Going off the books?
February 8th, 2012
12:10 PM ET

Going off the books?

By Carl Azuz, CNN

The Obama Administration recently called for school systems nationwide to replace textbooks with e-readers, like iPads, Kindles and Nooks. The government hopes that the tax dollars set aside for traditional textbooks will instead be used to purchase electronic devices – and that every American student will have an e-reader by 2017.

The U.S. Department of Education hails technology in the classroom as beneficial to everything from students’ motivation to their technical skills to collaboration among peers. Electronic editions of textbooks would, in theory, be easier to update. It wouldn’t take a new edition and printing to reflect Pluto’s loss of planetary status, for example; you’d just download the updated material.

But whether this is cost efficient depends on whom you ask (and what you buy). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a strong supporter of digital learning, says that America spends about $7 billion on textbooks every year, which works out to roughly $90 per student across all grade levels. An undiscounted iPad costs $499, and a Kindle Fire is priced at $199.

Assuming textbook companies agree to make their content digital, it could turn out to be significantly cheaper than hardcover books. Apple is planning some digital textbook offerings for $14.99 or less (after you’ve bought the iPad). But part of the value inherent in hardcovers is the fact that they last years. Would e-readers survive lockers, bus and bike rides, pep rallies and rain? And what happens if they’re broken or stolen – how many backups do you need?
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Filed under: Carl Azuz • Curriculum • Policy • Practice
Are depressed kids bully magnets?
February 8th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Are depressed kids bully magnets?

By Anne Harding, Health.com

(Health.com) - Psychologists, not to mention parents, have long observed that kids who seem depressed tend to have trouble getting along with - and being accepted by - their peers.

What the experts haven't been able to agree on is which comes first, the depression or the social difficulty. Most researchers have supposed that kids who are excluded or bullied become depressed as a result (rather than vice versa), while others have suggested that the two problems go hand in hand and are all but impossible to tease apart.

A new study, published this week in the journal "Child Development," provides some of the strongest evidence to date for a third theory: Kids who cry easily, express negative emotions, and show other signs of depression ultimately suffer socially because they are shunned by their peers and attract the attention of bullies.

"Bullies target youth who are unlikely to fight back," says lead author Karen P. Kochel, Ph.D., an assistant research professor at Arizona State University, in Phoenix. "Youth who are depressed really have the potential to appear vulnerable, and are easy marks for victimization, unfortunately."

Copyright Health Magazine 2012

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Filed under: Behavior • Kids' health • Policy
February 8th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

My View: Why not a right to a college education?

Courtesy Lester Spence By Lester Spence, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Lester K. Spence is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His first book Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics was published in June 2011, and was one of the first books to empirically examine the political effect of hip-hop on black communities.

While in my office, preparing for the new semester, I had the opportunity to watch the president’s speech on college affordability delivered at the University of Michigan. I was interested in the speech in part because I am a political scientist, in part because I am a college professor, and in part because I am an alumnus of the University of Michigan.

But most importantly I was interested in the speech because my oldest daughter will be leaving for college in just seven short months. And although being a Johns Hopkins college professor has its benefits (Hopkins gives a generous tuition benefit applicable to any college in the nation) I still worry about my daughter and her four younger brothers and sisters. In his speech President Obama focused on three components designed to ease the burden of middle-class families—reducing interest on college student loans, maintaining the tuition tax credit, and creating incentives to make universities lower their costs.

Now I understand for some politics is the art of the possible. He proposes these things knowing that as hard as it will be to pass them legislatively, these things are at least possible to get past both houses of Congress. (It isn’t likely, particularly during an election year, but it’s possible.)

But for me, politics isn’t just about the art of the possible—about what we can pass in the here and now. Politics is about expanding and extending that art, about pushing the borders to create space for even more change in the future.

How can we do that here?
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Filed under: After High School • College • Policy • Voices