So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

New survey finds teachers aren't prepared for upcoming Common Core standards

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A teacher prepares her classroom. A new survey found that more than half of teachers surveyed reported three days or less of Common Core standard training.

Starting in 2014, students in California and 45 other states will face a whole new set of standards called the Common Core. They represent a major shift in K-12 education across the country.

How prepared are teachers to impart the knowledge required? A new survey by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center found that a majority of teachers have received, at most, three days of training on the new standards.

The study, out today, called the shift to Common Core standards a “critical challenge.” It was based on responses from about 600 teachers nationwide. 

Only one in five teachers surveyed said they felt “very prepared” to teach the new Common Core standards. Almost 60 percent reported receiving three days of training or less.

Teachers said they need better textbooks and classroom materials to help teach the new standards – more than half of respondents disagreed that the current teaching materials were adequate.


Americorps to send volunteers to nation's worst schools

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U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan

 Struggling and low performing schools are about to get a little help. 

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has announced a $15 million grant to deploy Americorps volunteers to some of the worst schools in the country. Schools have a little more than a month to apply for the volunteers—and there is a string or two attached.

Duncan made the announcement at the Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington D.C. He said the volunteers’ will focus on improving reading and math skills, raise graduation rates, and boost college enrollment.
“Turning around our nation’s lowest-performing schools is challenging work that requires everyone to play a part – from teachers, administrators, and counselors to business leaders, the philanthropic sector, and community members,” Duncan said.

The program will send 650 Americorps members to 60 rural and urban schools over three years.
The grant is open to public and private nonprofit organizations, including faith based groups. It’s funded by the Department of Education and the Corporation for National Community Service, which is seeking private funds to shore it up.
Duncan said he’s looking for applicants that focus on increasing parent and family engagement in education. Applications are due by April 2.


New guidelines from American Academy of Pediatrics: Go easy on Antibiotics for children's ear infections

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Pediatrician Elsa Maldonado examines a child at her office.

The number of ear infections in young children have dropped -- but not the number of antibiotic prescriptions issued for them. That's worried the American Academy of Pediatrics which on Monday issued new guidelines for how to treat a child’s ear infection. Its suggestion: Don’t leap to antibiotics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is concerned with the growing incidences of antibiotic resistance to the organisms that cause ear infections – in medical terms this is called Acute otitis media (AOM).  The report, published today in Pediatrics, reviewed data on cases between 1990 and 2000 and found that while ear infections dropped from 25 million to 16 million, but use of antibiotics stayed flat.

“Each course of antibiotic given to a child can make future infections more difficult to treat,” the authors said .


Study: Curious George, Dora the Explorer and other educational programs help kids behave better

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Darniyah Davis, 1, watches TV at her mother's home in Compton on October 3rd, 2012.

You may have guessed that preschoolers will behave better when they're exposed to quality educational and socially-responsible television rather than programs that include violence. There is finally a scientific study that proves you right.

This week, Pediatrics. The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study that examined children’s behavior in relation to what they watch on television. The children were given a “controlled media diet” designed by the researchers to emphasize positive social behaviors. Researchers found that “modifying what children watch can improve their observed behavior.”

The study started from the assertion that “children have been shown to imitate behaviors they see on the screen.” Over the years, studies have shown that when children are exposed to violent television, their behavior patterns are more aggressive.


Thousands of children could lose Head Start services under sequestration

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Harvesha Knight plays with her children Darniyah Davis and Darryl Jr. Davis. Harvesha is pursuing her nursing degree, but in August last year had to put off school because her local Head Start preschool didn't open its doors at the start of the school year. Might her son's program be affected again if Sequestration goes into effect?

Just one week after promising to inject funds into early childhood education in his State of the Union address, President Obama is warning that the Head Start program will instead face cuts if lawmakers fail to reach a compromise over the budget.

Advocates for early childhood education warn sequestration would have an immediate effect on Los Angeles’s poorest families.

“We’re estimating that, statewide, sequestration would amount in 6,000 children being cut from head start services,” said Rick Mockler, Executive Director of the California Head Start Association. He said families that rely on the program for childcare and other services could lose that help overnight.

“Head start children are the most vulnerable children in the state of California," Mockler added. "They come from the absolute poorest families."