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OKCPS board to seek legal advice on potential lawsuit against state

The Oklahoma City Public School board of education unanimously voted Monday to hire a law firm to research the effects the state budget cuts are having on its students and teachers.

Board chair Paula Lewis said the district will pay for the Education Law Center out of New Jersey to gather information and determine if a lawsuit against the state is viable.

“This isn’t official. We’re not filing suit,” she said. “We’re doing this for all kids in the state of Oklahoma. Every child in Oklahoma is not receiving the resources that they need. Every teacher is underpaid. Every teacher doesn’t have what they need in their classroom.”

Officials said it could take several months for the firm to complete its investigation.

Lewis said the board will decide whether to move forward with a lawsuit based on the firm’s findings.

“It’s time for the legislators to step forward and fully fund us to the level that will help our children have the best opportunity in the future,” Lewis said.

Article source: http://www.koco.com/article/okcps-board-to-seek-legal-advice-on-potential-lawsuit-against-state/14412243

The importance of financial education

As a practitioner within the finance community, I cannot but stress the importance of financial education on the local scene. I am not the first and will definitely not be the last to state that financial education, apart from the endless number of branches/types of education we receive throughout our lifetime, is essential for one’s wellbeing, from adolescence till retirement/pension age. The type of education which should start from secondary school (some might suggest that should be introduced and form part of the primary educational syllabus) and be on-going in order to keep abreast with the ever changing dynamics of the markets and environments within which we operate.

The global banking and financial market community are passionate about instilling a sense of ownership in investments and interest in market, and considers financial education as a very important issue to be tackled actively.

Scholars are of the opinion that financial education in itself empowers consumers and gives them a better know-how of how to manage their finances. More importantly, it provides the necessary groundwork and tools for individuals on how to avoid unnecessary risks and even taking on unnecessary debt piles. Furthermore, it enables people to improve their understanding and broadens the way they perceive financial opportunities and financial products (and the underlying risks and benefits assigned to them) which become available from time to time.

Within the EU, stringent and robust regulation is in place for banks and service providers to ensure that these oblige in providing clear and comprehensive information on any financial products which are offered to their respective customers.

And this is where I highlight the importance of financial education. What is the use of providing customers/prospective investors with a flurry of information and array of investment solutions if they are not in a position and/or do not have the necessary knowledge to understand and digest all this information? It is therefore clear that service providers on one hand are duty bound to provide the relevant information to consumers, but the consumers also need to do their part and educate themselves – they cannot be seen in isolation and are tantamount for investors to be steered into the financial products most suitable to their needs.

It is no surprise that, globally, there exists a rather low level of understanding of financial matters as well as of basic economic concepts, which renders even the most basic of financial products to appear complex to the average customer/investor who has not been exposed to any sort of financial education.

This leads them to fail to plan ahead or to choose products that meet their investment requirements and hence could result in experiencing difficulties in the event of some unexpected adverse circumstance. Even worse, if bad investment decisions are taken along the years, it will make it even harder for individuals to ensure a satisfactory standard of living in retirement. Therefore we can safely say that financial education all boils down to improving the financial well-being of individuals and society.

Clearly, I cannot but stress the importance of promoting financial education amongst students at an early age, as the knowledge and skills acquired by them at this age, will provide them with a solid background on market knowledge throughout their lifetime.

 

This article was issued by Mark Vella, Investment Manager at Calamatta Cuschieri. For more information visit, www.cc.com.mt. The information, view and opinions provided in this article is being provided solely for educational and informational purposes and should not be construed as investment advice, advice concerning particular investments or investment decisions, or tax or legal advice. 

Article source: https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20171212/business-news/the-importance-of-financial-education.665491

Furious parents told by teachers’ union ‘we’re not a child-minding service’ as schools closed for second snow day

A teachers’ union chief said today that schools are “not a child-minding service” as parents reacted with fury to another swathe of closures in the snowy weather .

Graham White, Suffolk representative at the National Education Union, risked the ire of mums and dads when he said: “Schools are for education, not child-minding.”

Parents with jobs to go to faced a second day of having children off school, giving them the nightmare of juggling work commitments with looking after the kids.

Mr White said: “Headteachers are in an impossible situation… open and risk injury to staff or pupils, or close and risk the wrath of parents who now have their children at home.

