Education Week - February 18, 2015 - (Page 25)

"just a bunch of high school math." How schools treat their young journalists matters because a news-literate public matters. The Pew Research Center reported in 2013 that news readership had fallen to historic lows, with two-thirds of Americans 34 and younger reporting they read no daily newspaper, about half the rate of their parents. Building healthy news-consumption habits must begin in schools, starting with news that's relevant and accessible to students' lives. It matters because students are the "embedded journalists" on which the entire community depends for reliable information about schools' shortcomings. Image-obsessed schools are making meaningful news coverage more difficult than ever for the dwindling ranks of newsroom professionals. In a survey of 190 journalists, released in March by the Education Writers Association, 71 percent said they'd been blocked by mediarelations officers from interviewing school employees. It matters because journalism, alone among school activities, teaches the five competencies that, according to a 2010 survey of 450 executives by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, employers value most in new hires: ability to learn new skills, critical thinking and problem-solving, teamwork, interpersonalcommunication skills, and "ability to analyze and synthesize information." This blueprint for a 21st-century-ready workforce reads like the syllabus for Journalism 101. It matters more today than ever, because the precarious future of journalism depends on the leadership of the strong, opinionated young women whose voices schools are most determined to silence. In September, Harvard's Nieman Foundation released "Where Are the Women?"-a dismal study of gender diversity in media-which reported that women represent just 35 percent of newspaper supervisors, 31 percent of TV news directors, and 23 percent of radio news directors. The report, coincidentally, followed the replacement of top female executives at The New York Times (executive editor Jill Abramson) and The Washington Post (publisher Katharine Weymouth) by men, giving the issue a sense of national urgency. Schools can't be solely faulted for a complex societal problem with many causes, but one of the most avoidable contributing factors undoubtedly is this one: Year after year, the female student in every high school who has been identified as having the greatest potential as a business leader, the female student most adept at motivating employees, managing a budget, meeting deadlines, and handling customer complaints is told by her administration that she is a troublemaker who should keep her worthless opinions to herself. n FRANK D. LoMONTE is a lawyer and the executive director of the Student Press Law Center, a Washington-based nonprofit advocate for the rights of student journalists. " How schools treat their young journalists matters because a news-literate public matters." 'Hands-in-the-Dirt' Learning By Jane Hirschi S CENSORSHIP OF STUDENT JOURNALISTS See related Commentary, "When Morality and Law Trump School Tradition," by Gillian McGoldrick, a student newspaper editor, Page 32. chool gardens are a wonderful learning opportunity for students, according to the thousands of teachers around the country who use them. What is more, these teachers' perceptions are backed up by the growing evidence that correlates garden-based learning with academic achievement, positive socialemotional outcomes, and healthy food choices. But what about the teachers who don't have a garden at their school, and the students who never experience hands-in-the-dirt learning? Are school gardens just for schools lucky enough to have a dedicated volunteer base or a corps of teachers committed to keeping the garden alive? Or is garden-based learning a critical educational resource all students need, as important to children's education as computer labs and libraries? other metrics, such as teacher effectiveness and time in core subjects, to reveal how well a school's resources are meeting children's needs. Such a review might highlight that the 3rd grade teaching team needs extra support, for example, or that 8th grade AfricanAmerican boys are closing the achievement gap in math. In Lawrence, Mass., such information often hangs on the walls of schools as a point of pride. Valid concerns about current testing systems do exist, of course. In many districts, too many tests are given, those tests may not be aligned or of high enough quality, and test preparation has the potential to crowd out other important subjects and approaches. We must continue to revise our tests, remove redundant ones, and refine instruction to focus on deeper learning and critical thinking. We must also modify the federal law to focus on assessments as a tool for improvement and support-not as a punitive cudgel. But reducing the frequency and consistency of tests will not improve their quality or allow us to learn from assessment best practices within states. It will only make it harder to hear the signal in the noise. It is sobering to study the nation's mediocre scores on international and national tests. And as more states move to the morerigorous common-core-aligned assessments, we will see that we still have a long way to go to educate students of all backgrounds to a high level. Getting rid of useful yardsticks for measuring student learning should concern everyone who cares about making good use of taxpayer dollars, closing the nation's glaring achievement gaps, and competing