Maggie Severns: All Related Content

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For Quality, Low-Cost Child Care, Join the Military

August 13, 2012

Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University and now a senior fellow at New America, wrote a thoughtful column for Foreign Policy recently on the pay and benefits structure in the U.S. military. The country spends an estimated $768 billion per year on defense, Brooks estimates, and a portion of that cost goes to decent pay for military personnel (according to the Congressional Budget Office, the average member of the military is paid better than 75 percent of civilian federal workers with comparable experience) and solid benefits. Among these benefits are free health care, low- to no-cost higher education and housing, and retirement with pension after 20 years of service.

As Brooks rightly points out, all these extra benefits reflect the esteem we as a society have for those who serve in the military. Still, there are some lessons that the public could borrow from this so-called “socialist” military workforce. Chief among these lessons is another military perk that Brooks doesn’t mention in her piece: child care.

In National Journal Blog: Why Not Formula Fund Pre-K?

August 8, 2012

This week's National Journal Education Experts Blog drills into two perennial questions: If policymakers and the public have come to understand the importance of early education, why is it never an election issue? And how can advocates make it a bigger priority?

In my response, I note that education is rarely a big election issue, but elections aren't the only way to make early ed a priority. I use an idea which we've discussed on Early Ed Watch before, formula funding pre-K, as an example of one way to make early education a long-term priority. Some states, such as Oklahoma, have already chosen to do so.

Read the post here.

Fordham Hosts Debate on GOP Education Policy

July 27, 2012

At a discussion Thursday at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, D.C., Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings spoke with moderator and Fordham President Chester Finn, Jr. about the Republican Party’s direction on education policy.

Duke Researchers Find Effective Teachers Clustered in Tested Grades

July 24, 2012

A recent working paper from public policy researchers at Duke University examines one potential unintended consequence of the school accountability era: Is it possible that accountability testing, which under No Child Left Behind begins in the third grade, has given elementary school administrators an incentive to cluster their strongest teachers in third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms, thus depriving younger students of more effective teachers?

According to the study, by Sarah C. Fuller and Helen F. Ladd, this may be the case. In North Carolina between the years of 1995 and 2009, teachers who were average or less effective at improving test scores were more likely than their peers to be reassigned from 3rd-5th grade classrooms to kindergarten, first grade and second grade. A teacher one standard deviation above the mean for student test scores in reading was 74.5 percent as likely as an average teacher to move from teaching 3rd-5th grade to teaching earlier grades. Teachers with above-average math scores were 70.1 percent as likely as an average teacher to move down into the early grades.

Brookings Event Outlines Benefits of Wired Classrooms

July 19, 2012

At a Brookings Institute panel discussion Tuesday, two experts in educational technology -- James Werle, director of the non-profit Internet2 K20 Initiative, and Eric D. Fingerhut, vice president of education and STEM learning at the research organization Battelle -- discussed opportunities to deploy technology in the classroom. The conversation brimmed with optimism.

Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Head Start Recompetition

July 10, 2012

In April, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched its highly anticipated Designation Renewal System, which will redistribute federal funding away from low-quality Head Start and Early Head Start providers and favor providers with more proven track records. HHS was met with pushback from the media, individual Head Start providers, and from state Head Start associations--most notably, the Ohio Head Start Association, which filed a lawsuit against HHS claiming the “recompetition” process was arbitrary and unfairly penalized providers for past infractions that may have been corrected.

A federal judge dismissed the suit yesterday, leaving little doubt that Head Start providers in Ohio and elsewhere will participate in the new Designated Renewal System.

Could Teachers and Developers Work it Out? An Anecdote About Khan Academy

June 27, 2012

Digital media is having a big impact on classrooms for students of all ages, and no name is more recognizable in the field than Salman Khan, the founder of the popular video tutorial site Khan Academy.

Talking about Young English Language Learners at NALEO 2012

June 22, 2012

Yesterday, I gave a presentation on Illinois's strategy for young English language learners at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) annual conference in Orlando, Florida. The presentation was based on Starting Early with English Language Learners: First Lessons From Illinois, a paper we published this spring.

Obama’s Immigration Policy: What Will This Mean for Families With Young Children?

June 18, 2012

President Obama’s announcement Friday that his administration will stop deporting eligible undocumented people under the age of 30 is certain to provide fodder for more election-season debates over immigration.

How Messages about Gender and Ability May Affect Young Children

June 15, 2012

Over at Slate this week, I discuss a recent study in Psychological Science that examined how messages about gender and other social categories are interpreted by young children. Previous studies have shown that when children believe that something about them is innate -- such as being good or bad at a particular subject in school -- their performance can suffer, because they are less likely to engage in constructive, hard work to do well or improve.

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