The Education Issue Democratic Candidates Should Be Talking About

Democratic Presidential Candidates are overlooking a basic problem in education.

Education is a hot issue in the contest among Democratic presidential hopefuls. But none of what’s been said so far gets to the root of the problem.

Most of the many current candidates have issued comprehensive policy proposals or at least staked out positions on key education issues. Their prescriptions for reform cluster around the same basic proposals, listed below. Reasonable arguments can be made for all these ideas, and compelling ones for some. But none gets at a pervasive and long overlooked problem that has hobbled efforts to improve education for decades—and, if left unaddressed, will undermine the current proposals, should they ever come to fruition.

Like most education reformers and policymakers—of either party—the Democratic candidates have failed to focus on what is actually going on in classrooms, particularly in elementary school. They might be surprised to learn that in all but a relative handful, teachers aren’t even trying to provide kids with substantive knowledge. Instead, they’re spending hours every day teaching them so-called reading comprehension skills—or trying to. The theory is that if kids master supposed skills like “finding the main idea” or “making inferences,” eventually they’ll be able to use them to glean knowledge from any text put in front of them.

But scientists who study the learning process have long understood that reading comprehension doesn’t work that way. The most important factor isn’t some generally applicable skill. It’s how much background knowledge and vocabulary you have relating to the topic. So if we want to boost kids’ reading comprehension—and their general academic performance—we need to start building their knowledge as early as possible through social studies, science, literature and the arts. That’s especially important for children from less educated families, who are the least likely to pick up that kind of knowledge at home.

Instead, though, we’ve narrowed the elementary curriculum to reading and math, especially in high-poverty schools where test scores are low. That focus often continues through middle school, with the result that many students arrive in high school with such crippling gaps in knowledge that it’s nearly impossible for them to understand high school-level material. The longer we wait to start addressing those gaps, the harder they are to fill.

This problem isn’t new, but in the past twenty years well-intentioned reform efforts have only made things worse. No Child Left Behind, enacted in 2001—and some of the measures taken by the Obama administration in its wake—intensified the focus on test scores. Because reading tests appear to assess comprehension skills, teachers have doubled down on that kind of instruction. But if students don’t have the background knowledge to understand the passages on the tests, they can’t demonstrate their skills. That has become even more of an issue since 2010, when the Common Core literacy standards or something like them were adopted in most states. The passages on tests aligned to those standards include more nonfiction, which generally assumes more background knowledge than fiction. And yet most teachers have continued focusing on comprehension “skills” rather than knowledge.

The solution, briefly, is to get more districts or schools to adopt recently developed elementary literacy curricula that build students’ knowledge of the world instead of fruitlessly trying to develop comprehension “skills.” Unless that happens, the candidates’ favorite proposals will founder in different but related ways:

·        Expanded access to preschool: Yes, we need to start building children’s knowledge and vocabulary early, and preschools using good curricula can help. But if kids go from preschool to a black hole of knowledge in elementary school, whatever gains they’ve made evaporate quickly—a phenomenon known as “preschool fadeout.”

·        Making college free or less expensive: This is a great idea—for students who graduate from high school prepared to do college-level work. But many high school graduates are required to take remedial courses when they enroll in college, and they often never graduate. Making college free without also improving K-12 education could just encourage even more ill-prepared students to enroll, resulting in an even greater waste of time and effort—and money, even if students themselves don’t bear the costs.

·        Limits on charter schools: These proposals have drawn the most attention, but they wouldn’t address this basic problem. Charters could theoretically serve as models of innovation by focusing on content at the elementary level. For the most part, though, they’ve drilled kids on comprehension “skills” just as much as traditional public schools have—if not more.

·        More funding for high-poverty schools: Money could help, but only if schools understand what to do with it. If they just use it to fund more of the same meaningless comprehension instruction, as they generally do, the money won’t make much difference. And high-quality curriculum doesn’t cost any more than low-quality curriculum, so schools could do a lot more with the resources they have now.

·        Increasing teacher salaries: Teachers in many places need and deserve more money, and teacher turnover has a negative impact on student achievement. But teachers also leave because they’re dissatisfied with their working conditions, including pressure to raise test scores; nearly half of teachers surveyed in one study said they’d considered quitting because of testing. If the current approach to elementary education continues, test scores will continue to languish—and the pressure will continue, along with teacher turnover.

