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Afternoon Announcements: December 1, 2011

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December 01, 2011 10:05 pm

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Happy Not-Quite-Friday-But-Close, also known as Thursday! Hopefully a tardy arrival of afternoon announcements won’t adversely affect our grade and will satisfy your appetite for educational news. Enjoy!

A’s are a good thing, especially when it comes to grading. While the STEM initiative may be receiving good grades, many experts argue it could use an A, for Arts that is. Education Week reports that momentum is growing for the STEM to STEAM initiative, aimed at adding arts to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics acronym commonly used in education policy dialogue. They argue that integrating the arts with STEM education enhances student learning and draws attention to the often-ignored value of arts education. Of course, it would not be a debate without those who disagree. Education Week talks with both science and arts experts as the move from STEM builds STEAM.

A new survey from the National Center for Education Statistics highlights the digital revolution transforming American classrooms, a subject that the Alliance has focused on extensively. From this the Huffington Post offers insight on a nationwide cut back of essentials in U.S schools and how three quarters of them plan to expand their digital offerings over the next three years. The Quick and the Ed also notes that K-12 technology-based distance education enrollments are increasing rapidly. Take a look at the Alliance’s focus on digital learning here.

It may be difficult for schools in high-poverty communities to keep up with the growing trend in digital learning and education. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times draw attention to a new U.S. Department of Education report that concludes more than 40 percent of schools across the country that serve low-income families are being shortchanged when it comes to state and local funding. The report reiterates an obvious and familiar cry that schools in high-poverty areas have access to fewer resources than wealthier ones. This inequity strongly affects the quality of teachers present in low-income communities, further attributing to the economic achievement gap plaguing the American school system.

Lastly, Kevin Welner of Education Week addresses the merry-go-round that is educational reform and how being an advocate for change has become more of a call to maintain the status quo, largely criticizing the test-based, privatization, and choice methods of educational policy. Throughout the decades and changes in administration, Welner argues that educational policy has remained relatively stagnant and produces consistent dismal results. “Such reforms, advanced as offering an exciting, untraveled pathway, are more accurately described as driving along the same old road, just with our foot pressing down harder on the pedal.” Ouch.

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