Below you will find an assembly of education determinants predisposed to perpetuating the estimated $5.9 trillion costs of the economic variables affecting the nation’s economy.
Algebra I is an unequaled education determinant predisposed to affecting students at-risk of not graduating from high school.
At-risk students find Algebra I’s abstract terms such as exponents, radicals, integers, para-metrics, etc., to be onerous. Moreover, they find Algebra I’s course content to be irrelevant to vocational-trade careers and every-day living. Yet, students generally are required to take Algebra I in the 9 th grade. Unfortunately, the failure rate for this problematic course is extremely high. And when at-risk students experience failure in their first year of high school, they become discouraged and susceptible to becoming a dropout/non-graduate statistic. In fact, 85-95 percent of the students who fail Algebra I do not graduate from high school!
In spite of Algebra I’s high failure rate, proponents of this troublesome course still believe the “rigor” of studying Algebra I trains the mind to think and, thereby, enhance the learning of other subject matter (transfer of learning theory). Their assumption is erroneous, because the classic transfer-of- learning experiments conducted by Edwin L. Thorndike, William James, and Charles Judd have affirmed the following postulate: unless there is an identical sameness between the elements of two different learning situations, transfer of learning does not take place. Therefore, although learning identical elements in Algebra I may transfer to calculus, trigonometry, physics, and other STEM courses – algebraic terms do not transfer to courses of study in social studies, language arts, humanities, etc. Moreover, learning Algebra I does not necessarily transfer thinking power to students preparing for careers in sales, social work, first arrivals, non-math teachers or other non-STEM careers. Algebra I, however, is an essential course for STEM-career students. Incidentally, proponents of teaching the “classics,” need to review Thorndike’s Transfer of Identical Elements Theory and rethink the irrelevancy of trying to train the mind!
Education Initiative: Make Algebra I an elective course. This mandate will allow at- risk students to opt-out of this discriminating course and enroll in a “Consumer Math” course featuring interest rates, credit cards, loans, mortgages, bank accounts and other relevant financial transactions. Ultimately, initiating an elective Algebra I mandate promises to reduce dropout/non-graduation rates and attenuate the resultant $157 billion cost to the national economy. Moreover, it will make Algebra1classes more homogenous, so math teachers may be course specific in addressing STEM-career students’ advanced mathematic needs.
Truancy is an educational determinant predisposed to affecting students at-risk of not graduating from high school.
Truancy rates for New York public schools has been estimated to be 20 percent, while in California’s schools, the estimated rate is reported to be 30 percent. Truancy rates from other states are not available. It seems schools are reluctant to report accurate truancy rates because divulging high rates proportionally reduces school funding. This suggests schools throughout the national may also have troublesome truancy rates. Unfortunately, when student are not in school by virtue of being truant, they are not learning the skills needed to contribute to the nation’s economy and well- being. Moreover, they are most susceptible to high-risk counter-cultures practicing flawed act of behavior such as tobacco usage, alcohol excess, juvenile delinquency, school vandalism, unhealthy lifestyles, etc.
The juvenile courts have tried to reduce school truancy by threatening parents with $200 to $500 fines or community service. However, the parents have ignored the court’s robot-phone calls, and the number of truancy cases processed by the juvenile courts actually increased a staggering 67 percent – raising national truancy rates to an estimated 25 percent. Moreover, in some 2,000 identified inner-city, poverty-driven, high school “dropout factories,” truancy rates were reported to be as high as 63 percent.
Education Initiative: A more effective way to attenuate high school truancy rates is to re-establish the home-room teacher concept, where a teacher stays with a designated group of home room students throughout the four years of high school. In this approach, the teacher is aware of each student’s daily attendance records, academic progress, and behavioral characteristic, and can intervene before truancies are allowed to evolve. This initiative promises to reduce the nation’s truancy rate which will reduce the nation’s high school dropout/non-graduation rate and thereby attenuate the financial burden on the nation’s economy.