It would be great if at least one of the 20 candidates who have qualified for the first Democratic debates later this week mentioned that we’re not actually teaching kids much in elementary school—and that we’re unlikely to make progress in addressing the problems plaguing our education system unless we start. But explaining that would take more than the few minutes they’ll be allotted.

Still, there’s time to get this message out before the primaries begin. There may not be a powerful constituency clamoring for this kind of reform right now. But if a candidate explains the issue well, several groups could get on board:

·        Teachers: In the few schools that have switched to a knowledge-focused curriculum, many teachers have embraced the change wholeheartedly. They say it’s the way they’ve always wanted to teach.

·        Parents: Kids don’t come home from school chattering excitedly about “making inferences” or “identifying nonfiction text structures.” But when they’re learning about the human digestive system or Greek mythology, parents are delighted by the rich conversations they can have—and how much their kids are enjoying school. With a solid foundation of knowledge, students will also be poised to succeed in later grades.

·        Employers: If schools adopt a knowledge-building approach, high school graduates will be far better equipped for the 21st-century workplace. Having a fund of knowledge and vocabulary can enable workers to understand on-the-job manuals, write coherent reports, and adapt to changing work requirements.

·        Those concerned by growing inequity: Reformers are starting to give up on education as an engine of social mobility. But it’s still our best hope for reducing inequality. The problem is that we haven’t tried to address the gap in knowledge between haves and have-nots, beginning in the early grades.

Elizabeth Warren, who famously has a plan for everything, doesn’t yet have one for K-12 education. She or some other Democratic candidate could stand out from the crowd by focusing on a vital issue everyone else has ignored for decades: our wrong-headed, self-defeating obsession with reading comprehension “skills.” And ultimately, millions of children—not to mention society as a whole—could reap enormous benefits.


Jaymin Shah is making some serious dent in the blogging industry

At the age of 19, many of us were either drowning in the sea of assignments or were too stoned to think about our future. But then there was Jaymin shah, at the first meeting Jaymin comes off like a breath of fresh air just how Rancho came in for Frahan. When we all Chaturs were busy jumping through the hoops of exams Jaymin was busy publishing his columns on Huffingpost.

At the age of 19 Jaymin successfully founded a news portal – NewsEnquire, and hell even hired a few people while many of his age were busy taking loans from our friends for a cigarette (Smoking is injurious to health, FYI). Jaymin, who was once blogging about tech and the stock market has now expanded his horizon to Bollywood and lifestyle. He is one of the youngest bloggers to cover such a wide range of news.

Don’t miss judge him for Steve Job, though he wears glasses like Jobs, he has not taken a rain check on his education. The 19-year-old influencer holds a diploma in L J Polytechnic and has a brain of pure Gujarati i.e he knows how to make money. The way he is tirelessly putting out content suggests it won’t be long when he will become one of the biggest names in the blogging industry.


Excerpts from a blogging mom: Sanity Straight from the Oven

Written by: Zoe Vedova, Humour editor

Hello, world! My name is Sheela McGummery
and I blog about my baking!
I am a proud woman of the suburbs and I
bake to fill my life with the sort of sweetness
I used to find in my marriage. LOL
For any baking inquiries, please email


Now here is a neat twist on a fun, summery treat that will really boost your neighborhood cred when you show up to your stepchild’s little league BBQ with a tray of these healthy snacks!

I can assure you this recipe is a foolproof way to get into the inner circle of moms who secretly do MDMA behind the concession stand at youth baseball tournaments.

God, I wanted in on it so bad, hahahahaaaahahah . . . we’ve all been there, it’s time to be out in the open about loving . . . Lemon bars!

Just licking the icing sugar off the top . . .

I came up with this recipe last month.

It was one Saturday morning, after returning from my biweekly meeting as the treasurer on the board of Moms for Cross-Fit for Toddlers, and I had sooooo many lemons left in my fridge. (Way too many for just gin and tonics, am I right, ladies?! Find my Alcoh-lishous Adult Gin Juice Box recipe here.) I had to whip up something simply fantastic for my step-sons baseball BBQ!

That snake in the grass Rebecca was going to be there parading around a pie, as if that pastry harlot could craft a perfectly formed pie crust herself and didn’t purchase a Tenderflake® Pie Shell for $3.99 from Thrifty’s like the kitchen coward she is.

