CULTURE

The Move to Ban Homework and Why it Matters

Opponents say too much homework is killing children's free time and adding unnecessary stress. But is there any evidence to support this?

As the 2017-18 school year heads into the home stretch, kids everywhere yearn for the glorious days and nights free of the dreaded "H-word."

The end of the school year means No. More. Homework.

Summer means freedom from completing assignments on the couch- unless you happen to be one of the 20,000 elementary school students in Florida's Marion County public school district because you never had any in the first place. This year, superintendent Heidi Maier did away with traditional homework in favor of having kids read on their own. Marion County wasn't alone either; other schools doing away with homework can be found in Vermont, Montreal, Virginia, and Texas. In Spain, students went on strike to reclaim their weekend free time from those dastardly textbooks.

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CULTURE

Is Cursive Handwriting Disappearing from our Culture?

DIY: Do we need to teach kids cursive anymore or is it becoming a thing of the past?

It's been a long time since I was a grade school student (COUGH--late70searly80s--COUGH), but it boggles my mind how different classwork is today for our second-grade daughter. Techniques are so much better in terms of teaching kids' skills and strategies, instead of the rote "repetition and memorization" of my youth. I'm glad kids will never again know the tedium of pulling out a Big Chief tablet and taking dictation day-after-day-after-day. It's all in the name of competing in the global 21st-century economy, but there's one old school skill no longer taught (at least in my daughter's Brooklyn public school) that I have definite mixed feelings about. As she said to me the other day after I wrote something down for her, "Dad, I can't read this, it's in script." Or as we called it back at Kate Fratt Catholic, cursive.

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CULTURE

What Water Holds – on memory, perseverance and action

A mother's reflection in the wake of yet another school shooting.

Several months ago, I heard an interview on NPR with a woman who said that water carries memory. When the water freezes, the memories it carries are held in place, and when the ice melts, those memories are released. I don't remember which NPR show this was, nor do I remember the woman's name or what she was being interviewed about, except that she was in the arts, perhaps theater, or music, and she was talking about her most recent project. But, I remembered this one thing she said; that water carries memories, which are held and released, and held and released with the cycling of seasons.

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CULTURE

Spotlight on Katherine Karmen Trujillo of Libraries Without Borders

For these children in under-served communities, "A library could be anything" or everything.

In sixth grade, Katherine Karmen Trujillo competed in an academic decathlon with her school. With fourteen of her classmates, one coach, and photocopied pages from prep manuals their school couldn't afford, one of their team members placed in fourth. Though the performance was not very good, "we were so proud," she told me. "Meanwhile, in other schools, everyone placed first or second." But it wasn't because those students were necessarily smarter or harder-working than the students on Trujillo's team. They came from schools that could afford to have one coach per student and endless prep resources. "You could just feel the difference," she said.

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ISSUES

The true cost of college may be even more than you think

The cost of higher education has been steadily increasing over the past four decades and that's not changing

Universities and other advanced schools of learning seem to be raising their prices at an alarming rate. Higher education costs have ballooned over 538% since 1985. To put this in perspective, healthcare has increased more than 286% and the consumer price index has gone up 121%. That means education costs are over four times what they were thirty years ago.

No wonder people are complaining. But with these price increases come a greater quality and a better educational experience than what was to be had twenty or thirty years ago. Whether college is a better overall experience than before is individual and subjective.

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ISSUES

Is Affordable Health Care and Education Even possible?

Affordable health care and education is beginning to feel more and more like an unattainable luxury.

It is still a struggle for Americans to access affordable health care and education. Unfortunately, this is largely because companies are looking to profit rather than have tax money benefit the actual taxpayer.

There is no denying that business owners work hard for the money that they make. However, as more money is funneled into the pockets of the 1%, it means there is less available for health care and education assistance. Rather than improving the country by ensuring accessible health care and education for all, business owners are purchasing boats, second (or third) homes and luxury cars.

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