Pre-School Disadvantaged Home Life
Pre-school disadvantaged home life is another education determinant predisposed to affect students at risk of not graduating from high school. Many pre-school children come from disadvantaged homes, e.g., limited-education parents, foreign-language speaking parents, sedentary-obese parents, poverty-stricken parents, homeless parents, drug-using parents, abusive parents…. Consequently, these children may not have had the reading, communication and confidence building experiences needed to prepare them to enter kindergarten.
Education Initiative: Below you will find two double-blind studies making plain that initiating an “effective” pre-school experience is statistically significant in remediating any learning deficiencies found in disadvantaged children before they enter kindergarten.
A Michigan public school-readiness study for children entering kindergarten reported students experienced a statistically significant increase in the following Pre-K learning skills: 14 percent in vocabulary growth, 63 percent in print awareness and 64 percent in early math growth (2005). Teachers in this program had a B.S. in early childhood education. The student to teacher ratio was 8:1. And class size was limited to 18 students.
The High Scope Perry Pre-School study (2002) reported the long-term effects of a one-year pre-school learning experience on a group of four-year- old at-risk students. The children were retested at ages 14 and 19. They retained a statistically significant increase in their academic achievement scores, specific literacy scores and comparative high school graduation rates. An economic cost-benefit analysis in this study revealed – every dollar spent on this one-year pre-school learning experience saved $7.16 in tax dollars. So, any investment in the nation’s pre-school initiatives should help attenuate the annual $157 billion burden high school dropout/non-graduates are imposing on the nation’s economy.
Grades are an education determinant predisposed to creating an undesirable classroom learning environment.
Grades are traditionally put forth by teachers – supposedly to measure student learning. However, issuing a letter or numerical grade becomes little more than a subjective judgement. Consequently, teachers have a hard time explaining to students and parents why they gave a lower than expected grade.
Education Initiative: Abolish problematic letter or numerical grades and initiate student learning portfolios. Learning portfolios are rich and purposeful learning determinants predisposed to providing an opportunity for students to fulfill their natural desire to learn. They also serve as a meaningful alternative to letter or numerical grades.
The portfolio process involves students voluntarily researching, preparing, recording and submitting one-page, self-directed write-ups to their teacher for constructive feedback. For example, students may report on a colorful documentary shown and discussed in class, or an historical documentary viewed on home T.V. or even make their own documentary videos. Or they may submit a written commentary regarding a guest lecturer or an interesting story appearing in the news media. Or they may comment on an engrossing discussion they have had with friends, family or classmates. Or they may critique a book or tell of a volunteer experience or an honor they received. Or they may describe a hobby they pursue or an athletic or artistic performance they completed. Or they may share a virtuous act of conduct they performed or observed. Or they may report on a controversial subject suggested by their teacher to be debated in class.
Note: Composing portfolios provides a student an opportunity to master the skill of writing – the foundation of English grammar, spelling, syntax and storytelling. To facilitate this learning process, students will need a dictionary, thesaurus and a spelling guide.
Teachers will arrange for each student to make a 5-minute class presentation of a select report. Teachers will follow-up with a complimentary commentary. Teachers will use portfolio write-ups for meaningful assessment of a student’s learning experiences in writing, reading, vocabulary and speaking – the foundation for all learning experiences. Teachers should not use subjective letter or numerical grades for assessment purposes because they are reported to be counterproductive to neurological and behavioral principles of effective learning. Rather, teachers should use student portfolios – a more meaningful assessment of student learning progressions.
Students will keep their portfolios updated and include collections of special awards, honors or accomplishments. They will showcase their portfolios to family, friends and future employers. Portfolios offer an effective strategy to embolden self-directed learning, provide encouraging feedback and inspire the pursuit of long-term learning.
An individual-centered school is an education determinant predisposed to acknowledging students have distinctly different learning dispositions.
