Thought Starter: Are Civics Lessons Necessary?

Thought Starter: Are Civics Lessons Necessary?

Beginning with this school year, Idaho students are required to take the United States Citizenship Test.

The test may be taken at any time after enrolling in the seventh grade and may be repeated as necessary for the student to pass the test. Is preparing for a test the best way to learn about civics?

The idea of an additional civics test about the state of Idaho has been discussed recently, too.

Do you support the idea of students taking the U.S. Citizenship Test? Would you support a requirement for an Idaho civics test?

Thought Starter: What’s better: Acing That Test or Winning That Game?

Thought Starter: What’s better: Acing That Test or Winning That Game?

Do American students place too high a value on individual success in sports – and not enough on education?

The answer is yes, if you ask foreign-exchange students. A recent report by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution found that almost two-thirds of those students believed that their American peers placed a much higher value on athletic success than teens in their home countries.

Only 5 percent of those international students say Americans place a much higher value on success in mathematics than teens in their home countries.

Do high school students in Idaho place too much emphasis on success in sports rather than success in school?

How Can We Strengthen the Path from Public Schools to Idaho’s Businesses?

How Can We Strengthen the Path from Public Schools to Idaho’s Businesses?

Apprenticeships are one way to make sure Idaho’s students are preparing for a career after school. The Idaho Department of Labor was granted $1.4 million this past fall to expand registered apprenticeships throughout the state in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing and energy.

This will allow Idaho businesses to create 100 new apprenticeship positions over 18 months.

Meanwhile, Micron oversees several programs that can help students start planning for a career in technology: Girls in Tech, Job Shadow, Chip Camp – and more. READ MORE.

Thought Starter: Should Rural Communities Share Resources?

Thought Starter: Should Rural Communities Share Resources?

Idaho state superintendent Sherri Ybarra has tried to pass a rural school bill for two years in a row.

The idea behind the bill? To help rural districts share teachers and collaborate on courses.

But for the second year in a row the bill was unable to clear the Senate Education Committee.

“Many rural school district superintendents and principals are drowning in workload, which takes time away from students,” Ybarra said.

If that’s the case, how should Idaho rural school districts connect and collaborate?

What Is The Purpose Of Public Schooling?

What Is The Purpose Of Public Schooling?

Webster’s defines a public school in the U.S. as “an elementary or secondary school that is part of a system of free schools maintained by public taxes and supervised by local authorities.”

It’s easy to open a book and nail down the definition of a public school.

But what exactly is the purpose of a public education? READ MORE.

 

Thought Starter: Are Idaho’s Third-Graders On A Path To Success?

Thought Starter: Are Idaho’s Third-Graders On A Path To Success?

Most third-graders don’t know it, but many educators feel they are at a pivotal point in their education.

Multiple studies have shown the importance of third-graders reading at their grade level.

One study found that students who are above grade level for reading in grade 3 graduate and enroll in college at higher rates than students who are at or below grade level.

What interventions and support are Idaho educators offering for students that haven’t met this benchmark?

Is the Team Concept a Winning Strategy for Teachers?

Is the Team Concept a Winning Strategy for Teachers?

Teachers at schools with strong teams feel more connected to their colleagues. Those schools are also likely to have lower staff turnover.

There are several ways to structure teams. Some schools feature vertical teams, with teachers from each grade level discussing the successes and failures that might apply to other grade levels.

Imagine a team of math teachers working with P.E. instructors to develop healthy exercises that feature math principles. That’s a win-win for the teachers AND the students. READ MORE.

Thought Starter: Is it Time to Think Outside (of the Classroom)?

Thought Starter: Is it Time to Think Outside (of the Classroom)?

If you’re an adult, you probably remember sitting in class and staring out the window while your teacher’s voice faded into the background of your mind.

If you’re a student, you might have had one of these moments in the past few days, as the weather becomes more appealing.

Should educators fight this? Or embrace it?

Finland’s education system is often portrayed as a model for the rest of the world to follow. Part of that claim to fame? Longer recesses.

Recently, Idaho senators overwhelmingly approved a bill to restore transportation funding for field trips.

Would you support more opportunities for students to get outside of their classrooms?

Are Students Fit Enough To Learn?

Are Students Fit Enough To Learn?

More and more research confirms that physical activity can have a positive influence on a child’s academic performance.

Considering this, it’s interesting to note that Idaho requires physical education for grades K-8 but doesn’t set minimum time requirements. Physical education must be offered as a course of study for grades 9-12, but it is not required nor is it a graduation requirement. READ MORE.

Thought Starter: What Direction Would Teacher-Powered Schools Take?

