TIME Education

Gov. Bobby Jindal Sues Federal Government Over Common Core ‘Coercion’

Leading Conservatives Gather For Republican Leadership Conference In New Orleans
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 29, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The Louisiana governor accused federal officials of forcing states into a national curriculum

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has filed suit against the Department of Education over federal educational standards that he says are intended to “coerce” states into adopting federal guidelines.

According to the filing submitted to a Louisiana district court on Wednesday, Jindal charges the Department of Education with violating the 10th amendment by requiring states to participate in a consortium to help implement Common Core standards or risk losing federal funding.

The Common Core standards, which were released in 2010, are benchmarks for proficiency in English and math. The Obama administration urged states to sign up to Common Core, saying states using the standards would be more likely to win Race to the Top grants. Forty-four states have adopted them, but some have chosen to withdraw from the standards in the belief that they represent a step towards a federal takeover of education.

“Through regulatory and rule making authority, Defendants have constructed a scheme that effectively forces States down a path toward a national curriculum,” the suit alleges.

Jindal has been a vocal opponent of the Common Core standards, a bipartisan initiative which has gathered critics on the left and the right. He sought to remove Louisiana from the initiative in June, despite its backing from state legislators and the state’s Board of Education.

TIME Education

Pediatricians’ Rx for Schools: Later Start Times

Julian Lopez, Ben Montalbano, James Agostino
From left: students Julian Lopez, Ben Montalbano, and James Agostino listen during their physics class at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington on Feb. 7, 2014. Charles Dharapak—AP

Evidence on potential dangers for teens who get too little sleep is "extremely compelling"

(CHICAGO) — Pediatricians have a new prescription for schools: later start times for teens.

Delaying the start of the school day until at least 8:30 a.m. would help curb their lack of sleep, which has been linked with poor health, bad grades, car crashes and other problems, the American Academy of Pediatrics says in a new policy.

The influential group says teens are especially at risk; for them, “chronic sleep loss has increasingly become the norm.”

Studies have found that most U.S. students in middle school and high school don’t get the recommended amount of sleep — 8½ to 9½ hours on school nights; and that most high school seniors get an average of less than seven hours.

More than 40 percent of the nation’s public high schools start classes before 8 a.m., according to government data cited in the policy. And even when the buzzer rings at 8 a.m., school bus pickup times typically mean kids have to get up before dawn if they want that ride.

“The issue is really cost,” said Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

School buses often make multiple runs each morning for older and younger students. Adding bus drivers and rerouting buses is one of the biggest financial obstacles to later start times, Amundson said. The roughly 80 school districts that have adopted later times tend to be smaller, she said.

After-school sports are another often-cited obstacle because a later dismissal delays practices and games. The shift may also cut into time for homework and after-school jobs, Amundson said.

The policy, aimed at middle schools and high schools, was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Evidence on potential dangers for teens who get too little sleep is “extremely compelling” and includes depression, suicidal thoughts, obesity, poor performance in school and on standardized tests and car accidents from drowsy driving, said Dr. Judith Owens, the policy’s lead author and director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The policy cites studies showing that delaying start times can lead to more nighttime sleep and improve students’ motivation in class and mood. Whether there are broader, long-term benefits requires more research, the policy says.

Many administrators support the idea but haven’t resolved the challenges, said Amundson. She said the pediatricians’ new policy likely will have some influence.

Parents seeking a change “will come now armed with this report,” Amundson said.

Amundson is a former Virginia legislator and teacher who also served on the school board of Virginia’s Fairfax County, near Washington, D.C. Owens, the policy author, has been working with that board on a proposal to delay start times. A vote is due in October and she’s optimistic about its chances.

“This is a mechanism through which schools can really have a dramatic, positive impact for their students,” Owens said.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 22

1. A stacked deck: reform the modern fee-based system of criminal justice that has pushed poor communities to the brink.

By Alex Tabarrok in Marginal Revolution

2. Real political change in Iraq – and a strong regional partnership – is the only way to defeat ISIS.

By Michael Breen in US News and World Report

3. To avoid the next Ferguson and address the nation’s systemic racism, America needs black leaders to take a stand together.

By Bob Herbert in Jacobin

4. With their educations on the line, smartphones for teenagers are a critical tool for success.

By John Doerr in the Wall Street Journal

5. To solve the riddle of women turning to extremist violence, we must address the security issues that deeply impact their lives.

By Jane Harman in CNN

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Family

Why Access to Screens Is Lowering Kids’ Social Skills

Brothers Watching TV
Chris Stein—Getty Images

Kids read emotions better after being deprived of electronic media

People have long suspected that there’s a cost to all this digital data all the time, right at our fingertips. Now there’s a study out of UCLA that might prove those digital skeptics right. In the study, kids who were deprived of screens for five days got much better at reading people’s emotions than kids who continued their normal screen-filled lives.

The California research team’s findings, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior this month tries to analyze the impact digital media has on humans’ ability to communicate face-to-face.

