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To Sow Discord and Divisions

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Our society is still facing enormous challenges. The COVID pandemic continues. Black lives still have to matter. Greenhouse gases are still rising and so are global temperatures. To address these issues successfully, concerted efforts are necessary. We must try our best to control the spread of the coronavirus. We ought to look deeply into the structural, institutional and systemic racism. For our society to avert climate change, we must act together. Yet, Virginia's new governor Glenn Youngkin chooses to sow discord and divisions. Above copied from Commonwealth of Virginia  The following are among the executive actions the new governor has taken: End the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education. Empower Virginia parents in their children’s education and upbringing by allowing parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school. Withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). It is just day one and the governor h

"G" Does Not Stand for Good, It Stands For Bad Grammar

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 It was a test in chemistry back when I was a first-year student in college. The instructor showed to the class the first page of my exam with a huge red letter "G" mark on it. The "G" does not stand for Good, it stands for bad grammar. Then it was followed by an exam from another student. This time, it was marked "VG", which stood for verbal garbage. At least, the content of my answer was correct. As we greet the year 2022, it seems that we are in the same place, we are missing the point. A letter from the Arlington Education Association has gone viral on social media not because of its message. Apparently, in just five paragraphs, there are numerous errors in grammar. The letter, however, brings to our attention, a very important point. Schools are about to reopen in a couple of days, and we are currently in the midst of a huge surge in coronavirus cases, and after two years through this pandemic, we still do not have the necessary testing capacity. The

If We Do Not Speak, Who Will?

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With a megaphone, one can have his voice heard more easily. Loud voices can bias our perception. Loudness should not be confused with truth. Often, loudness is simply an expression of passion, but not necessarily correctness. In a world where loudness is sometimes equated to the voice of the majority, it is especially important that we participate and support those who hold steadfast to values that benefit all our children. Parents do have a say with regard to the education of their children, but this right belongs to all parents, not just the loud ones. As calls for banning books that reach out to marginalized members of our community have become louder in our county, it is time that we stand for freedom of expression, diversity, and inclusiveness. Please join us in supporting our school board in this crucial stand. Above copied from  https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/hip-hip-hooray-for-our-school-board-today Dear Friends, I just signed the campaign: Hip Hip Hooray for our School Boar

The Way We Teach Should Be the Way We See Ourselves

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Years ago, when I heard the retirement of the principal at the elementary school my children attended, I felt sad. He was a principal who really looked out for every child in his school. Now, it appears that I was simply selfish then. Brian Butler actually has a very important message for all educators to hear. Watching his webinar last night leaves me this impression. Much of what we teachers currently do inside our classroom does not often match how we see our own selves. I do not think we label teachers as "dumb" or "gifted". I do not think teachers think of themselves as individuals having a fixed amount of intelligence. Teachers talk with each other and learn from each other. Teachers practice discipline in their work. Lastly, teachers, I hope, prefer practices or strategies that work. Yet, in most classrooms teachers often do the opposite of these things. We label kids. We think intelligence is something we cannot nurture. We isolate ourselves. We forget the n

Parents' Say in Education

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Parents should be engaged in their children's education. Society, as a whole, must share the burden of preparing its youngest members for the future. In a democracy, we exercise this obligation through the ballot box. After all, education resides in the public sphere, and as a community, we all get to decide what is good for our children. Nevertheless, there are different points of view. For this reason, it is important to focus on non-negotiable values. And with schools, equity and inclusivity are non-negotiable. For the simple reason that public schools serve public needs, schools must cater to all children. Education like medicine should also be guided by research. Education like medicine should not be based on religion or opinions, but on evidence. There is a reason why a body of experts gets to decide whether to recommend a vaccine or not. Expertise, unfortunately, is not ubiquitous, and if such decisions are left to opinions, a deadlock is very likely, especially when a socie

Teachers Teach More than Math and Reading

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There is a growing enthusiasm for social emotional learning (SEL). It does make sense to focus not just on the academic side of education. Education must be holistic. The academic, social and emotional needs of a child must be met. Unfortunately, a greater recognition for the importance of SEL sometimes misses the fact that unlike academic goals, SEL is often caught and not taught. How a teacher treats his or her students dramatically affects the social and emotional well-being of a child. This beats any formal teaching of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. It is more about what we actually do and not what we say. Mashi Liyanage, a seventeen year old, writes in a blog an experience she always remembers from her 7th grade, "In my school life, there are many things that scare me. Getting punished for not doing homework, going late to the school, getting low marks on my exams and many more. But there is one thing

Equity Is Possible Without Sacrificing Excellence

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The class of 2025 of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County has greater diversity. By removing the admission fee and entrance examination, and introducing a more holistic view of applicants plus assigning slots to middle schools, we now have one in four students (25%) from economically disadvantaged homes. That is a marked improvement from 0.6% in the previous class. The grade point average of accepted students for the class of 2025 is 3.95, similar to previous classes. Equity is indeed possible without sacrificing excellence. Above copied from NBCWashington Equity being possible without doing away with excellence is surely an important lesson to be learned. However, there is an additional lesson that we should not miss. Albeit the class of 2025 is larger than previous classes, it is still evident that available slots still fall short of the number of students who wish to enter a special school for science and technology. The demand is great, which is