Tag: United States

U.S. Public Schools Are Not Failing. Theyre Among The Best In The World

Everyone knows U.S. public schools are failing.

Just like everyone knows you should never wake sleepwalkers, bulls hate red and Napoleon was short.

Wrong on all counts. Waking sleepwalkers will cause them no harm in fact, theyre more likely to harm themselves while sleepwalking. Bulls are colorblind; theyre attracted to movement. And Napoleon was 57, which was above average height for Frenchman during his lifetime.

So why do we believe that American public schools are doing such a terrible job?

Because far-right policymakers have convinced us all that its true.

Its not.

Let me repeat that in no uncertain terms Americas public schools are NOT failing. They are among the best in the world. Really!

We have made a commitment to every single child regardless of what their parents can afford to pay, regardless of their access to transportation, regardless of whether they can afford uniforms, lunch or even if they have a home. Heck! We even provide education to children who are here illegally.

That cant be said of many countries with which were often compared especially countries comparable to the U.S. in size or diversity. So from the get-go, we have an advantage over most of the world.

We define education differently. Though our laws are woefully backward, in practice we look at it as a right, not a privilege. And for a full 13 years (counting kindergarten) its a right for every child, not just some.

But thats not all! We also provide some of the highest quality education you can get in the world! We teach more, help more, achieve more and yet we are criticized more than any system in any country in the world.


Critics argue that our scores on international tests dont justify such a claim. But theyre wrong before you even look at the numbers. Theyre comparing apples to pears. You simply cant compare the United States to countries that leave hundreds of thousands of rural and poor children without any education whatsoever. The Bates Motel may have the softest pillows in town, but its immediately disqualified because of the high chance of being murdered in the shower.

No school system of this size anywhere in the world exceeds the United States in providing free access to education for everyone. And that, alone, makes us one of the best.

It doesnt mean our system is problem free. There are plenty of ways we could improve. Were still incredibly segregated by race and class. Our funding formulas are often regressive and inadequate. Schools serving mostly poor students dont have nearly the resources of those serving rich students. But at least at the very outset what were trying to do is better than what most of the world takes on. You cant achieve equity if it isnt even on the menu.

However, for some people, this will not be enough. Theyll say that despite our high ideals, the quality of what we actually provide our students is low. After all, those international test scores are so low.

First point: it depends on the scores youre looking at. American elementary and middle school students have improved on theTrends in International Mathematics and Science Study every four years since the tests began in 1995. They are above the international average in all categories and within a few percentage points of the global leaders (something rarely mentioned on the nightly news).

Even on the PISA test administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to 15-year-olds in about 60 countries, US children are far from the bottom of the scale. Were somewhere in the middle. Weve always been in the middle for all the decades since theyve been making these comparisons. Our schools have not gotten worse. They have stayed the same.


To some this just demonstrates that our schools have always been mediocre. But again youre overlooking the consequences of our ideals.

The broader the spectrum of children who take a test, the lower the average score will be. In other words, if only your top students take the test, your average score will be very high. If only your top and middle students take the test, your average score will still be quite high. But if ALL of your students take the test, your average score will be lower.

Now add in poverty. Living in poverty reduces your access to health care, books, early childhood education and many other factors that increase learning throughout your life. Children from poor families are already more than a year behind those of rich parents on the first day of kindergarten. If you only test the wealthiest students, the average test score will probably be quite high. The average score will drop dramatically if you test all of your students.

Thats why many of these countries where the poorest children do not have access to education have higher test scores than the United States. Youre not comparing equals. The United States has the highest child poverty rate in the Western World. And we dont hide them away. We include them on our tests. That has a major impact on our scores. But talking heads on TV almost always ignore it. They pretend it doesnt exist. Its the only way they can use these test scores to prove to a gullible audience that Americas schools are failing.

But if you fairly compare education systems and factor in the equal access we provide for all children to an education, our system comes out way on top. We have one of the best systems in the world.

But wait! Theres more!


