The Business of Education in America

For over two hundred years the American education system has been based on the right of all its citizens to an education. Through this guiding principle America has led the world to expanded education opportunity for women, oppressed minorities, and populations generally. As the world has come to embrace the American philosophy, America is abandoning this core belief and dividing education into the wealthy, who can afford education, and the rest of the country that will not be able to afford it.

For several decades, American education was in retreat in the technical areas of science and engineering. To address these deficiencies, technical schools in secondary education and for profit colleges came into existence. They encouraged students not inclined to pursue additional education to enter technical fields and pursue higher education. Students that would not become engaged in a process of learning were suddenly involved. Students who could not make passing grades were suddenly making the A’s and B’s in vocational technical courses and for profit technical institutions.

Today, these two areas of education constitute a growing number of successful students actively involved in higher education. Vocational schools and for profit colleges are designed to encourage students to become involved in technical careers, and are often structured without much of the liberal arts training that accompany traditional degrees. There’s been a longstanding disagreement as to whether students should be funneled into specific and very narrow technical educational streams, or weather all students should be forced to obtain a more generalized education designed to move them toward undergraduate degrees and eventually to graduate degrees.

Although this disagreement has ragged for several generations, the effect of vocational training and for profit technical institutions cannot be denied. They have successfully moved a large segment of the population into technical careers very successfully. However, in recent months the department of education has begun to take issue with the success of the schools because they cannot guarantee that their graduates will be able to meet income guidelines created to show the success of American education of dollars that are being spent for these programs. Vocational schools and secondary education are being cut across the nation in response to the economic downturn our society is currently facing, and this policy of the department of education. Rather than address the more complex issue of how we can meld traditional, and technical areas of education into a single educational system, federal funding to provide vocational training and technical education is being slashed by the Federal government.

At a time when the administration and the business community l recognize the need for a stronger commitment to technical education throughout the country, we are reducing the ability of students to obtain the education loans necessary to pay for their education because we have a fundamental disagreement as to whether there should be more general education in English, literature and the arts, and less a single minded focus on a narrow technical field. This seems to be an argument without merit since both have the single purpose of trying to educate the American public to be competitive in the marketplace of tomorrow. This is occurring at the same time that a recent study has demonstrated that the effect of a college education benefits all students whether it is in their field, general education, or in a narrow technical area. Rather than building on that premise to encourage students across the country to pursue higher education, our focus has turned to the ability of students to repay the loans to banks as the single determining factor as to whether the education was useful. The standard being put forward by the department of education does just that.

It focuses their efforts on seeing that students can make enough money to repay the loans, rather than focusing on why education costs are rising so dramatically. Their focus is on making sure that students repay banks. With businesses making arguments that they need to import more foreign workers to meet the growing technical demand of high tech industry, we’re forcing American students out of the educational system as we argue their ability to pay back a bank is the single determining factor as to the quality of their education. This would not be so absurd if it were not for another of movement that is taking place in grade schools around the country today.

For people who have money, there is a growing need for private preschools that are for profit in nature to prepare their children for the prestigious schools that select only a handful of American students each year. This for profit model for primary and secondary schools is becoming as popular in United States as it is abroad in countries such as Europe and Asia. Parents of wealth are quick to hand over as much as $40,000 a year to have their children placed in preparatory schools that will prepare them for prestigious colleges. Currently, a number of private investors are putting up as much as $200,000,000 to fund these types of for profit institutions. It is a growth industry that will find a burgeoning market place with in this country and abroad as the division between haves and have-nots in education continues to broaden.

These parents have little faith in the public education system in this country. They are putting their money, and their children in the hands of for profit institutions that they believe will make them better able to compete in the highly technical world of tomorrow. As Madison Avenue at the American banking system find a new profitable market, they will exploit it as fully and as completely as they have the traditional American education system, to the detriment of the larger society. Education in this country is becoming a tool of banks and the wealthy and not what was envisioned by the founding fathers or the many men and women who helped create this country over many generations. It is no longer serving the public need and only looks to the needs of the wealthy, and the financial institutions whose profit motive is the single driving force for their existence.

