TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 10

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

1. The cheap oil American consumers are enjoying might be the result of an existential battle between Saudi Arabia and ISIS.

By James R. Rogers in First Things

2. Turns out the busts of the first dot-com era were great ideas.

By Robert McMillan in Wired

3. The return of American manufacturing and a skilled population hungry for jobs is reviving the Rust Belt.

By Joel Kotkin & Richey Piiparinen in the Daily Beast

4. Climate change might transform coal, oil, and gas reserves into financially-troubled stranded assets.

By Andrew Freedman in Mashable

5. A nonprofit boarding school for girls in Afghanistan is working to upend education there.

By Susan Daugherty in National Geographic

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 5

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

1. Peak gas: According to some forecasts, the fracking boom could be a bust.

By Mason Inman in Nature

2. To end the conflict with Boko Haram, Nigeria needs to address the alienation of its Muslims.

By John Campbell at the Council on Foreign Relations

3. “Protecting our coal workers is critical to successfully solving the climate problem.”

By Jeremy Richardson in the Union of Concerned Scientists

4. Tanzania can fight child marriage and protect the next generation of women by keeping girls in schools.

By Agnes Odhiambo in Human Rights Watch

5. When the last baby boomers move into retirement around 2030, today’s youth will carry the weight of our economy. They need support now.

By Melody Barnes in the World Economic Forum Blog

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 4

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

1. Reimagine your school library as a makerspace.

By Susan Bearden in EdSurge

2. New materials could radically change air conditioning.

By The Economist

3. Ambassadorships are too important to hand out to political donors.

By Justine Drennan in Foreign Policy

4. There’s a better way: Using data and evidence — not politics — to make policy.

By Margery Turner at the Urban Institute

5. The tax-code works for the rich. Low-income households need reforms that make deductions into credits and stimulate savings.

By Lewis Brown Jr. and Heather McCulloch in PolicyLink

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 3

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

1. The Obamas should consider teaching in an urban public school after 2016.

By Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post

2. Tech journalism needs to grow up.

By Michael Brendan Dougherty in The Week

3. Despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, the surge strategy didn’t end the war in Iraq. We shouldn’t try it again against ISIS.

By Daniel L. Davis in The American Conservative

4. Adjusting outdated rules for overtime could give middle class wages a valuable boost.

By Nick Hanauer in PBS News Hour’s Making Sense

5. A new solar power device can collect energy even on cloudy days and from reflected lunar light.

By Tuan C. Nguyen in Smithsonian Magazine

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

Breakfast: Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Bob Thomas;Getty Images

New study suggests morning meal is no academic cure-all

Breakfast has long been considered the most important meal of the day, especially for elementary school students. Everyone from parents, to teachers, to cereal manufacturers have touted the importance of a nutritional morning meal, but is there evidence to back the positive effect of breakfast on academic performance? A recent study has somewhat muddied the waters on this issue.

A 2005 study by Tufts University researchers found that elementary school children who ate common breakfast foods (oatmeal and cereal) once a day for three consecutive weeks scored better on a battery of cognitive tests—particularly on measures of short term memory, spatial memory and auditory attention. But a study out on Nov. 24, also from Tufts, finds that students enrolled in Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) programs did not obtain higher math and reading standardized test scores than students in non-BIC schools.

Like the national School Breakfast Program (which provides free or low-cost breakfast to children before the start of the school day), Breakfast in the Classroom meals are available to all students regardless of income level. However, BIC is served in the classroom after the opening bell—ensuring that children enjoy a well-balanced meal without having to wake up early and get to school in time for SBP. Students in 18 states across the nation have had the benefit of a free in-classroom breakfast with their peers thanks to BIC, a huge feat considering that millions of children live in households where a healthy breakfast isn’t an option. But while the immediate nutritional value of Breakfast in the Classroom is apparent, research is ongoing as to how the program affects academic achievement.