Not only does the United States serve all children regardless of academic achievement or poverty. We also serve far more students with disabilities.

Why are there so many special education children in the USA? Because we have a higher standard of living.

A standard pregnancy lasts about 280 days or 40 weeks. However, some mothers give birth to children after only 28 weeks. Two decades ago, these babies would not have survived. Today, they often do. Five years later that child will enter kindergarten and our school system will be responsible for teaching that student to read, write and learn math. In other countries, premature babies have a much lower chance of survival. They dont survive to become the special education population. So things as diverse as the live-birth rate actually affect average test scores.

Another counterintuitive factor is the suicide rate. In many countries where pressure to perform at the highest levels on standardized tests is extreme, many children are actually driven to suicide. This is especially true in numerous Asian countries with a record of high scores on these international tests. So a higher suicide rate actually increases test scores.

Would you say this makes other countries superior to the United States? Heck no! In fact, just the opposite. I certainly wouldnt wish more underperforming U.S. students were ending their lives so we could do better on international tests. Nor would I wish that more premature babies died to improve our international standing.

We have developed a special education system to help children at the edges that many other countries just cant touch. In some countries these students are simply excluded. In others they are institutionalized. In some countries its up to parents to find ways to pay for special services. The United States is one of the only countries where these children are not only included and offered full and free access, but the schools go above and beyond to teach these children well beyond their 12th academic year.

In every public school in the United States these students are included. In math, reading, science and social studies, they are there benefiting from instruction with the rest of the class. And this, in turn, benefits even our non-special education students who gain lessons in empathy and experience the full range of human abilities.

Of course, most of our special education students are also included in our test scores. Yes, other countries that ignore these children and exclude them from testing get higher scores. But so what? Do you mean to tell me this makes them better? No, it makes them worse.

In many ways, we are the gold standard, not them. They should be emulating us, not the other way around. They should be jealous of the way we prize each others humanity. We shouldnt be salivating at test scores achieved through shunning certain students in favor of others.


But its not just who we teach, its also what we teach.

Compared to many other countries, U.S. school curriculum is often much wider and varied. Countries that focus only on testing often leave out sciences, arts, literature and humanities.

Unfortunately, the push from policymakers even in the U.S. has been to narrow curriculum to imitate some of the worst practices of our competitors. But in many districts we still strive to create well-rounded graduates and not just good test-takers.

The bottom line: the curriculum at most American schools is more inclusive than that found internationally. We even include societal issues like alcohol and drug abuse prevention, stress reduction and relaxation, and physical fitness programs.

In addition we dont stratify our children based on academic ability to nearly the same degree as many international schools. We dont weed out our worst students through middle and high school until only our most capable are left in 12th grade. Nor is college only open to our best and brightest. We make a much greater effort than many other countries to keep this option open to as many students as possible regardless of whether they can afford it or not. The number of Americans with at least some college educationhas soared over the past 70 years, from 10 percent in 1940 to 56 percent today, even as the population has tripled and the nation has grown vastly more diverse. Meanwhile, Graduation rates are at an all-time high of 83.2 percent, and for the first time minority students are catching up with their white counterparts.

Its not easy. But its something were committed to as a nation. And thats not true around the world.


Finally, theres the issue of size. The United States is a big country the third most populous in the world. We have 324,450,000 people and growing. Thats about 50 million students in public schools.

Its much easier to educate less children. Even excellent education systems would struggle with our sheer numbers. Small systems often outshine bigger ones. For instance, I might be able to make dinner for my immediate family, but Id find it much more challenging to prepare a meal for a banquet hall of hundreds. Similarly, it remains to be seen whether smaller nations could handle educating a population as big and diverse as ours without collapsing.

By any fair measure, Americas public education system is simply stunning. But the media perpetuates the myth that were failing.


After decades of hearing these falsehoods, the American public is strikingly divided. On a 2011 Gallup poll, parents were asked their opinion of their local school and the public was asked its opinion of schools in general. The results are enlightening. Parents who gave their local school an A grade were at the highest percentage ever (37%) whereas only 1% of respondents rated the nations schools that way. Why the difference? Respondents said it was mostly because people knew about their local schools through direct experience. They only learned about the state of education nationally through the news media.

