American Education System Failure

This morning whilst dabbling in some leisurely reading of international news sources, I came across a story that had a real impact on me. The story was published on the 21st of March on The Global Post , and was titled “Chicago may close 10% of elementary schools to address $1 billion education budget gap”. The title alone is enough to evoke emotions of anger, empathy and sadness at the thought of school children potentially losing their local schools, but after reading the content, I wasn’t sure what to think.

Chicago Public Schools, the country’s third-largest school district, has reported that nearly half of its 681 schools are under-enrolled, with 140 of them more than half empty”

On one hand, the story showed why the closure of the schools would be an advantageous move, saving  hundreds of thousands of dollars, and allowing many children to move from their underutilized, half empty schools with low enrollment rates, to better performing schools close to their home with greater resources available to them.

“For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed”

On the other hand however, the story tells of the disastrous impacts it could have on children and the local areas.

After reading the story I was thinking ‘oh it doesn’t sound so bad’, the positives seemingly outweighing the negatives and providing a better education for those in under used schools. However, after some further research, I discovered the closings were predominantly in poor neighborhoods, where the children would have little to no other options of education if the local school was closed, exposing them to “gang violence and turf wars.”

I felt a little embarrassed that I was looking at the closures in an agreeable light…  To me it appears this story is written in a way as such to sway the public view of closures as more positive than negative. The writer of the story clearly had chosen a side in the fight and had reflected the biased they possessed in their writing of this article.

Read More: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130321/rahm-emanuel-chicago-school-cuts-us-colleges-education

– Dillyn유

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We Don’t Need No Education

Recently (in one of my Journalism tutorials) I came across a story that at first seemed very interesting and relevant. The title, “Fears over stressed children as how-to books race off the shelves” pulled me in, it was well written and quite effective in spiking my interest. However, after reading the story itself, I was annoyed and frankly a little confused. The story was written in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 18th 2013, and despite the important subject of stressed school children, the story sounded more like an advertisement, encouraging the use of how-to literacy and numeracy books, rather than stating the negative effects they may be having on said stress levels.

The title is misleading, pulling parents in thinking they might be able to help their young and (apparently) stressed kids, but with statements such as the following, it sounds to me as if parents are being conned into buying the “popular” books:

“The books differentiated from the competition by being ‘bright, non-threatening and including sticker rewards'”.

The image used even had an infomercial feel, showing the brightly coloured books in a nice light.

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The facts were not backed up, there were no relevant studies mentioned or scientific proof of the claimed stress levels. Sure, it may be true that children are over-stressed (particularly in year 3 for the Naplan…), but how can the audience be expected to trust the writer when they have no real evidence and the story sounds more like an ad or a book promotion?

There was one bit of evidence (if you can call it that), the writer of the story pulling a quote from US president Barack Obama which has no relevance at all to stress in children:

”Recently, US President Obama said that children were in danger of finding learning boring.”

Um… what?

To conclude, the education subject matter of the story was not well covered. It was hardly an education news story at all, but an infomercial for some very popular how-to books.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/fears-over-stressed-children-as-howto-books-race-off-shelves-20130317-2g8q5.html#ixzz2P4LE7WVY

– Dillyn ✍

Timely Education

Education in the media is not as simple as it may seem: it isn’t just “kids learn this” or “kids learn  that”. Rather, news tends to explore education via multifaceted stories, which explain the issue through layers, tackling more than just one issue. For example, on March 20th 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald released a story entitled “Early Lunch Gives Kids an Energy Hit in Class”, which focused on the link between nutrition and attention to education.

“Schools such as St Therese have moved their lunch forward for an early kick of energy and to avoid children becoming distracted by a grumbling stomach.”

Instead of the standard “attention drops in class”, the Sydney Morning Herald explores why attention is dropping, and what certain schools have done to fix the issue.

“It was not only the body that became fatigued on an empty stomach but also the brain.”

The story uses external sources to explore the issue, as opposed to staying within the trouble area and just interviewing teachers or students. There were quotes from people such as Jenny O’Dea, a professor of nutrition education at the University of Sydney, which provide an informed and educated opinion to back up the school’s reasoning. The layered approach to education news provides a greater trust and interest in the story, using scientific evidence to back up claims, as well as opinions and observations from teachers  to add a personal touch.

The story also serves as a reminder for parents all over the country how important nutrition is for children, particularly with relation to their education.

Read more on the story at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/early-lunch-gives-kids-an-energy-hit-in-class-20130319-2gdl7.html#ixzz2OtwJgQmW

– Dillyn ✎