Showing posts from February, 2016

Teach the Children in the Language They Know

Most publications in the sciences are in English. There is no doubt that learning English is important in basic education. Children from homes where the adults and older siblings do not regularly talk in English learn to communicate in a different language, a mother tongue different from English. These children are therefore developing their cognitive skills in a different medium. One might be quick in suggesting that this is bad for children who are expected to learn English. For this reason, it is necessary that we make ourselves knowledgeable of what current research on language learners tells us. Learning a mother tongue other than English is obviously not a disadvantage. It should not lead to developmental delays. On the other hand, simply giving a lip service to mother tongue based education is likewise incorrect.

In 2013, the State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care in California published California’s Best Practices for Young Dual Language Learners: Research Overview…

Remembering EDSA

Part of basic education is learning our past so that we are better equipped to understand the present. Here is a cartoon from Malaya that captures one perspective regarding our past.

Schools Should Be Ready for the Pupils

Dr. Justin Tarte, the Director of Teaching & Learning in the Union R-XI School District in Union, Missouri, brings to our attention in his blog, Life of an Educator, the following tweet from a superintendent in Vermont, Dan French: "School readiness should be about schools being ready for students not students being ready for school."

Then I came across the following post on the Suspend K-12 Coalition page:

With this in mind, it is worth reading what Joy Rizal has to say with regard to the Department of Education in the Philippines:

Enough is Enough. It IS time for a Change.

It is now nearly the end of February 2016. 
Well into the FOURTH quarter of our children's school year.
The time when DepEd should be preparing all the learning materials for the 2016-2017 school year so that the material can be delivered to all the schools by the end of May. Ready for the start of school in June.
But alas, The Philippine Department of Ed…

DepEd's K to 12: "It Doesn't Affect Me So I Don't Care"

Eric March at Upworthytakes us back to the eighties. He shares a video posted by Vanity Fair that relates recently released audio recordings of Reagan's press secretary and reporters who are laughing at the AIDS epidemic. When the transcript was first released in 2013, Dan Amira had this to say:
"The entire exchange is, in retrospect, dark and utterly nauseating, with both aptly named press secretary Larry Speakes and a seemingly significant chunk of the White House press corps treating AIDS as a hilarious joke." Watch this on The Scene.
Eric March takes the story a step further by generalizing that:
"Too often, when tragedy strikes, we prefer to see it as someone else's problem." March even adds the following instances:

The case of climate change is made even more concrete by the following story from McClatchyDC:

In the above story, a native was quoted, "Today, there’s almost nothing left of that island, maybe one family can picnic there at a time. We lo…

The High School Teacher: Content Knowledge and Identity Threat

My children are still in elementary school. They are still learning how to do arithmetic, read, write, and socialize. In the years to come, they will begin to accumulate knowledge. That is something to worry about. Both middle school and high school introduce fundamental ideas and concepts in the sciences. There are two reasons for concern. First, how much teachers know about science matters. Second, science often threatens values held deeply by individuals. A recent paper published in the journal Scienceillustrates just how these two factors, content knowledge and identity threat, can have a dramatic and profound negative impact on science education. The paper, Climate confusion among U.S. teachers, shows how well or how bad teachers in the United States are handling the topic of climate change in their classrooms. The picture is not pretty. More than half of US teachers do not even acknowledge the fact that more than nine out of ten active climate scientists consider human activity …

Saint Jude, Patron Saint of Impossible Causes

"When all else fails, when we are in the most difficult of situations, we turn to Saint Jude, “Helper of the Helpless” and Saint of the Impossible", writes about the apostle. With the school year about to end and college admissions already being decided, a ruling by the Supreme Court in the Philippines on DepEd's K to 12 is becoming more and more like an impossible solution to a seemingly hopeless predicament.

The Supreme Court in the Philippines is the same court that recently banned the field testing of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplantand nullified biosafety guidelines of the Department of Agriculture. For some, the Supreme Court in the Philippines appears to be making a scientific pronouncement that is well above its competence. However, upon closer examination of the decision, the court is in fact stopping the field testing for the sake of transparency. The Supreme Court is upholding a decision made by a lower court years ago. The journal Nature report…

ACI Interview with Angel de Dios

The quality of content inACIis due to the rigor of our selection process and to the incredible scholarship and credentials of scholarly bloggers publishing in their fields. Due to this selectivity in content and academic contributions, ACI is proud to highlight exceptional blog authors in order to showcase their work and inspire other scholarly blog authors… and today’s author spotlight is onDr. Angel de Dios. Dr. de Dios has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BS in Chemistry from Ateneo de Manila University. He is currently an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Georgetown University. In his blog, Philippine Basic Education, he writes about various topics and issues related to education in the Philippines and the United States. Philippine Basic Education     Visit the blog|View in ACI

Equality, Equity and Reality

The following picture (which I copied from theOffice of Equity and Human Rights, Portland, Oregon) has been circulating in social media for years now.

Andruid Weizman on Facebook recently shared a modified version:

The circumstances and disadvantages children inherit at birth and early childhood have a very strong impact on basic education. Substantial gaps already exist at the beginning. Not addressing these gaps only leads to a further widening, for education is cumulative. Thus, without paying attention to existing inequalities in the real world, an educational system can in fact exacerbate and not ameliorate the situation. 
At this point, it is perhaps worthwhile to review Diane Ravitch's main points in her book "Reign of Error". (Ravitch, Diane (2013-09-17). Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools (Kindle Locations 6029-6030). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
The following is a repost:

An Appeal to the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of the Philippines

An Appeal to the Honorable Justices of the  Supreme Court of the Philippines
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,  ensure justice for those being crushed.  Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

On March 12, 2015, the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (CoTeSCUP), along with 15 labor organizations and four individuals, filed a petition for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the implementation of Republic Act 10533, more commonly known as the K-12 Law.  The petitioners questioned the constitutionality of the said law, and underscored how it violated the labor rights of professors and staff, and the academic freedom of the teaching personnel of higher educational institutions (HEIs). The succeeding three months saw other affected education stakeholders file their respective petitions for TRO on other constitutional grounds. All petitioners are united in the conviction that th…

A Report Card for the States

The second grading period ends today at Fairfax County schools. Tomorrow, students are not going to school as their teachers prepare report cards for the grading period. These cards attempt to summarize how a student has performed in school. Report cards are meant to evaluate, but more importantly, these marks are ways by which a teacher communicates with students and parents: This is how you are so far in school (for the student), or this is how your child is performing in school (for the parent). The Network for Public Education (NPE) has done something similar. However, in this case, NPE is evaluating the performance of each of the states in the US on public education. The grades are not at all flattering. The best grade is a C, most common is D, and there are a significant number receiving an F:

Obviously, when grades are provided, especially when they are bad, it is only normal to ask how one has arrived at these marks. NPE uses the following categories:
No High Stakes TestingProf…

If You Are a Boy and You Are Attending a Poor School....

"Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members -- the last, the least, the littlest."
- Cardinal Roger Mahony in Creating a Culture of Life
We can evaluate educational systems by measuring learning outcomes. We can compare countries by using scores from international standardized exams. At a smaller scale, we can even compare schools. Yet, these comparisons can always be viewed as placing an apple and an orange side by side. Some schools have more resources. Excuses can be made. Thus, as we do in analytical chemistry, it is useful to have an internal standard. The above words of Cardinal Mahony provide guidance on the standard that may be employed.
In School Quality and the Gender Gap in Educational Achievement, David Autor and coworkers have identified one measure that correlates with school quality: The gap in learning outcomes between boys and girls. This is shown in one of the graphs from their paper:
The above graph clearly shows …