In this regard, an individual-centered school recognizes Morgan’s Multiple Intelligences Theory (1993) which proposes students are endowed with characteristically different learning aptitudes: visual/spatial; verbal/linguistic; math/logical; and inter/intra-personal. An individual-centered school also acknowledges that pre-school children have been raised in varying home cultures, such as, professionally educated parents, trade-working parents, foreign language speaking parents, sedentary-obese parents, poverty-stricken parents, homeless parents, drug-using parents, immoral parents or abusive parents and structures learning environments accordingly.
An individual-centered high school offers students an opportunity to choose among three different career pathways: college-bound STEM-focused careers; college-bound non-STEM focused careers; and vocational-trade bound careers. It also offers an appropriate assembly of elective courses to meet the academic requirements for each of these three respective career pathways. Finally, an individual-centered school does not compare or rank student learning achievements. Rather, it evaluates student learning on an individual basis, and it makes sure no students become disengaged, fall behind or lose hope.
Education Initiative: Non-individual- centered schools that do not recognize students are endowed with specifically different learning aptitudes or appreciate that students may come from dramatically different home-life cultures or offer courses of study specific to student interests need to be changed to sound individual-centered schools.
Classroom learning is an unequivocal education determinant predisposed to prepare students to contribute to the nation’s economy and pursue a preferable quality of life.
Brain scans of students learning in a desirable classroom environment that is relevant and emotionally pleasurable show an increase in the brain’s release of dopamine – an emotional neurotransmitter that increases your desire to learn. These brain scans also show an increase in the neurotransmitters that stimulate the higher neurotransmitters in the brain and enhance long-term learning (Willis, 2014).
Contrarily, brain scans of students subjected to high-stress, undesirable classroom environments featuring grade-threatening and test-intimidating mandates show an increase in cortisol. Cortisol is a high anxiety neurotransmitter that constricts blood flow in the brain, inhibits growth of the network of neurons located in the cognitive centers of the brain and suppresses the learning processes (Jensen, 2015).
Finally, it is important to recognize Aristotle’s 345 B.C. self-evident axiom: students are endowed with the natural desire to learn. For example, babies have the natural desire to learn to crawl, stand, walk, swallow, talk and think. This natural desire to learn is critical to classroom learning environments. Forcing students to learn by threats of a grade reduction, course failures or verbal reprimands are counterproductive. Students learn best when learning is not overly directed, demanded or forced.
Education Initiative: Make classroom learning environments desirable and devoid of irrelevant, grade-threatening and intimidating mandates.
Initiating a strand of behavioral virtues as a cultural component of each course in a school’s curriculum is an ethical determinant predisposed to helping students identify, practice and habituate the behavioral virtues enabling virtuous acts of conduct to become a permanent feature of a student’s character.
A behavioral virtue may be defined as a good, righteous, beneficent act of conduct. Select behavioral virtues having evolved as cultural norms include the following acts of conduct: caring, civility, fairness, loyalty, respectfulness, responsibility, thoughtfulness, trustworthiness, tolerance, understanding, courage, temperance and patriotism. Habituating these behavioral virtues is accomplished by practicing these good acts of conduct until they become a permanent part of the student’s ethical character.
Be that as it may, in order for students to fully realize an ethical character, they also must reject the behavioral vices: rudeness, unfriendliness, prejudice, discrimination, intolerance, selfishness, rashness, foolhardiness, self-indulgence, vanity, jealousy, revenge, bullying, infidelity, passing moral judgement and patriotic indifference. Education Initiative: Introducing a strand of behavioral virtues into the school’s curriculum will enhance the ethical culture of our nation, unite its citizenry and help attenuate the $1.7 trillion cost of crime confronting the nation’s taxpayers.
