Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Trump: ‘Common Core Will Be Ended, and Disadvantaged Children’ Will Go to the School of Their Choice

In a campaign speech in Bedford, N.H., GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday that in his administration, Common Core state educational standards will be ended, and disadvantaged kids will be able to choose what school they want to go to.

“Common core will be ended, and disadvantaged children will be allowed to attend the school of their choice,” Trump said, adding that “the catastrophe known as Obamacare will be repealed and replaced, and it’s dying of its own volition anyway.”

According to the Department of Education website, state education chiefs and governors in 48 states developed the Common Core, which is “a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.”

Besides the District of Columbia, 42 states have adopted Common Core standards.

Trump also touted his economic agenda, which he said “can be summed up” with three words: “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“We’re going to pass the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan, and we’re going to lower .. the business rate from 35 percent all the way down to 15 percent, making America into a magnet for new jobs and growth,” he said.

“Every wasteful and unnecessary regulation will be eliminated along with ever illegal executive order. We will unleash the power of American energy,” Trump said.

Trump said the U.S. is “sitting on $50 trillion of untapped energy reserves, and we’re going to put that wealth into the pockets of the American people, and we’re going to start reducing debt.”


British Primary school outlaws RUNNING in the playground: Parents demand 'let kids be kids'

Children have been banned from running in the playground by a primary school, in an intervention labelled 'ridiculous' by parents.

Teachers at Hillfort Primary School in Liskeard, Cornwall, brought in the ban after children kept on 'ending up in first aid' - and instead put on activities such as sand play, a choir and Lego.

But parents have condemned the school for using health and safety as an excuse to 'remove the liberty to spontaneously run in the playground'.

Parent Caroline Wills, who has a six-year-old daughter in Year Two, told MailOnline today: 'Kids will be kids. How far is the school going to take this?

'In this day and age kids are stopped from being kids in so many ways. They have got to be allowed to be children.'

But Lee Jackson, who has an eight-year-old son in Year Four at the school, said: 'My son is always falling over and banging his head and hurting himself.

'Having one area for quiet play is a good idea, then they've got the choice.'

Children have been dancing to the YMCA instead and the school reported a '30 per cent drop in first aid incidents and an 80 per cent drop in behavioural incidents'.

A petition, which has more than 150 signatures, was started by Leah Browning, 32, whose son Jago attends the school. She said she was delighted with the support she had from other parents and members of the local community.

She told MailOnline: 'I started the petition because I want my son and others to be able to run during imaginative play in the playground.

'It's a big thing for a child of five to be cooped up all day. Running releases endorphins. In the newsletter the school originally sent out, the issue seemed to be about bad behaviour.

'I felt this should be addressed with the individual children – the majority shouldn't be penalised for the behaviour of the minority.'

But Ms Browning said the headmaster has now come back to parents explaining that the new arrangements do not actually mean a total ban on running.

She added: 'The school has come back and said the worry was over kids bumping into each other. I'm ecstatic if it means the children can run. 'As long as my little boy can carry on being a superhero and running in the playground, as he ought to be able to, I'm happy.'

In the petition, the parents say: 'Please lift the ban on running in the playground at Hillfort Primary School at lunch time break.

'Ensure that there is adequate funding and provision of suitable staff to safely supervise lunch break.

'Enable and empower children's right and freedom to run freely through spontaneous, child led play, in the playground during lunch time break.

'Do not allow 'health and safety' to remove the liberty to spontaneously run in the playground during imaginative and child-led play.'

The parents added that the school should consider 'alternative options to reduce risk, as required without removing liberty to move freely during play'.

They suggested staggered lunch break times, making the playground bigger, 'or other creative alternatives to removing the right to play freely in the playground'.

The school's headmaster Dr Tim Cook, who has been in his position since last November, defended the ban but said it would be reviewed in the future.

Dr Cook said the school has had one complaint about the ban, which was revealed in the school newsletter on September 23 and implemented last Tuesday.

He added: 'I sat down with some of my senior colleagues to assess the problem with children running across the playground and ending up in first aid.

'We've tried to be a little more reactive and proactive and put in place eight to 10 lunch time activities for the children including a choir, sand play, and Lego.

'I left our Year Five class dancing to YMCA just last week. Children can still run in the early years' playground and we have two football courts which the children can run in.