While the rest of the world is adopting the American model of an educational system that is the envy of the world, we are abandoning that system to move toward one that cannot serve the nation or the society. If we continue down this road our nation will be forever looking to the educational systems of other countries to provide the technological expertise, and the innovative thinking that will move the world and the society forward. In one breath the department of education for our nation is telling us that for profit institutions do not work and we must regarded with suspicion graduates at any college level from these institutions, while at the same time this same model is being instituted at grade schools and in elementary schools across the nation because there is a growing need for a better education system to meet the standards of tomorrow. However this growing need excludes much of American Society. If we follow this path it will only the wealthy will receive an education in this country.

Promote a Healthy Diet for Your Children at Home and at School

Children are likely to eat the same as their parents. As parents, you can be a positive role model for healthy eating. By purchasing and preparing nutritious balanced meals, you can establish a healthy diet at home.

A healthy environment at home is a good start, but the kids take most of their meals at school. By sending your kids to school with nutritious lunches and encouraging healthy choices for school events, you can also help to create a healthy nutritional environment in schools.

The offering healthy foods at school improves student learning. Research shows that children who have a healthy diet are:

• more willing to learn;
• more likely to achieve better results at school;
• less likely to have chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

The government is working with schools, educators and parents to encourage healthy eating at school. In April 2008, the Act on Healthy Food for Healthy Schools was passed to make schools healthier learning environments. By working together and making all our part, we can help our children to make healthier choices.

Create a healthier school environment

The idea supporting the Act on Healthy Food for Healthy Schools is to help children make healthier food choices. This means that healthy and tasty foods should be made available to children in schools.

In September 2011, the Ontario schools will implement the policy on food and beverages in schools. It provides guidance on the types of foods that can be sold in school cafeterias, vending machines and at school events. Policy helps schools determine which foods they can or can not sell.

Your children need YOU

Wherever possible, try to participate in the school life of your child, making sure that the foods offered in the school are healthy. Make your voice heard. Here are some ideas:

• Talk to your child and tell him why healthy foods are important in school and why some food he could buy during the previous school year are no longer available.
• Prepare lunches and healthy snacks to school with your child.
• Join a parent / teacher committee to help make good decisions on proposed school food.
• Opt for healthy recipes at bake sales and fundraisers with the proposed ideas Bake it Up!(English only).

What can you do to encourage healthy eating?

The Policy on food and beverages in schools covers only food sold at school. It does not apply to meals from home. Does this mean that you should not put anything in any lunch box for your child? No, especially if you encourage healthy eating! It is important to be consistent and to provide healthy meals for your children at home and at school. This will allow them to learn to make healthy choices for food.

At the grocery store:

Choose products from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide.

Go shopping with your children to teach them to make good choices. They can learn the value of food, provenance and revenue opportunities.

Teach your children to read food labels. Watch these videos on nutrition labeling with your children.

During the preparation of lunch:

Involve your children in the selection and preparation of food. When children are involved in meal preparation, they are more likely to consume.

Get creative! Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches fun shapes, make fruit kebabs and pastries offer whole grain low fat. Read the FAQ Prepare lunches and healthy snacks for students for more ideas.

During the meal:

Eat together as often as possible. Children who eat with their parents (at least four times per week) tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, have a higher fiber intake, eat less fried foods and drink less soda.

They are also less prone to being overweight or obese.

Be a good role model. When you make healthy food choices for yourself, you teach your children to eat healthily.