The teachers’ union said they are not there to ‘child-mind’
(Image: SWNS)

Parents are struggling for time off
(Image: SWNS.com)

Schools have struggled to stay open in the severe weather (file image)
(Image: Getty)

“It is very unfortunate that parents are inconvenienced by snow and school closures, but safety is paramount.”

As scores of schools stayed shut today, many people voiced outrage on social media, labelling the teachers part of the ‘snowflake generation’.

They said it was ridiculous that snowfall which would be shrugged off as ‘next to nothing’ in countries like Norway and Germany should panic and paralyse the UK.

Heads who decided to close their school due to snow feared they could look ‘foolish’ later in the day if bad weather forecasts were inaccurate, said Mr White.

But Mr White said they had to act in the best interests of their pupils and staff.

Pupil safety is the schools’ priority, the union said
(Image: SWNS.com)

Hundreds of schools have closed across the country
(Image: SWNS.com)

A boy slides on an inflatable tube in Bradgate Park after snow fall in Newtown Linford, Leicestershire
(Image: REUTERS)

Headteachers make the decision, usually before 7am, and their main consideration is health and safety, particularly for pupils.

Schools are advised to make a decision to close as early as possible, in order to inform parents and carers in good time.

A risk assessment is conducted taking into account factors including the state of pathways, steps and slopes around the school.

Condition of roads and pathways in the local area must also be considered and schools have to check that the heating, lighting and water is working correctly.

The availability of public transport and school coaches must also be taken into account, as well as catering.

Schools may also need to close due to other unforeseen circumstances, such as heating failures and structural issues.

Mr White said schools should close in certain circumstances due to snow, such as when the adverse weather poses a danger to pupils, if the school has insufficient staff numbers, and if a substantial number of pupils cannot travel to school due to bus service cancellations.

People have been laughing and taking pictures of this snow structure
(Image: Cambridge News WS)

A broken sledge sits sticks out of a bin in Bradgate Park
(Image: REUTERS)

Visitors sledge in Bradgate Park
(Image: REUTERS)

He said a light dusting of snow is unlikely to close schools but if weather conditions make driving hazardous, or the buses are cancelled, then school closure should be given “serious consideration”.

He added: “Most staff do not live close to school and some do not live on gritted road routes, so driving may be considered potentially dangerous.

“We should not be advising anyone to drive in conditions that put their and others’ safety in question.

“The headteacher knows their staff and pupils best and so is in the best position to make the judgement call.”

The dilemma faced by headteachers was illustrated in a recent letter to parents of pupils at Northgate High School in Ipswich.

Joint headteachers David Hutton and Rowena Mackie wrote: “We would like to stress in response to previous media coverage that closing the school is not a decision that is taken lightly by headteachers.

A snow plough working to clear roads in Ironbridge in Shropshire
(Image: PA)

“As a group we dislike having to make a decision before 7am that has the potential to make us appear foolish later that same day!

“Parental opinion is typically split, with roughly equal numbers complaining on snowy days if we close the school or keep it open.

“In making our decision prior to the start of a school day, we will consider the safety of the school site (which will be fully inspected) and the likely danger to pupils, students and staff in making their journey to school.

“We have to keep in mind that while many of our Year 7 to 11 pupils can travel in by foot, the vast majority of our staff cannot.

“The likelihood of having inadequate supervision clearly adds to safety concerns when conditions underfoot are dangerous and pupil behaviour is influenced by the possibility of ice and snow related activities.

“If the school is open at the start of the day and it begins to snow heavily during the day, our considerations will be slightly different.

Will more snow fall in Britain
(Image: SWNS.com)

“In this situation we will weigh up the relative safety of pupils who are already on the site, compared to their likely safety if sent home.

“We will also try to judge if their journey home is likely to be more dangerous if delayed until the end of the school day.

“In this respect the decision may be different for Sixth Form students, many of whom travel long distances through rural areas.”

Lee Abbott, headteacher at Hillside Primary School in Ipswich, said: “I think schools should do all they can to open in all weathers, other than when it is impossible to open the site safely, for example, boiler failure, when it is impossible to clear paths, and when there are insufficient staff to teach classes.

“However, it is a very challenging decision for heads and a decision to close is never taken lightly.