We have such a fun relationship.

My therapist (find her at says baking is a constructive way to release my anger towards my late father, who abandoned my mother and I to become a vaudeville actor in Winnipeg in 1971. Though my obsession with light, lemony, summer nibbles is only to protect the health and safety of my Family!!!1! Just like that time I had to knock that insurance salesman out cold with a Yellow Pages phonebook (they’re still good for something) and I pulled his unconscious body out to the street to make it appear as if my neighbors had run him over with their car.

I was acting on karma’s will. Those people are always parking on the street when the community bylaw makes it perfectly clear you cannot park where the sidewalk line is painted WHITE. They do not get to evade the municipality’s cold hard judicial judgment when I’m around.

Back on to the lemon bars. I firmly believe that baking has the power to bring families together. My eldest (biological) son has just returned from his first-year at university, and I was SO worried he’d turned into a liberal while away in the big city. But if there’s anything that can bring family values back into our lives in this modern age, it’s MY vegan lemon bars.

This recipe simply needs organic lemons. If you can’t afford them, maybe you should try this lemon bar recipe: Low-Income Lemon Bars I made for the annual Frugal Friday! Organic lemons show you really respect the lemons for everything the faithful fruit has done for our country. Especially in the Second World War.


In 2 weeks, government gets 50,000 suggestions regarding the draft New Education Policy

human resource development,HRD,NEP

A human resource development (HRD) ministry official said they have so far received nearly 50,000 suggestions and inputs from across the country.(HT Photo)

Google Stadia’s internet speed requirements are just the beginning

Google Stadia on Thursday unveiled its pricing and some of the video games you can play on its all-new service set to launch in 2020. The company also offered up some guidelines as to the types of network speed requirements it has for various qualities of gameplay: 10Mbps  for 720/60fps stereo, roughly 20Mbps for 1080/60fps HDR with 5.1 surround audio, and 35Mbps for 4K/60fps HDR video with 5.1 surround.

That’s all well and good, but don’t assume that meeting Google’s internet speed requirements means you’ll be able to play at the stated quality. They’re the minimum, but not necessarily sufficient, conditions.

Google — like many of the PC cloud-gaming services — doesn’t mention the other, more important issues that usually affect your experience as exemplified by Nadia Oxford’s tweet: the network. If you’re getting potato streaming, then local network congestion is what’s mashing it.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Think of it as being able to drive 75 mph on the highway, but then you hit the city and your speed unavoidably drops to an average of 25 mph. That number encompasses a lot of stop and go. While these services will test your network, and even in some cases include jitter and other types of network latency data in its calculations, like stop-and-go traffic it can bottleneck by surprise at any moment. And none of it even factors in a given device’s connection stability.

In other words, even if you’re getting 500Mbps with no latency when Google checks your network, at any point while you’re playing, the entire block may start streaming some random playoff game in 4K HDR and those packets interweave with your game packets, interrupting how smoothly they’re flowing. Google fails to lay out any of the details, such as maximum jitter and latency, that you’d want to see before plopping down your $130/£119 for a Founder’s Edition preorder.

When latency rises, frames and frame-rates drop, audio stutters, image quality degrades visibly, your trigger pull registers a millisecond too late and you end up dead in a puddle of your own blood while screaming at the cats in frustration. (OK, maybe that last one’s just me.)

While Google has an advantage over many competitors in that it owns a lot of the network infrastructure between its game-hosting cloud servers and the edge servers which are the last point of delivery between Google and your internet service provider or cellular carrier. But there’s only so much it can do to optimize packet delivery once they leave your ISP. And while many of these services have algorithms to gracefully fall back to lower levels when network issues arise, but that’s not always executed well.

And none of this even includes the irritation of excitedly trying to launch a game, only to be told that your network isn’t up to snuff at the moment — bandwidth great but too much jitter, please try again later. I participated in the Project Stream Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey trial. The first time I ran it, it was great. The second time, unplayable. Both times Speedtest told me I had more than enough bandwidth. And that problem’s not limited to Google.

Everything announced at WWDC: Get the latest on iOS 13, iPad OS, Dark Mode for iPhone and more.

New Mac Pro makes its debut: The long-awaited update to Apple’s flagship desktop starts at $5,999, available in the fall.