'This is just a ban on running from one side of the playground to the other.

'This has only been in place for three days, but we have already noticed a 30 per cent drop in first aid incidents and an 80 per cent drop in behavioural incidents.

'I'm on the gate every single morning and not one parent has approached me about this.'

Dr Cook has admitted that communication on the issue could have been better. He added: 'If I have any admission of guilt it's that I could have been clearer in my communication originally - I do accept that.

'Some of the points on the petition aren't factually accurate and I have flagged them up for review.

'I do take exception to the claim that we're not putting enough staff in place or that we're using this as a means of cutting back lunch staff.

'We have the same amount of staff who try their very best to do what is best for the children.'

The school said it would be reviewing the new policy over the next couple of weeks and will retract it if staff feel it is not having a positive effect.

The school also clarified in a newsletter last week that it had only stopped running where it takes place directly across the playground, after some children had been hurt by others running into one another.

Despite many parents opposing the move, one mother of two children at the school, said she thought that having different sorts of structured play at lunchtimes was 'brilliant', particularly to help children who might be shy or at risk of being bullied.

'I can't understand why parents would complain about it, it's crackers,' she said.

'Not all kids are into running or boisterous. Some prefer to sit and be quiet. Now my daughter can sit in the sunshine and read a book without feeling like she's a wally.'

'There's karaoke, there's sand pits, and it's all interactive, so if your child finds it difficult to mix or join in with others sometimes, there's something there for them. It gives them a chance to join in and be social.'

It comes a year after Old Priory Junior Academy in Plympton, Devon, banned children from doing cartwheels and handstands at break times over safety fears.

Pupils at that school were told in June 2015 that they couldn't perform 'gymnastic movements' in the playground after some children had been left with injuries.

Emma Hermon-Wright, the school's interim headmistress, said she introduced the ban because the children were attempting moves 'beyond their capability'.


Is taking a gap year before college a good idea?

Malia Obama’s not the only high school graduate delaying college for a year. Here’s why they’re doing it.

The two-sentence press release the White House issued this spring about first daughter Malia’s plan to take a gap year before starting at Harvard in September 2017 sent tremors through certain circles. “Our website traffic the next day was more than nine times what it usually is,” says Ethan Knight, founder and executive director of the American Gap Association, based in Portland, Oregon. Google searches for the term spiked dramatically that day, too, but within a week were back to the status quo — probably because much of the activity was from people simply wondering “What the heck’s a gap year, anyway?” After all, only about 1 percent of American students defer college to take one.

The idea of young people putting off school or work to “find” themselves has been around at least since Jack Kerouac published On the Road in 1957. In 1969 a company called Dynamy was formed in Worcester as one of the first experiential learning programs in the US specifically for gap years. By the 1980s, the concept began gaining in popularity when Cornelius Bull, an educator who had spent time in Europe, started the Center for Interim Programs in Princeton, New Jersey, and Northampton. As headmaster of the Verde Valley prep school in Sedona, Arizona, he saw students transformed by their service work in Mexico and on Navajo reservations. “That’s what lit them up,” says his daughter, Holly Bull, now president of Interim. “That’s what they talked about and remembered at reunions, and that got him started.”

Department of Education data are clear that, on the whole, not going right to college from high school often means never going at all or never graduating if you do go. What differentiates a gap year from simply taking some time off is that most kids who take them have already been accepted at a school and are pursuing their chosen course through hands-on learning with intentionality and purpose. “People are scared to take a break,” says Mia McCue, a 19-year-old Natick High School graduate who started at American University this fall. She took a gap year because “I just needed to do something different to make me excited about school again.” That did not mean sitting around the house posting on Instagram or taking an extended vacation. McCue’s parents supported her decision but encouraged her to learn something. She ended up spending most of her break time doing volunteer work and picking up Spanish in South America. Afterward, she says, “I felt a new excitement to go to school that I wasn’t feeling at the end of senior year.”

It’s not an uncommon sentiment. One of the reasons gap years have been steadily increasing in popularity in the past five or 10 years is the growing pressures students face in high school. “They’re totally burned out,” says Jane Sarouhan, vice president of Interim Northampton. “They’re taking three AP courses, playing sports for the season, and taking as ambitious an extracurricular schedule as possible.” In addition, the prevalence of social media, which allows kids to curate a “perfect” image, and the more involved style of parenting that’s become the norm in recent years mean many young people lack the self-sufficiency, maturity, confidence, and emotional intelligence needed to succeed in college or the “real world.”

