elementary school - Page 2 of 3

elementary school

Is Four-Years Old Too Young for Kindergarten?

Erin Ferrantino is a kindergarten teacher at an elementary school in Hartford, Connecticut. Ferrantino faces the normal challenges of teaching kindergarteners: coloring outside of the lines, getting everyone to take a nap at the same time, and teaching students about sharing – especially when the students do not want to do so.

However, she usually faces the largest challenge with one particular group of students. These students all have one demographic characteristic in common. It’s not race or gender or even economic background: it’s age. These children are all only four-years old when they start kindergarten. Most children start kindergarten at age five.

“They struggled because they’re not developmentally ready,” said Ferrantino. “It is such a long day and so draining, they have a hard time holding it together.”

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New School Breakfast Program Feeds Kids, but Provides Only Junk Food

For a long time, we have known that eating breakfast before school is a very good thing for students. Eating breakfast gives your body and brain the nutrients that it needs to work hard and stay going all day. Unfortunately, many students do not eat breakfast before going to school. For some, it is a lack of time in the morning; for others, it might be the financial usability to afford breakfast foods.

This problem was very apparent in Chicago Public School’s elementary schools. So, when the Chicago Board of Education passed a new program called Breakfast in the Classroom, it seemed like a good idea. The program was created to ensure that all Chicago elementary students get to eat breakfast by creating a 10-minute period at the beginning of the day when students are expected to eat a pre-made school breakfast.

There was already a pre-class breakfast program in many of these schools, but attendance was low to modest, CPS claims due to the stigma that was attached to the program: “only low-income students eat school breakfast.” Also, CPS said that many children preferred to play outside during the mornings or did not get to school early enough.

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Scholastic Inc. Questioned for Biased Classroom Materials

Scholastic Inc. is being called out for distributing one-sided educational materials to thousands of elementary aged students, again. Scholastic Inc. materials can be found in a plethora of public school classrooms across the country, but is being questioned for packaging information based on corporate sponsorship. The most recent issue is being addressed by three advocacy groups regarding Scholastic’s promotion of using coal for energy.

Rethinking Schools, Friends of the Earth and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have organized a letter writing campaign in an attempt to pull biased Scholastic materials from classroom curriculum. Prior attempts for similar goals have not resulted in desirable outcomes for advocacy groups.

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Chocolate Milk to be Banned from School Lunches

With childhood obesity rates at an all time high, school lunches are under the microscope again. Many young students eat breakfast and lunch at school resulting in most calories being consumed away from home. Experts know that providing healthy choices at school will inevitably have an impact for students buying school meals. The newest debate on the table revolves around the nutritional benefits of chocolate milk.

Nutritionists and childhood obesity advocates argue that chocolate milk is nothing more than soda in disguise. In an effort to cut out unnecessary calories it is suggested that chocolate milk be taken off the school lunch menu. Nearly 70% of all milk consumed in schools is flavored milk, including chocolate and strawberry. By giving children the option for flavored milks “We’ve taught them to drink chocolate milk, so we can unteach them that,” director of nutritional services for Boulder Valley School District Anne Cooper told USA Today.

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Department of Education Reminds School Districts that Discrimination is Illegal

As school districts begin enrolling for the next school year, a letter from the U.S. Department of Education was sent out to remind school districts that denying elementary or secondary education to any student is federally prohibited. In response to recent reports of school districts rejecting students based on citizenship, the letter was meant to reinforce the federal guidelines of education as decided in the 1982 Supreme Court case, Plyer v. Doe.

The decision of Plyer v. Doe upholds the inability of any state to deny public education to students whether they are a citizen of the United States or not. Denying education to illegal immigrants was seen as imposing a hardship on minors who were not accountable for the immigration decisions of their parents. Despite the actions of several American school districts participating in education discrimination this has been the law since 1982.

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Homeless Children Find School to be a Safe Haven

Imagine this: You are an elementary student. You have parents and some siblings, ride the bus to school and back home again, and have friends. Life sounds pretty normal, right? It is, except for one big difference: you are also homeless.

This is everyday life for Brianna, Tamara, and Sydney Collins, daughters of James Collins and Felicia Blue. The couple has six children and the entire family currently lives in a 13′ x 15′ room with three bunk beds at a homeless shelter. Every morning, the girls look forward to going to school at Fern Creek Elementary School, if for no other reason than to escape their cramped space. Surprisingly to many, their story is not unique.

Twenty percent of the students who attend Fern Creek Elementary School in Orange County, Florida, are homeless. For many of these children, going to school is a bright spot in their days.

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Students in New Mexico Have Spelling Bees in Spanish and Navajo Languages

Spelling bees are a part of any elementary student’s life. I remember staying up late every night for a week before my fourth grade spelling bee and studying the vocabulary list. By the day the actual event rolled around, I could spell “phenomenon,” but got so nervous that I misspelled “choice.” It was a very sad day for me, but I could still spell “phenomenon,” so I felt pretty cool. The confidence I gained from there pushed me towards writing using a word counter, and in no time, I could write 75 words in a minute.

Today, students in Bluffview, New Mexico, are facing the same problem I faced more than a decade ago. However, there is one main difference between their spelling bee and my own: their spelling bee is in Spanish.

The Spanish-language spelling bee is an annual event in the state of New Mexico. They are very similar to tradition spell bees, except that they are conducted entirely in Spanish; this includes everything from the instructions to programs to vocabulary words to information pamphlets.

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Teacher Suspended for Inappropriate Touching with a Student

How far is too far for physical interactions between a teacher and her students? For Cheryl Grampa, a teacher at Cooper City Elementary School in Florida, she crossed the line when she asked her students for a massage.

During the 2009-2010 school year, there was at least one incident when Grampa solicited a student for a massage. Grampa is not being charged with any criminal behaviors, but the specifics of the interaction between her and the student have not been released. The school district claims that Grampa violated the Florida Administrative Code and the Code of Ethics of the Education Professional.

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First-Grader Stabs Fellow Student

Evidently, extreme bullying is starting earlier and earlier. How early, you may ask? Try first grade.

There is a first-grade student at a Montebello, California elementary school whom parents say is a danger to other students. These parents want the child expelled from school due to his aggressive acts towards other children. In December, this child allegedly used a utility device to stab one of his classmates.

“I feel really bad,” said Mary Baca, a parent who was volunteering in the boy’s classroom when the incident took place. “I know it’s an emotional situation. And I know if the kid got love and help, he wouldn’t act out the way he did.”

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Parents Outraged the Full Pledge of Allegiance is not Recited at New York School

The North Collins Elementary School in New York has ignored the requests of students and parents to bring back the full Pledge of Allegiance. Each morning, the students are prompted with the first six words of the pledge, “I pledge allegiance to the flag” before the intercom system is turned off. School officials maintain that it’s more time efficient and better for the students to let them continue the pledge at their own pace. Students and parents believe they are missing out on a certain level of patriotism that should be present at school.

Perhaps it would be easier to understand if the students didn’t spend the time every day (in unison, over the intercom) to recite the school’s “character pledge.” Some people are concerned that the priorities presented here are a little twisted.

One such person, Rosemary Troidl, received countless complaints about the policy from students and parents. After learning that the school still refused to change its policy, Troidl resigned from her position as Board Member. She said, “What upsets me is that the people made such a simple request. They weren’t asking for anything other than giving the Pledge of Allegiance the same amount of respect as the character pledge. But I knew they (the board) weren’t going to do anything.” Read the rest of this entry »


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