Education Week - April 1, 2015 - (Page 26)

LETTERS to the EDITOR for Higher Standards coalition. Recently, all of Tennessee's community college presidents rallied at the state Capitol to voice support for rigorous K-12 standards. Our message is clear: Don't let the politics of the moment undo the investment educators, parents, and students have made in implementing college- and career-ready standards. Give Social Studies Priority In ESEA Reauthorization To the Editor: As Congress turns its attention to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with a goal of preparing all students for college and career, it's important to realize that it takes more than literacy and math skills for students to be successful citizens, ready to face the complex challenges of the 21st century ("Sen. Alexander's esea Draft Offers Two Options on Testing," Politics K-12 blog, www.edweek. org, Jan. 13, 2015). Events around the world increasingly demand informed and engaged adults who are critical thinkers and problem-solvers- attributes that require the knowledge and skills found in the teaching of civics, economics, geography, history, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and the humanities. To that end, the National Council for the Social Studies, the largest association devoted solely to social studies education, is advocating, together with the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, that social studies education be included in all schools across America. As part of the esea reauthorization, we believe that Congress and the Obama administration can and should provide competitive grants that support the development and dissemination of innovative, engaging approaches to teaching social studies that include history, civics, geography, and economics. It's time for Congress to act. The future of our communities, our nation, and our world depends upon it. Michelle Herczog President National Council for the Social Studies Silver Spring, Md. States Should 'Stay the Course' On Common-Core Standards To the Editor: Ensuring that our young people are prepared for the challenges of college-level coursework and a good career is not an option; it's an obligation. And discussions over how best to do that are devalued when they become a tool for political pundits and a rallying point on the campaign trail. Those who are proposing changes to the development and implementation of college- and career-ready educational standards like the Common Core State Standards must take into consideration merit, outcomes, and the severe cost of inaction on behalf of those students who will ultimately be left behind. To that end, the higher education community is taking action. More than 300 college presidents across 37 states, including nearly every public-college president in New York and Tennessee, have joined together to launch the Higher Ed While this seems like common sense, approximately 75 percent of students entering two-year community colleges and approximately 50 percent of those entering less-selective fouryear universities require remediation. And graduation rates for students needing remediation are abysmal. The education crisis facing our country today is very real. Sadly, the conversation has been allowed to devolve into political theater, sidelining substantive talks and all but excluding educators at every level. Common-core standards may not be the silver bullet for addressing the college- and career-readiness gap, but we do know they work and are moving the dial in the right direction. As several state legislatures consider whether they will stay the course with the common core, our hope is that common sense will prevail. We would ask them to focus less on labels and more on the substance of the standards. The lack of educational preparedness is not only hurting students, it is handicapping our workforce and threatening our global competitiveness. Lawmakers should think carefully before derailing educational standards that are working, and keep their eyes on what matters most for society: preparing students for future success. Nancy Zimpher Chancellor State University of New York Chair National Association of System Heads Albany, N.Y. John Morgan Chancellor Tennessee Board of Regents Vice Chair National Association of System Heads Nashville, Tenn. Both NCLB and the Common Core Ignore Students' Individuality To the Editor: The basic problem of the debates over both the No Child Left Behind Act and the Common Core State Standards is the belief held by some that all children should be taught the same thing at the same time and be measured against each other to see whether progress has been made. This has not worked for past generations, and will not work for future generations. Each child is different-cognitively, socially, physically, and emotionally-and should never be measured against the accomplishments or growth of another child. Children are not created on an assembly line, with the end products to be compared with those from other assembly lines. The common-core standards could be useful as a tool for teachers to guide students to create their own individual goals for attainment. The tests themselves can only be useful for an individual student to see if he or she has in fact accomplished those individual goals and to plot the next steps on the continuum of the common standards. These standards should be based on the basic skills for reading, math, science, social studies, and the arts as they are used for a life of continuous learning. The