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Psst, President Obama: Our Students Aren't All Future Tech Workers

While ensuring kids acquire the STEM chops they need is certainly a worthy cause, there's a danger to this narrow emphasis.


Will turning America's high schools into hubs of STEM education solve our economic problems? At Tuesday night's State of the Union address President Obama announced, "a new challenge to redesign America's high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy." He plans to do that by rewarding "schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math—the skills today's employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future."

Except that while ensuring kids acquire the STEM chops they need is certainly a worthy cause, there's a danger to this narrow emphasis. We can't forget that the purpose of school isn't just to serve the nation's economic interests. Indeed, while Andre Perry, the Associate Director for Educational Initiatives for the Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education in New Orleans tweeted that given the President's emphasis on STEM, he better get his "two-year-old more science kits," he also cautioned, "Let's not forget ethics training Mr. President. Science without wisdom = high tech oppression."

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Artful Thinking: Maryland Middle School Proves Arts Ed Improves Grades and Behavior

Wouldn't you rather learn fractions by examining composition in Warhol's Campbell's soup paintings?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPbKUF2zbyw

Arts exposure makes students more altruistic, civically engaged, and socially tolerant. Need more proof of the transformation that happens when arts education is taken seriously in schools? Look no further than this inspiring profile of Bates Middle School, a public school in Annapolis, Maryland from our friends over at Edutopia. Bates has a full visual and performing arts program integrated across the curriculum and they've seen significant improvements in student behavior and academic performance.

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Why Alternative Education Needs to Go Mainstream

Dropouts in alternative programs get a personalized learning experience. Maybe if they had that in the first place they wouldn't leave school.

Research shows that alternative education—small learning communities, individualized, personalized instruction, a low student-teacher ratio, and support for pregnant or parenting students—works to get dropouts back on track. But ironically, notes creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, current education reform efforts like the federal No Child Left Behind Act are "rooted in standardization" even though we know that a quality education should "be about personalization."

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