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Writing About Family Expert Tips

Family is a topic that holds a special place in our hearts. Whether it’s the joyous celebrations or the struggles and complexities, family has a unique way of shaping our lives and leaving a lasting impact on us. As writers, we have the power to capture these moments and emotions through the written word. However, writing about family can be a daunting task, as it requires a delicate balance of honesty, sensitivity, and craft. In this article, we will explore some valuable tips and techniques for effectively writing about family, so you can create authentic and powerful narratives that resonate with your readers.

Tips for Writing About Family

Family is a universal theme that has been explored and written about in various forms of literature for centuries. Whether you are writing a memoir, a novel, or a personal essay, family can be a powerful and relatable subject that can evoke a range of emotions in readers. However, writing about family can also be a challenging task as it involves delving into personal and sometimes complex relationships. Here are some tips to help you effectively write about family.

1. Reflect on your own experiences

The best way to write authentically about family is to draw from your own experiences. Take some time to reflect on your memories, both positive and negative, and how they have shaped your relationships with your family members. Think about the dynamics within your family, the traditions, and the events that have had a significant impact on you. These personal reflections will add depth and authenticity to your writing.

2. Identify a central theme

Family is a broad topic, and it can be easy to get lost in the details. To craft a cohesive narrative, it is crucial to identify a central theme that ties everything together. This could be a particular family member’s story, a shared experience, or a recurring issue within the family. Having a central theme will help guide your writing and keep it focused.

3. Use vivid descriptions

When writing about family, it is essential to bring your characters and settings to life with descriptive language. Use sensory details such as sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch to paint a vivid picture for your readers. This will not only make your writing more engaging but also help readers connect with your family and their experiences.

4. Balance honesty and sensitivity

Writing about family often entails sharing personal and sometimes sensitive information. It is crucial to balance honest storytelling with sensitivity towards your family members. While it is essential to tell the truth, be mindful of how your words may affect your loved ones. Consider discussing your writing with them beforehand or changing names to protect their privacy if necessary.

5. Avoid stereotypes

When writing about family, it is easy to fall into the trap of using stereotypes. However, this can make your writing feel clichéd and unauthentic. Instead, focus on portraying your family members as multi-dimensional characters with their own unique personalities, quirks, and flaws.

6. Show, don’t tell

One common mistake when writing about family is simply stating facts instead of showing them through actions and dialogue. Don’t tell readers that your family is close-knit; show it through scenes depicting shared moments, inside jokes, and meaningful interactions. This will allow readers to form their own opinions about your family instead of being told how to feel.

7. Use a mix of perspectives

If you are writing a story about your family, consider using a mix of perspectives by including other family members’ point of view. This will not only add depth to your narrative but also provide insight into how different family members perceive and experience events.

8. Include historical and cultural context

Family stories and traditions are often tied to a specific time and culture. To make your writing more authentic, provide some historical and cultural context for your family’s experiences. This could include significant events, cultural traditions, or societal norms that have influenced your family’s dynamics.

9. Edit and revise

Writing about family can be an emotional and personal experience, which can make it challenging to step back and objectively look at your writing. It is essential to edit and revise your work to ensure it flows well and conveys your intended message. Consider having a trusted friend or family member read your work and provide feedback.

10. Don’t be afraid to inject humor

While writing about family can be emotionally charged, it is also essential to infuse some humor into your writing. Humor not only adds levity to the story, but it can also be an effective way to connect with readers and make the narrative more relatable.
Writing about family can be a fulfilling and enriching experience. By using these tips, you can create compelling family narratives that resonate with readers. Remember to stay true to your own experiences, be sensitive to your family’s feelings, and use the power of vivid storytelling to bring your family’s story to life.
For more ideas on how to write about family, check out this article discussing how Disney and Marvel movies can enrich learning through the exploration of family themes. Happy writing!

In conclusion, writing about family can be both a challenging and rewarding task. With the right techniques and approaches, it is possible to craft powerful and authentic narratives that capture the complexities and dynamics of this deeply personal subject. By mastering the art of writing about family, one can explore the topic with depth and sensitivity, creating compelling stories that resonate with readers. Remember to harness the power of emotion and memories, use effective storytelling techniques, and always remain respectful of your family’s privacy. With these tips in mind, you can unleash your creativity and perfect your skills in writing about family. So go ahead and bring your family stories to life, and share them with the world.

How To Write A Hook In An Essay

In order to write a successful essay, you must start with a strong and interesting hook. A hook is a sentence that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. There are many different types of hooks you can use, but the most common is the anecdote.

An anecdote is a short, personal story that is used to introduce a topic. It is usually a story that is humorous or surprising. For example, if you were writing an essay about the benefits of exercise, you might begin with a story about a time when you were extremely out of shape and could not even climb a flight of stairs.

Another type of hook is the statistic. A statistic is a surprising fact that can be used to introduce a topic. For example, if you were writing an essay about the dangers of smoking, you might begin with a statistic about how many people die each year from smoking-related illnesses.

Whatever type of hook you choose, make sure that it is relevant to your essay. The hook should introduce the topic of your essay and make the reader want to learn more.

Understanding the Importance of a Hook in an Essay

A hook in an essay is a sentence that grabs the reader’s attention. It is the first sentence that the reader reads and it introduces the topic of the essay. The hook allows the writer to introduce the essay and capture the reader’s attention. The hook also allows the writer to state the thesis of the essay. The hook should be interesting and engaging so that the reader will want to read the essay.

There are several techniques that a writer can use to create a hook in an essay. One technique is to use a quotation. A quotation can be used to introduce the topic of the essay or to introduce the thesis. Another technique is to use a story. A story can be used to introduce the topic of the essay or to introduce the thesis. A third technique is to use a statistic. A statistic can be used to introduce the topic of the essay or to introduce the thesis. A fourth technique is to use a definition. A definition can be used to introduce the topic of the essay or to introduce the thesis. A fifth technique is to ask a question. A question can be used to introduce the topic of the essay or to introduce the thesis.

The hook is an important part of the essay because it allows the writer to introduce the essay and capture the reader’s attention. The hook also allows the writer to state the thesis of the essay. The hook should be interesting and engaging so that the reader will want to read the essay.

Types of Hooks for Different Essay Genres

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In order to write a successful essay, you must engage your reader from the beginning. One way to do this is to craft a strong hook. A hook is a sentence or paragraph at the beginning of your essay that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them want to continue reading.

There are many different types of hooks that you can use for different genres of essays. Below are some of the most common types of hooks:

1. Quotation

Introducing your essay with a relevant quotation can be a great way to hook your reader. Be sure to choose a quotation that is interesting and relevant to your topic.

2. Statistics

Statistics can be a great way to hook your reader’s attention. Be sure to choose statistics that are interesting and relevant to your topic.

3. Anecdote

An anecdote can be a great way to hook your reader’s attention. Be sure to choose an anecdote that is interesting and relevant to your topic.

4. Question

A question can be a great way to hook your reader’s attention. Be sure to choose a question that is interesting and relevant to your topic.

5. Quote-Unquote

Quote-unquote can be a great way to hook your reader’s attention. Be sure to choose quotations that are interesting and relevant to your topic.

6. Fact

A fact can be a great way to hook your reader’s attention. Be sure to choose facts that are interesting and relevant to your topic.

7. Rhetorical Question

A rhetorical question can be a great way to hook your reader’s attention. Be sure to choose rhetorical questions that are interesting and relevant to your topic.

8. Short Story

Introducing your essay with a short story can be a great way to hook your reader. Be sure to choose a short story that is interesting and relevant to your topic.

9. Poem

Introducing your essay with a poem can be a great way to hook your reader. Be sure to choose a poem that is interesting and relevant to your topic.