The Department of Education’s most recent statistics found the average US student who goes to college within a year after high school takes just under six years to graduate. The data on gap-year students are limited, but indicate 90 percent of them do go on to college within a year of high school graduation, and they tend to be more likely to graduate on time, have higher GPAs, and be more engaged in campus life than their counterparts. “There’s more and more pressure to be on this conveyor belt, finishing school, pursuing a master’s, getting a career,” says Alia Pialtos, assistant director of admissions at Dynamy. “There’s not time to explore what one’s really passionate about. A gap year allows students to think of themselves as a whole person.”

While safety is a priority in formal gap-year situations, part of the point is for students to challenge themselves to make good decisions and handle tough situations. “The most important thing on the gap year is you learn your limits,” says 21-year-old Laura Ippolito of Andover, who started at Montana State University in September 2015 after a post-high school stint studying in South America, the American West, and Southeast Asia. “You learn that where you think your limits are, they’re actually way past that.” Facilitated gap-year programs — which perhaps two-thirds of gap-year students choose to join, at least for the first portion of their time off — also usually involve shared introspection and mentoring that could be considered a kind of life coaching.

All this comes at a price, of course, in addition to the rising financial burden of earning a four-year degree. A semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School, based in Wyoming, or Colorado’s Where There Be Dragons, for example, starts at around $10,000 and can go well into the mid-five-figure range. Costs like those raise the question of whether the experience is only for rich kids. A 2014 survey of gap-year students found that nearly 45 percent estimated their parents’ annual incomes at $100,000 or higher. But some programs have started to help, like Oregon-based Carpe Mundi, which provides scholarships and other support for local low-income students interested in a gap year.

To save money, students can also build a gap year that lets them live at home. Maya Ludtke, 20, lived with her freelance-journalist single mother in Cambridge while working at a City Year AmeriCorps program in a Roxbury elementary school. She was paid $1,200 a month, before taxes, and upon completion won an AmeriCorps award worth nearly $6,000. The job came with a 90-minute commute each way and long days. “It really was like a different world,” she says. “I learned there’s a lot of work you can do right in your own community. I came out of it thinking I really need to take advantage of the fact that I got into a really good college [Wellesley], and I kind of see its value more.”

Other opportunities include volunteering, internships — some with stipends — job shadowing, and community service programs. Students can sometimes receive college credit for work they do on their gap year, and it’s even possible to find financial aid for the experience (check for a long list of scholarships and grants).

Daniel Lander, who spent his year between Concord Academy and Harvard interning in local, national, and international politics, says: “Watching people trying to pass comprehensive climate legislation or health care bills was really cool in a way that studying calculus wasn’t. It helped me frame questions about what I wanted to get out of college, as opposed to just focusing on studying and moving on to the next level without interrogating where my passions might lie.”

Not all universities allow deferments, but many are creating their own gap or “bridge” year programs for students who want to defer. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a $7,500 fellowship, and Tufts University provides financial aid for its new 1+4 service learning programs. At Boston College, “we strongly endorse gap years” for students who want them, says John Mahoney, director of undergraduate admissions. “It’s important for students to have a good sense of why they’re going to college and what they’re going for. If a gap year helps with that, we’re behind it all the way.”

What students get out of gap years may make them well worth the cost. “Taking longer to graduate, changing majors, or maybe even changing schools in the middle, semesters abroad, all that is potentially much more expensive than figuring out what you want to do in advance on your gap year,” says Dynamy’s Pialtos. While financial benefits are nice, the character building and, sometimes, resume building that students get out of their time between high school and college are even more valuable. “Colleges are tracking gap-year students, and they’re more mature, more focused, more rested, and less inclined to be swept along by the partying, and they have a far greater sense of their personal power,” says Holly Bull. “They have fewer emotional issues and roommate issues. Why wouldn’t any college want that in their freshman class?”

Or, as Maria Ippolito, Laura’s mother, puts it, she’s “just a very different person than the kid who left to go on the gap year. She’s more worldly and kind of fearless.”


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