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For this assignment, you will react to an attached reading. The reading is attached as a PDF file and is also copied in plain text below.
Inference Questions: Answer the inference questions in now more than 2-3 sentences each.
Reaction Prompt: Develop your reaction as 1.5-2 page response.
Submit: submit your assignment by copy/pasting your reaction in the “Discussion.”
Substantive Reply*: Please reply to one (1) class mate within 24 hours of the assignment due date.
Reaction Post: Due, Tuesday, October 5th by 11:59PM (PST)
Substantive Reply (1): Due, Wednesday, October 6th by 11:59PM (PST)
* A quick note regarding substantive replies: When replying substantively, please try to go beyond simply agreeing with and/or summarizing your peer’s critical reactions. Try to use around 250 words to add an extension to the initial post thus enhancing the author’s (and our class’) understanding and perspective on the week’s readings.
Reading Response #1 (also attached as PDF file)
We need year-round school to compete globally
As a nation, either our kids are getting dumber or everyone else’s are getting smarter. American 15-year-olds ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math in a study of students in 34 nations.
The Program for International Student Assessment study, coordinated every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, definitively shows U.S. students are no longer ready to compete against the world’s brightest.
Which brings me to this: Why are we still giving them the summer off?
As it stands, only eight of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries that took part in the study in 2009 have a lower high school graduation rate than we do. It’s so bad in some schools, educators have a nickname for them: dropout factories.
That’s a national crisis with a potential for significant economic impact. The organization estimates that by boosting our scores for reading, math and science by 25 points over the next 20 years, the United States would gain $41 trillion over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010.
Remember recently when the nation got all in a tizzy after the International Monetary Fund reported China would pass us as the world’s largest economy in 2016? Well, considering Shanghai ranked No. 1 in the education report, that shouldn’t really surprise anyone.
Cutting into summer vacation won’t solve all our education problems — most research points toward the quality of the teacher as the biggest influencer — but more class time could help. At 180 days, we have one of the shortest school years of the countries tested. South Korea, for example, has 220 school days, and a No. 2 ranking in math. Finland is first in math and science at 190 days.
Then there’s this: Harris Cooper, a summer-learning expert at Duke University, pored over a century’s worth of data and found that each summer, our kids lose about a month of progress in math and that low-income students lose as much as three months’ worth of reading comprehension. Again, that’s each summer.
More than a month of teaching time at the beginning of the school year is spent re-teaching the stuff our kids forgot over the break. This may be one of the reasons why the report suggests Finnish 15-year-olds are one to two years ahead of our kids in math and science.
Now I hear the cry from some who say “Let our kids be kids,” but what does that mean today? The reason for summer vacations in the first place was that little Johnny was needed in the fields to help the family during growing season. Today more people live in cities than they do in rural areas, and that farming structure has been obsolete for some time. If our kids aren’t working on the farm all summer long, what are they doing? Watching TV? Playing video games?
In July 2008, then-Sen. Obama suggested American children should learn a second language. That was met with a great deal of criticism, as if being bilingual and more educated was somehow un-American.You want to know what’s un-American? Not being innovative. Refusing to think outside the box.
Today, if you want to keep your child in a learning environment during the summer, you most likely have to pony up hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to enroll them in a program or two. Families who can’t afford to do that depend on scholarships or programs funded by government grants or corporations. If you grew up poor like me, and no extra income was available for transportation to those programs, you simply stayed home and watched TV every day for hours.
I would imagine teachers wouldn’t be thrilled to give up their long vacation. And the athletic apparel companies that enjoy the income Amateur Athletic Union summer leagues generate wouldn’t like it much either. Nor would the colleges and universities that rake in extra cash brought in by hosting summer programs.
But the biggest obstacle to re-evaluating summer vacations is probably our love of the familiar. As humans we are naturally averse to change and the end of summer vacations would greatly alter the way we’ve done things for more than 100 years.
But what terrible thing would happen if we made the entire year part of the education process, with mini-breaks sprinkled throughout? Year-round schooling would not be repealing the child labor laws of 1938 and it won’t force kids to lose their childhood. But it would give our young more of a fighting chance. The world is getting smaller, the world is getting smarter and if you look around you’ll see when it comes to education, we’re no longer basking in the glow of superiority.
We’re wallowing in mediocrity. And our kids don’t even know it.
Inference Questions (2-3 sentences each):
1) The author mentions that Obama was criticized when he suggested that American students should learn a foreign language. He then states that “…as if being bilingual and more educated was somehow un-American. You want to know what’s un-American? Not being innovative. Refusing to think outside the box.” What does it mean to “think outside the box”?
2) What does the author mean when he states “…U.S. students are no longer ready to compete against the world’s brightest.”? What is stopping U.S. students from doing this?
Reaction Prompt (1.5-2 pages)
From your perspective, what are the advantages and disadvantages of year-round school programming. After establishing context for the aforementioned, please respond to the following: why do you think the U.S. ranks so low when compared to the aptitude of other nation’s students? Do you think the U.S. should implement year-round school for elementary to high school students?