economically with other nations. We can't be afraid to know how our students are doing. We should be afraid not to. n KAREN HAWLEY MILES is the executive director of Education Resource Strategies, a nonprofit education organization focused on transforming how urban schools organize resources. Its headquarters are in Watertown, Mass. Around the country, school districts are wrestling with where to invest their limited resources in order to have the biggest positive impact on children. Some of these districts are considering garden-based learning and looking to programs that can help them integrate a school garden with teachers' practice. As the director of just such a program, I see how important these partnerships are to teachers. At the same time, I am convinced that the real key to making garden-based learning accessible to all students is in the hands of teachers. As the director of a school garden program in 20 urban schools in Cambridge, Mass., and Boston, I've witnessed hundreds of teachers using their school gardens for lessons over the past 15 years. Bursting with color and texture, gardens are a perfect space for sensory learning. Bugs, worms, and other animal life can be found with the scoop of a hand trowel or a peek under a stone, revealing action-packed natural habitats even in urban neighborhoods. Sky and weather provide a constantly changing backdrop to these outdoor classrooms. And, of course, in any edible learning garden, there is food. The school garden is an endlessly engaging place for kids to explore food systems and nutrition with a taste, nibble, or outright feast. Over and over again, teachers tell me that the school garden reminds them of why they went into teaching in the first place: The garden sparks their students' curiosity and they are excited to learn; being in the garden with permission to dig, harvest, and plant is a brand-new experience for many of their students, especially in urban neighborhoods. A learning garden in the schoolyard, teachers say, provides a lot of entry points for children's interests, serving the needs of many different kinds of learners. The garden is ripe with projects that need to be done, problems to solve, solutions to discuss, and processes to explain. Teachers know that spending time in a school garden inspires collaboration, teamwork, and most of all, conversation. Experienced teachers use time in the garden as a springboard for math word problems, scientific observation and description, and writing practice. Teachers frequently note that garden-based learning is particularly beneficial for their English-language learners and students with other special-learning needs because the garden sparks students' interest, and that, in turn, often leads to conversation and new vocabulary. Garden-based learning in the hands of a skilled teacher, in other words, adds up to a big impact on student learning. Seeing this reinforces a teacher's garden use and keeps that particular teacher convinced that garden-based lessons have a solid place in her or his practice. Yet truly integrated garden-based learning depends on not just a handful of teachers in some schools, but whole" Teachers tell me that the school garden reminds them of why they went into teaching in the first place." school communities invested in making this a daily experience for students and easily accessible to teachers. A broad network of teachers demonstrating garden-based lessons as a standard element of classroom teaching is the key to its integration. Such a community of garden-based learning practice will "nurture the seed" in three ways. * Share. Teachers can reinforce their practice by learning from each other. Garden lessons that connect to the curriculum, effective classroom-management in the outdoors, and how to best use garden-support staff (if you have it)-all of this knowledge is already out there and being tested every day by some teacher, somewhere. The knowledge and experience that teachers have accumulated about garden-based education is perhaps the most valuable inPAGE 27 > JANE HIRSCHI is the founding director of CitySprouts, a garden-based-learning program for schools, located in Cambridge, Mass. Her book Ripe for Change: Garden-based Learning in Schools will be published in April by Harvard Education Press. EDUCATION WEEK | February 18, 2015 | | 25 iStockphoto

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 18, 2015

Schools Weighing Access To Social Media Passwords
Education Week - February 18, 2015
Measles Outbreak Cues Action On Vaccine Rules
States Shedding Power To Adopt Class Materials
Those Opposing Restraint and Seclusion Gain New Traction With State Legislatures
New Venture to Evaluate Technology
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Global Skills Study Finds U.S. Millennials Trailing
Broad Foundation Puts Urban Schools Prize On Hold Indefinitely
Blogs of the Week
FCC Plan for ‘Net Neutrality’ Addresses Schools’ Needs
Calif. Districts Seeking $1 Billion To Fund Testing Mandate
Obama, Congress Set to Clash On FY16 Budget
GOP in Driver’s Seat as Congress Tackles NCLB Rewrite
NCLB-Waiver Renewal Gears Up; Duncan Holds Weakened Hand
Blogs of the Week
State of the States
FRANK D. LoMONTE: Don’t Silence Young (Female) Journalists
KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Why Annual State Testing Makes Cents
JANE HIRSCHI: ‘Hands in the Dirt’ Learning
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
GILLIAN McGOLDRICK: When Morality and Law Trump School Tradition

Education Week - February 18, 2015