Education Week of 7/22-7/29 in Review
It's never too early to start teaching digital citizenship skills – By Lauren Barack, Education Dive
At John C. Webb Elementary in Navasota, Texas, 5th-grade students are in charge of the school’s social media accounts. The social media is run by a three-week rotating team of two children. The work includes taking photographic images, messaging and adding hashtags. The principal, Todd Nesloney, trains one team at the beginning of the year and has each succeeding team train the next.
Students are expected to be familiar with the tools of social media, including how to use social media ethically. The ability to make these judgements will be important throughout their lives.
That’s one of the reasons Nesloney put students in charge of the school’s social media accounts when he became principal four years ago. John C. Webb Elementary has approximately 100 5th-graders, so not every child will get an opportunity to be a social media intern. Those students who do will spend their first week shadowing the current team, the second week running the social media accounts on their own, and the third week training the next team of students. The outgoing pair will select the next two students, although the principal has final approval.
Nesloney built an IFTTT recipe, so by posting on Instagram, the students’ message then goes out on Twitter and the school’s Facebook page. Teams push five messages out each day.
Students Seeking Equal Access To Education May Find Federal Help Harder To Come By – By Alexis Arnold, npr ED
In March, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) updated the way it processes cases. Individuals who file multiple similar complaints may see their cases dismissed without review.
These changes at the OCR prompted a lawsuit against the Department of Education. The suit, filed by the National Federation of the Blind, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and the NAACP, argues these changes are illegal and contrary to the purpose of the OCR.
The suit challenges three changes: First, the office can now dismiss cases it considers as forming a pattern, even though the revised guidance doesn't define a pattern. Second, the office can dismiss a complaint against more than one group of people — a school and a technology vendor, for example — if the investigation would place what would be considered an "unreasonable burden" on resources. Third, there is now no appeals process. Previously, the OCR gave complainants 60 days to submit a written appeal of a decision.
The changes are meant to speed up the process of reviewing cases, according to Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department. She says improving OCR's management of its docket, investigations and case resolutions allows the investigators to better accomplish their mission.
New scholarship to help students with intellectual disabilities pursue college education – By Brooke Shultz – The Newark Post
Delaware students with intellectual disabilities will have better access to higher education thanks to the passage of a new law.
Earlier this month, Gov. John Carney signed the Delaware Advance Scholarship, which will defray tuition costs for students entering college programs that help them transition into adult life.
The two-year program provides integrated academic and independent living instruction in preparation for gainful employment, said Brian Freedman, associate director of the Center for Disabilities Studies, which runs the program.
This scholarship, which was sponsored primarily by State Rep. Kim Williams, is additional financial support to help close the $3,000-$5,000 gap that the aid from Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and federal Pell grants did not fully cover, said Wendy Strauss, executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, which advocated for the bill.
Years of Education Influenced by Genetic Makeup, Enormous Study Finds – By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times
In the largest genetics study ever published in a scientific journal, an international team of scientists last Monday identified more than a thousand variations in human genes that influence how long people stay in school.
Educational attainment has attracted great interest from researchers in recent years, because it is linked to many other aspects of people’s lives, including their income as adults, overall health and even life span.
The newly discovered gene variants account for just a fraction of the differences in education observed between groups of people. Environmental influences, which may include family wealth or parental education, together play a bigger role.
Still, scientists have long known that genetic makeup explains some of the differences in time spent in school. Their hope is that the data can be used to gain a better understanding of what educators must do to keep children in school longer.
The new study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, finds that many of the genetic variations implicated in educational attainment are involved in how neurons communicate in the brain.
The data cannot be used to predict educational attainment in an individual child. The researchers cautioned that the genetic patterns are seen only in large groups; in each child, genetics will play only a small role in how long he or she stays in school.
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