In 1995, Bill Gates made these predictions about streaming movies and fake news on the internet

Today, pretty much everyone regularly uses the internet to read breaking news and stream the latest blockbuster films. But in 1995, the internet was still in its infancy, and many Americans weren’t even online yet.

Bill Gates — as the co-founder of Microsoft (which made Internet Explorer, one of the first web browsers) — likely knew as much about the potential of internet technology as anyone in the mid-90s, however. So it’s not shocking that in 1995 Gates would be asked for his predictions on what the internet might look like a couple of decades into the future.

That’s exactly what happened when Gates sat down with author and journalist Terry Pratchett for an interview that appeared in the July 1995 edition of GQ magazine’s UK version. At the time, Gates was 39 and the world’s richest person with a net worth of $12.9 billion (he’s now second to Jeff Bezo with a $99.6 billion net worth, according to Forbes).

Gates’ conversation with Pratchett recently resurfaced online when writer Marc Burrows, who is working on a biography of Pratchett, tweeted two screenshots of the magazine interview (Gates is identified in the interview screenshots as “BG” and Pratchett is “TP”).

Not surprisingly, Gates had a couple of predictions for the future of the internet — one of which would turn out to be eerily prescient, while the other one seems to have come up short.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter
Streaming movies

One prediction that Gates nailed was that the internet would forever change the way we consume entertainment, like movies and television shows. At the time, most people’s idea of a home entertainment system was a television hooked up to a VCR (electronic devices that played VHS tapes for anyone too young to remember), though video discs like DVDs were beginning to be introduced by the mid-90s.

In the interview, Pratchett is astounded when Gates tells him that “VCRs will be obsolete within ten years.”

“What? Completely obsolete?” asks Pratchett, who then asks if discs will be the primary home video format.

“Oh, they’ll be replaced by a disc player within four or five years,” Gates says. “I’m talking about access to media across the network.”

In other words, Gates is describing our ability to watch movies, TV shows and other streaming videos online. Gates, who complained that VCRs had “the world’s worst user interface,” went on to explain: “Everything we’re talking about will have screens to guide you and when you pause there’ll be a built-in personality that’ll immediately jump in and help you.”

Gates’ prediction ended up being pretty much on the money, as online video technology continued to improve over the next decade to the point where the now-ubiquitous video streaming platform YouTube was founded in 2005, 10 years after this interview took place. In 2007, Netflix announced plans to start streaming full movies and shows online. Today, Netflix has nearly 150 million streaming subscribers around the world, while more than two billion people watch videos on YouTube every month.

Pratchett also wanted to know if Gates thought that the internet would eventually make it easier to spread misinformation to large groups of people.

“There’s a kind of parity of esteem of information on the Net,” Pratchett remarked to Gates in the interview. “It’s all there: there’s no way of finding out whether this stuff has any bottom to it or whether someone just made it up.”

As an example, Pratchett proposed a hypothetical situation where someone purporting to be an expert promoted a theory online claiming that the Holocaust never happened. That theory, Pratchett argued, could be propped up on the internet and “available on the same terms as any piece of historical research which has undergone peer review and so on.”

While Pratchett’s biographer, Burrows, argued on Twitter this week that Pratchett had “accurately predicted how the internet would propagate and legitimise fake news,” Gates’ response is worth noting for the fact that the Microsoft co-founder failed to foresee the same negative effects of online misinformation.

Gates agreed with Pratchett that misinformation could be spread online, but “not for long,” the billionaire reasoned. For instance, Gates argued, the internet could contain fake news, but it would also create more opportunities for information to be verified and supported by appropriate authorities, from actual experts to journalists and consumer reports.

“The whole way that you can check somebody’s reputation will be so much more sophisticated on the Net than it is in print today,” Gates tells Pratchett.

Of course, we know now that many online platforms — from social media sites like Facebook to online video sites like YouTube — have struggled to squash the spread of misinformation and fake news on the internet. Even Gates himself says today that he’s concerned about the spread of misinformation online, admitting that “it’s turned out to be more of a problem than I, or many others, would have expected.”

But Gates also said, in a 2018 interview with Quartz, that he remains optimistic that the internet will continue to become more sophisticated as an information source over time, and that the benefits of having access to such a wealth of information on the internet will eventually outweigh the “challenges” of separating fact from fiction online.


