Education

On the education front, President Obama's State of the Union address is likely to focus on three big proposals:

First, the president wants to talk about the idea he floated last week of making community college tuition-free. This is new.

The plan would benefit about 9 million full- and part-time students and would cost the federal government about $60 billion over 10 years. According to the administration's numbers, that would account for three-fourths of the total cost. States and community colleges would come up with the rest.

Discrimination claims from people across Connecticut led the U.S. Attorney’s Office to announce that it would form a working group to investigate possible civil rights violations by public and private schools and childcare programs.

Wikimedia Commons

A Catholic school in Meriden that's over a century old will close at the end of the year as enrollment, finances, and demographics continue to change the state of parochial schools in the Nutmeg State. 

David DesRoches

Nate Quesnel, the superintendent of schools in East Hartford, told a story about a student sitting in the back of the classroom, a wool cap pulled over his eyebrows, his faced glued to a cell phone, his fingers attacking the screen in a gaming frenzy.

"Right away, I recoiled inside," Quesnel said. "I felt embarrassed." He was embarrassed because at the time, an executive from Xerox was presenting the students with information on job skills, including how to act during an interview.

The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.

It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won't have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.

UMass Amherst will replace its on-campus textbook store later this year with a virtual store operated by Amazon.

  Under a five-year contract Amazon will provide online textbook ordering through the UMass Amherst website, operate an on-campus pick up location and provide free delivery to off campus addresses in Amherst and five surrounding communities.  UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said the change is being made to save students money.

  "Up to about $380 annually per student based on national estimates of what students pay for books," said Blaguszewski.

Inside Cyber Security: Experts Talk Tech

Jan 13, 2015
Christian Schauer / Flickr Creative Commons

Threats against cyber security seem to be everywhere these days. From viruses slowing down your computer or smartphone, to major attacks on international companies. It’s hard to go a day without hearing about some new and increasingly sophisticated cyber attack. Incidents at Target, Home Depot, and most recently Sony Pictures all illustrate the problems of living in a world more digitally connected than ever.  

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the center of a disputed Rolling Stone account of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia has been reinstated, according to a statement released on the school's website Monday.

Meet The Classroom Of The Future

Jan 12, 2015

The classroom of the future probably won't be led by a robot with arms and legs, but it may be guided by a digital brain.

It may look like this: one room, about the size of a basketball court; more than 100 students, all plugged into a laptop; and 15 teachers and teaching assistants.

This isn't just the future, it's the sixth grade math class at David Boody Jr. High School in Brooklyn, near Coney Island. Beneath all the human buzz, something other than humans is running the show: algorithms.

Connecticut Science Center

Will a hands-on energy efficiency exhibit aimed at children help them to think about their carbon footprint? 

An announcement about the long-term fate of the historic Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts is now expected by mid-February.  Advocates of rebuilding the school that was wrecked in the 2011 tornado are encouraged by word the school will operate for one more year, at least, at its temporary campus. 

       Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski will begin a series of meetings on January 24th in what will amount to the final due diligence on whether to rebuild the Catholic high school with a 130-year- history in Springfield. 

Driven by higher tuition fees and tighter state funds, America's public colleges now get more money from their students than from all state sources. That's according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, which says tuition revenue reached 25 percent of the colleges' total in 2012.

The numbers are stark, with the GAO saying that from fiscal years 2003-2012, "state funding decreased by 12 percent overall while median tuition rose 55 percent across all public colleges."

Close your eyes for a minute and daydream about a world without bubble tests.

Education Week recently reported that some Republican Senate aides are doing more than dreaming — they're drafting a bill that would eliminate the federal mandate on standardized testing.

Tom Woodward/flickr creative commons

Sleeping is studying? Distractions are good?

Turns out both those things can help us learn faster and better. Cognitive scientists have been putting learning to the test, and once you cruise through the most important studies, you see myths about learning popping like balloons. Concentration? Repetition? Not so much.

