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Education News Flash: August 12

12/08/2015   |   No Comments »

Many folks–especially parents–have long bemoaned the ubiquitous presence of technology in our lives. Who doesn’t own a cell phone, let alone a smart phone nowadays? Ditto for laptops and tablets. Even our cars and televisions are “smart.” And most research over the years has underscored worries about screens taking over our children’s lives, with many of them even sleeping with their phones by their side lest they miss a text or email. And who isn’t familiar with reports that too much screen time leads to aggression, harassment, depression, anxiety, and even attention and imagination problems.

Now, however, comes a positive take from a study conducted by Pew Research. As Chandra Johnson of Deseret News reports, the study “found that different forms of technology–from social media to video games–can help kids make new friends and maintain existing relationships.” Indeed, she likens it to “a ray of hope.”

Meanwhile, thanks to sites like Facebook, social media has reportedly been improved as have video games, about which, says Penn State’s Benjamin Hickerson, ” The inlaid social mechanisms in the games nowadays gives gaming a social nature. Even if you’re not talking to the other people playing online, you feel their presence (when you observe them in the game.)”

Is that enough for you, or would you still prefer a phone call or a face-to-face?

Headlining Education News

11/08/2015   |   No Comments »

Virginia’s Fairfax County is home to one of the nation’s largest school districts and some 187,000 students. Like many other districts, however, it too is facing a financial crunch with a potentially maximum shortfall estimated to hit $80 million! That figure assumes that a salary increase for teachers is in the offing, together with a growth in enrollment and an almost $20 million decrease in state funding. Plus, there’s the $46 million the district must spend to cover teacher retirement and health benefits costs, so you see the problem.

The solution being bandied about: Cutting sports and such extracurricular activities as the music and drama programs, yearbook and school newspapers. Oh, yes, also on the table is increasing class size. Says Superintendent Karen Garza, “We’re going to have some very painful decisions to make because funding has not kept up with just the basic demands.”