As an experiment, 51 sixth graders from a public school in Southern California were sent to outdoor education camp, spending five whole days completely deprived of TV, phone and Internet. Contrary to the kids’ expectations, they survived just fine and actually had genuine fun.

The first pool of kids was then compared to another group of 54 sixth graders from the same school who had not yet attended the camp, but had spent the previous five days with their normal amount of screen time.

Both sets of students were given photos of people expressing emotions—sadness, anger, joy, anxiety and so on, before the camp and after the camp. Both sets of students were also shown video of people interacting and displaying emotions. The students who had been to camp got much better at discerning how the people in the photos and the videos were feeling after that five day period. They scored much higher at recognizing non-verbal emotional cues (facial expressions, body language, gestures) than they had before the camp, while the scores of the students who had not been deprived of screens did not change at all.

With online training courses being used for almost everything now, this new study may give teachers, parents and administrators pause on such widespread use of digital media in education. “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia M. Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA and senior author of the study. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues is one of the costs—understanding the emotions of other people. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”

Lead author Yalda T. Uhls, a senior researcher with the Children’s Digital Media Center, said she hopes that people won’t merely take away the idea that all screens are bad, but that face-to-face time for young people is an important part of the socialization process.

According to a survey given to the study’s participants, the kids spent an average of four-and-a-half hours texting, watching television and playing video games during a single typical school day. According to Uhls, this is on the low end–many children and teenagers spend more than seven-and-a-half-hours a day interacting with a screen of some sort. And when interacting with a screen, they aren’t interacting with a human.

“You can’t learn non-verbal emotional cues from a screen in the way you can learn it from face-to-face communication,” Uhls said.

TIME Internet

The New Science of Pairing College Roommates

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Students Working Together Moving Dormitory on University Campus YinYang—Getty Images

At one school using the new app RoomSync, roommate approval was up 40 percent

This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Eight years ago, when Robert Castellucci worked for a housing complex at the University of Florida, his main job was to pair roommates based on a few simple lifestyle questions. But what had once been a straightforward task – matching smokers with smokers, separating early risers from night owls – was getting difficult thanks to social media. “We’d get 30, 40, 50 calls a day asking for a new roommate based on their Facebook profile,” he says. “They didn’t get the roommates they wanted, and I couldn’t get my job done.”

(MORE: Before Belle Knox: 8 College Sex Scandals That Got ‘Extra’ Curricular)

So in 2009, Castellucci launched RoomSync, a Facebook app where students fill out a finely tuned questionnaire. An algorithm suggests possible dormmates, and students themselves get to decide whose dirty underwear they’ll be stepping over for the next two semesters.

More than 60 schools now use RoomSync, with promising results. At New Mexico State, 50 percent of students used to ask to switch roommates the school chose for them. But among students using the app, that number dropped to 10 percent, according to Julie Weber, director of housing. RoomSync user GPAs were .25 points higher, at 3.05, and their re-enrollment was up 6.6 percent, to 96 percent.

(MORE: Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses)

For decades, universities believed that acclimating to the quirks of a complete stranger was an essential part of college. That’s still the case at schools like NYU and Stanford, where the 1,700 incoming freshmen are hand-paired by two upperclassmen. “Education’s about putting people in uncomfortable situations so they start to learn about themselves,” says NYU housing head Thomas Ellett. “[Programs like RoomSync] are a good customer-service tool, but there’s a big difference between customer service and education.”

(MORE: 50 Things Millennials Know That Gen-Xers Don’t)

But in the past half-decade, universities have moved to more modern systems – by 2012, about 70 percent allowed incoming freshmen to select roommates, according to one informal survey. Besides RoomSync, there are similar programs like Roomsurf and RoommateFit; some schools have proprietary systems, like Oregon State, which lets incoming freshmen use a school-only social network to choose future bunkmates.

But as all are quick to admit, one reason these programs work so well is that students are less likely to complain when they get to pick their own roommate. “That way, they are more invested in who they have selected,” says Weber. “They can’t blame us for it.”

(MORE: In Pics: Millennials’ Most Earth-Shaking Sexual Moments)

 

TIME psychology

5 Secrets to Improve Learning and Memory

I’ve already posted a research round-up on becoming an expert at anything. That was focused on the big picture of how to master something over a period of years.

This time let’s get less macro and focus more on the nitty-gritty of what you need to do when you sit down, roll up your sleeves and try to learn something new.

Yeah, It’s Gonna Take Effort

No, I’m not going to lecture you like Grandpa about the virtues of hard work, but your brain takes in a lot every day and remembering everything isn’t realistic. Research consistently shows effort is how you let your grey matter know something is worth retaining.

The more effort you expend, the better you learn:

…undergraduates in the study scored 29 to 63 percentage points higher on tests when they used study techniques like recording complete notes, creating comparative charts, building associations, and crafting practice questions on their screens.

You’re not going to learn much passively. Re-reading material four times was not nearly as effective as reading it once and writing a summary. Even just writing by hand is beneficial. More effort, better results.

