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Joanna Walls – edu|FOCUS
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Author: Joanna Walls

#FeedbackFriday – How would YOU re-write NCLB?

To the dismay of many, Congress is currently re-writing No Child Left Behind, also known as NCLB. This is the federal law that governs Title 1 programs amongst other areas of federal education funding. So on this #FeedbackFriday we're asking, if you were a member of congress, how would you re-write NCLB? What would you include or remove? Would you start over from scratch or just tweak the parts of the law you feel are not working. I'm particularly interested in comments from educators, who have been at odds with this law since the day President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2001. In case you want to learn more about NCLB and it's provisions, click here. So tell me - if empowered to do so, how would you re-write NCLB? And don't worry about lengthy answers, this topic deserves serious conversation....

#FeedbackFriday – To suspend or not suspend…

This week we're asking readers to tell us what they think about suspension practices in our public schools. There are all kinds of methods to consider, in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, detention, weekend study, etc. I wonder if there's a better way. A couple of organizations out there are taking this issue head-on, including stopsuspensions.org, a non-profit organization that seeks to create a dialogue around the practice of suspensions and offers constructive suggestions to eradicate the practice without affecting classroom quality. There's even a growing segment of the country that feels suspensions are racially-biased, with studies and reports highlighting the issue in convincing detail. But the idea of eradicating suspensions altogether is not without its detractors - most feel that suspensions are necessary to keep control of the classroom and ensure children who behave can learn without disruption. Is suspending a child more disruptive to their education than disciplining the child appropriately? Are we teaching our children, through the practice of suspension, that bad behavior and failing to follow the rules gets you freedom from a place you don't want to be in the first place (which is a totally different issue altogether). To suspend or not to suspend...

#FeedbackFriday – Do we need more student activists?

Today we ask the question - do we need more student activists? In case you haven't heard, a group of students called the Newark Students Union, are actively staging a peaceful protest at the offices of Cami Anderson (Newark's Superintendent of Schools). According to the group's Facebook page, the students are protesting the policies of the school district and are simply looking for a seat at the table with regards to their own educations. [caption id="attachment_313" align="alignleft" width="300"] Newark Student Union[/caption] "We the students of the NPS, in order to establish and protect or rights, form student unity, voice our concerns and grievances, promote active participation in the policy making process, and to secure the integrity of our education for ourselves and for future students do establish the Newark Students Union." - Newark Students Union's Mission Statement What interests us at edu|FOCUS is the sheer determination and perseverance of this small but very vocal group. Reminiscent of student groups from the 60's they represent a struggle for everything that is wrong with our education system as a whole; all reasons why The Franklin Foundation for Innovation was started in the first place. But these are students, not parents, fighting for their own futures and the right to receive an excellent education devoid of standardized testing pressures and declines in the availability of key arts, sports, and extra curricular activities. In an age where millions are spent on testing, and very little on things that engage students and keep them interested in school, their protest is both timely and relevant. Visibly missing from the protest have been parents - who are seemingly taking a back seat in the struggle. A large number of teachers, however, are supporting the movement providing moral and logistical support to the students. As of this writing, the school district's superintendent, Cami Anderson, has yet to even address the protesters which is not odd when you take into account the fact that students do not vote. So the question for #FeedbackFriday is this - do we need more student activists if we expect to truly reform education? Do our children, who's futures hang in the balance with every new law past and every new test developed, have to take the reigns themselves or should parents step up and take the lead through every channel available? Do you agree with the movement or not? By the way - visit the group's Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter @NewarkStudents for more information. Please share with the community and let's have a healthy debate about student activism....

#FeedbackFriday – Is cursive writing dead?

Our friends over at NJEA.org ran a poll to see if people thought children should be taught how to write in cursive in schools. Their question made us wonder, is cursive writing dead? In the age where everything is typed, is penmanship still a necessary art for us to teach in schools or an old practice that we can afford to do away with? It's #FeedbackFriday folks! So tell us what you think, tweet to @FranklinFDN with the hashtag or comment here on our blog or on Facebook. We'd love to hear what you think!...

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