Core curriculum, phone addiction, other reasons children learn less

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For the publisher: Your editorial regarding declining student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) suggests several reasons for this result: reduced funding for schools, the end of No Child Left Behind, and high teacher turnover.

But what about the introduction of common basic standards during this time – and more importantly, the new computerized state assessments that replaced more reasonable paper-and-pencil tests?

Teachers indeed teach at high stakes assessments. But it is difficult, if not impossible, to teach these tests, leaving many teachers in awe of keeping track of their students’ progress. Many districts, failing to recognize the futility of the effort, demanded an increase in preparatory testing, crowding out more useful teaching without producing significant improvement in scores.

George Crowder, Los Angeles

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For the publisher: One answer not given in your editorial on why students fall behind is the smartphone, the most damaging device for the acquisition of critical thinking knowledge and skills.

Smartphones are truly the death of education. Walk into any classroom in this country and I can assure you that many students surreptitiously look at their phones or openly use them while teaching.

David Foster Wallace, the author of “Infinite Jest”, warned us many years ago against the all-consuming addiction to technology. In 1996 he reportedly said, “The main job of entertainment is to make you so captivated by it that you can’t look away from it. “

Today’s students agree with Wallace.

Vivien Irving, Huntington Beach

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For the publisher: I was a teacher in California. You left out the most important word in getting a better education: parents. Every teacher I know says the same thing: You get the education parents demand.

I have read about the blame put everywhere but on indifferent parents. I’ve seen too many young teachers get beaten down by a system that tries to solve a problem that caring parents could solve now.

Ultimately, teachers do one of two things: move on to another profession, or just devote their time and stop caring.

Jane Olinger, Irvine

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For the publisher: I read the editorial with great interest, as I wanted to see how our communities were doing during the pandemic. As is often the case, the Asian and Pacific Islander American community was not mentioned, although the article discussed how white, black and Latino children were doing.

This is a frequent problem with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and a huge disservice to AAPI communities. As far as I know, the NAEP, the organization cited, compiles data for AAPI communities.

The Times, which represents a community of Asian Americans, can help address the issue of invisibility for Asian Americans by noting the statistic for AAPIs or, if not available, noting that the statistic has not been compiled. Doing neither contributes to the problem.

Heidi Hu, Los Angeles

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For the publisher: You are absolutely right that targeted money is the only way to reach high need students.

I have a doctorate in education and have managed vocational education programs in public schools for 30 years. The state has a program called California Partnership Academies. These academies graduate 95% of their students, all with employable skills.

It is the best intervention program to help needy students. If we are serious about helping these children, we will advocate for the expansion of the California Partnership Academies.

James C. Wilson, San Diego


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