Thought Starter: What Direction Would Teacher-Powered Schools Take?

A Teacher-Powered Schools National Conference was recently conducted in Los Angeles.

The conference addressed some intriguing ideas and questions. One principal asked: “Would teachers rather be tired from fighting the system or tired from creating a new system?”

Perhaps that’s a valid question to ask Idaho’s teachers.

What would schools look like if teachers designed the model?  

Thought Starter: After High School, Should College be the Only Path?

Thought Starter: After High School, Should College be the Only Path?

Idaho Education News recently published an article about a few of the success stories at Dennis Technical Education Center in Boise.

Students are focusing on specific paths they hope to take after high school. Sometimes those paths include college. Sometimes they don’t.  

What if a student chooses to focus on a subject area that interests them, that might not require a four-year education and instead requires hands-on training?

Would expanding technical education in Idaho be a good idea?

Thought Starter: Are Students The Primary Focus Of Public Education In Idaho?

Thought Starter: Are Students The Primary Focus Of Public Education In Idaho?

Education Week recently posted a blog with the title: “Some Things You Can Do to Support Public Education Now.”

The author, Dave Powell, listed several ways we can all get involved and have an impact on public education.

One of them, in particular, is worth revisiting here. Powell wrote “Remember that any good education system puts the needs of students – not adults – first.”

It’s an interesting idea, and one that could be revisited regularly in regards to public education in Idaho.

In all educational decisions, are we putting the needs of the students first?

Thought Starter: Is Student Nutrition Getting the Attention it Deserves?

Thought Starter: Is Student Nutrition Getting the Attention it Deserves?

Nutrition isn’t always on the top of the list when people discuss ways to improve education.

But it’s an important factor.

Research has shown:

  • Nutrition affects students’ thinking skills, behavior and health, all factors that impact academic performance.
  • Nutritional deficiencies early in life can affect the cognitive development of school-aged children.
  • Access to proper nutrition improves students’ cognition, concentration and energy levels.

Are we all – parents, teachers, legislators, voters – doing everything we can to make sure every young student in Idaho is properly nourished?

Thought Starter: What Role Do Bus Drivers Play in Our Children’s Education?

Thought Starter: What Role Do Bus Drivers Play in Our Children’s Education?

Every day, thousands and thousands of Idaho students board a bus for school.  At the end of the day, they get back on the bus and return home.

Most of us may not think much about school bus drivers until they are featured in an unflattering headline.  

They go mostly unnoticed as they perform their job, yet they are almost always the first – and last – adult that young students encounter during their schooldays.

The state of Minnesota has decided to recognize bus drivers by designating a School Bus Driver Appreciation Day.

Do bus drivers play an important role in our children’s education, and would you support a school bus driver appreciation day in Idaho?  

Should We Make Student Voice a Choice?

Should We Make Student Voice a Choice?

Clark Fork High in northern Idaho is a small school with a little more than 100 students.

But this small school had a big idea and is running with it -- with great success.

READ MORE.

Sign Of The Times - Fake News Or Real News?

Sign Of The Times - Fake News Or Real News?

Fake news. The term seems to be everywhere these days.  What is fake news?  Fake news refers to false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news.  Why do we care about fake news in regards to our K-12 students? A recent report by researchers at Stanford University found that “young and otherwise digitally savvy students can be easily duped.” READ MORE.

Thought Starter: Idaho Needs More Teachers

Thought Starter: Idaho Needs More Teachers

The chief policy officer for Idaho’s State Department of Education recently broke down some numbers with senators.

A couple eye-opening facts from the report:

  • Eighty-seven superintendents provided the SDE with a fall hiring update. Nearly two-fifths of them said they started the school year with at least one teaching vacancy.
  • Twenty-nine districts declared a “hiring emergency,” which allows them to hire teachers on a one-year, provisional basis.

Should we look at more alternative routes to becoming a certified teacher in Idaho?

Thought Starter: Idaho One of Five States That Didn’t Provide Pre-K Funding in 2015-16

Thought Starter: Idaho One of Five States That Didn’t Provide Pre-K Funding in 2015-16

According to the Education Commission of the States, 32 states and the District of Columbia raised their funding levels in the 2015-16 budget year.

On the contrary, five states did not provide funding for pre-K programs in 2015-16. Idaho was one of them. Three years ago, there were 11 states that didn’t invest in pre-K funding.

Is Idaho being short-sighted on pre-K?

Other states spent more than $7.5 billion on pre-K in 2016-17.

Is it time for Idaho to start allotting some of its budget toward pre-K programs?