Classroom Cultural Support
Classroom cultural support is an elegant determinant predisposed to effecting student behavior. Some 70 years ago, the late Dr. Robert Allen directed a revealing cultural support behavioral change study. Funded by a substantial grant, he relocated a group of inner- city juvenile delinquents to a converted countryside-farmhouse estate. The boys helped transport bound haystacks, picked gardened vegetables, milked the cows, and fed the chickens and farm animals. They rode the horses, fished and swam in the farm’s lake. They enjoyed fresh-farm prepared meals; and, after dinner they roasted marshmallows and sang camp songs. After six weeks of this positive support culture, the boys’ delinquent behavioral characteristics disappeared.
After the camp-experience part of the study was over, the boys returned to their inner-city cultural environment and the study continued. But, behold! Within one week the boys were stealing hubcaps and back to their delinquent behavior. Dr. Allen concluded: positive support cultures are an effective determinant in structuring behavioral environments. (Personal communication, 1978).
Education Initiative: By introducing an effective assembly of classroom behavioral norms, a desirable and compelling classroom learning environment will be realized, and students will like school and look forward to interacting with friendly peers and reinforcing teachers. With reference to cultural support groups: It is axiomatic that group acceptance and belonging is a significant need for all students; and that being accepted by encouraging positive classroom support culture will help fulfill this important need. However, it is also true: If students are rejected by a positive classroom culture, they will seek out an intruding counter-culture and adhere to the negative rite-of- passage norms demanded by that respective culture. Finally, it should be noted: students who become part of a positive support group, strong enough to reject the flawed behavior practices of negative counter-cultures, help attenuate the nation’s annual $1.7 trillion cost of crime.
Based on the results of Dr. Allen’s breakthrough study, a positive classroom learning support culture is proposed whereby every classroom offers a protective, encouraging, inviting and desirable learning environment. To accomplish this end, the teachers and students will collaboratively actualize an assembly of well-founded behavioral norms. For example, students would practice the virtues of caring, friendliness, civility, respectfulness, loyalty, comradery… and disdain the transgressions of bullying, gossiping, discrimination, prejudice, rudeness, peer-competition, passing moral judgement...
Accomplishing a healthy exercise-nutrition lifestyle is an all-absorbing determinant predisposed to reducing the national obsession with obesity and over fatness and helping to attenuate the nation’s estimated annual $2.7 trillion health care costs.
Instilling an appreciation for exercise starts in the elementary grades. Young children need to be introduced to an appropriate age-related aerobic activity. The activity of choice should be walking. Walking is a low-skill activity all students can accomplish. It does not require special equipment. It does not produce the trauma to the knee joints as running activities do. It is an individual activity, therefore, is easier to schedule than a team activity. Students can walk at their own physiological pace and fulfill their individual aerobic capacity and caloric expenditure needs. Finally, walking is a self-competitive activity, wherein students do not have to compete against their peers or face the possibility of failure because of their physiological limitations. Rather, students can perform within their individual physiological capacities and find success by training to increase their pace times or distances walked.
The purpose of this exercise component is to develop an appreciation for walking that can be carried over into the adult years and help prevent the premature onset of obesity and other degenerative diseases contributing to the health-care costs straining the nation’s economy. Moreover, instilling an appreciation for healthy, fresh foods – high in protein and fiber and low in saturated fats and other inflammation producing foods – also needs to be started in the elementary grades.
As you move onto secondary school, you need to develop a two-semester elective exercise-nutrition lifestyle course to be accepted as fulfilling a part or all of any physical education curriculum requirements. This course would include a laboratory experience, wherein, bio-impedance body fat measurements are taken periodically so students may record their changes in body fat over time. (Note: all measurements should be performed privately, so as to prevent student embarrassments.) This exercise-nutrition lifestyle course would also include a strength-training component because as the body ages, you lose 1.0 percent of your skeletal muscle strength each year. And this loss contributes to the age-related losses in body balance, bone density and the ability to lift and move the body – all of which have a direct effect on the spiraling cost of health care as you age.
