Research Shows School Suspensions Do Not Help

Early this month, the following was reported: "Documents obtained by WAMU showed that children in Fairfax County Public Schools, some as young as 6 years old, were restrained or put in seclusion multiple times. In some cases, a single child was confined to a room almost 100 times in a school year. Fairfax parents told WAMU that the routine isolation of children caused trauma." And during the school board meeting this month, Fox5 reported that "A parent interrupted the meeting, shouting that Fairfax Schools locks children in cages, in reference to discipline used on her autistic student. The outburst followed reporting from WAMU radio highlighting the county's use of seclusion and isolation for students with special needs. The reporting revealed a video which appeared to show a child pushed into a room as they struggled to get out."

A candidate for the school board whom I strongly endorse has spoken regarding this issue.

It is truly unacceptable to replace respo…

Not Sending Your Child to a School Because of Gangs

With the news of gang activity among students enrolled in a school in our neighborhood, a knee-jerk response is to find a different school. Most comments unfortunately on a community blog for our neighborhood are along this line. Some are even harsher, going as far as blaming the schools for taking so many undocumented immigrants. A year ago, as reported by WTOP, Jay Lanham, director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, also cited the significant number of unaccompanied minors in Northern Virginia, as a factor that gives rise to the number of children vulnerable to gangs. My initial reaction as I related in a previous post is a profound anxiety. But as I pass through the hallway into my office at Georgetown, I am regularly reminded of what an educator should be by this poster on one of my colleague's door: I'M AN UNAFRAID EDUCATOR WITH AND FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS.

The knee-jerk response from authorities and school administrators is often greater patrolling and …

Gangs in Our Schools

"He had to take knives to defend himself, and screwdrivers. He had razors and he told me, 'Mom, I'm going to defend myself with them, but it's not going to be enough.' Police have not confirmed a motive for the killing, but said Chicas and several members went to a meeting at the clique leader's home in the 7000 block of Varnum Street in Landover Hills on March 8. "During the meeting, a violent attack took place where our victim was stabbed as many as 100 times," said Major Brian Reilly with the Prince George's County Police Department." These are excerpts from a news report this past Friday on NBC Washington 4. News like this one is extremely disturbing. But the news really hit home when I read "Chicas was a student at Falls Church High School". This is the school my son is scheduled to attend a year from now. And it only hurts even more when I read in the comment section of an Annandale blog the following: "I agree this is a…

Do Teachers Really Matter?

A study in Texas shows that Teach for America (TFA) is making a significant difference in the learning outcomes of students in basic education. Beth Hawkins of T74 reports that students taught by TFA members perform significantly better in eight subjects that include math, science and English. The only subject in which no positive impact is observed is reading. The comparison is made against students taught by teachers who were not affiliated with TFA. Presumably, these are teachers who went through the traditional route of training and education.

Although TFA lists the following minimum requirements:

In order to be considered for admission to the TFA corps, you must have abachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 and U.S. citizenship, national/legal resident status, or be a DACA recipient. 

One can assume that TFA places a premium on academic excellence. One simply has to look at the tips the TFA website provides to applicants:

Although, it may seem encouraging to see th…

Why Advanced Academics Should Be Provided to All

What students learn in a classroom obviously depends on instruction. Resources can definitely influence effectiveness of instruction. For these reasons, both curriculum and infrastructure can undermine equity in basic education. Parents know this so when they try to get the best opportunity for their children, they are not merely acting based on vanity. Differences in opportunities are the main drivers of gaps in achievement. We see this in early childhood education. Young children raised in families that can afford enriching activities are often better prepared when they enter kindergarten. Inequity is not just a perception. It is real and it has consequences. Thus, when school children are provided different curricula and different resources, we simply should not expect similar outcomes. This is why it is important that advanced academics be provided to all and research supports this.

The most recent example from research is teaching early algebra. In real life, students are first s…

Teachers Are Role Models

"There were a million black boys last year who wanted to play basketball in the NBA. Of that million only 400,000 will even make it to play high school ball. Of that 400,000 only 4,000 will make it to play college ball. Of that 4,000 only 35 will make it to the NBA. Of that 35, only 7 start. And the average life in the NBA is 4 years. So the real problem is that we have a million brothers looking for seven full time jobs that last 4 years and yet last year we had 100,000 jobs available to be a computer programmer, engineer or doctor and only 1,000 brothers qualified. So our appeal to black males is to realize the odds, that which you do the most is that which you will do best. ... So we have the ability in either math or science or music and sports. That which you do most, is that which you do best. If you play basketball from 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock you will be a very good basketball player. If you went home and went to the library you would be a good scholar. We need mor…

Honesty Versus Competence

"Donald Trump won the electoral college against most predictions. Looking at the voters’ pre-election evaluations of the candidates on key characteristics, we discover that most voters generally perceived Trump as more honest and trustworthy but less competent than Clinton." This is what Fabio Galeottia and Daniel John Zizzo wrote in their paper, "Identifying voter preferences: The trade-off between honesty and competence". The authors did note that although Trump won in electoral votes, Clinton won the popular vote. Is competence more important then for voters? While Galeottia and Zizzo worked on an experiment involving college students to find what is more important to voters and found that in this specific study, voters tend toward honesty, one must note the fact that even in this seemingly homogeneous group of voters, it is still plausible to categorize voters into the following groups: ‘Profit-maximizing’, ‘Absolute competence’, ‘Absolute honesty’ , ‘Relative …