Helder Mira / Creative Commons

A newly released investigative report describes “rampant nepotism,” and ineffective oversight of the Jumoke Academy charter school in Hartford, and its management group The Family Urban Schools of Excellence, also known as FUSE. The probe was commissioned by the State Department of Education and carried out by an independent special investigator. 

Thomas O'Donnell's kindergarten kids are all hopped up to read about Twiggle the anthropomorphic Turtle.

"Who can tell me why Twiggle here is sad," O'Donnell asks his class at Matthew Henson Elementary School in Baltimore.

"Because he doesn't have no friends," a student pipes up.

And how do people look when they're sad?

"They look down!" the whole class screams out.

Yeah, Twiggle is lonely. But, eventually, he befriends a hedgehog, a duck and a dog. And along the way, he learns how to play, help and share.

What do the Common Core State Standards have in common with congressional Democrats and the Chicago Cubs?

They all had a really rough year.

Of the 45 states that first adopted the academic standards, many spent 2014 talking about repeal. In Oklahoma (as well as Indiana and South Carolina), it wasn't just talk. The Legislature voted to drop the Core in May. And Gov. Mary Fallin, a longtime champion of the Common Core, signed the repeal in June.

Yik Yak

Local, state police, and federal law enforcement are investigating a post on social media threatening a "hail of bullets" in East Lyme.  The post, which appeared anonymously Dec. 24 on the mobile app Yik Yak, said East Lyme should "get ready for the hail of bullets."

As a boy, Daniel Majook Gai fled the civil war in Sudan, running miles by himself to safety and leaving his family behind. He was one of the so-called Lost Boys — a name given to children separated from their families during that conflict.

After years in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, Gai landed in the United States, reunited with his family and got an education. In 2011, he returned home to the newly independent country of South Sudan.

But war came back in 2013 and split the new nation.

You want to bench a pretty woman and launch your manifesto. Only you get bounced from her muzigo because she's pursuing a pensioner.

In the end, you were lucky. She's just a detoother who's after a rich guy.

Welcome to Uglish (pronounced "YOU-glish"), the Ugandan variant of English. Bernard Sabiti has written the first Uglish dictionary (not yet available outside of Uganda, but he's working on an e-book version for January).

Inside the Boston Wine School, Jonathon Alsop places empty glasses and plates of figs and cheese before a small group of students. Alsop, who founded the school in 2000, is doing a test run of a new class that poses the question: What would Jesus drink?

"This is ... a cheese that Jesus might have eaten," he tells students. "It's called Egyptian Roumy — it was a cheese that was introduced to the Egyptians by the Romans. It's a sheep's milk cheese."

One thing's for sure: Nikki Bollerman believes in her school and the kids who go there. How else to explain Bollerman, 26, giving a $150,000 windfall to the Boston area public charter school where she teaches third grade?

U.S. Department of Education

The population of English language learners in Connecticut has increased by nearly 50 percent in the past ten years. According to the data, these students are falling behind. 

Chion Wolf

The population of English Language Learners in Connecticut has increased by nearly 50 percent in the past ten years. Unfortunately, support for these students hasn’t kept up. Despite this steady increase in a learning population, the number of certified, bilingual teachers has been in a steady decline.

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum / Quinnipiac University

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University is launching a digital database with about 1,500 articles and illustrations related to Ireland and the Great Famine.

T. Charles Erickson
Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage produced its first-ever "sensory-friendly" performance this week. The staging of "A Christmas Carol" was geared toward audience members on the autism spectrum.

When it comes to higher education, we've all heard the talking points: More people than ever are pursuing four-year degrees — despite skyrocketing tuition costs — because they don't have many other choices if they want to be competitive in the workforce.

CPBN Learning Lab

I was born to a world of bamboo huts, food rations, and dirt roads. My family was in Beldangi 2, a refugee  camp in Nepal. We were floating there, in a kind of limbo, unsure of who we were and what our future held. 

Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.

Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.

It's a pretty good time to be president of a private college, at least financially. The Chronicle of Higher Education just released its annual roundup of executive compensation for private college presidents, and it reports that Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute earned $7.1 million in 2012 alone. (2012 is the latest year federal tax documents with this information are currently available.)

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