Why is education reporting so biased? Part of it is monetary. Huge corporations make hundreds of millions of dollars off of the failing schools narrative. They sell new standardized tests, new test prep materials, new Common Core books, trainings for teachers, materials, etc. If they cant demonstrate that our schools are failing, their market shrinks. And who do you think owns the shrinking media conglomerates? Thats right, many of these same corporations.

But even when journalists want to be fair, its difficult for them to get the inside story of how our public schools work. They are rarely permitted inside our schools to see the day-to-day classroom experience. Legal issues about which students may be photographed, filmed or interviewed, the difficulty of getting parental permissions and the possibility of embarrassment to principals and administrators often keeps the doors closed. In many districts, teachers arent even allowed to speak on the record to the media or doing so can make them a political target. So reporters are often in the position of being unable to directly experience the very thing theyre reporting on. Imagine if sportswriters never got to see athletes play or political reporters never attended a campaign rally. Of course there would be a disconnect!

So were left with a public education system that should be the envy of the world being portrayed as a loser.


As ever, far-right politicians on both sides of the aisle, whether they be Democratic Neoliberals or Republican Tea Partiers, are using falsehoods about our public schools to sell an alternative. They say our public schools are beyond saving and that we need to privatize. They call it school choice but its really just an attempt to destroy the system that has so much going for it.

We should strengthen public education not undermine it. We should roll up our sleeves and fix the real problems we have, not invent fake ones.

People act as if alternative facts were invented by the Trump administration. Our policymakers have been using them for decades in a libelous and dishonest campaign against our public schools.

They are some of the best in the world if only people knew it.


This article originally appeared on my Website, Gadfly on the Wall Blog.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/us-public-schools-are-not-failing-theyre-among_us_5894e819e4b061551b3dfe51?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

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More Information On The Common Core Standards

I’ve been receiving some follow-up questions from some parents about the core standards and so I thought I’d post another article with another author’s perspective I found in this article by Nathan Robertson from GoArticles.com

What Are The Common Core Standards?

The Common Core Standards (CCS) is a national program in the United States that has been adopted by a majority of the states. It is designed to clearly lay out what is expected of each student according to what grade level they are in.

The Purpose of Common Core Standards

According to the Common Core Standards website, the mission of the initiative is to set forth a clear and consistent understanding of exactly what children need to learn during each grade level. These requirements help parents and teachers to know how they can help the student. The standards are meant to correlate with what the child will face in the real world, so that he or she will be ready for college and a successful career. The better prepared students are, the more likely they will have a positive contribution to society. This will help the American people be able to successfully compete in a global economy.

How were the Common Core Standards Developed?

A lot of time and research went into forming the Common Core Standards. They were developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association for Best Practices (NGA Center). These groups worked with participating states’ representatives, educators, community and national organizations, researchers and content experts to come up with the final Standards.

When developing the Standards, these groups followed certain criteria to ensure that students were learning what was important. They designed the Standards to build upon the lessons and state standards that were currently in place, but to also include rigorous content. They wanted the Standards to coordinate with college and career expectations and to be based on evidence and research. These groups looked at the top-performing countries and what they were doing. Based on these observations, they implemented changes in order to prepare students to be successful in the global economy.

What is Included in the Common Core Standards?

The Common Core Standards set forth requirements in both English and mathematics. They also include standards for literacy in science, history and technical subjects. These are skills that a student is expected to know when he or she finishes each grade level from kindergarten to 12th grade.

In Conclusion

When the Common Core Standards are followed, parents, teachers and students can work together toward a common goal. As formative assessments are done each year and compared to the CCS, the child’s progress can be monitored. This ensures that the student is prepared for success in the future, both in college and his or her chosen career.

About the Author

According to the Common Core Standards ( CCS ) website, the mission of the initiative is to set forth a clear and consistent understanding of exactly what children need to learn during each grade level. Formative assessments are conducted annually to measure progress.