10. Image

Introducing your essay with an image can be a great way to hook your reader. Be sure to choose an image that is interesting and relevant to your topic.

Using Anecdotes as Hooks

When you’re writing an essay, you want to start off with a hook that will capture your reader’s attention. You can do this by using anecdotes, or brief stories, that illustrate a point you want to make. Anecdotes can also be used to introduce a thesis statement or to make a point about your topic.

In order to use an anecdote as a hook, you need to make sure that it is relevant to your topic. You also need to make sure that it is brief and to the point. The anecdote should be used to introduce your topic, not to provide a detailed description of it.

Once you have introduced your topic, you can then provide a brief explanation of the anecdote. The explanation should be brief and to the point, and it should not provide a lot of detail.

After you have introduced your topic and provided a brief explanation of the anecdote, you can then provide your thesis statement or your main point.

The use of anecdotes as hooks can be a very effective way to capture your reader’s attention. It can also help to get your reader interested in your topic.

Incorporating Startling Statistics as Hooks

When you’re writing an essay, you want to grab your reader’s attention from the beginning. One way to do this is to use startling statistics as hooks. Statistics can be eye-opening, and they can help to get your reader interested in what you have to say.

Here are a few tips for incorporating statistics into your essays:

1. Choose the right statistic.

Not every statistic is equally effective at grabbing your reader’s attention. You’ll want to choose a statistic that is relevant to your topic and that is also interesting and surprising.

2. Make sure the statistic is accurate.

Before you include a statistic in your essay, make sure that it is accurate. There’s nothing worse than getting called out for including a false statistic in your essay.

3. Present the statistic in a clear and concise way.

When you include a statistic in your essay, make sure to present it in a clear and concise way. Don’t bury your reader in numbers and data. Instead, summarize the statistic in a way that is easy to understand.

4. Use the statistic to introduce your topic.

The statistic you choose can serve as a great introduction to your topic. It can help to give your reader a brief overview of what you will be discussing in the essay.

5. Use the statistic to support your argument.

The statistic you choose can also be used to support your argument. When you include a statistic in your essay, make sure to explain how it supports your argument.

6. End your essay with the statistic.

You can also use the statistic you choose to wrap up your essay. You can briefly mention the statistic again and explain its significance.

When you use statistics as hooks in your essays, you can grab your reader’s attention and help to keep them interested in what you have to say.

Engaging Readers with Thought-Provoking Questions as Hooks

A good hook in an essay will intrigue readers and make them want to continue reading. There are a few different ways to write a hook, but one of the most effective is to use a thought-provoking question. Questions can help to engage readers’ minds and provoke curiosity, which can be the push they need to keep reading.

Questions can also be used to introduce controversial or surprising topics, which can also make readers want to learn more. When writing a hook, it’s important to make sure that the question is relevant to the essay topic and that the answer can be found somewhere in the essay.

There are a few different types of questions that can be used as hooks:

Questions that ask for the reader’s opinion:

“Do you think that school uniforms make a positive difference in students’ academic performance?”

“Is it worth sacrificing our personal freedoms in order to be safe from terrorism?”

Questions that ask the reader to think about a topic in a new way:

“What would the world be like if animals could talk?”

“How would our world be different if there were no colors?”

Questions that introduce a controversial topic:

“Should we be doing more to help refugees, or is it our responsibility to protect our own citizens first?”

“Is it right to use animals for scientific experimentation?”

When writing a hook, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

The question should be relevant to the essay topic.

The answer to the question should be found somewhere in the essay.

The question should be phrased in a way that is interesting to the reader and makes them want to learn more.

The question should not be too long or complicated.

The question should be easy to answer.

Creating Intrigue with Descriptive Language as Hooks

When it comes to essay writing, the hook is arguably the most important part of the essay. A good hook will introduce your topic and pique the reader’s interest, providing a tantalizing glimpse of what is to come without giving away too much. It is essential to make sure your hook is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

There are many different ways to create a hook, but some of the most effective methods involve using descriptive language to create intrigue. Here are a few tips for using descriptive language to create a hook:

1. Start with a question.

Questions are a great way to pique the reader’s interest, as they require the reader to think about the answer. A question can also introduce the topic in a way that is relevant and interesting to the reader.

2. Use a quote.

Quotes can be a great way to introduce your topic and capture the reader’s attention. Be sure to choose a quote that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

3. Use a statistic.

Statistics are a great way to capture the reader’s attention and introduce your topic. Be sure to choose a statistic that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

4. Use a story.

Stories are a great way to capture the reader’s attention and introduce your topic. Be sure to choose a story that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

5. Use an analogy.

Analogies are a great way to introduce your topic and pique the reader’s interest. Be sure to choose an analogy that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

6. Use a metaphor.

Metaphors are a great way to introduce your topic and pique the reader’s interest. Be sure to choose a metaphor that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

7. Use an anecdote.

An anecdote is a great way to introduce your topic and pique the reader’s interest. Be sure to choose an anecdote that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

8. Use a definition.

Definitions are a great way to introduce your topic and pique the reader’s interest. Be sure to choose a definition that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

9. Use a statistic.

Statistics are a great way to capture the reader’s attention and introduce your topic. Be sure to choose a statistic that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

10. Use a rhetorical question.

Rhetorical questions are a great way to introduce your topic and pique the reader’s interest. Be sure to choose a rhetorical question that is relevant to your topic and interesting to your reader.

Crafting a Strong Thesis Statement in Conjunction with the Hook

When it comes to writing essays, the hook is one of the most important elements. A good hook will engage the reader and make them want to continue reading. In order to write a hook, you need to craft a strong thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is the main point of your essay. It is a statement that you can back up with evidence. In order to write a good thesis statement, you need to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.

The thesis statement should be clear and concise. It should also be interesting to the reader. You may want to consider using a provocative statement or a question to engage the reader.

The thesis statement should also be relevant to the topic of your essay. It should provide a roadmap for the rest of your essay.

Once you have a strong thesis statement, you can start to think about how to write a good hook. Your hook should be related to your thesis statement. It should also be interesting and engaging.

You may want to consider using a surprising statistic or a provocative statement. You can also start your essay with a question that will grab the reader’s attention.

The goal is to hook the reader and make them want to continue reading. By using a strong thesis statement and a well-crafted hook, you can create an essay that is both interesting and informative.

How To Title A Book In An Essay

When you are writing an essay, the title is one of the most important parts. It is the first thing that people see, and it can make or break a reader’s interest in your work. There are a few things to keep in mind when titling your essay.

The first thing to consider is the length of your essay. If it is a short essay, you will want a short, catchy title. If it is a longer essay, you may want a title that is more descriptive.

Another thing to consider is the tone of your essay. If it is a serious essay, you may want a more serious title. If it is a funny essay, you may want to use a funny title.

Finally, you want to make sure that your title is relevant to your essay. The title should give the reader a hint about what the essay is about.

There are many different ways to title an essay. Here are a few examples:

How To Title A Book In An Essay

The Importance of Titling Your Essays

How To Choose The Right Title For Your Essay

Title Tips For Every Essay Type

Understand the Basics of Book Title Formatting

When it comes to book title formatting, there are a few things that you need to understand in order to get it right. The first is that the title of a book should always be italicized. This is true whether the book is a novel, a nonfiction work, or a collection of essays.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the title should always be placed at the beginning of the essay, and it should be centered on the page. If the title is longer than one line, it should be double-spaced.

Finally, there are a few special considerations that you need to keep in mind when formatting the title of a book that is being used in an essay. For example, if you are referencing a book that has been published more than once, you should use the most recent edition. If the book has been adapted for a movie or a television show, you should use the title of the movie or television show, rather than the book title.