A decade of blogging: Making sense in the cyber highway

BLOGGING is currently the prevailing practice by individuals who have the passion to write and tell stories about places, people and events using advance technology as the fastest and most effective channel of communication.

Before technology dominates the cyber world, people had a hard time communicating. Even in relationships, one has to physically visit the person who is the love interest. It involves a lot of hard work because one has to court the whole family only to win their hearts and eventually the heart of the love interest.

People used to communicate either by letters or phone calls (landline), through friends and through mutual interactions. Those were the old days.

But now, with the advent of technology, everything is made easy even in courtship, business, and family relations.

Petty quarrels even occupy the interest of the cyber community, which is quite a downside. But people become more conscious about their looks, clothing, behaviors, and language and have all the reasons to celebrate in most if not all occasions.

But here comes blogging, few individuals put together their passion and formed a group named the Negrense Bloggers. Their group rings a bell in the corporate world. They just marked their 10th anniversary on May 25.

The Negros Bloggers started in May 30, 2009 with pioneers Ruby Caberte, May Castro and Glady Tomulto, who felt the need to professionalize their craft of blogging.

They held meetings and sponsored blogging seminars to gather and network with other bloggers based in Bacolod City.

Soon, through blog hopping, link exchange and social networking, the group grew by leaps and bounds, attracting many Negrense bloggers based in Bacolod as well from other parts of the country.

This has led to the creation of the Negrense Blogging Society, Inc., a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered, non-profit, non-stock association.

Negrense Blogging Society, Inc. is the juridical personality behind the Negros Bloggers.

Their mission is to promote, preserve, and develop the arts, culture, business, environment, tourism, and history of the Negrenses in the blogosphere.

They are also a community of bloggers who help one another develop and professionalize their craft, foster camaraderie and friendship, while at the same time gather other Negrense bloggers together through link parties, seminars and guest posts. They help each other look for new opportunities that may benefit their readers.

They are governed by the core values of honesty, integrity, excellence and ethics in our blogging. We build mutually beneficial linkages with other bloggers and blogging networks in other cities and provinces in the Philippines and around the world who share our values, passion, and philosophy.”

Ruby Caberte, founding President said, “It’s been ten years since we started Negrense Blogging Society, Inc. It makes me really happy and very proud that they have come a long way and have become one of the premier blogging organization in the country today. To my Negrense Bloggers family, keep on shining and growing! Cheers to the next 10 years and more!”

Glady Reyes said, “After 10 years of blogging, we want to give back to the community by mentoring the youth who want to go into blogging as platform for their advocacy and business.”

Couple bloggers Dennis and Sigrid Lo are grateful of their blogging and their organization.

Sigrid said, “I’m grateful to be part of the Negrense Blogging Society. While we may be called bloggers, we uphold blogging ethics and journalistic values by reporting only facts and sharing opinion based on facts. It has been our group’s goal to be a channel of change and positivism in the city, promoting Bacolod to the world through our websites.”

Dennis said, “We are against fake news and together we stand to share only information about our society and about life that is helpful and true.”

They even had influence on their kids Shawna Din and Dorothy Shane who also have their YouTube vlog channel: sistersactkidscantell.


Blogging Couple Travels The Globe While Earning $60,000+ Per Month

The Johnson Family

When Greg and Holly Johnson started their blog in 2012, they thought it would be a fun way to document their financial journey.

“We had some student loans and car loans we wanted to pay off,” said Holly. “Once we realized other people were blogging about the same things we were experiencing in real life, we decided to give it a shot.”

Since those early days, their blog has taken on a life of its own. Greg quit his full-time job as a funeral director to work on the blog in 2015, and he currently earns over $40,000 per month through his efforts. Holly, on the other hand, quit her job in the same funeral home to write full-time. She consistently earns $20,000 per month, but sometimes more. Holly also has a popular freelance writing course — — that brings in around $4,000 per month.

The crazy thing is, they’re not even at home working most of the time. Follow them on Instagram and you’ll see they are constantly in ridiculous destinations like the Swiss Alps, the Greek Islands, or the Caribbean with their kids. Since their business is entirely online, the pair can basically work from anywhere. And that’s exactly what they do.

Vivian Johnson overlooking the mountains of Switzerland

Vivian Johnson overlooking the mountains of Switzerland


How They Balance Work and Play

Earning a significant income while traveling 16 weeks or more each year may sound inspiring, but the Johnsons say it’s a lot of work. They say they are always “working ahead” when they are home so they can spend some downtime on their trips. That often means working weekends or evenings for weeks at a time.