content addressed for accomplishing those skills will differ from child to child, school to school, and state to state. Thus, trying to compare schools and states is a worthless endeavor that wastes money and creates school dropouts. Nancy S. Self College Station, Texas The author is a retired clinical associate professor from Texas A&M University. Agency Approval of 'Powdered Alcohol' Poses Problem for Schools and States To the Editor: I am deeply troubled by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's recent decision approving a new form of powdered alcohol called Palcohol. This substance can be mixed with water or any other beverage, making it a "camouflaged" cocktail drink that is as easy to make as lemonade or iced tea. Schools across the nation are already engaged in an ongoing struggle to address the rampant alcohol- and substance-abuse issues that plague our campuses. Now, we have the addition of this new powdered alcohol substance, which can be quickly added to any bottled beverage. How will schools be able to adequately supervise their cafeterias while this instant cocktail mix makes its way around the table? I serve on the board of directors of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The council provides outreach and counseling services to thousands of individuals and families facing addiction issues and works with dozens of school districts to provide training, counseling, and program assistance to overwhelmed support-staff employees valiantly attempting to stem the tide. Our organization is appalled that such a product has the potential for sale in New York and other states. Since Palcohol has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it is now solely in the hands of individual states to legislate this new product and keep it off the shelves of the convenience stores that no doubt would be a prime location for its marketing and sales campaign. We cannot sit by and allow the emergence of yet another product to add to the growing list of destructive substances that are afflicting our students and their families. Jay Matuk Principal Cold Spring Harbor Junior/Senior High School Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. COMMENTARY POLICY Education Week takes no editorial positions, but publishes opinion essays and letters from outside contributors in its Commentary section. For information about submitting an essay or letter for review, visit Decriminalizing School Discipline Why Black Males Matter CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25 essary skills and strategies to respond appropriately and in good measure to disruptive students. An additional approach that districts can take is to adopt more restorativejustice practices, wherein students are not quickly punished and expelled, but allowed to reflect on their behavior and respond to their misconduct, with the goal of repairing harm done and restoring relationships among those affected. This more caring and just approach offers a humane response that can shrink the school-to-incarceration pipeline that has become increasingly commonplace in many cities and states. My own research with teachers of black and Latino young men and boys shows that the development and maintenance of authentic, caring relationships with students can help dramatically reduce disciplinary infractions. Perhaps most important, districts could benefit from having an open dialogue and professional development focused on persistent school discipline issues and the racial ramifications involved. These conversations cannot be superficial, but must include discussion of implicit bias, racial micro-aggressions, schoolwide data on race and discipline, and deep-seated beliefs that many 26 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 1, 2015 | educators may have about black male students. These often-unspoken, sometimes-unconscious beliefs include fear, cultural ignorance, ambivalence, or an outright preference for not teaching young black men and boys. Last summer's events in Ferguson and other cities led to much national reflection, analysis, and conversation about the value of black lives. The tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Ezell Ford have opened the door to a painful examination of ourselves, our attitudes, and our actions-one that has been long overdue, yet desperately needed. An important part of it must be about race, gender, punishment, and discipline. Now is the time for school personnel to enter the conversation to create more equitable and just learning environments for all students. n iStockphoto

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 1, 2015

K-12 Law’s Legacy Blend of Idealism, Policy Tensions
Testing Security Prompts Scrutiny Of Social Media
Virtual Spec. Ed. Is Evolving Option
Turnover at Top Can Leave Funders Wary
Education Week - April 1, 2015
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Studies Affirm Impact of Board-Certified Teachers
Blogs of the Week
Honored Educator Decries Current Climate for Teaching
‘Opt-Out’ Push Sparks Queries For Guidance
Texas Lawmakers Wrangle A Herd of Education Measures
A View From the Top As the Policy Clock Ticks
Blogs of the Week
TYRONE HOWARD: Decriminalizing School Discipline: Why Black Males Matter
THE ESEA AT 50: Perspectives From the Archives
REBECCA GIVENS ROLLAND: The Ticking Clock of American Education
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
MARILYN BURNS: What Reading Instruction Can Teach Us About Math Instruction

Education Week - April 1, 2015