Follow Capitalization and Punctuation Rules

When titling a book in an essay, it is important to follow certain capitalization and punctuation rules.


The first letter of every word in the title of a book should be capitalized, with the exception of articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (of, to, by, for).


“To Kill a Mockingbird”


If the title of the book is included in the body of the essay, it should be set off with quotation marks. If the title is only mentioned in the reference section, it should be italicized.


“To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books.

The title of the book is set off with quotation marks.

Italicize or Use Quotation Marks: Differentiating Formatting Styles

When it comes to titles of books, there are two main formatting styles: italicizing and quotation marks. The main difference between the two is that italics emphasizes the title while quotation marks show that the text is being referred to as someone else’s words.

Which style you use depends on what you are trying to emphasize. If you want to emphasize the title as the author’s words, use italics. If you want to emphasize that the text is being quoted, use quotation marks.

Italics are used more often for titles of books, magazines, newspapers, movies, television shows, and other long works. Quotation marks are used more often for shorter works, such as articles, poems, and song titles.

There are no hard and fast rules for which style to use. It’s ultimately up to the author to decide which style to use and why.If you need help formatting titles properly in your essay, consider hiring an essay writing service to write my essay for me and ensure consistency.

Consider the Context and Tone of Your Essay

There is no one answer to the question of how to title a book in an essay. It depends on the context and tone of your essay. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when titling your book.

First, think about the tone of your essay. Is it serious or lighthearted? If it’s serious, you may want to use a more formal title. If it’s lighthearted, you may want to use a more playful title.

Second, think about the context of your essay. What is the main point you are trying to make? What is the theme of your essay? The title of your book should reflect this.

Finally, be sure to choose a title that is both accurate and concise. It should accurately reflect the content of your essay, and it should be brief enough that it doesn’t take up too much space.

There are many different ways to title a book in an essay. The best approach depends on the context and tone of your essay. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a title. First, think about the tone of your essay. Is it serious or lighthearted? If it’s serious, you may want to use a more formal title. If it’s lighthearted, you may want to use a more playful title. Second, think about the context of your essay. What is the main point you are trying to make? What is the theme of your essay? The title of your book should reflect this. Finally, be sure to choose a title that is both accurate and concise. It should accurately reflect the content of your essay, and it should be brief enough that it doesn’t take up too much space.

Highlight Significance: Relating the Title to the Content

Selecting an effective book title is essential for attracting readers. The title should be intriguing and reflective of the content within the book. It is also important to make sure the title is relevant to the essay. In this article, we will discuss how to title a book in an essay and highlight the significance relating the title to the content.

When selecting a book title, it is important to consider the content of the book and how it relates to the essay. The title should be reflective of the main idea or argument of the book. It should also be catchy and interesting to readers. The title should not be too long or too short. It should also be easy to remember.

In order to highlight the significance of the book title, it is important to first introduce the book and its main argument. Next, the title should be analyzed in relation to the essay. Finally, the importance of the title will be discussed.

In his book, “The Communist Manifesto”, Karl Marx discusses the importance of class struggle in society. He argues that the proletariat will eventually overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish a communist society.

In her essay, “The Role of the Proletariat in the Communist Manifesto”, Sarah Beck attempts to refute Marx’s argument by showing that the proletariat does not have the power to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

In her essay, “The Role of the Proletariat in the Communist Manifesto”, Sarah Beck argues that the proletariat does not have the power to overthrow the bourgeoisie. She supports her argument by citing examples from Marx’s book, “The Communist Manifesto”.

The title of Beck’s essay, “The Role of the Proletariat in the Communist Manifesto”, is significant because it reflects the main argument of the book. Beck argues that the proletariat does not have the power to overthrow the bourgeoisie. This argument is relevant to the essay because it challenges Marx’s argument that the proletariat will eventually overthrow the bourgeoisie.

Avoid Plagiarism: Cite and Reference Titles Properly

When writing an essay, it is important to properly cite and reference titles of books and other works. Plagiarism can occur when using another person’s work without giving credit to the original author. Citing and referencing titles properly will help to avoid any potential plagiarism and ensure that you are giving credit where credit is due.

There are a few things to keep in mind when citing and referencing titles. The first is that the title of a book should be italicized. The second is that the title should be followed by the author’s name, and the publication information should be included after that. For example:

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When including a title in a bibliography, the same format should be used.

It is also important to be aware of different types of titles. There are two types of book titles – the main title and the subtitle. The main title is the first title that appears on the book cover, while the subtitle is the additional text that appears below the main title. When citing a book, both the main title and the subtitle should be included. For example:

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

“The Catcher in the Rye: A Novel” by J.D. Salinger

When referencing a book in a bibliography, both the main title and the subtitle should be included in the same format.

It is also important to be aware of how to cite different types of works. For example, when citing a journal article, the author’s name should be followed by the year of publication and the page numbers. For a website, the author’s name should be followed by the website’s address.

Citing and referencing titles correctly is an important way to ensure that you are giving credit where credit is due. It is also essential for avoiding any potential plagiarism. By following the proper format, you can be sure that your work is accurate and properly cited.

The Week Ahead In Education Politics: Petitions To Protect DACA & Reinstate Net Neutrality As Congress Weighs School Safety, Data Privacy & More

The Week Ahead in Education Politics: Petitions to Protect DACA & Reinstate Net Neutrality as Congress Weighs School Safety, Data Privacy & More

The publication called "THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS" is typically released on Saturdays. You can receive a preview of it directly in your inbox by subscribing to Newsletter. For real-time updates on federal education policy, you can follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

In terms of current news, there are two petitions being circulated in Congress that aim to bypass Republican opposition and enforce votes on important issues such as immigration and net neutrality, both of which have an impact on education. This may become a complex issue.

Starting with the House, Democrats are working on a petition that would allow them to bring four different immigration proposals to a vote, bypassing the authority of House Speaker Paul Ryan. These proposals include ones supported by the Trump administration, House Democrats, Ryan himself, and a bipartisan measure. The proposal receiving the highest number of votes would be implemented. Each of these proposals would address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to varying degrees.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was originally established during the Obama era and granted legal status and work permits to young individuals who were brought to the country illegally as children, provided they met certain requirements. The Trump administration ended this program in March, but due to court rulings, current recipients are able to renew their status and new applications may also be accepted.

For the House to consider this petition, it requires the support of all Democratic members and 25 Republican members. As of Friday, 18 Republicans and one Democrat have signed. The House can only address the petition on the first or third Monday of a session, and the next opportunity will be on June 25, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Paul Ryan has expressed his concerns, stating that forcing a vote in this manner would be a spectacle that would ultimately result in a bill vetoed by President Trump. He suggests that members should work together in a bipartisan manner to draft a bill that can pass into law, as CBS reported.

Moving on to the Senate, Democrats are urging the chamber to consider a measure that essentially reinstates the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rule. The FCC reversed an Obama-era rule in December 2017 which prevented internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to specific content, or offering faster access to content that paid for the privilege.

The new rules will come into effect on June 11. The exact implications for users, including schools, are not clear yet, but it could potentially lead to higher internet bills and limited access to innovative educational technology if startups are unable to afford premium access to consumers.

The Democrats’ petition is being processed under the Congressional Review Act, a procedure that Senate Republicans utilized last year to abolish Obama-era rules pertaining to the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is nearing majority support and it is likely that a vote will take place this week, according to Gizmodo.

While the level of support in the House is uncertain, some advocates believe that House Republicans may support it due to the strong public backing for net neutrality.

An update from the House Armed Services Committee indicates that Rep. Jim Banks’ proposition to provide education savings accounts to the children of some active-duty service members did not make it into the annual defense authorization during markup. Supporters of the proposal hope to include it in the bill when it is considered by the full House later this month, as reported by Education Week.