“At Hillside we risk assess the site, and the staff’s journeys to school, to try and put appropriate plans in place to ensure the school opens because that is best for our learners and their families.”

Department for Education advice for schools states: “During severe weather conditions, such as flooding or snow, you should keep your school or early years setting open for as many children as possible.

“However, it might be necessary to close temporarily due to inaccessibility or risk of injury. You should do all you can to re-open as soon as possible.”

Article source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/furious-parents-told-teachers-union-11681689

Muslim community launches youth’s universal access to education initiative

Muslim Community in the Northern region has embarked on a campaign to ensure universal access to education for its youths for them to be responsible citizens that could significantly contribute towards the country’s social economic development.

Muslims:  Education plus madrassa

Northern Region Quadra Muslim Association Chairperson, Alhaj Sailes Allie Kalonga said the campaign complements the Muslims’initiative in establishing secular primary and secondary schools in all madrassas.

“Our aim is to ensure that our children develop morally and spiritually. They should also get educated to march with the current economic trends and developments where education plays a vital role,” he said.

Kalonga explained the campaign titled, no child belonging to a Muslim stays home during learning hours,would come up with several incentives to encourage more children to remain in school.

One of the education commentators stress that the campaign could register immediate positive results if some cultural hindrances common among the muslins such as initiation ceremonies which in most cases are ill timed are modified.

“Their campaign is achievable and can bring a huge impact to the nation but my advice is that they need to do away with some cultural practices such as initiation ceremonies which disturb children from fully attending classes,” a graduate from Mzuzu University, Jack Msiska advised.

The development comes amid government’s efforts to achieve quality and inclusive education through establishment of boarding facilities for girls in some community secondary schools across the country.

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Article source: https://www.nyasatimes.com/muslim-community-launches-youths-universal-access-education-initiative/

When should schools close for snow? Plus links to find out if your school has closed

PUBLISHED: 18:27 10 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:09 11 December 2017

A snowy Market Hill, Framlingham. Picture: ANDREW HIRST

A snowy Market Hill, Framlingham. Picture: ANDREW HIRST

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School leaders will decide on Monday morning if they need to close after the first heavy widespread snowfall hit the region on Sunday (see a photo gallery here).

Headteachers make the decision, usually before 7am, and their main consideration is health and safety, particularly for pupils.

Schools are advised to make a decision to close as early as possible, in order to inform parents and carers in good time.

A risk assessment is conducted taking into account factors including:

- The state of pathways, steps and slopes around the school

- Condition of roads and pathways in the local area

- If the school’s heating, lighting and water is working correctly

- Whether catering can be provided

- Availability of public transport and school coaches

- The weather forecast

Schools may also need to close due to other unforeseen circumstances, such as heating failures and structural issues.

See here for updates on when Suffolk schools have closed.

See here for updates on when Essex schools have closed.

Graham White, Suffolk representative at the National Education Union, said schools should close in certain circumstances due to snow, such as when the adverse weather poses a danger to pupils, if the school has insufficient staff numbers, and if a substantial number of pupils cannot travel to school due to bus service cancellations.

He said: “Heads are in an impossible situation: open and risk injury to staff or pupils, or close and risk the wrath of parents who now have their children at home. Schools are for education not childminding.

“It is very unfortunate that parents are inconvenienced by snow and school closures, but safety is paramount.”

He said a light dusting of snow is unlikely to close schools but if weather conditions make driving hazardous, or school buses are cancelled, then school closure should be given “serious consideration”.

He added: “Most staff do not live close to school and some do not live on gritted road routes, so driving may be considered potentially dangerous. We should not be advising anyone to drive in conditions that put their and others’ safety in question.

“The headteacher knows their staff and pupils best and so is in the best position to make the judgement call.”

In a recent letter to parents of pupils at Northgate High School in Ipswich, co-headteachers David Hutton and Rowena Mackie wrote: “We would like to stress in response to previous media coverage that closing the school is not a decision that is taken lightly by headteachers.

“As a group we dislike having to make a decision before 7am that has the potential to make us appear foolish later that same day! Parental opinion is typically split, with roughly equal numbers complaining on snowy days if we close the school or keep it open.