This course will also include learning about the physiological strategies needed to help students understand and appreciate the variables that enhance exercise performances: second wind, third wind, aerobic-anaerobic pace, metabolic fatigue, recovery routines, the “capillary kinking theory,” heat stroke, carbohydrate loading, lactic acid fatigue, peer competition vs. self-competition and fast-twitch/slow- twitch muscle fiber genetic differences and how they limit performance expectations.
Teachers for this course will need special training! They will need to upgrade their knowledge base in exercise physiology. They will need to be active walkers and project a healthy body image in order to be respected by the students and inspire them to adhere and comply with an active and healthy nutrition lifestyle. Identifying and certifying these teachers will be a challenge – but most certainly needed if you expect to actuate an effective exercise-nutrition lifestyle intervention course foreseen to prevent the premature onset of over fatness and the age-related losses in cardiovascular aerobic integrity and skeletal muscle strength, all of which are major risk factors affecting the degenerative diseases contributing to the nation’s burdening health-care costs.
Education Initiative: Realizing a comprehensive exercise-nutrition intervention course will help attenuate the estimated annual $84 billion cost of physical inactivity, the $266 billion cost of obesity and the $2.7 trillion cost of health care.
Documentary videos are an education determinant predisposed to providing a tantalizing alternative to traditional textbooks.
An authentic authoritative documentary video provides a more desirable classroom learning environment than do conventional textbooks. Documentaries afford a pictorial, auditory, musically scored and resonantly-narrated presentations that captivates student interests. Moreover, documentary videos presented in class create an opportunity for each student to view the same video, write-up a one-page report reflecting their respective impressionable moments and be prepared to contribute to a scheduled post-video class discussion. Home-viewed documentaries also provide an opportunity for students to prepare a home study research paper to be submitted for teacher feedback and recorded in the student’s portfolio.
Respective school media centers, local libraries and national public broadcasting offer a never-ending number of documentary videos. These captivating documentaries promise to produce an inspirational classroom and home-study learning environment. Documentaries reveal the historic events that formed this magnanimous nation, identify the men and women who have contributed to this nation’s rise to greatness and describe the enduring wars, civil liberty transition and economic crises these united states had to overcome to preserve this great nation. Documentaries also tell a compelling story of ancient history, European history, world geography, and provide a more colorful and exciting presentation of these stories than do expensive textbooks.
Education Initiative: Provide students with an inspiring assembly of documentary videos.
After 14 years, high-stakes testing has made no statistically significant improvement in reading, math, science and social studies (Nead, 2012). Moreover, a more recent survey (10/24/15), conducted by the Council of Great City Schools, which reviewed the nation’s 66 largest school districts, found no evidence the 112 mandated standardized tests taken between Pre-K and high school improved academic performance as measured by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) – a long-standing evaluation system often referred to as the nation’s “report card.”
Over the years, high-stakes testing has revealed the following reasons for abolishing the high stakes testing mandates: High-stakes tests discriminate against non- English speaking and special needs students. They are biased because test items do not consider cultural differences. Moreover, the time needed to administer high stakes testing protocols has been estimated to take up 30 percent of the school day. The personnel required to administer and supervise these tests demands a large percentage of teachers and school administrative staff. And the cost of these testing protocols has been estimated to be $50 billion each year.
High-stakes tests are time-based and, therefore, unfair to slow readers and analytic thinkers. Moreover, these tests are narrow in scope, because they do not consider the following education variables: understanding, dialectic reasoning, curiosity, creative thinking, perseverance, civic mindedness, societal virtues and values, workplace communication skills and appreciation for lifelong learning.
These tests lack transparency, as test items cannot be reviewed openly for validity evaluations. They do not provide an opportunity for teachers’ feedback – a most critical factor in student learning. They encourage “robotic” memorization, rather than long-term learning. And reportedly, essay questions are graded by temporary employees. Finally, these invalid high-stakes tests have been used to unfairly evaluate teaching performance – creating a serious teacher morale problem and straining teacher retention.
Education Initiative: Abolish high-stakes testing.