On Monday, to commemorate the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, an educational advocacy group called Journey 4 Justice, which is aligned with teachers unions, will release a report titled "Failing Brown v. Board." The report aims to draw attention to the ongoing inequities in public education along racial lines. Additionally, they will organize a rally with union leaders and other education advocates on the steps of the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the House will discuss a bill that requires the Justice and Education departments to survey every public elementary and secondary school within a year to determine the presence of school resource officers and whether they work part-time or full-time. This bill will be considered through the suspension of rules, a parliamentary procedure that streamlines the debate for uncontroversial legislation but necessitates the support of two-thirds of the members for it to pass.

The issue of placing law enforcement officers on school campuses has gained prominence due to safety concerns following mass shootings. However, advocates have warned that it may disproportionately lead to the involvement of young people, particularly young men of color, in the criminal justice system. In fact, many major city school districts have more school resource officers than counselors.

Also on Tuesday, Casey Family Programs, a foundation focused on foster care, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and families affected by the opioid crisis and the child welfare system, will host a briefing on the recently passed Family First Prevention Services Act. This legislation, which was included in a budget deal in February, makes changes to federal financing systems by providing funding for substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and parent skills training. The objective is to prevent children from entering foster care.

WEDNESDAY: INDIAN EDUCATION — The Senate Indian Affairs Committee convenes a hearing to address the concerns regarding safety and security measures implemented at Bureau of Indian Education schools. This educational system, which receives federal funding, caters to approximately 48,000 students across 183 schools. Unfortunately, these institutions have long suffered from neglect and mismanagement. In fact, during a similar hearing exactly one year ago, the same committee sharply criticized agency leaders for their failures in this area.

THURSDAY: DATA PRIVACY — The House Education and the Workforce Committee holds a hearing specifically focused on data privacy and the ways in which schools and states endeavor to safeguard sensitive information. Educational institutions now face new and pressing concerns regarding data security. For instance, earlier this month, Leominster Public Schools in Massachusetts fell victim to hackers who demanded a ransom of $10,000 in bitcoin in exchange for restoring the school system’s data. Efforts to rewrite the outdated federal laws governing student data, namely the Education Sciences Reform Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, have faced obstacles in recent years, resulting in their lack of progress.

THURSDAY: FCC — A Senate Appropriations subcommittee organizes a hearing centered around the 2019 budget requests for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In addition to addressing the ongoing issue of net neutrality, the FCC operates the E-Rate program, which aims to provide affordable internet access to schools. Moreover, the FTC, in collaboration with the Education Department, has conducted investigations pertaining to privacy concerns in educational technology.

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Williams — Transparency, Accountability, Bipartisanship: How Colorado Built One Of America’s Strongest Charter School Sectors

Williams — Transparency, Accountability, Bipartisanship: How Colorado Built One of America’s Strongest Charter School Sectors

In February, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools published its annual evaluation of state charter school laws, titled "Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws, Ninth Edition." The ranking system focuses on the extent to which each state’s laws ensure that charter schools are treated fairly, given the appropriate level of independence, and are held accountable. Much to our delight, Colorado has made significant progress in its ranking due to the recent legislation passed to ensure equitable funding for charter school students. Colorado now holds the second position in the ranking, following Indiana.

This positive news validates what those of us involved in Colorado’s charter school community have known for a long time: our state boasts one of the strongest charter school sectors in the country. Transparency, accountability, bipartisanship, and exceptional performance are the defining features of Colorado’s charter schools.

According to state law, all charter schools in Colorado are public, secular, open to all students, and do not charge tuition. They are not allowed to selectively admit students based on any screening process.

Contrary to common misconception, there are no private charter schools in Colorado. Like traditional school districts, charter schools can avail services from private vendors (although fewer than 3 percent of Colorado charters currently contract with education management organizations for service provision in their schools). However, charter schools themselves cannot operate as for-profit entities. The majority of charter schools in Colorado are homegrown initiatives aimed at enhancing public school options in local communities. As an example, DSST Public Schools started with a single location and expanded to multiple campuses due to its success in serving Denver’s most vulnerable students.

Outstanding academic performance is a distinguishing feature of Colorado’s public charter school sector. These schools serve a more diverse student population compared to other public schools in the state, with 5 percent more students of color and English learners. Moreover, charter school students in Colorado are exceeding the state average by more than 4.5 percentage points in both reading and math.

Colorado’s public charter schools bear the same responsibility as all other public schools in the state to meet the prescribed standards and assessments. Each charter school operates under a performance contract with its district or the Charter School Institute, which outlines the targets that the school must achieve. If a school fails to meet these performance targets or deliver positive outcomes for its students, the contract can be revoked. Traditional public schools do not have such stringent accountability measures.

All charter schools in Colorado are subjected to the Public School Financial Transparency Act, which mandates them to regularly disclose detailed financial information online for public access. This ensures complete transparency regarding charter school activities.

Thanks to the bipartisan support that Colorado’s charter schools have received since their inception 25 years ago, we have successfully created a national model of what public charter schools can and should be for our students. Moving forward into the next 25 years, we will build upon these achievements and learnings to ensure that all children in Colorado have equitable access to high-quality public school options.

Angela Williams serves as the state senator for Colorado’s Senate District 33, which covers parts of the Denver metropolitan area.

The Interview: Harvard’s Karen Mapp On ESSA, Family Engagement, And How Schools And Communities Can Partner To Help Kids Succeed

The Interview: Harvard’s Karen Mapp on ESSA, Family Engagement, and How Schools and Communities Can Partner to Help Kids Succeed

The Every Student Succeeds Act has introduced a subtle change in connecting families with schools. The term "parental involvement" has been replaced with "family engagement."

Karen Mapp, who advocated for this change during her time as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Education in 2013, emphasizes the significance of this shift. As the former deputy superintendent of family engagement for Boston Public Schools and currently a senior lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Mapp recalls an encounter with a grandmother who attended a parent-teacher conference for her granddaughter. The teacher asked when the "real parents" would be present.

Mapp believes that any adult caregiver who takes responsibility for children should be included, acknowledged, and respected. She recommends several adjustments to how family engagement is approached in schools, as it plays a crucial role in preparing students for college, enhancing high school graduation rates, and improving academic performance.

The core of this approach involves treating families as genuine partners, acknowledging their invaluable insights into their child’s learning. Mapp offers her recommendations on how schools can achieve this.

Please note that the following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

: How would you describe the current state of family engagement in schools?

Mapp: I am incredibly optimistic about the current state of family engagement in schools across the country. Many school districts now recognize that true, respectful partnerships between families and school staff are essential for student improvement and overall school progress.

What do you mean by school improvement?

By school improvement, I mean not only academic achievements such as grades and test scores but also factors such as social-emotional development, attendance rates, and students’ attitudes towards school. School personnel have come to realize that in order to achieve these benchmarks, they must cultivate strong partnerships with families.

What does the research say about the importance of family engagement?

Summarizing over 50 years of research is challenging. However, a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins on the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project highlighted the positive impact of families and school staff meeting through home visits focused on building trust and respectful relationships. These visits resulted in increased attendance rates, and the children involved were more likely to be on or above grade level by the third grade.

With each passing year, more quantitative and qualitative research is conducted on various family engagement initiatives. The beauty of this is that researchers have been working for the past 10 to 15 years to identify the most effective forms of family engagement. For a long time, schools have made assumptions about what forms of engagement were the best. However, now we are finally able to quantify the value of certain practices in terms of improving outcomes for children and schools. We are finding that strategies that actively involve families in understanding and supporting the school’s learning and developmental goals produce the most effective results. Some of the traditional practices, such as homework help, back-to-school night, fundraising, and attending school events, which have been around for centuries, are not necessarily the most impactful.