In order to ascertain whether students in BIC programs performed better academically, Tufts researchers looked at 446 public elementary schools in urban areas that served low income minority students—189 of which did not participate in BIC during the 2012-2013 school year, and 257 of which did. While BIC schools demonstrated increased overall attendance, there was no notable difference in academic achievement between BIC and non-BIC schools—specifically regarding standardized tests in math and reading.

The results are curious, because the increased attendance at BIC schools presumably means that more students are getting more instruction on important coursework, yet the scores didn’t point to better results. It’s possible that breakfast programs aren’t the solution to narrowing the achievement gap between children whose families face poverty and those who don’t, as educators were hoping.

Tufts researchers, however, insist that the study’s failure to duplicate previous findings that breakfast increases academic performance shouldn’t necessarily cause parents to doubt the benefits of BIC —nor the importance of a healthy breakfast in general.

“These findings should not be interpreted as a definitive conclusion on whether Breakfast in the Classroom affects achievement,” says study author and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy research associate Stephanie Anzman-Frasca.”There are a number of potential explanations for the lack of differences in standardized test scores across schools with and without Breakfast in the Classroom.”

One of those explanations might be that schools often encourage parents to feed kids breakfast on test days, so students who weren’t in the program may have arrived well fed anyway. There’s also the question of whether standardized tests are an appropriate measure for academic achievement. “Given the mixed findings across studies linking school breakfast and academics, it is important to continue to conduct research in this area, with longer-term follow-ups and multiple measures of academic outcomes, before drawing definitive conclusions,” adds Anzman Frasca.

Rather than abandoning the programs, she’s calling for more research. “Collecting multiple measures of academic performance, such as test scores as well as classroom behavior and attention, would be a good way to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Breakfast in the Classroom’s impacts as research in this area continues.”

TIME portfolio

See Haunting Photos of the Sites of Child Abuse

The very ordinariness of both the context and the location of child abuse in Ireland struck photographer Kim Haughton as profoundly disturbing.

In a damning 2009 report, Ireland’s independently-run Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse – which spent nine years investigating thousands of allegations of abuse at religious-run institutions – spoke of a culture of “endemic sexual abuse” in the country’s Catholic boys’ schools and of the “deferential and submissive attitude” of the Irish state towards the religious orders who ran them.

What emerged from the investigation, and from a separate Dublin-specific inquiry concluded the same year, was that institutional child abuse was widespread and that it had occurred not only in schools, but in many places where young people were in the care of religious orders. The commissions also revealed that very often when children reported the abuse, they were largely ignored and even punished, with many of the adult perpetrators being relocated to new parishes by church officials. The state, too, had willfully turned a blind eye.

For victims like Andrew Madden – one of the first people in Ireland to have gone public about the molestation he suffered – much of the abuse happened in the living room of Father Ivan Payne’s ordinary looking house in the middle-class Dublin suburb of Glasnevin. Madden had worked weekend odd jobs for the priest, a common arrangement in many Irish towns, and like many children in the care of religious figures mentioned in the report, had been abused on a regular basis.

It was the very ordinariness of both the context and the location in Madden’s case, and in many others, that struck photographer Kim Haughton as profoundly disturbing. This was molestation that was at once hidden and woven into the fabric of everyday life. Abuse that was, in effect, ignored while happening in plain sight.

“So much of this happened in places like schools and churches, and in homes,” she tells TIME. “I consider these images of seemingly ordinary spaces as crime scenes — where the cruelest acts were carried out on vulnerable children; children that society had a responsibility to protect,” Haughton says.

And so she embarked on In Plain Sight, a project in which the sites of these abuses became the subjects of her lens. Here, the work would not be merely illustrative of the sorts of places where abuse occurred, but photographs of the actual sites where victims were molested. We see a parochial house, a local shop and a swimming pool – places that, when taken at face value, seem unremarkable.

To find the sites, she talked to abuse victims who were willing to share their stories and found out how and where the abuse occurred: “Finding people was a challenge but not as hard as listening to their experiences,” she says. “They endured so much. It is very difficult to drive away after somebody has shared profound life experiences with you.”

When revisited with the knowledge of what happened at each location, Haughton’s work seems to permeate with an uneasy stillness, the images transforming from long-silent witnesses of horror into a haunting cartography of extreme suffering. A visible record of abuse that can never be – and should never be – forgotten.