The Impact of Technology in the Classroom

How has the use of technology impacted teaching and learning in the PK-16 classroom?When is comes to behaviorism technology has made it even easier. It used to be just like Pavlov’s dog, when the student does something right they get praised verbally or with a good grade versus a treat or a scratch behind the ear. Shaping behavior is important and we need to ensure there is a baseline. Technology almost guarantees that specific learning will take place as the objectives are determined by the teacher. Teachers can set specific goals and the students will know what they need to do to get there. Benjamin Bloom first came up with the idea that the student will succeed in learning the task if they are given a specific time to do it. Technology allows for you to more easily chunk lessons into specific times. Students will perform better, especially when they succeed and get the praise of the teacher. Although the stimulus is provided by the teacher, it will do no good if the students do not receive it equally. (Snowman & Biehler, 2003)
Other ways computers assist is that they offer the ability for repetition and feedback to the student. Teachers can also incorporate the appropriate enforcer’s to the lesson whether it is text, video or audio. The student does the task right they can get a smiley face , text telling them they are “Correct” or audio saying “Good Job!”. (Parkay & Stanford 2004)Social Learning is learning occurs when students learn from each other whether it be through modeling, imitation or observing within the social context. How can you do that with technology? Normally the students work on their own computer, but you can have them do a group project. When students do a project together they will observe how other groups are proceeding and imitate them if it is working well. The teacher usually also models what they are requiring the students to accomplish. Even when working individually the students will assist each other as one knows more than another.There are cognitive factors in social learning as well as behaviorism. There is a clear line between learning by observation and student imitation. The cognitive process maintains that the attention of the student is the critical factor in the learning process. The expectations and consequences that are reinforced will bring about similar future behavior. (Ornstien & Lasley 2000)
Cognitive learning is learning that occurs when a learner process information. This is similar to behaviorism but the student has more input to accomplish how they reach the planned outcome. The teacher can model a project but the student may have other information that will aid them in accomplishing the outcome. An example would be how I instructed my students how to set up an Excel spreadsheet. I had them set up a basic spreadsheet showing how much their parents spent on them in a month. This was relevant to the students and caught their interest. They went beyond the initial project and had boarders, colors, etc. on their spreadsheets. The students who did this were praised aloud and the other students wanted to know what they did and how. This tied in the social learning as well as the behaviorism theory (Didn’t even realize it at the time).When is comes to designing and developing lessons to incorporate technology the constructionist have the nod. Seymour Papert of the MIT Media Lab stated,”Constructionism holds that children learn best when they are in the active role of the designer and constructor.” When the student is actively involved they have the buy-in to the success of the project or assignment. The students will be more apt to complete and learn more from it when they have some ownership. The students in turn will share their new found information when doing the assignment with the other students allowing for the constructionist learning. This form of teaching eliminates the grade and goes more with a go, no go process. Teachers assess the students by the completion of the assignment or lack of completion. This is better because of students being able to play a greater role in the process and assessing their own progress.We teach ourselves how to learn. This is the constructivism theory on how we learn. With technology this couldn’t be truer. Most students have a basic understanding of the computer. They can download songs, play games and set up Myspace web page. What they can not do is build a spreadsheet or power point presentation. The teacher will give them a basic understanding but the students will learn from trial and error and construct their own learning.History of the computer use in the classroom started off slow. Saloman and Globerson (1987) suggested that underachievement in schools is because of the lower expectations on the part of the teachers, parents, and society. That was because the teachers themselves really hadn’t been exposed to the marvels of what a computer and the associated software could do for them. The Commodore 64, Apple II along with the Macintosh began their strong emergence in the early 80′s. Software programmers had a vision about the computer and how it could be used in the classroom. They developed software that teachers could use along with their instruction. Apple began teaching the teachers and Macintosh soon followed suit. This was the beginning of incorporating the use of computers in the classroom. (Jonassen 2000)Using computers in the classroom allows for all the learning theories to come to fruition. A computer allows for the cognitive process to bloom and brings about the social learning as well. When a student is given an assignment or project on the computer they will strive to complete it. The different things they learn they will share with other students especially if they think it is the bomb, cool or whack. On the flip side it can inhibit learning if the student is completely computer illiterate as frustration sets in as they cannot proceed as well as others. The computer also allows the teacher to develop lessons for all the multiple intelligences.With the advances computers and programs are taking on a daily basis, it is allowing for more interaction in the classroom(s). It is even allowing students from different schools to interact. Technology also allows for time to be better utilized, the outcomes of the objectives to be more easily determined and goals easy to implement and automate.