Can you provide examples of practices that should perhaps be phased out?

What are some of the most recommended family engagement practices for schools?

It is important to approach the topic of family engagement in schools with caution, as one size does not fit all. When working with school systems, it is essential to consider the context of the school, including its location, the background and demographics of the children, and their goals. These factors shape the family engagement strategy that should be implemented. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education developed the dual-capacity framework for family-school partnerships, which emphasizes the training of both families and teachers to collaborate in improving education. This framework has identified several effective practices that should be integrated into any family engagement strategy.

One of the fundamental pillars of effective family engagement is establishing relationships of trust and respect with families. This relational component serves as the foundation for any successful initiative, and maintaining trust is crucial for its sustainability.

Another key pillar is ensuring that the initiative is connected to learning. Traditional strategies often failed to provide parents with essential information regarding what their children should know and be able to do. By neglecting to share these important details, families were left unaware of their child’s educational goals.

Collaboration with families is yet another important pillar. Family knowledge and expertise must be respected and valued, creating a two-way street where schools actively engage and work alongside families, rather than solely providing information to them.

An interactive approach is also crucial. Schools should provide opportunities for families to actively participate and practice new skills during events, rather than solely observing teachers and students. This hands-on experience allows families to better support their child’s learning by acquiring new tools and tips.

Lastly, it is vital to approach family engagement through an asset-based developmental lens, rather than a deficit lens. Communities should not be viewed as recipients of services or in need of fixing. Instead, they possess a wealth of assets that can greatly benefit school staff and the overall educational environment.

Additionally, family engagement practices should be culturally responsive and respectful in order to effectively meet the needs of diverse communities.

What specific strategies have been successful in different locations?

In collaboration with Ilene Carver, a former teacher from Boston, and Jessica Lander, a current teacher in Lawrence, Massachusetts, I have co-authored a book called "Powerful Partnerships." This book is designed for teachers seeking guidance on building strong partnerships with families throughout the academic year, from August to June. One notable strategy we discuss is transforming the traditional parent-teacher conference into a family conference. During this conference, the student is encouraged to actively contribute by discussing their strengths and challenges. This dialogue between the family, teacher, and student aims to identify ways in which everyone can collaborate to ensure the student’s success. By shifting the focus from a one-sided teacher-parent conference to a shared responsibility partnership, anxiety is reduced for both parties involved. Families have expressed their preference for this style of conference, as it allows for their voices to be heard, and teachers appreciate the dynamic collaboration rather than acting as sole experts.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has been a significant step forward in supporting family engagement. This federal policy incorporates more elements of the dual-capacity framework and has made changes in how district budgets are allocated. We aimed to secure greater funding for district positions dedicated to family engagement, hoping to increase the set-aside from 1 percent to 2 percent. Unfortunately, we were not successful in achieving this increase.

Which states do you consider to be leaders in implementing effective strategies and policies for engaging families?

I take great pride in the progress made by Massachusetts, as they have incorporated family engagement proficiency into our state’s educator evaluation standards. New York is another state that has also achieved this. However, the next step should be to integrate language regarding family and community engagement proficiency into the teacher credentialing system. This would encourage teacher preparation institutions to prioritize capacity-building in these areas during their training programs. Many teachers have expressed that they have not received any training in family engagement, which can lead to ineffective practices.

What are some challenges in promoting family engagement in schools?

One of the main challenges is the lack of training among educators. Many educators feel unsure and lack confidence in their ability to effectively engage families. Additionally, there are often long-standing practices that have been passed down over the years which are not effective, such as the traditional parent-teacher conferences. By exposing educators to effective engagement practices, we can implement and sustain programs that have proven to work. It’s not necessarily a lack of willingness on the part of educators, but rather a fear stemming from lack of experience and sometimes negative past experiences. By improving the capacity of our professionals to engage families in a more effective way, they will enjoy the process and be more enthusiastic about it.

If a teacher sought your advice on how to better engage families, what would you say?

Engaging families is a skill that develops over time and cannot be mastered by following a simple checklist. It requires practice, reflection, and self-interrogation. In our Powerful Partnerships program, we provide reflective exercises where educators write about their core beliefs regarding families and family engagement. We also offer small, manageable changes that can be implemented in their practice, gradually working towards more comprehensive approaches. It’s important to understand that there is no quick solution or list of tasks to check off. Like any skill, it requires continuous learning, reading, and practice. Some districts have started providing family engagement coaches, who work with school staff to improve their engagement strategies. At Scholastic Books, we coordinate a workshop series for trainers to assist school teams in learning about family engagement. Ultimately, it’s about changing one’s perspective and mindset, rather than simply completing tasks.

Do you find that most teachers genuinely want to engage families? Are they often overwhelmed by their many other responsibilities?

From my experience, the majority of teachers are truly passionate about engaging families and express a desire for guidance and support. Even those who may initially be hesitant become more enthusiastic when they witness the positive impact of family engagement. Teachers have shared with me that they would have engaged families earlier in their careers if they had known how much it would enhance their job satisfaction and make their workload easier. While the initial investment of time can be demanding, especially considering the already full plates of teachers, they recognize that family engagement is not an additional burden or add-on, but an integral part of their teaching practice.

New Data Suggest Pandemic May Not Just Be Leaving Low-Income Students Behind; It May Be Propelling Wealthier Ones Even Further Ahead

New Data Suggest Pandemic May Not Just Be Leaving Low-Income Students Behind; It May Be Propelling Wealthier Ones Even Further Ahead

New data suggests that the pandemic is not only leaving some students behind but also widening the gap between privileged children and their peers. The data, which tracks participation and mastery rates in the online math program Zearn Math, reveals that when schools closed in mid-March, students from low- and middle-income communities experienced a drop in participation and progress, while students from high-income areas saw increased engagement and progress. However, there were some communities that managed to overcome these barriers and maintain strong engagement for all students, regardless of income.

Nationally, higher-income students showed a slight increase in participation in Zearn Math, whereas middle- and low-income children showed a decrease in participation levels, according to Opportunity Insights. The data, which is based on a representative national sample of approximately 800,000 students from various types of schools, tracks participation and progress through online lessons provided by Zearn, a nonprofit organization that offers free online math lessons and curriculum.

The anonymous student data used in the analysis is publicly available as part of a new tracker developed by Opportunity Insights, a nonpartisan research group based at Harvard University. The tracker utilizes Census Bureau data to classify schools as low-, middle-, or high-income based on the median household income of the zip code where they are located.

Shalinee Sharma, co-founder and CEO of Zearn, expressed her concern when she observed the divergence in student use based on income. This could indicate a significant setback in Zearn’s results, as previous data from the past four years had shown that participation and progress in the program were generally consistent across different income levels, defying the typical correlation between wealth and academic achievement.

The national data reveals a significant increase in the progress of high-income students through Zearn Math lessons compared to when schools were open, while low-income students experienced a 36% decline in progress during the same period. Sharma noted that by early April, it was clear that high-income students were maintaining their participation rates and making progress in math, while many low-income students had either disappeared or were doing significantly less math.

In most states, Zearn Math participation declined after school closures, but progress in the program held steady or even increased in many states. This suggests that although many students may have stopped using the program, those who continued to engage with it showed significant growth in their math skills.

Overall, the data suggests that school closures are not only perpetuating existing learning gaps but also widening them. David Williams, the policy outreach director at Opportunity Insights, emphasizes that this crisis is having a real and adverse impact on low-income children and communities, potentially leading to future challenges.

