Education News Notes for August 22
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Teacher Shortages Around the World
A push is underway to make primary education available to all children worldwide by 2015. This is creating a “good news/bad news” situation. Examples of good news: primary school enrollment has increased by 15% in Ethiopia, according to the World Bank, and the number of girls attending school in Afghanistan has risen from 15,000 just a few years ago to 2.2 million. More children in school means, according to observers, a need for 1.7 million more teachers around the globe. Combined with attrition, the increased need yields bad news: a projected shortage of 6.8 million teachers by 2015.
The greatest need is in Sub-Saharan African and Arab states, but North America and Western Europe are also projected to suffer crowded classrooms in the near future. Regional Implications include recommendations to increase funding for teacher training and “create learning environments that are sensitive to women’s and girls’ needs.” See also Access to Schooling Jeopardized by Aid Reductions and The World We Want)
Poll: We’re “A Nation Confused”
An annual poll of public opinion regarding public schools, released yesterday, found “A Nation Confused.” Phi Delta Kappa, a global educational association, has worked with the Gallup group very year since 1969, polling parents, educators and legislators. PDK released the 2013 results on Wednesday, saying that the 2013 poll “shows deep confusion around the nation’s most significant education policies and poses serious communication challenges for education leaders.”
More than two-thirds of respondents said that high school graduates were not prepared for college or work. However, only 42% said that redesigning high school was very important. More than 50% give their local public schools a grade of A or B, while only 19% give public schools nationwide such high grades.
Nearly two-thirds of those polled had never heard of the Common Core State Standards, although 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted these standards at the time of the poll. Among those who did know of the Common Core, most were confused about the scope and origin of the standards.
Meanwhile, some attitudes appear to be changing: Only 22% of those polled said that increased standardized testing had improved education, down from 28% last year, with 36% saying that testing had hurt education, up from 28% last year. The idea of basing teacher evaluations on student test scores was rejected by 58% of respondents.
More than 90% of Americans believe activities such as band, drama, sports, and newspaper are very or somewhat important, with a high percentage selecting very important. Most of those polled support increasing the availability of charter schools and homeschooling, while 70% oppose vouchers.
The report and several summaries are available free of charge from Phi Delta Kappa. A free webinar on the report will be held this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. EST and will be available for later reference.
Jobs, Justice and Freedom: 2013
Finally, “March on Washington: Jobs, Justice and Freedom!” filled DC streets on August 28, 1963. Fifty years later, a range of activities are taking place as we assess our progress and look ahead. Earlier this month, Jocelyn Prince of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company joined the Education Town Hall to discuss using art to create dialogue around race and racism. The Woolly program, “From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin: A Town Hall Meeting on Black Bodies and American Racism,” is scheduled for tomorrow night, Friday August 23. The program is free but reservations are required.
On Saturday morning, August 24, a contingent of public education supporters – including Save Our Schools leaders who have been guests on this show — will be gathering at Farragut Square to join the “National Action to Realize the Dream,” a 50th anniversary march. Additional rallies to complete the work of establishing equity in our schools are scheduled around the country.
On Tuesday, an anniversary conference will include a panel on education, “Finishing What We Started,” and one on Freedom Schools. A re-enactment of the 1963 march will take place on Wednesday, August 28. President Barack Obama and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are scheduled to participate. Tune in to The Education Town Hall next week for a recap of these activities.