“The work, I hope, challenges us to confront these crimes in the context in which they happened,” Haughton adds, “everyday life.”

Kim Haughton is an Irish photographer based in New York. Her work has appeared in TIME, Vanity Fair, Financial Times, Business Week and The Guardian, among others.

Richard Conway is reporter/producer for LightBox.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 25

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

1. “White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become white allies.” Here’s how.

By Janee Woods in Quartz

2. We can’t afford to ignore the innovative history of developing countries as we face the impact of climate change.

By Calestous Juma at CNN

3. Aeroponics – growing plants in mist without any soil – may be the future of food.

By Bloomberg Businessweek

4. The Obama White House is still struggling to separate policy from politics, and Defense Secretary Hagel is the latest victim.

By David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy

5. Fewer, better standardized tests can boost student achievement.

By Marc Tucker, Linda Darling-Hammond and John Jackson in Education Week

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 17

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

1. America needs a national service year: “Citizenship is like a muscle that can atrophy from too little use; if we want to strengthen it, we need to exercise it.”

By Stan McChrystal in the Washington Post

2. It’s time to pay college athletes.

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Jacobin

3. So-called ‘conversion therapy’ to change someone’s sexual orientation is discredited, dangerous and should be classified as torture.

By Samantha Ames in The Advocate

4. Wikipedia searches are the next frontier on monitoring and predicting disease outbreaks.

By Nicholas Generous, Geoffrey Fairchild, Alina Deshpande, Sara Y. Del Valle and Reid Priedhorsky at PLOS Computational Biology

5. Many kids lack an adult connection to spur success in school and life. A program linking them to retired adults with much to offer can solve that problem.

By Michael Eisner and Marc Freedman in the Huffington Post

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

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Kids & Money

Here’s How to Save on Tutoring for Your Kids

tutor with students
Katherine Moffitt—Getty Images

Get those slumping grades back up without spending all of your child's college fund in the process.

Junior’s report card didn’t show the letters you expected?

If that first quarter assessment was a shock, you’re probably now scrambling to figure out how to get your child back on course.

Tutoring can be a very effective way to reinforce academic lessons taught at school—but it also can be expensive. You’re typically looking at anywhere from $20 to $100 a session for one-on-one tutoring, depending on the person’s experience. Those fees can add up fast if your child requires multiple sessions.

Here are seven lower-cost options that can help boost your child’s slumping G.P.A.:

1. Start at School

Talking to your child’s teacher should be your first move.

“The teacher is a great resource for understanding what kind of tutor might be best for your child,” says Steve Pines, executive director of the Education Industry Association.

Once you know whether your child responds best to one-on-one interactions, study groups, or online programs, you can find the tutor who best matches her learning style—rather than wasting money on something that won’t stick.

The other reason to check in with the teacher: Depending on how much help your child needs, the instructor may be willing to give your child additional (free) help after school or during recess. Or, may point you toward tutoring programs offered by the school or other teachers.

Plus, he or she can point you toward additional resources—like online activities or practice assignments—that you can work with your child on at home to supplement classroom lessons.

“If you learn the material with your child, then you can become a tutoring resource yourself,” says Katie Bugbee, Care.com senior managing editor.

2. Visit the Library

Many libraries offer free online tutoring and homework help for K-12 students through partnerships with online companies like Brainfuse Online Tutoring. You may even be able to access these resources from home.

The services can be a great resource for older students who are struggling with a tricky homework assignment or who are looking for targeted help in a specific subject area.

But if your child is having problems across more than one subject area or needs help with something like reading comprehension, these programs won’t be the best fit, since it may be hard for a child to communicate the problem through online chat and likewise challenging for a tutor to explain larger concepts in this medium.

3. Try the Nonprofits

Call local nonprofits aimed at children—like YMCA and Boys & Girls Club—to see whether they offer free or low-cost academic help. Some have formed partnerships with tutoring services; others have developed their own programs.