There is a system for developing a near-photographic memory and it works, but takes some practice.

The two key things to remember here are testing yourself and spacing out learning over time.

In more than two dozen studies published over the past five years, he has demonstrated that spaced repetition works, increasing knowledge retention by up to 50 percent. And Kerfoot’s method is easily adapted by anyone who needs to learn and remember, not just those pursuing MDs.

Get Invested

Feeling a connection to the material is powerful. Finding an angle on the subject that makes you curious about it is gold.

Is it too boring? Get invested by betting on your ability to remember it. Yeah, like gambling. Promise yourself a reward before you go to bed and you’ll learn more as you sleep.

Don’t just try to drill knowledge in, connect it to things you already know. Really try to understand it, not just memorize it. This is why teaching someone else is a great way for helping you learn. If you can’t explain it, you don’t know it.

Steroids For Your Brain

Save the healthy eating for another time, coffee and a donut is steroids for your brain. Yes, it’s science. Yes, Red Bull isn’t just for partying, it’s also for studying.

I don’t want to recommend cigarettes to anyone but if you’re already a smoker, light up before you learn. Nicotine does improve cognitive performance.

Fundamentals

We’re always looking for a magic bullet. Truth is that just as with getting in shape, fundamentals like getting enough sleep and regular exercise have far greater effects than well-marketed supplements. Seriously, naps after learningare powerful.

You need to calm down and concentrate. Turn off the music. No group studying. Stop kidding yourself — you can’t multitask. (Guys, when studying stay away from pretty girls. Don’t even think about them.)

Little Tricks

There are lots of little tips that can help as well:

Too lazy for all this? Get a good luck charm. Seriously, they work.

Related posts:

Join over 90,000 readers and get a free weekly update via email here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 19

1. To understand the conflict in Ferguson, we must acknowledge and overcome structural racism.

By Karen J. Aroesty in the St. Louis Dispatch

2. As we leave Afghanistan, we owe justice and transparency to civilians caught in the crossfire of our occupation.

By Christopher Rogers in Al-Jazeera America

3. The wisdom of crowds: The CIA is learning a lot by aggregating the guesswork of ordinary Americans.

By Alix Spiegel at National Public Radio

4. In the age of MOOCs, remote labs are making a comeback and giving STEM students affordable new ways to do research.

By Steve Zurier in EdTech

5. Delaying child bearing and getting a high school diploma could drastically alter the future for today’s teen moms.

By Emily Cuddy and Richard V. Reeves at the Brookings Institution

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Saving & Spending

One (More) Shocking Way Colleges Are Ripping Off Kids

Marking up movie theater popcorn is one thing, but jacking the price of a laptop by more than 100% is another, especially when the would-be buyers are college kids. As students get ready to head to campus, college stores are making laptop shopping a buyer-beware endeavor.

An investigation by DealNews.com found that college bookstores hike prices on the laptops and tablets they sell by an average of 35% over the regular sale prices of retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Staples. DealNews looked at prices for the cheapest tablets and laptops, plus the most expensive laptops, available at the online stores of five public and one private college, then compared those to back-to-school deals offered by other retailers on identical or very similar machines.

Not every single one is a rip-off, but more than two-thirds are, and some of the markups are pretty egregious.

DealNews finds that the University of Virginia sells a first-generation iPad mini for a staggering 135% more than the $199 sale price the site found on more than one occaision over the summer. The $469 price the campus store is charging is so high that even if you wanted to buy the newer model iPad mini, you could get it straight from Apple for $70 less.

As a matter of fact, if you’re a college kid (or the parent of one), you should probably just steer clear of the campus store entirely if you’re looking for electronics.

“Another example that stood out… were these headphones,” says DealNews’ Louis Ramirez. Although they cost $130 on Amazon, the University of Berkeley Student Store slaps a $49 markup on top of that.

We found other examples in just a cursory browsing of the sites supplied by DealNews, so it’s likely this just scratches the surface of a bigger issue in electronics markups.

One school site is selling a 32G Sandisk USB thumb drive for about $45. Wal-Mart sells the same model for less than $17. A wireless mouse sold by one school for just under $30 sells for half that amount at Office Depot. One Dell laptop “deal” on a school site was no cheaper than the price on Dell’s own website, and two schools’ “sale” prices on iPads are still $30 more than you’d pay at Wal-Mart.

College stores’ problems with electronics sales don’t end with the inflated prices, says Ramirez. While some schools sell up-to-date technology, the site’s investigation found that “others were selling older previous-generation tech at current-generation pricing,” he says. If you think you’re getting a deal, make sure to clarify the model — you could be paying top dollar for last year’s closeout.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that “student discount” translates to the best deal. Just like regular prices, you have to shop around because all student discounts aren’t created equal. “Campus stores aren’t the only retailers that offer student promos,” Ramirez says. As long as you have an active student account (one that ends in .edu), a number of other retailers offer discounts.

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