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How schools are dealing with anti-vaccine parents
The Atlantic
The debates over vaccinations are often cast as arguments over the integrity of science. But they can just as easily be understood as conversations about power, writes Eula Biss, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University, in her book, "On Immunity: An Inoculation." As it stands, all 50 states require specific vaccines for school-aged children, although each grants exemptions for students unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. The power struggle — pitting parents against parents — arises in the 19 states that allow families to opt out of vaccination requirements by claiming a "philosophical exemption," whether based on personal, moral or religious beliefs.
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5 things every school app should include
Elearning Industry
We live in a world where our mobile devices are extensions of who we are. And when it comes to our smartphones and tablets, most of us find ourselves using apps in order to communicate, consume information and more. Schools, from elementary to university, are starting to get in on the app trend, giving students, teachers, parents and administrators an easier way to stay in touch. As Linda Erdos, spokesperson for Arlington, Virginia, public schools, says, apps are "the next generation" of communication between parents, students and schools.
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Playing with math: How math circles bring learners together for fun
MindShift
One day more than a year ago, an 8-year-old named Andrew told his parents he wanted to learn to do long division. His dad, Tim Sylvester, looked up a YouTube video explaining the basic steps and began working with him through simple problems on a whiteboard in their house. A half-hour later, the child was dividing two-digit numbers into 20-digit numbers. "He was ecstatic, running around," said Sylvester, describing the moment as a "math high." Several months later, when Andrew's third-grade class at a public school in Santa Cruz, California, began tackling long division, the boy had it down cold and read a book on his own during the lessons.
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Gifted and talented programs dumb down our students
Time (commentary)
In America, we place great value on natural talent. We idolize the sheer genius of Albert Einstein and the creative brilliance of Steve Jobs — framing their success within the idea that geniuses like these are born, not created. We have a surprisingly antiquated and misguided idea of how real talent comes to be, and this mistaken belief is holding our country back. There is no place where this myth is more destructive than in education.
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Final testing count: More than half of students will take non-consortium exams
Education Week
More than half of the students in the country live in states that will not be using the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments this year. As you can see from EdWeek's updated chart below, 51 percent of students live in states that will be testing the common core — or whatever standards they chose — with tests designed for them, or purchased off the shelf. More than one-quarter of U.S. students live in states that will be using the Smarter Balanced assessment to gauge mastery of English/language arts and mathematics; 18 percent are in states using PARCC.
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Should we stop making kids memorize times tables?
The Hechinger Report
Stanford University's Jo Boaler says teachers and parents should stop using math flash cards, stop drilling kids in addition and multiplication and especially stop forcing students to do calculations quickly under time pressure. Good-bye Mad Minute Mondays, where teachers hand out quiz sheets with 50 problems to be completed in less than a minute. But wait — doesn't everyone have to learn times tables? No, says Boaler.
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The toxic threat lurking inside school buses
TakePart
We've all inhaled sickening exhaust fumes when driving behind a diesel school bus. But those fumes can also get sucked inside the bus, exposing children to high levels of pollution. Riding such "leaky" older school buses can lead to respiratory illnesses and even cancer, which is why the Utah legislature is considering legislation to replace 450 of the worst-polluting buses in its 2,500-vehicle fleet.
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How elementary school teachers' biases can discourage girls from math and science
The New York Times
We know that women are underrepresented in math and science jobs. What we don't know is why it happens. There are various theories, and many of them focus on childhood. Parents and toy-makers discourage girls from studying math and science. So do their teachers. Girls lack role models in those fields, and grow up believing they wouldn't do well in them.
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Can stress help students?
Edutopia
Imagine this: You're a ninth-grade math teacher, and you've just been anointed as head of the school's wellness committee, a team thrown together to deal with student stress levels that are "far too high." "We need to build a more positive climate," your principal explained. "You're relatable. Students might listen to what you have to say." Now you're writing a speech for the year's first all-school assembly on a topic outside your expertise: stress management.
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Report: African-American girls face extreme inequality at school
The Huffington Post
Black girls around the country were suspended from school six times more often than their white counterparts during the 2011-2012 school year, even though they only represent a small share of public school enrollment. Black boys also faced disproportionate rates of discipline, but to a lesser degree. They were suspended at three times the rate of white boys. These are some of the findings of a new study by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, which looked at racism and sexism faced by black female students using data from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
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How we create a culture of learning at Zaharis School
Scholastic Administration Magazine (commentary)