“In making our decision prior to the start of a school day we will consider the safety of the school site (which will be fully inspected) and the likely danger to pupils, students and staff in making their journey to school. We have to keep in mind that while many of our Year 7 to 11 pupils can travel in by foot the vast majority of our staff cannot. The likelihood of having inadequate supervision clearly adds to safety concerns when conditions underfoot are dangerous and pupil behaviour is influenced by the possibility of ice and snow related activities!

“If the school is open at the start of the day and it begins to snow heavily during the day our considerations will be slightly different. In this situation we will weigh up the relative safety of pupils who are already on the site, compared to their likely safety if sent home. We will also try to judge if their journey home is likely to be more dangerous if delayed until the end of the school day. In this respect the decision may be different for Sixth Form students, many of whom travel long distances through rural areas.”

Lee Abbott, headteacher at Hillside Primary School in Ipswich, said: “I think schools should do all they can to open in all weathers, other than when it is impossible to open the site safely, for example, boiler failure, (when it is) impossible to clear paths, and insufficient staff to teach classes.

“However, it is a very challenging decision for heads and a decision to close is never taken lightly.

“At Hillside we risk assess the site, and staff’s journeys to school, to try and put appropriate plans in place to ensure the school opens because that is best for our learners and their families.”

Department for Education advice for schools states: “During severe weather conditions, such as flooding or snow, you should keep your school or early years setting open for as many children as possible.

“However, it might be necessary to close temporarily due to inaccessibility or risk of injury. You should do all you can to reopen as soon as possible.”

Article source: http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/when-should-schools-close-for-snow-plus-links-to-find-out-if-your-school-has-closed-1-5315570

Snow: Confusion over lack of official advice to Laois schools over icy roads

Schools in Laois were left to make their own decisions whether to open today, Monday December 11, with Status Orange weather causing many schoolbusses to cancel services.

Some schools were expecting to get advice from the Department of Education, including Laois Offaly ETB.

Its chief executive Joe Cunningham said on Sunday that they would be “guided by instruction from the Department”. 

“We are monitoring the situation, mindful of the weather forecasts for both Laois and Offaly, and will also be guided by instruction from the Department of Education and Skills. The safety of our staff and students will be the primary concern in whatever decision is made locally,” Mr Cunningham said.

The ETB opted to open their Laois schools, which are Clonaslee College, Dunamase College, St Fergal’s College Rathdowney, Portlaoise College and Further Education Centres in Abbeyleix, Mountmellick, Portarlington and Portlaoise. 

Clonaslee College however decided to stay closed.

Mountrath Community School is open despite two bus companies not running to it. The principal Ms McCarthy has stated that “only the DoES has authority to declare school closed in such circumstances”, advising parents to “err on the side of caution” regarding travelling to school or not.

The South School NS in Abbeyleix was also awaiting clarification from the Department on Sunday morning, in a notice to parents when it also postponed its nativity play.

“Awaiting clarification from Department of Education regarding school tomorrow. Schools text will issue later. Thank you”. 

By Sunday evening the school had decided to open. 

“A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Skills has said schools nationwide will remain open tomorrow. In the event of a status red warning, decisions will be made locally by individual schools”. 

At least three private school bus companies cancelled their runs today, including Dempsey’s Coach Hire, Joe Moore Coach Hire and Slieve Bloom Coaches, between them serving many hundreds of pupils across Laois schools.

Among the schools served was Holy Family Junior School in Portlaoise, which is open for its 700 pupils.

Principal Enda Hickey said no notification was received nor expected from the Department of Education.

“The Department allows Boards of Management to make that call, except in cases of a Status Red alert like Ophelia,” he said.

The school had all other bus companies running to it.

“We have all our staff here today and a good majority of pupils. Not all got here at the normal time with the road conditions, they were sensible and took their time. We were here early in both the Holy Family Junior and Senior Schools to salt as much as we could to make it as safe as possible. Thankfully there were no incidents this morning, and I hope everyone gets home safely as well,” he said.

More on closed Laois schools here. 

Laois County Council told the Leinster Express that “Schools and their Boards of Management make decisions based upon local circumstances”.

Laois Offaly Gardaí said that the Department of Education does not consult them on closing schools.

The Gardaí issued national public safety messages to the public against making unnecessary journeys, with Status Orange warnings for snow and later ice across the midlands. A spokesperson confirmed that no Department of Education statement followed related to that.

