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Posts Tagged ‘policies’

The Education of the Future.

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The United States continues to rank lower and lower on international education proficiency tests, particularly falling behind in math, science, and reading. The U.S. didn’t even make the Global Top 20 education list. In order to cure the “education problem” our nation’s schools have seen a rapid change in the educational system, uprooting many traditional practices in favor of a more efficient and streamlined structure.

Since No Child Left Behind began in 2002 the amount of federal authorizations, standards, and assessments has significantly increased. The latest initiative for education reform is the Common Core State Standards, a program that details what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. At the rate in which education requirements are being mandated by the government, it is easy to envision that the United States is coming closer and closer to an analogous nation-wide alignment for learning. But, is it working?

Margaret Spellings, past Secretary of Education, doesn’t believe that this train will ride much further. Spellings envisions a future much different from the structure advocated by current educational reformers. She believes that within 20 years, the educational system will be in the midst of a revolution. What’s behind this revolution? Data.

Parents will have access to real-time data, which will help them find the education that best suits their child. The future environment will be consumer-driven, focusing on the interests and needs of the student. Essentially, education “a la carte.”

The path to proficiency is not going to be restricted by school, age, or grade standards. It’s the dawning of individualized learning. Regardless of age, students will be grouped by level of learning, determined by data. While more parents might opt for online or home schooling for their children, the classroom setting will be greatly altered. Teachers will no longer need to segment their classroom or develop curriculum to simply meet the needs of proficiency testing. Students will be come the only focus, allowing  educators to break outside of the standards, working as independent agents to best address the needs of each individual student.

The educational structure is in need of a revolution, one that will best serve “America’s diverse student body.” In 20 years, the students sitting in the classrooms now will be sending their children to school. What would they say? Who will lead the revolution to change the status quo?

The Dry Olympics

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Russia’s most famous export is vodka, but Olympics attendees won’t be sipping vodka tonics, or any other alcoholic beverages, at this year’s games. A new federal law prohibits the sale of alcohol inside sports stadiums and arenas. Additionally, a local ordinance bans alcohol sales within 50 meters of certain sports venues. Why the strict drinking policy? Some see it as a way to limit unruliness, a lingering and unpleasant memory of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Others cite the Kremlin’s recent efforts as a way to disengage Russians from their alcohol attachment. Whatever the reason, fans are not happy. ‘Ice hockey and beer, curling and beer, these things tend to go hand in hand’ – such is the sentiment of many Olympics travelers and reporters who just want a drink.

If you do want a beer, it’s tough to find. One restaurant in Sochi’s Olympic Park has a full bar, and there are two Coca-Cola food and beverage stands that sell beer. All the other tents are selling a special non-alcoholic Baltika brew. The best bet is for fans to trek up the mountains and watch the skiing and snowboarding events. The outdoor venues are not restricted to alcohol ordinances, and the fans are ‘drinking in’ the freedom.

Even Utah, the host of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and the state with the most restrictive alcohol laws in the United States, allowed alcohol in certain public spaces where it was normally prohibited. But it doesn’t make sense for Russia to be hosting the ‘sober Olympics.’ In fact, due to societal lack of healthy living habits in the country, the average lifespan of a Russian man is 64 years old. Russia ranks fourth in the world in total alcohol consumption per capita, prompting the government to declare a war on alcoholism in 2009. As part of the Kremlin’s efforts, alcohol taxes have rose, sale restrictions have increased, and alcohol advertising has been banned.

Additionally, alcohol isn’t the only restriction at the Sochi Games. There are no fried foods, no hot dogs, and no potato chips. Time writes that the Sochi train station has an intercom message that tells travelers upon their arrival: ‘Sochi is a smoke-free city. Please refrain from smoking in public places and Olympic venues.’ Although the Olympics are all about health and it is fitting for a host country to promote the mission of the Games, the Kremlin seems to be depriving Olympics fans for the sake of furthering their political aims. This is Russia, so such a move is hardly surprising. But the Kremlin is still no match for a little (North) America ingenuity.