Mike Oliver, a contributor for Scholastic Administration Magazine, writes: "I have found in life that it is impossible to take others on a journey that we, ourselves, are not on. It is quite the challenge to inspire others to become something we are not. A friend of mine says it this way, 'Ya can't lead where ya ain't goin'.' In school cultures, this translates into the following — how can teachers inspire their students to develop as readers if they are not readers themselves? How can we as administrators ignite a passion for learning and professional study among teachers if we are not passionate about our own growth and development?"
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Feds plan to bring new STEM partnerships to students
eSchool News
New federal interagency partnerships will bring hands-on STEM learning opportunities to high-need students during after-school and out-of-school time. Through this collaboration, the Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers will expand an existing pilot program with NASA and build new partnerships with the National Park Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
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Pregame analysis: The coming federal education debate
NPR
The main federal education law may finally get its long-overdue makeover in Congress this year, and we're going to be hearing and reading a lot about it. Formally, it's the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. The last time it got a major overhaul was in 2001, with President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. But nothing much has been done with the law since 2007. If Congress does finally get to it this year, What can we expect?
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Could local tests be the way forward in an NCLB rewrite?
Education Week
Congress is contemplating a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act that could roll back the law's testing requirements —or at least give districts the option of creating their own systems, with state approval. So would a locally-driven accountability system be a huge disaster for students? It sure wasn't when Nebraska tried it, said Doug Christensen, the state's former commissioner of education.
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Schools test impact of blending technology, longer school days
Education Week
Students at Grant Beacon Middle School in Denver spend much of the school day in a blended learning scenario, using Chromebooks to access digital curricula and working face to face with their teachers. Students also have a longer school day — an extra hour that allows for more enrichment and electives. A new guide for educators says the pairing of blended learning and an expanded school day — much like what is happening at Grant Beacon — hits the educational sweet spot, providing opportunities for better teacher collaboration, personalization of education and student engagement.
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Michelle Obama announces funding to fight childhood obesity
The Associated Press via ABC News
First lady Michelle Obama visited a school on Manhattan's Upper West Side to announce a $500 million donation funding the fight against childhood obesity. As she watched teenagers prepare smoothies at the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School and stepped into a room of students taking a spin class, Obama noted that it was the fifth anniversary of the federal Let's Move effort.
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Montana ponders joining 49 other states with anti-bully law
The Associated Press via The State
Montana legislators considered whether to join every other state in the nation in putting anti-bullying policy into law. A bill introduced by Rep. Kimberly Dudik, a Missoula Democrat, in the Montana House Education Committee would define bullying, prohibit it in public schools and require public school districts to adopt their own policies addressing the issue. Pilar Petroski, a seventh-grader from Helena, and her father, Andrew, spoke in favor of the bill, with the 12-year-old saying she's frustrated with school officials who turn the other way when she tells them about death threats she's received along with harassment in person and online.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Here are the states that spend the most on public school students (The Huffington Post)
What do we really mean when we say 'personalized learning'? (MindShift)
Tanya always forgets. What's wrong with her? (By: Howard Margolis)
Study: High-quality early education could reduce costs (The Washington Post)
Creating the right classroom environment fit for ELLs (By: Alanna Mazzon)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.




Smart snacks in school: Brush up on the USDA's new snack guidelines
NAESP
Kevin Concannon, Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at USDA writes: "Over the past few years, healthy changes have been unfolding in schools across America. Students across the country now receive healthier school breakfasts and lunches with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This school year, the United States Department of Agriculture has built on these advances with the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards — science-based, common-sense standards for all snacks sold during the school day."
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NAESP partners with United Way for new Club Connect initiative
NAESP
NAESP announced a new partnership with United Way and Scholastic aimed at improving third graders' reading experience. Bill O'Dowd, creator of Club Connect and a board member of the Worldwide Leadership Council of United Way, said that at lower-income levels there is only one age-appropriate book at home for every 300 children, and that third graders who do not read at grade level are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
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Before the Bell is a benefit of your membership in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). For information about other member benefits, visit www.naesp.org or contact us at naesp@naesp.org.

Before the Bell is a digest of the most important news selected for NAESP from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. The presence of such advertising does not endorse, or imply endorsement of, any products or services by NAESP. Neither NAESP nor Multiview is liable for the use of or reliance on any information contained in this briefing.

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