A thaw is underway in Laois but some shaded roads remain icy, with temperatures to drop below zero again this evening. Read forecast here. 

Article source: http://www.leinsterexpress.ie/news/schools/286554/snow-confusion-over-lack-of-official-advice-to-laois-schools-over-icy-roads.html

Government launches new careers strategy – Tes

Skills minister Anne Milton has launched the government’s new careers strategy

The strategy is based around four key priorities: ensuring every school and college has a high-quality careers programme; providing opportunities for work experience; offering tailored support to students; and utilising appropriate sources of information about jobs and careers.

Under the strategy, every school and college will aim to have a dedicated careers leader in place by the start of the new school year (backed by £4 million of funding) who can “give advice on the best training routes and up-to-date information on the jobs market, helping young people make decisions about their future”.

Another £5 million has been allocated to boosting careers support in the areas of the country most in need, to create 20 careers hubs that will “link schools and colleges with local universities and employers to help broaden pupils’ horizons”. 

The strategy has been developed in partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and coordinated through an expanded role for the Careers and Enterprise Company.

Launching the strategy at the Careers Development Institute annual conference in Birmingham, skills minister Anne Milton said: “Without access to the best possible careers support, some people will miss out on the opportunities available.

“They will continue to be held back if they don’t have the right advice, at the right time to make informed decisions about their future, or may not have access to the broader experiences and role models to help them develop as people. 

“It matters to me that we give people from all backgrounds the best possible preparation to move into a job or training that enables them – whatever their background or wherever they live – to have a fulfilling life.”

Careers strategy: what does it say?

  • Dedicated careers leaders

“We will aim for every school and college to have a dedicated careers leader, with £4 million to provide training and support for at least 500 schools and colleges, so they can give the most up-to-date advice and fully prepare young people for the world of work.”

  • Quality interactions between schools and businesses

“Secondary schools will be expected to provide pupils with at least one meaningful interaction with businesses every year, with a particular focus on employers from science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) industries to help deliver the high-skilled workers we need in these industries.”

  • Careers hubs to be set up across the country

“To support young people in the most disadvantaged areas, £5 million funding will develop 20 careers hubs, led by the Careers and Enterprise Company. Hubs will link together schools, colleges, universities and local businesses to broaden the aspirations of young people.”

  • Trials of careers activities in primary schools

“Backed by £2 million, these pilots will test out ways of engaging children from an early age on the wealth of careers available to them, helping to raise their aspirations. These trials will focus on some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country through the government’s opportunity areas programme.”

  • Specialist advice for long-term unemployed and those with additional needs

“The National Careers Service will provide access to specialist support for adults who need it most, ensuring that we help create opportunities for everyone, no matter where they live or their background.”

‘Shift in attitude’

Last week, Ms Milton told Tes of her ambition to achieve a “shift in attitude” in how FE is perceived by parents.

“I’d like parental expectations to change,” she said. “I’m the mother of four children, so that plays in there. I think a lot of parents expect their children to go to university, or feel their children are defined by going to university. I would like that to change.”

Speaking at the Careers Education and Guidance Summit in London last month, Ms Milton said careers advice was “the foundation upon which some of our biggest reforms will be built”. She added that getting the strategy right “is so important for the future success of this country”.

“This skills revolution is dependent upon people having the best possible advice about the career path they should take. One that makes the most of their talents,” Ms Milton said. “Careers guidance is central to social mobility. It is about making sure that people from communities in every part of the land can develop the knowledge and confidence they need to progress. And have a clear plan to help them get there.”

‘Right language’

Catherine Sezen, senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “AoC welcomes today’s announcement as we have long called for young people to have access to informed and impartial careers advice and education embedded into the curriculum, from a much earlier age. Alongside the measures announced today, teachers need to be using the right language to promote different pathways and it is vital that all young people are aware of the exciting range of options that are available to them at the age of 16, whether academic, technical or apprenticeships.”

She added the careers strategy needed to be flexible to recognise the good work that was already taking place in a number of schools and colleges across the country. 

