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Public Schools Receive an “F” Among Parents and Community

An August Gallup poll reveals that more than half of Americans are dissatisfied with the public education system, with only 7 percent of parents of school-aged children believing that public schools provide an excellent education. Home schooling rated higher by the general public than public schools for quality, but private schools received the overall best ratings.

The poll reported that 78 percent of Americans said children in private schools received an excellent or good education. Parochial schools came next with a 69 percent rating, then came charter schools (60 percent), home schooling (46 percent) and public schools (37 percent).

Although 83 percent of parents polled said their oldest child attends public school, only 47 percent thought their child was receiving an excellent or good education. Among parents of K-12 students, the results were similar to the public at large, but they gave public schools a slightly higher rating than home schooling. Read the rest of this entry »

Avenues: The World School Aims to Make Students More Internationally Aware

There a lot of private schools out there. Some are labeled as being preparatory schools, where a huge emphasis is placed on preparing the students for admission to a top-notch college. However, in September 2012, a new school might be opening in Chelsea, NY, that would put all of these other private schools to shame. The only problem is that the school does not yet exist.

Chris Whittle, an educational entrepreneur, is planning to build a school called Avenues: The World School, which will be a for-profit private school for students ages nursery through ninth grade. The school is already in great demand, even though it is still being constructed, because many parents in this area are desperate to enroll their children in a private school, and there just are not enough seats available to fulfill the demand in the older private schools.

The curriculum at Avenues will allow students to learn bilingually in English and either Spanish or Mandarin. The bilingual classes will take place from nursery school until fourth grade. The need for bilingual adults in the future will be incredibly high, so by instilling these skills in students now, Avenues would be creating future employees who would be in higher demand in the international workplace in the future. Avenues will also be part of a network of international schools that have the same curriculum. So, if a student wanted to spend a semester in London or Shanghai or any other exotic location, his or her education would not have to suffer because he or she could study the same curriculum and stay on track while living in a foreign country.

“Schools need to do a better job preparing children for international lives,” Whittle said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Technology and Education: the iPad Project

Image courtesy of Fraiser Speirs

Images courtesy of Fraiser Speirs

The Cedars School of Excellence is a small school of 106 students, ages five to 17, located in Greenock, Scotland. Its small size means that students receive personalized attention and are encouraged to reach their highest potential. But the school is special for another reason: every student has an iPad.

Before the iPad’s release, the school toyed with the idea of getting an iPod touch for every student. It had became clear that there was more demand than the school’s existing 25 computers could accommodate. However, the iPods were quickly deemed infeasible, because they lack a word processing function.

When the iPad was announced, the school saw they had a solution. Frasier Speirs, a teacher at the Cedars School, implemented the project this summer. “There’s so much web-based material that’s very useful for teachers, even if they’re not particularly enamored of technology, they want a way to get to that material,” says Speirs. The school ordered 115 iPads at the start of August and the iPad Project began.

While some public high schools in the U.S. the have begun using iPads and Kindles in a few subjects, Cedars is among the first schools to implement the iPad across all subjects and grade levels. “Nobody’s declined to use them,” Speirs says of the other teachers. “Even slightly older teachers or teachers who are less comfortable with technology.”

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Financial Aid Tip: Check Statistics on Average Percentage of Need Met

The price of private schools can be extremely daunting, and may frighten off potential students.  But before you dismiss a school as unrealistically expensive here’s an important statistic you need to check out: the average percentage of financial aid that the school is able to meet.

financial aidHere’s how his works.  The student and parents will out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines the student’s eligibility for financial aid.  Then the student is admitted to a school.  Based on the amount of financial need the student has, the school may be able to provide need based awards, work study, and other financial aid (which does not include outside aid such as loans and scholarships from other sources).

Private schools often are able to provide students with a large percentage of their estimated need — so when applying to schools, one of the first things you should ask about is the average percentage of financial need that the school is able to provide.  In some cases, the school is able to provide students with most of even all of their projected financial need!

Of course, this makes a difference in the price of college.  If one school costs $40,000 a year but is able to meet 98 percent of students’ need, and another school is only $30,000 a year but only provides an average of 80 percent of financial need, the more expensive school is a much better bargain.


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