I hope that helps with your understanding of the common core standards and makes it a little more clear for you all!

Have a great day.

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Core Standards

Did you know that the Common Core Standards have been adopted to better help educate and evaluate that education for your children?

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:If you don’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the academic world, you should read this article I found. It will give you a better understanding of just what the core standards are and how they apply to your student. (You can read more about the specific New Jersey Common Core State Standards by clicking here.)

For the general informatio on the Core Standards, check out this article by Gage Meyers from Article Dashboard.

Common Core State Standards: A Note To Parents

Since the roll out of the Common Core State Standards in June of 2010, over 40 states have adopted them.

Here is the Common Core State Standards mission statement:
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. 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. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

Experts in the field of education are weighing in on this topic, both positively and negatively, but it is the negative perception that seems to be winning out (for now).

Here are the negative perceptions out there:
The Common Core will lead to a national curriculum and a national assessment.
The Common Core will take over our children’s minds.
The Common Core will take over state control of education.
The Common Core will turn our educational system to that of the European-style socialism.
The Common Core lacks specific content.

My objective is to show you how the Common Core State Standards will better prepare our students for their futures, but why listen to me?

First, I am a parent of two daughters, on in high school and one in middle school. I have been an educator for 21 years as a classroom teacher and currently as a school administrator. I have not only reviewed the Common Core State Standards, but have revamped my curriculum around the Common Core and have guided my staff in revising five courses, moving from a content-driven curriculum to a skills-based curriculum. Since our revisions, we have data to show that our students have learned specific skills that will help them succeed in school and in their future.

What are the benefits of the Common Core?

Moving from a content-based curriculum to a standards-based curriculum will provide students with the necessary tools to prepare them for post-secondary opportunities.

The Common Core State Standards, aligned with college and work expectations, focus on learning expectations and will improve the academic achievement of all students.

The benefits of the Common Core State Standards will positively impact both teachers and students alike.

The Common Core State Standards will provide students with the necessary skills to access higher education and to compete globally in the workforce. The Common Core is a vehicle that will assist educators in creating quality and fair skills-based instruction for all students. The 21st century skills embedded in the Common Core will pave the way for students to think, reflect, analyze, influence, evaluate, and communicate.

The Common Core State Standards will enhance teacher collaboration. When teachers across the nation use the same standards and common language, collaboration becomes more meaningful. Professional development at conferences, professional organizations, and across networks will be more powerful than ever. When teachers share best practice, students benefit.

The Common Core State Standards will provide more stability for the mobile student. In order to close the achievement gap once and for all, educators need consistency with learning targets for each grade level. Clear expectations across each county, state, and nation will help create constancy for students who move due to economic and personal reasons.

Let me provide a rebuttal to the negative statements from above:

The Common Core will lead to a national curriculum and a national assessment and will take over state control of education.
The Common Core is not a federal initiative. The states and local school districts will have the control over implementation and assessment of the Common Core.

The Common Core will take over our children’s minds.
Please review the Common Core and read its standards. They are rigorous. I want them to take over my children’s minds because I know they will then be ready for the 21st century global workplace.

The Common Core will turn our educational system to that of the European-style socialism.
Once again, the Common Core is a set of skills that will better prepare our youth. If we all understand what our children are expected to learn from kindergarten through 12th grade, we can help them succeed. A strong connection can be built between teacher, student, parent, school, community when we all have a shared knowledge of the skills being taught.

The Common Core lacks specific content.
We live in a world where knowledge is at our fingertips. The Common Core is designed as a systematic road-map to develop a set of important skills that will help students understand, analyze, apply, and synthesize content. Yes, I understand content is important, but it has been the driving force for too long in education. Let’s use the Common Core as the driving force teaching skills in school and provide content that is necessary, relevant, engaging.

The Common Core State Standards will help our students become the thinkers, innovators, and leaders of not only the United States, but the world.