While the data does not provide specific reasons for the drop in participation and progress, factors such as the digital divide and varying expectations from teachers or school districts likely played a role. Previous research conducted by the Pew Research Center indicated that a significant number of students, particularly those from low-income families, faced challenges completing homework assignments due to lack of reliable access to the internet or computers at home.

The findings from Zearn Math align with other research indicating that distance learning was not an effective substitute for in-person schooling, especially for vulnerable students. NWEA, a nonprofit assessment organization, has warned about a potential "COVID slide" in which students may retain only about 70% of their previous year’s reading gains and less than 50% of their math gains. This could also result in a wider range of achievement levels within individual classrooms, exacerbating educational inequalities.

In conclusion, it is crucial to address the impact of the pandemic on students’ learning outcomes, particularly for those from low-income backgrounds. Efforts should be focused on bridging the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to quality education, both during and after this crisis.

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, stood out among other regions in terms of student engagement and progress during the school closures. Despite the challenges, Jefferson Parish Schools implemented various strategies to ensure students remained connected to their academic studies. A call center, operated by school personnel and educators, was established to assist students and families with questions regarding logistics, lessons, and technology. Additionally, paper packets distributed with grab-and-go lunches included contact information for families to seek further assistance. The district also provided teachers with training on Google Classroom and collaborated with an internet company to offer affordable internet service to families in need.

Furthermore, the district implemented a grading policy that allowed students to receive grades for their work during the final quarter of the school year, even if they did not have access to paper packets or online learning. This policy aimed to motivate students to continue learning during the challenging circumstances. Jenna Chiasson, the former executive director of teaching and learning in Jefferson Parish schools, explained that this approach has influenced her current work as the assistant superintendent of academics for the Louisiana state Department of Education. She believes that it is important to maintain high expectations and accountability measures, such as state tests and minimum instructional minutes, while considering the current situation.

Chiasson emphasizes the significance of effective communication with families and the importance of prioritizing teaching and learning alongside health and safety measures. While safety is of utmost importance, ensuring quality education remains a crucial objective.

It is worth noting that Zearn and receive financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Similarly, Opportunity Insights and receive financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

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Rotherham: Even 1 School Shooting Is Too Many. But In Our Panic, We’re Missing A Far More Common Problem We Need To Solve

Rotherham: Even 1 School Shooting Is Too Many. But in Our Panic, We’re Missing a Far More Common Problem We Need to Solve

A fundamental principle of effective shooting is the need to maintain control over one’s breathing, concentration, and composure. This applies regardless of whether the target is a simple object or if one finds themselves in a more serious situation. Acting hastily or panicking seldom leads to favorable outcomes. This is the reason why skilled marksmen invest a significant amount of time and effort into practicing their craft.

In contrast, the ongoing discussion surrounding guns in schools appears to be driven more by panic rather than thoughtful deliberation, and this may result in unintended consequences. Throughout the week, we have constantly heard the claim that 7,000 children have been killed in schools since the tragedy at Sandy Hook. This statistic is undeniably shocking, and major publications have echoed it. However, it is also false. This figure is actually an estimate of the overall number of youths who have been victims of homicides involving firearms, which is a horrifying statistic that policymakers should address, but it is not specific to school incidents.

Similarly, the often sensationalized statistics regarding school shootings pose problems because they combine the genuine threat with dubious definitions. For instance, they include incidents such as a stray bullet striking a wall at an urban college or an adult committing suicide in a parking lot late at night, alongside the horrific massacre at Parkland. This misrepresentation causes parents to be deeply concerned and unintentionally fuels the National Rifle Association’s dystopian narrative of the necessity for armed individuals in all places.

Even a single school shooting is one too many, and each mass shooting is a horrifying tragedy. The frequency of gun violence is undoubtedly a problem for schools and communities. However, despite the lack of acknowledgment this week, schools are generally safe environments for children. School advocates should emphasize this fact to alleviate the anxiety of parents. The fact that schools are as safe as they currently are is also a credit to educators.

Meanwhile, among other preventable dangers, young people in this country are more likely to die from poisoning, drowning, drug overdoses, cycling accidents, and car accidents than from a school shooting. Suicide claims the lives of considerably more young individuals. Mass school shootings are exceptionally rare and have actually been decreasing since the 1990s. Parkland was an absolutely dreadful event, but thankfully, it was an anomaly.

As parents, it is only natural to be terrified when we witness these incidents repeatedly broadcasted on television. When the students at Newtown were tragically killed, my children were in the same grade as them, and I vividly remember leaving work early so that my wife and I could accompany our kids home that gloomy day. I felt sadness, fear, and anger towards the lack of responsibility that allowed the shooter to obtain those weapons. However, as difficult as it may be, it is always wise to base public policy on evidence rather than emotions.

To begin, I strongly agree that we should have fewer lockdown drills for children and instead focus on providing extensive training for adults. Educators would benefit from comprehensive training in first aid, situational awareness, and other emergency skills that they are more likely to encounter than a mass shooting scenario. Lockdown drills unnecessarily stress out children, and their effectiveness is questionable, especially when other potential threats often go overlooked.

In a similar vein, investments in enhancing school safety and making them harder targets should be forward-looking and incorporate measures that do not resemble prisons. Arming teachers is an evidently flawed idea, but we can find better solutions than simply installing metal detectors and implementing other intrusive measures that send negative signals to children.

Furthermore, one cannot ignore the fact that mass school shootings receive excessive attention and fuel panic, while the routine killing of black youth barely registers in public awareness. Even this week, there has been more emphasis on banning "assault" weapons rather than handguns, even though the majority of the 7,000 figure pertains to the regular carnage caused by handguns. Black youth are ten times more likely than white youth to be victims of firearms. We should approach the discussion on gun violence with more nuance and a clear understanding of the role that race and class dynamics play. Otherwise, this debate becomes more about suburban politics than finding a solution to our gun violence problem.

Additionally, we should address mental health services for students and young individuals more seriously, as well as confront the broader culture of violence that has become ingrained in our society. President Trump mentioned video games, which led many to immediately dismiss the idea that there could be any connection between first-person-shooter games (and violent games in general) and the issue of youth violence. Trump, of course, shows no interest in implementing substantial gun safety measures. It is only our broken politics that forces us to choose sides instead of exploring all three aspects—gun safety, mental health, and a culture of violence—and related issues.

Note: Since the instruction states that the output should be in English, I have refrained from changing any names or places mentioned in the text.

Despite the recent protests, several important factors contributing to gun violence in our nation have been overlooked this week. It is undeniable that even one shooting incident in a school is excessive. However, we have allowed ourselves to become consumed by politically-driven panic, hindering our ability to think critically about the issue at hand. Taking a step back to analyze and understand the problem is crucial in order to find solutions, not just for schools but for society as a whole.

Interview: Two Former Governors, TN Republican Bill Haslam And DE Democrat Jack Markell, See A Bipartisan Path Forward On Schools, Standards & Prioritizing ‘Education Across The Aisle’

Interview: Two Former Governors, TN Republican Bill Haslam and DE Democrat Jack Markell, See a Bipartisan Path Forward on Schools, Standards & Prioritizing ‘Education Across the Aisle’

Peruse previous 74 Interviews: Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries discussing the politics of education policy, former Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy talking about his efforts to reform juvenile prisons, and former Education Secretary John King explaining school discipline. The entire archive can be found here.

Can individuals from different political parties find common ground when it comes to education? Former Governors Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Jack Markell discovered that they could during a comprehensive one-on-one discussion titled "Education Across the Aisle." The Collaborative for Student Success brought these governors together to cover five crucial topics in American education: college and career readiness, standards, testing, the current state of education, and the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The Collaborative has graciously shared the transcript of this conversation with , and we present it here as a unique and groundbreaking two-person 74 Interview. The transcript has been edited for conciseness and clarity.