Since Holly is a professional writer, she has a lot of deadlines she has to meet no matter what. So, she often ends up working while she travels, which isn’t always fun.

“It’s a trade-off,” she says. “I get to travel all the time, but I also have a lot of responsibility.”

During a two-week trip, she said she will usually just go ahead and set aside 3-4 days to work, even if it’s just in the morning for a few hours. This helps her stay on top of her email inbox, new content, and questions from her editors, she says.

Greg doesn’t have anyone to report to so he doesn’t have as many deadlines, but he also has to put out a lot of fires. He also monitors their website traffic and affiliate income while they travel, usually by getting up a few hours before the kids while they’re on a trip.

Because they’re often working when they travel, the couple says that, overall, they probably work 30 to 40 hours per week on average.

“It’s just more sporadic,” says Holly. “I might take a week or ten days off work then wind up working for the next 20 days straight.”

The Johnsons at the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris, France

The Johnsons at the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris, France


How They Made it Work

Anyone who has tried to find success at blogging or freelance writing knows that neither road is easy. Both fields are incredibly competitive, and it can be difficult to build long-term income that lasts.

Johnson says she and her husband have been successful because they had to be.

“We really wanted to get out of our 9-5 jobs and build a new life — one where we were in control,” she says.

When they started their online endeavors, they both used to get up early and work at 5:00 a.m. before they started their “real jobs,” and they gave up an endless number of weekends and evenings when the kids were in bed. It was hard, they both said, because they were balancing side jobs on top of parenthood and full-time work.

Greg’s success as a blogger also didn’t happen overnight. It took years for him to learn how to position their website to earn real income. And even now, their successes are mixed with plenty of failures.

“Everything doesn’t have to go right,” says Greg. “You just need to get some of the things you try to actually work.”

The bloggers spend a lot of time along Italy's Amalfi Coast

The bloggers spend a lot of time along Italy’s Amalfi Coast


Their Tips for Online Business Success

Whether you want to blog for a living or become a freelance writer, the pair offers some tips can apply to everyone.

For example, the couple stresses the importance of having multiple income streams and “not having all your eggs in one basket.” That’s part of the reason Holly still writes for a living when they clearly don’t need the money.

“We both like knowing that, no matter what happens, we aren’t going to lose all our income streams at once,” she said. “I also don’t feel the need to work with my husband 24/7. I like earning my own money even though we share our finances.”

Another tip from the pair: Keep your personal liabilities low.

“If you want to build an online business, the best thing you can do is build a debt-free lifestyle,” she says.

The Johnsons share a 2009 Toyota Prius that’s been paid off forever, and they don’t have any other debts. They even paid off their primary home in early 2018, so their housing expenses are limited to taxes, insurance (such as auto, life, and homeowners insurance), and maintenance.

Another tip for business success is “be yourself,” the couple agreed.

In the blogging and writing world, so many people try to find success by copying what other people are doing. In reality though, the same thing won’t work for everyone. You’ll have the best chance at success if you figure out who you are and what makes you different.

“We have tons of blogging friends who are wildly successful, and they all run their business a different way,” says Johnson.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the Johnsons want people to know their life isn’t perfect. They work a ton of hours and they put a lot on the line to follow their dreams. It’s not easy to bet the farm on blogging when you have two children to take care of, nor is it easy to let go of stable, well-paying jobs.

But the couple seems to persevere no matter what life throws their way — which they say is due to the fact they never gave up. And they never will.

The couple likes having money and they love to travel, they say, but they love the freedom they’ve earned the most.

Greg Johnson says he’s basically unemployable now and that he “will never get a job again.” Holly doesn’t mind working, but she always plans to stay in a freelance role instead of employment with one company — even if the job was remote. She said she doesn’t miss the minutiae of regular 9-5 work, sitting in meetings, and all the time she wasted driving back and forth.

“Nobody would hire us anyway,” she said. “Who wants an employee who travels four months of the year and hates meetings?”


‘Game of Thrones’: ET Will Be Live Blogging the Series Finale!

Image result for 'Game of Thrones': ET Will Be Live Blogging the Series Finale!It’s here.