By: Gage Meyers

Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

Gage Meyers has been in education for 21 years. He has analyzed in-depth the Common Core State Standards and believes if implemented correctly, will enhance student achievement.

So hopefully you have a better idea as to the standards that your children will be educated and evaluated with now.

If your child needs additional help with learning math, please visit us at Mathnasium of Cherry Hill – we make math fun!

Have a great day!


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How To Teach And Learn Math

There are obviously many different ways to help your child learn math. Ultimately what I’ve found to work well is finding an easy method that they can understand and relate to. That makes the job of learning math seem less like a job and more like fun! Mr. Dubey offers his take on the topic in the article below.

5 Ways To Teach And Learn Math Problems

By Shivaji Dubey

Every time the student tries to understand a new method of solving a mathematical problem, a multiple skill-set is required. Computing ability, understanding the new technique and understanding the math problem itself all three particulars are required. In this one of the requirements ‘computing ability’ can be taken care of by using math tools such as algebra solver. Math tools will enable you to adopt a faster computing ability.

Let us now discuss ‘5 Ways to teach and learn Math problems’

1. Use one method
Using a single method to teach a particular math theory is essential. There could be confusion among students, if more than one method is taught. It is easier to pursue one method, at least until the student gets familiar with using one particular technique.
The tutor may then teach the more advanced method and only if the student requires it to make problem solving easier and faster. It is more important to understand the concept rather than knowing different methods of solving the same type of problem.

2. Get the basics right
It is important to understand the fundamentals of a given concept before going into intricate details. The details could be manifold: history, methodology, same theorem presented differently by different mathematicians and so on. We can only do so much by ourselves and hence it is best to sustain with the basics first. You don’t want to know everything about it, unless you are planning to specialize and gain a PhD in that topic.

3. Know the tools before using them
There are many tools such as algebra solver, geometry solver, and scientific calculators out there to help you solve your math problems successfully. Now, you may be confused about using the right one but that is not the defining factor to your mathematical success. The defining factor is your initial understanding about the specific topic of the subject. You can then explore tools, pick one and then move on with another tool only if you find the first one difficult. You can explore further anyway if it intrigues your passion towards technology. But first focus on getting the math right!

4. Practice
‘Practice makes a man perfect’ this is undoubtedly a true statement but let us improvise it. First you should know that ‘what you know’ is Right! And then practice it the way you learnt it. Second, you learn by doing hence never try to read through the math problems and always practice them on paper until you are confident with the topic. Lastly, keep math on your mind at the subliminal level, so when you are in the right frame of mind, you could begin practicing it.
Make math a part of your life until it actually becomes part of you. Master the tools such as Algebra solver. In other words, take a step towards developing a mathematical mind and rest will follow.

5. Be a teacher
Being a student you should try to explore this aspect of learning and then teaching ‘what you learnt’ to someone. You can do this during a group study session or even when you are with your family. Go ahead and try explaining a newly learnt problem solving technique to someone in your family and do it casually and passionately. In an unlikely scenario, it is alright, if the person does not learn the whole thing, as long as you know what you are teaching. You can also get instant math problem solving help by using a tool such as algebra solver.

TutorPace, Inc. is leading Online Tutoring and Homework Help Company located in Texas, United States. Tutorpace provides Unlimited Online Tutoring. services for the students from K-12 to college level with all different Study Subjects including online maths test preparation, english help, science and more.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Shivaji_Dubey

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/8021280
So what do you think of this approach? For the most part, I like the ideas.
If you or your student live in the Cherry Hill NJ area and need some help learning math, please stop by our office and we’ll be happy to discuss a plan to make it more fun and easy to become a happy math student!


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Learn Math The New Old Way

I found this interesting article on the abacus. Who knew just how important an old mathematical tool could be?


Ancient Asian Calculating Tool May Hold Key To Boosting Children’s Mental Math Skills

A growing number of American educators and concerned parents are looking for ways to help children develop the math skills necessary to succeed in the careers of the future.