On the topic of college and career readiness:

Governor Bill Haslam: Looking back, which policy do you believe had the most significant impact on improving student outcomes?

Governor Jack Markell: I believe that one of the underlying factors that influenced all of our policies was that we became more forthright with our students and parents about the true requirements for success after high school. This is a crucial aspect because, for a long time, expectations concerning educational attainment were set too low. We need to continually raise the bar.

Haslam: Tennessee has faced similar challenges. How did you address this issue in Delaware?

Markell: First and foremost, we engaged in conversations across the state about the importance of having stronger schools. We discussed global trends and emphasized that our students are not just competing locally or regionally, but on a global scale. To be competitive, we needed higher standards and assessments that accurately reflect their performance.

Haslam: Tennessee faced a comparable situation. The United States Chamber of Commerce gave us a failing grade for truth in advertising, as we claimed that 70 percent of our students were proficient at grade level. However, when these same students reached community college, 70 percent of them required remedial work. It was clear that both claims couldn’t be accurate.

Markell: Many advised against having this conversation about proficiency with the people of Delaware, deeming it a political mistake. However, I firmly believed that by explaining the changing world around us and the implications of those changes, and by highlighting the need for a different approach, it was ultimately the right thing to do.

Haslam: How would you encourage others to muster the political courage necessary for such challenging discussions?

Markell: One must acknowledge what they are willing to sacrifice for these conversations. While we all want to win reelection, there are instances where tough conversations may not be politically advantageous. However, my experience has shown that if you are honest with people and provide clear explanations for your proposed changes, they will support you. Additionally, humility is crucial. None of us possesses all the answers. One of the most valuable steps we took was engaging in conversations with parents, teachers, and members of the business community to understand their aspirations for their children and the state.

Haslam: How did you connect the education vision to the ever-changing job market?

Markell: Ensuring that high school graduates are prepared for college or careers is a universal goal. Therefore, one of our main priorities was fostering collaboration between the business community and the K-12 and higher education systems. While this might seem straightforward, it hadn’t been a common practice nationwide. I believe it is essential for businesses to play an active role in identifying and valuing the necessary skills.

Haslam: How did you ensure that higher education responded effectively to the demands highlighted by businesses?

Markell: This is something everyone can understand. Every parent wishes for their children to be prepared for the next stage of their lives after high school. Therefore, one of the critical steps we took was bringing together the business community, higher education institutions, and K-12 systems. Although it may sound simple, these conversations were not regularly happening across the country. I believe they should. It is vital for businesses to contribute actively to shaping the skills they require.

Haslam: How did you facilitate the agility and responsiveness of higher education to align with the needs expressed by businesses?

Haslam: Our initiative in Tennessee was based on the promise of providing access to higher education. However, many families were concerned about the future implications of pursuing a college education. Our community colleges are more agile compared to our four-year universities, which take longer to adapt. Nevertheless, our four-year universities are also responding to the needs of the workforce.

I was elected in 2010, during a time when unemployment rates were high, reaching 9.5% to 10%. Our main focus was on attracting job opportunities to our state. Now, the situation has changed dramatically. The jobs are available, and employers are interested in finding a skilled workforce. Hence, my role as governor has shifted to being a mediator between businesses and educational institutions, such as community colleges, four-year universities, and technical schools. I now see myself as a bridge that connects these entities, rather than just seeking job opportunities.

Markell: Precisely. In my role as governor, my daily conversations revolved around two aspects. One set of discussions involved employers who were struggling to find suitable candidates to fill their job vacancies. The other set of conversations were with individuals who faced various barriers, such as previous incarceration, military service, disabilities, or lack of proper education. They all sought equal opportunities and were frustrated by the lack of prospects. Given the current job market, it is crucial that we establish a new pipeline of skilled employees.

Haslam: The country is often described as divided, but the reality is that we are not only divided but also angry about this division. We are frustrated that the other half of the population does not share our views. So, how did you manage to bridge that divide, especially in relation to education?

Markell: I believed it was essential to go beyond the legislative sphere and directly communicate with the people of my state. I aimed to provide them with a clear perspective on the changing world, the implications of these changes, and the necessary steps we needed to take. From my point of view, two significant forces were shaping our economy: globalization, which expanded employers’ choices for hiring, and technology, which reduced the need for a large workforce. In the context of education, this meant that investing heavily in skill development was our only option. Even if people disagreed with my proposals, I wanted them to understand my perspective.

On standards:

Haslam: Both of us faced opposition to Common Core standards. However, we managed to overcome that and establish standards that worked for our respective states. How did you achieve that?

Markell: A significant factor was inviting community leaders to witness Common Core-aligned lessons taught by actual teachers within our schools. As they observed these lessons, they realized that it was simply a regular math or English class. It became evident that Common Core was not an attempt to manipulate the education system for political gain.

Haslam: Within this process, you had to work closely with teachers, who are a crucial element. There were times when they supported your efforts, and times when they might have felt at odds with your proposals. How did you manage that dynamic?

Markell: I always made it a point to be respectful towards the teachers’ opinions. When they expressed disagreement with my proposals, I would invite them to discuss the matter further in my office. It was important to let them know that I was accessible and genuinely listening to their concerns. Our focus was always on the best interests of the students. Teachers possess valuable insights into what benefits the students. We regularly consulted with State Teachers of the Year, holding monthly meetings where I would often participate as an observer, as they had a wealth of knowledge to contribute.

Our states were the first two states to successfully win the Race to the Top competition. Part of our mission was to defend the progress that had been made and then take it to the next level.

Haslam: My predecessor, Governor Phil Bredesen, belonged to a different political party – Democrat. However, his administration had put in tremendous effort to implement policies that aligned with our Republican beliefs.

They focused on three key areas, and we have remained committed to them. Firstly, they raised the standards for what every child should know. Secondly, they worked tirelessly to develop an assessment that aligns with those standards. And finally, they implemented a controversial policy which ties the evaluation of teachers to the progress their students make throughout the year. These three components were crucial in Tennessee’s Race to the Top application. Some may view it as a Democratic initiative, but I firmly believe that these are principles we should all support. My role was to emphasize the historic progress we had made and prevent us from regressing to the past. While we still have a long way to go, I was determined to maintain the progress we had achieved.

Markell: When considering the priorities for the next governor, what advice would you offer?

Haslam: It is essential to prioritize the maintenance of high standards. Many teachers argued that we were expecting too much from our students. However, we cannot accept that argument. Secondly, it is crucial to ensure that the assessment aligns with these standards. Lastly, evaluations of teachers should consider the actual learning outcomes of their students.

On the topic of testing:

Haslam: A common criticism of education today is that we rely too heavily on testing, claiming that it consumes too much time for the students. What was your response to this?

Markell: My response was to advocate for smart testing practices. We need high-quality assessments, but it is possible that we may be testing too much in other areas. Therefore, we provided funding to districts to assess their current evaluations. Our ultimate goal is to have assessments that are beneficial to teachers, allowing them to identify areas where students are struggling. However, this must be complemented by appropriate professional development opportunities.

We had a bill that passed through both houses but I ended up vetoing, which would have allowed parents to opt out of assessments. It was a tough battle. It is easy to oppose tests, but without high-quality assessments, we cannot provide honest feedback to students, their parents, and teachers regarding their progress and future prospects.

Haslam: I completely agree. If we truly want to evaluate a student’s learning, we must have these assessments. There will always be challenges, but it’s like saying we should stop keeping score in high school football because the scoreboard doesn’t always work.

Markell: We actually used a sports analogy as well. We compared it to basketball, where setting low standards is equivalent to having players practice on an 8-foot basket. They may excel at shooting on that basket until they enter a game and compete against opponents who have been practicing on a regulation basket. Their performance suffers greatly. Looking at education rankings around the world, it is undeniable that states and countries that prioritize education will be more competitive in the future.