And Fiona Aldridge, assistant director for research and development at the Learning and Work Institute said: “We are pleased to see that the long-awaited careers strategy, published today, recognises the importance of focusing on adults already in the workforce, as well as young people about to enter it. In our ever-changing labour market, it is imperative that adults are able to access timely and high quality support to make informed choices about developing their skills. While we believe that it is important that all adults have access to these opportunities, it is particularly critical for those in low paid and insecure work, as well as those out of work. To be effective, we must ensure that this is properly resourced.”

‘Much more to do’

Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City Guilds added was was positive to see measures such as the promise to have a dedicated careers leader in place in each school by the start of the new school year, the 20 careers hubs in disadvantaged areas and the pledge that every child should get a quality interaction with an employer at least once a year. “However, I believe that there is still much more to do and greater investment is needed to really get this right, we also need to ensure that we rigorously measure the outputs of this work to ensure that it is working effectively.”

Ms Donnelly added it was important to ensure that careers provision was properly linked to local labour markets and projected job availability. “Employer engagement with schools and colleges will be key to this. Not only will this help young people understand exactly what options are available and what next steps they should take, it will support schools and colleges deliver meaningful and practical careers advice,” she said. 

“The government’s recent industrial strategy made a commitment to putting technical education on the same footing as our academic system. Providing young people with the information to access all training and career paths available to them will be a crucial first step to establishing a world class technical-education offer in the UK,” she said.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes FE News on Twitter, like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn

Article source: https://www.tes.com/news/further-education/breaking-news/government-launches-new-careers-strategy

Opinion: Why is choosing a college major so fraught with anxiety?

This is the time of year when college majors probably garner the most attention – from high school seniors who often need to pick one to complete their admissions applications and from undergraduates returning home after the fall semester wondering if they made the wrong choice.

Plenty of guidebooks and websites exist for picking a college, but by comparison, relatively few resources exist to guide students in choosing a major. Several reports about majors that landed in my email inbox recently highlight why the decision is so fraught for so many students who see it as tantamount to choosing a career. The data about majors are often confusing and sometimes contradictory. Here’s some of what I learned from reading these studies:

Men and women segregate themselves by major. Men major in engineering and computer science; women major in nursing, education, social work. That’s the conclusion from a forthcoming study to be published by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Women constitute just 10 percent of electrical engineering majors, 8 percent of mechanical engineering majors and 20 percent of computer science majors. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of nursing majors are men, and men represent 14 percent of majors in social work and 4 percent in early childhood education.

College officials who see these trends play out on their campuses are reluctant to talk about them out of fear their comments might come off as sexist. Women, they say, pursue their passions – whether it pays off or not – while men go for the money.

Majors are changeable. For all the anxiety around picking a major among high school students, it’s very likely they will change their mind. Some 52 percent of students change their intended major between the time they first take the SAT or ACT and the time they apply for college, according to Royall Co., a firm that assists colleges with their student recruitment.

If students don’t change their major before they get to college, they might once they are there. A report released this month by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics found that nearly one-third of first-time college students change their majors at least once within three years. Students who chose education or humanities as their first majors were more likely to switch than those who selected business or engineering. The major most likely to switch: math.

Students change majors for a variety of reasons. In the case of math, it might be it turns out to be more difficult in college than it was in high school. In other cases, students see jobs up close as interns and decide a field is not for them. Or they succumb to pressure to pick a practical major their parents think will lead to a job.

Watch where you get advice about choosing a major. More than half of students turn to their family and friends for counseling on picking a major, according to a survey released this fall from Gallup and the Strada Education Network. But the study found that those most common sources of advice were also the least useful.

When asked what advice was most helpful, 83 percent of students cited advice from employers or co-workers or from people with experience in an intriguing line of work. That’s well above the scores of 66 percent for college counselors and 61 percent for high school counselors.

The problem is few students turned to those more formal sources of advice. Only 20 percent said they got advice from informal work sources; 11 percent had sought guidance from a high school counselor; and 28 percent from a college adviser.

Students today are commonly told they should follow their passions and find a mission in life, but very few 18-year-olds or even 22-year-olds have enough experience in the world to know what truly excites them. Pick a major that interests you, but allow it and external experiences to help shape, not dictate, your mission in life. While you should consider different majors and you should keep your options open for a while, don’t think you can do anything you want. Talent and drive matter to success in most majors, of course. You can’t major in physics, after all, if you’re terrible at math.