In Asia, many schools have rediscovered the secrets of the abacus, an ancient calculating device that offers remarkable benefits for nurturing young minds and encouraging proficiency in mathematics and mental calculation. With abacus instruction, children can achieve much more than just excellent math skills. Abacus use can build confidence, provide a sense of achievement, promote intuitive thinking, enhance problem-solving capability, stimulate creativity, and improve concentration and mental endurance.

Educators in Asia say abacus skills are a key reason children in these countries consistently win top rankings in international math comparisons. Many schools in Asia, where abacus instruction is widely popular for teaching mental math/arithmetic, introduce the abacus between kindergarten and 4th grade.
U.S. Student Math Performance Lags Behind Asia

In 2003, U.S. performance in mathematics literacy and problem solving was lower than average among OECD (Organization for Education and Cooperative Development) countries. Korea and Japan ranked at or near the top in problem solving and combined math literacy.

In the United States, abacus instruction is catching in some schools as well as among parents who home-school their children.

They realize that math proficiency gives students. a competitive edge and prepares them for tomorrow’s highly selective job marketplace. Most new jobs in the U.S. require good math and science skills, and abacus instruction is geared to helping children master mental math/arithmetic at an early age.

Abacus training also keeps children from becoming overly dependent on electronic calculating tools for simple arithmetic – a problem that worries teachers.

The abacus is an excellent substitute for rote memorization of multiplication tables. Abacus calculation relies on the manipulation of beads rather than use of traditional arithmetic. It teaches children to visualize numbers and their relationships and placement values.

Abacus Stimulates Whole Brain Development

When children use both hands to move the abacus beads to perform arithmetic calculations, there is quick communication between the hands and the brain that stimulates both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This promotes rapid, balanced whole brain development.

If a child starts learning the abacus before being taught traditional arithmetic, there is minimal conflict and the child will easily work within both systems. If a child starts the program later, having already received traditional foundations, there may be a slightly extended learning period for the child to accept and integrate the abacus method.

A popular abacus program is available through Fairfax, Virginia-based NurtureMinds.com, which offers books containing simple step-by-step instructions that make learning the abacus fun for children. This set of books, Learning Mathematics with the Abacus, was developed specifically for teaching youngsters in grades 2, 3 and 4 how to master mental math/arithmetic with the abacus. The site also offers the Japanese Soroban abacus, which consists of a wooden frame divided into 2 parts separated by a beam, with one row of beads on the upper deck, and four rows on the lower deck.

Japanese Educators Hail Abacus Training

In Japan, educators maintain that the abacus helps children develop powers of mental calculation. It enables children to:

understand the base-ten number system and place values,
understand concepts of carrying and borrowing in arithmetic, and
visualize close relations between numbers and numerals..

Learning Mathematics with the Abacus is available in the United States exclusively through NurtureMinds.com. Beginners use the Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 1 textbook and activity book to start adding and subtracting numbers up to 100. They start by identifying the different parts of the abacus, holding and using it correctly, mastering the correct fingering technique in moving the beads, and learning to visualize as they calculate.
Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 2 focuses on addition and subtraction of numbers up to 1,000, and develops multiplication and division skills.

Activities in these books have been carefully designed and structured by a panel of academicians, curriculum specialists and instructional designers to ensure that pupils not only learn mathematics effectively, but also develop the ability to perform mental calculations.

These books are used by tens of thousands of students in Malaysia and many other nations, where they are regarded as the best abacus learning books for children on the market.

Parents and educators can visit the NutureMinds.com website to find out more about why these books are becoming increasingly popular in many countries like Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and elsewhere. They have become valuable abacus teaching tools in schools, tuition centers and community centers, and are used by home-schooling parents around the world. The website offers free downloads from the books.
For additional information on the abacus instruction program, please visit NurtureMinds.com


By: NurtureMinds

Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

So if you’re ready to get your abacus, you can find one here:

Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus
publisher: Melissa and Doug
EAN: 0000772004930
sales rank: 442
price: $6.99 (new)



Isn’t it amazing how sometimes the old becomes new?!?

Have a great day!

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