Get ready to sing “Jenny’s Song” because Game of Thrones is officially coming to an end. After eight glorious seasons, the HBO epic is set to conclude on Sunday — and we’re still not sure who will end up on the Iron Throne.

After last week’s shocking penultimate episode, in which Daenerys ignored King’s Landing’s surrender and instead lit the place up, it’s become clear she’s not the benevolent ruler she wanted to be. Most of the Lannisters are dead — Tyrion, however, remains shocked by his queen’s actions — but the Starks are alive, and may be coming for Dany’s crown.

Despite fans’ petition to have season eight remade, we’re pretty sure this is the season eight we’ve got. ET will be live blogging Sunday’s episode from start to finish as we learn our favorite characters’ fates. Circle back when the episode starts for minute-by-minute updates of what’s going down.


Closing the early education gap for rural families

The mountain of evidence that early childhood education has profound and life-long effects for students has been building for decades. Educators have made efforts to expand access to high-quality early education opportunities, but that access is not evenly distributed–rural communities are often left out of the loop entirely.

Approximately one in five Americans live in rural areas, and, according to the Center for American Progress, 59% of rural areas are defined as “child care deserts.” This term refers to areas that have fewer available child care spots than there are children in need of them. Even more concerning, there’s no guarantee that those available spots even offer high-quality preschool instruction.

My formal title is director of curriculum and instruction at Greenburg Community Schools, but I also serve as the coordinator for our Federal Title I, Title II, Title III, and Title IV and Rural and Low Income Schools grants, as well as those for high ability and gifted students.

These positions allow me to see where students are when they enter our school system at the kindergarten level and watch them evolve, experience, and mature through graduation. We see students who have been enrolled in childcare facilities since they were six weeks old, others who have attended preschool for two or more years, and still others who have never been away from home before they enter kindergarten.

I have found that there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to providing early learning opportunities for rural communities, but at-home, online programs are helping to fill the gap.

The Challenges

A lack of available preschool options isn’t the only challenge facing rural parents seeking to educate their children. With more than a quarter of rural children coming from economically disadvantaged families, cost is also a significant issue. In my own experience working with rural populations in Indiana, I’ve seen this firsthand. Many parents are unemployed or underemployed. They may be working but no longer able to earn a living wage after factories that paid upwards of $20 an hour have closed, forcing them to make due on part-time work from temporary staffing agencies that pay $9–$15 an hour. Some preschool options can cost as much as $200 per week, which puts them firmly out of reach for many rural families.

Transportation is another significant hurdle. Rural communities are geographically isolated. Coupled with the grim economic picture, this means many families cannot take their children to preschool, either because they cannot afford it or because they don’t have flexible enough working hours to take them. A lack of public transportation in these rural areas often takes preschool completely off the table as an option.

The Solution

Luckily, the answers are suggested by the challenges themselves. If high-quality early education is too expensive for rural families, let’s educate their children at no cost to them. If transportation woes prevent them from taking their children to free high-quality options, let’s bring those options to them.

One organization I partner with–the nonprofit–offers an online early learning solution called Waterford UPSTART, which is designed to help children develop early literacy, numeracy and science skills.

I had previously worked with this organization when I was at a larger district. While there, I saw how the platform helped struggling and at-risk students prepare for kindergarten. When I moved to my current position at Greensburg, we adopted it as an early intervention tool with the help of an Early Intervention Literacy Grant.

All of our kindergarten students and our seven kindergarten teachers at Greensburg use Waterford UPSTART. I also serve as a local education partner with the organization for a project in which they provide the program free to pre-K students. Participating children are asked to spend 15 minutes a day, five days a week working with the program. If the family doesn’t have a computer, Waterford provides one. If they don’t have internet access, that’s provided free of charge as well through programs such as an EIR grant.

Families get their own academic coach, who monitors the frequency and duration of use and checks in with them frequently to ensure their children are neither over- or under-using the program. My role is to help promote the program in our district and identify students eligible for the free benefits.

Connecting with Families

As an educator, it has been a joy getting to know the local families I’ve had the privilege to work with and watching “my” children grow from our first meeting through our frequent family engagement events. In April, Greensburg Community Schools will hold its annual Kindergarten Round Up, where we’ll hold an open house for our new students and their families before administering baseline assessments for all incoming kindergartners. I look forward to comparing my online pre-K students’ results to those of their peers and cheering them on as they progress through their academic careers.