– Selingo is the author of “There Is Life After College,” about how today’s graduates launch into their careers. He is former editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, a professor of practice at Arizona State University, a trustee of Ithaca College and a visiting scholar at Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities.

Article source: http://www.houmatoday.com/opinion/20171210/opinion-why-is-choosing-college-major-so-fraught-with-anxiety

Aussies hit back at Jacinda Ardern’s advice

A meeting between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australia’s Opposition leader Bill Shorten has resulted in some brutal comments online.

Ms Ardern raised the issue of Australia’s education policy with Mr Shorten during his visit to Auckland, telling him inaction will ultimately “hold Australia back”.

From next year New Zealand will let Australians enjoy a free year of education, but Australia may soon strip Kiwi students of the subsidies they presently enjoy. 

When Aussie newspaper The Australian posted Ms Ardern’s comments on Facebook, the response was intense.

Article source: http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/12/aussies-hit-back-at-jacinda-ardern-s-advice.html

What does it take to get a perfect score on the ACT? First, ask these students.

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School Senior Zsombor Gal likes to think of the ACT as a game.

“It’s a game where the time is really important and you really can’t afford to make any mistakes, at least for a 36,” said Gal, 17.

A 36 is a perfect score on the ACT standardized test, which Gal and 12 other Fayette County public school students earned in the 2016-17 school year. Gal took the exam twice and scored a 36 both times.

Nationally, and in Kentucky, only around one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score of 36, according to ACT spokesman Ed Colby.

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Kentucky is one of 16 states in which every student is required to take the ACT. In Kentucky, only 40 of the 51,203 graduating seniors in 2017 received a perfect 36, Colby said. Nationally that number was 2,760 out of more than 2 million graduating seniors who took it, he said.

“I think I got a 36 on the ACT because my goal is just to keep moving through each question,” said Augustine “Gus” Carlson from Henry Clay High School. “I don’t spend a lot of time on each thing. I just focus on keep moving so I have to answer every question and not letting anything get left unanswered.”

The ACT requires fast thinking and steady pacing, the Kaplan test prep website said. The ACT covers 215 questions in 2 hours and 55 minutes, plus an optional 40-minute Writing Test. That’s less than one minute per question.

“There’s a lot of tips and tricks which can help you beat the game of ACT,” said Gal. “You can go into the science section knowing nothing about science. All the information is right there in the passage.”

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science. Each is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, and the student’s composite score is the average of the four tests, a district news release said.

Nationwide and in Fayette County, the average score was 21 in 2016-17. In Kentucky for that school year, it was 19.8, according to the Kentucky Department of Education website.

Austin Booth, a senior at Lafayette High School, said he thought one reason he made a perfect score was that he kept up with his school work throughout the year.

“A lot of the stuff on the ACT you can just learn by paying attention in class and doing all your homework,” Booth said.” It’s not necessary to take a private class or anything you have to pay money for. Just make sure you always do your school work and If you are a good student through out the year you are going to do well on the ACT.”

“You can learn a lot of the information just inside your classes,” said David Thomas Litster, a student at Lafayette. ”Your teachers will do a good job of preparing you that way but then if you find that certain parts of the practice tests … are giving you some trouble that you should spend a little extra time focusing and studying on those parts.”

Students who earned a perfect score said there’s not one path to success.

“I practiced some of the more difficult sections beforehand,” said Jons Theodore Ehrenborg, a Henry Clay student, “and I also felt really rested before the actual test” Ehrenborg looked over the format of the questions beforehand so he wouldn’t be surprised. In general, he studies between 30 minutes to an hour each evening.

Ehrenborg was a sophomore in 2016-17 when he took the ACT. Two other students who received a 36, Joel Ahne who has graduated from Lafayette High School and Jan Balk, who graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, are now in college and could not be reached for comment.

All other students who scored a 36 were juniors in 2016-17 when they took it. School district officials said a student from Henry Clay who earned a perfect score asked them not to release his name.

“There are a couple of techniques that I think are helpful,” said Kelly Chen, now a senior Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. “For example, instead of just doing practice tests, really focus on what you are bad at. If you are doing math and you are bad at slope for example just practice slope questions and really get the fundamentals of the concept but I also want to say that a lot of times the 36 isn’t just based off of individual ability. Once you reach a certain point of competency with all of the skills a lot of it is also based on chance. “

“I did a lot of preparation for this exam,” Emma Draper, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar said about the ACT. “Every thing I’ve ever done I kind of consider preparation because as you go through schooling you’re learning and you’re capturing the concepts that you’ll need to know.. Get yourself a prep book if you can and read through it. Think about ‘what do I already know, what do I not know, what do I need to focus on?’ For me that was science.”