On the current state of education:

Haslam: Now that you have stepped back and observed the national education landscape, how would you evaluate our progress today?

Markell: I am concerned about the current state of education nationally as I believe the narrative is not moving in the right direction. I strongly believe that the strategies implemented in Tennessee, such as setting high standards and implementing quality assessments, should serve as the foundation for all educational efforts. It is too easy to shy away from these principles, but we must stay committed to them.

Then, a Democratic president named Obama took office and implemented an even more radical approach. Despite being supported by the teachers union, he challenged their stance on evaluating teachers based on their students’ learning outcomes. He believed that outcomes were crucial for ensuring that every child had the opportunity to learn.

These 16 years were significant in our nation’s history. However, during the 2016 election, there was a lack of discussion regarding public education. Bernie Sanders advocated for free college education, which Secretary Clinton also endorsed, but there was silence on issues related to public K-12 education. This silence was concerning to me.

Implementing challenging reforms is never easy. When we set higher standards and introduce rigorous assessments, there are always individuals who resist these changes. They use time as a tool to undermine the progress we have made.

Regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):

Markell: Over the past few years, ESSA has played a significant role across the nation. What are the key factors in ensuring that states make the most out of this law?

Haslam: We were able to make tough decisions because we were obligated by the federal government to do so. However, that obligation is no longer present. Now, it is up to the state and local governments to determine the direction they want to take. This emphasizes the importance of states knowing their goals and local governments doing the same. The outcome of local school board races has never been more crucial.

Markell: As a governor, what was your approach to working with local boards concerning ESSA?

Haslam: When we were developing our plan, each state had to obtain approval for their ESSA plan. Our Commission of Education engaged with various school districts to discuss our ideas and what the plan would entail. Thanks to this collaboration, our plan was approved expeditiously. However, it’s essential to recognize that the educational landscape has drastically transformed since the implementation of Race to the Top in 2011. The federal government’s role has significantly diminished compared to that time.

Markell: If states fulfill their responsibilities, it will have positive implications.

Haslam: Exactly. We now bear more accountability than ever before.

Markell: Tennessee has made remarkable progress under your leadership. For other states to achieve similar results, schools that struggle the most need to show real improvements. How have you managed to accomplish this?

Haslam: There have been instances of both success and failure in our endeavors. Turning around struggling schools is an incredibly challenging task. Our Department of Education stands firmly by the motto, "All means all." We believe that every child, regardless of their location or disability, should receive an equal education. We cannot accept excuses based on a school’s history of underperformance.

However, the key lies in recruiting exceptional leaders for these schools. Having a great school is akin to having a great restaurant, hospital, bank, church, or synagogue. The quality of leadership directly impacts the quality of the institution. So, the question becomes, "How do we find exceptional leaders for these schools?"

Markell: It’s true. Exceptional schools are always led by exceptional leaders.

Haslam: It’s about having great leaders, providing increased autonomy, and holding them accountable for results. If we achieve these three things, we can figure out the rest of the puzzle.

Ask The Doctor: With Delta Variant Rampant, How Can Parents Protect Young Kids From COVID This Summer And Fall?

Ask the Doctor: With Delta Variant Rampant, How Can Parents Protect Young Kids from COVID this Summer and Fall?

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If you are a parent of a child under 12 years old, you may find yourself in a challenging situation at the moment.

The most recent vaccination timelines indicate that your child will not be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine until mid-winter. However, with vaccines widely available to adolescents, teenagers, and adults, it may seem like the country is slowly returning to normalcy. Restaurants are bustling, movie theaters are open, and professional sports are back in full swing.

Nevertheless, the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reverse their masking recommendations for schools. The CDC is now urging all students and personnel in K-12 settings, whether vaccinated or not, to wear masks. With COVID-19 cases increasing by over 200% nationwide in the past month, and with higher transmission rates in areas with low vaccination rates, the risks of the pandemic to children have not diminished.

Rebecca Wurtz, a professor of health policy at the University of Minnesota, explained that the Delta variant has essentially reset the COVID-19 situation to what it was in March 2020 for those who are unvaccinated, including children.

Given this complex situation, many parents are unsure of how to safely navigate the upcoming back-to-school season. To provide some clarity, we consulted health experts and here is what they had to say:

1. Is the Delta variant more dangerous for children than previous strains of COVID-19?

In short, the answer is both yes and no.

The level of danger to children involves two key aspects. First, how likely is it for a child to contract the virus? Second, if a child tests positive, how likely are they to experience severe outcomes such as hospitalization or long-term symptoms?

Regarding the first aspect, the Delta variant is significantly more transmissible than previous strains of COVID-19. As the dominant strain in the U.S., there is an increased risk of unvaccinated individuals, including children, contracting the virus.

However, in terms of the second aspect, there is currently no evidence to suggest that young people who test positive for the Delta variant are experiencing more severe illness compared to previous strains. According to Ishminder Kaur, a professor of pediatrics at UCLA, there may be an increase in the number of cases, but not in the severity of the illness.

Janet Englund, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, emphasized that across all strains of the virus, children are less likely to become seriously ill compared to adults. This is encouraging news.

While there is a rare but severe condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome that appears to be linked to COVID-19 in children, the absolute risk of death from the coronavirus in children is extremely low, approximately 2 in a million, according to recent figures from the United Kingdom.

2. Is in-person learning safe for the upcoming fall semester?

Although there are exceptions, numerous academic studies have shown that for the majority of students, learning in the classroom has positive academic and socio-emotional outcomes.

During the previous school year, a collection of 130 studies concluded that schools were not major sources of community spread as long as safety measures such as ventilation, masking, and physical distancing were implemented and infection rates in the surrounding area were under control.

Amruta Padhye, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Missouri, encourages children to return to in-person learning in the fall to benefit from the advantages of face-to-face education. The White House officials have also stated that schools should aim to be "100 percent" open this fall.

However, a safe reopening of schools relies on the implementation of protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus. So, what specific combinations of measures make a school "safe"? Read on for more information.

3. What if my child’s school does not require masks?

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According to Burbio’s mask tracker, seven states still prohibit school districts from mandating face coverings in the classroom, while another six states require all schools to enforce universal masking. In most other states, the decision is left up to individual school systems.

Given the intense debates and rapidly changing guidance caused by the Delta variant, parents have valid concerns about how to navigate face coverings in schools.

However, research is clear that masks have been proven to reduce virus transmission and protect unvaccinated individuals. It is advised to still have your child wear a mask even if your school or state does not require it, as it provides an additional barrier.

In addition to face coverings, implementing layered virus mitigation strategies is crucial. These strategies involve using multiple approaches consistently. One key measure is maintaining three-foot distancing, although this can be challenging in crowded classrooms.

When face masks are not required and proper distancing is not possible, parents can advocate for other approaches, such as smaller groups of students working together, prioritizing outdoor activities, avoiding large indoor events, and maximizing airflow through ventilation and HEPA filters.

Screening for COVID symptoms, such as temperature checks, can help prevent highly contagious individuals from entering the school building. Although there will always be asymptomatic cases among children, those with symptoms tend to have a higher viral load, making them potentially more infectious.

Vaccination is a strong defense against the Delta variant, and parents can ensure that those within their immediate circle are immunized to limit their child’s exposure. This concept, known as "cocooning," is a public health technique used to protect vulnerable individuals. It involves ensuring that caretakers and other individuals in close contact with the child are vaccinated.

Encouraging vaccination among school personnel, activity providers, and extended family members can also contribute to the cocooning approach and provide an additional layer of protection.

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