find even low wage employment and see access to education curtailed."

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In States Where "Gun Ed" Is Prevalent, Comprehensive Sex Ed Is Nowhere to Be Found

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Genitals, unlike guns, are in 100% of households. Why not use the same approach -- that knowledge is power -- and give our kids straight forward, age appropriate information?
How the Latest Abstinence Findings Could Turn Into a Classic Sex-Ed 'Bait and Switch'

Lisa Russ, AlterNet

Seems to me that simple, clear communication works best, even with young kids. When there is a threat or an opportunity I let my kids know in plain and simple terms.  No running with scissors.  Walk carefully near the edge of a pool.  Put the matches down.  So far this plain-talking strategy has kept ER visits to a minimum and led to a relatively peaceful life with 2 pre-schoolers.

Judging from the turbulence caused by a sex ed curriculum under consideration by the School Board in Helena, MT, there are people who disagree.  According to Fox News, some local parents are in a tizzy about their kindergartners learning the actual words for their body parts, including those covered by their bathing suits.  When we as parents want to communicate important information to our kids (or hear important information from them), why wouldn’t we use the right words?  Their objections to the curriculum go on from there, but it seems grounded in the same basic fear of information.

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How the Latest Abstinence Findings Could Turn Into a Classic Sex-Ed 'Bait and Switch' Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
The religious right is rallying around a study that supposedly proves their legitimacy. In reality, the findings just demonstrate how important comprehensive sexual education is.

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