Online nonprofits like the Learn to Be Foundation and Khan Academy also offer free education resources that can help your student, says Bugbee. The Learn to Be Foundation has tutors available almost 24-hours a day to help answer homework questions or more general concept issues. The Khan Academy doesn’t offer one-on-one help, but instead offers lesson plans, videos and brief explanations of concepts in subjects ranging from art history to algebra.

4. Call a College

Education majors need to gain experience teaching, so many universities with education departments partner with nearby libraries or public schools to offer free or reduced price tutoring services. Vassar’s education majors, for example, tutor seventh- and eighth-grade students at a nearby middle school, while Columbia University offers individual tutoring to elementary children living nearby on Saturdays.

It’s worth seeing if a college near you offers any such service.

5. Pick a Combo Caregiver

The same person in your child’s life can hold the jobs of babysitter and tutor.

When advertising for this type of position, emphasize in your job description what you’re looking for and that you’re willing to pay a little more for this extra level of service, says Bugbee. Figure on $2 to $5 more an hour on top of the average babysitter rate.

That few extra dollars an hour more will likely still end up costing you less than if you hired a separate tutor, and save you the gas and trouble of having to drive to a different location.

Plus, if the child is under the age of 13 and you hire a babysitter who is also tutoring the child, then you’re eligible for all dependent-care tax breaks.

This type of caregiver will most commonly be a college student, Bugbee says. “They have the usual after school time slot of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. open.” She recommends looking for students who are majoring in the subject your child struggles with or ones who are majoring in education.

6. Name Your Rate

One-on-one tutoring in the home is the most expensive option you have, says Pines. “That’s because this method is very customizable and convenient.”

It also tends to lead to the best results: “The more in person interaction your child can get, the better the concentration and focus on the material will be,” says Bugbee.

If you decide to go this route, you might start at a site like Wyzant.com, Care.com or Noodle Education, which all allow parents to search through tutoring candidates by subject, location, budget and preferred interaction.But rather than searching from available candidates, instead craft a specific job posting listing the qualifications you would like in a tutor and the price you are willing to pay. That way, you can keep the costs in your parameters. Only those comfortable with the price you’ve listed will apply.

Be sure to look at resumes, call references and do background checks for candidates you’re considering. Also request an initial consultation in which the person comes to meet your child, to see if their personalities mesh. “The child and tutor have got to connect to have a good learning relationship,” says Pines.

7. Find a Group

If you know your child needs ongoing help, but one-on-one sessions are not feasible, ask the parents of your child’s schoolmates if their kids are experiencing similar issues.

You may be able to hire one tutor for the group, then split the cost. While tutors will charge more for multiple students, the rate once divided could be far less then what you’d pay for one-on-one interactions.

Another way to get a group rate would be through large national companies like Kaplan, Sylvan, and Kumon. These firms offer tutoring packages that are good for students who have struggled consistently in a general area like reading comprehension.

You typically buy a number of sessions at once. Depending on the number you purchase, it could break down to be under $30 a session, with a trained and experienced tutor who will also provide resource material for the lessons. These companies also do the vetting for you, meaning you don’t have to take on the responsibility of finding a tutor and conducting a background check.

Plus, you may be able to find special pricing deals, particularly on daily deal sites like Groupon, allowing you to knock the price down further. You can bank the savings in Junior’s college fund—now, that’s A+ parenting.

TIME Education

School Accidentally Tells Parents That All 717 Students Have Gone Missing

An employee handling the school's messaging system accidentally sent an absentee note to all parents instead of a select few

A California elementary school caused a wave of panic among the parents of its 717 students after sending a text message to say that their children had gone missing.

But the group note was erroneous and accidental, and all the pupils at John Adams Elementary School in Corona were still in class, the Press Enterprise reported.

The school moved quickly to reassure frantic parents, many of whom showed up on campus.

“It was human error coupled with technology error,” said the school’s spokesperson Evita Tapia-Gonzalez, explaining that the employee handling their Blackboard Messaging system accidentally sent the note to all parents instead of a closed group.

Read more at The Press Enterprise

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