But Chris Duncan, now a senior at Dunbar said, “I didn’t really do as much studying and preparation as a lot of people tend to do. My parents just told me ‘Hey, You go in there do your best and that’s all you really need to do. I’m fine with whatever you get.”

“Don’t put pressure on yourself. Just go in there with confidence,” said Duncan.

“The ACT measures what you’ve learned in school,” said ACT spokesman Colby. “That’s why Kentucky uses it to measure learning.”

Students with a perfect 36 “likely have taken challenging courses in school and have worked very hard to learn that material,” Colby said..“They are likely to be ready to hit the ground running in college from an academic standpoint. They’ve learned all the core skills they need to succeed in first year college course work.”

“I think what’s really important is understanding the test,” said David Ma, a senior at Dunbar High School. “Think from the perspective of a test writer, not just of a test taker. Also think about why some of those answers are incorrect. When you are choosing between certain answers you really have to be able to pick between two, why they put both of those answers on there and If there is a way to show one of them as incorrect.”

“Get a practice test,” said Joshua Pe, now a senior at Henry Clay. “Practicing a lot, getting familiar with the tests is what really helps me.”

The ACT, Joshua said, “is really a measurement of your academic aptitude. It’s not a measurement of intelligence or anything. It’s a test of how well you know the material. Knowing the material really well is what can get you a higher score, what can get you a 36.”

Don Witt, a University of Kentucky associate provost, said the students who received a perfect score on the ACT are being invited to UK’s campus by recruiters for campus tours and for meetings with people in their academic areas of interest.

Earning a 36 on the ACT makes students “very competitive” in the college admissions process, because it’s “very rare,” Witt said.

However, an ACT score is just one factor that admission officials look at. They look at grade point averages and whether students had leadership roles and extra curricular activities, he said. Witt said 47 current students at UK have earned a perfect score on the ACT or the SAT.

“I would say that a 36 is something to be proud of but it’s not the only measurement of somebody’s ability,” student Kelly Chen said. “ A lot of it is luck-based especially with the questions you get and the types of prompts you get. Making sure you … have a good understanding of all the concepts will increase your chances of acing the ACT.”

They’re not always studying: From Chinese Dance to Alzheimer’s disease research

The Lexington students who received perfect scores on the ACT last year also have plenty of extra-curricular or outside activities when they’re not studying.

Jons Theodore Ehrenborg is a leader in the Math Club.

In addition to being involved in academic bowl teams, Dunbar’s Zsombor Gal said, “I do archery and I weight lift.” Gal also conducts research through Dunbar’s Math, Science, and Technology Center (MSTC). He’s focusing on integrating computational methods into Alzheimer’s disease research.

Dunbar student Chris Duncan, 18, said he plays soccer competitively and is involved in service and honor clubs.

“I’ve been playing violin most of my life,” said Dunbar’s David Ma. “I really enjoy playing in groups, playing by myself. I also am part of Dunbar’s Speech and Debate Team. I also conduct research on the side. I’ve been doing research since 8th grade. It started as environmental research but now it’s more focused on computer science and more medicine research.”

“My big thing is theater,” said Emma Draper. “I’ve been involved in seven or eight Dunbar productions at this point. So, really , performing is my big thing.”

“ I really really like to dance,” said Kelly Chen, also a Dunbar student. “ I actually do Chinese dance. Speech and debate, that’s my other thing. A lot of public speaking, acting. “

Austin Booth and David Thomas Litster are members of the storied Lafayette Band. Litster sings with the choir and plays piano. “When I have free time I like to play role playing games, Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that.” he said.

Booth likes to fish and likes “to swim in my free time and read and I like to travel. I always like to go to new places and try new things and eat new foods.”

Henry Clay student Joshua Pe said, “I really like to cook. Every weekend. I get in the kitchen and I cook for a couple of hours. Right now I’m really into Japanese food.”

Article source: http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/education/article188741204.html