Education News

On Saturday, September 22nd, at their Fall meeting in Yakima, the Washington State Democratic Party unanimously passed a resolution OPPOSING Initiative 1240. 

Out of nearly 500 delegates voting, not a single delegate from any county in our State voted to support 1240. The vote was 500 to ZERO to oppose Initiative 1240. 

From the NY Times, an important story about the use of epi pens at schools.

But school nurses in many districts face an agonizing choice if a child without a prescription develops a sudden reaction to an undiagnosed allergy. Should they inject epinephrine and risk losing their nursing license for dispensing it without a prescription, or call 911 and pray the paramedics arrive in time?

study last year in the journal Pediatrics found that about one in 13 children had a food allergy, and nearly 40 percent of those with allergies had severe reactions. A recent surveyin Massachusetts, where schools are permitted to administer epinephrine to any student, found that one-quarter of students who had to be given the drug for a reaction did not know they had an allergy. But in many schools, employees are not allowed to use epinephrine injectors on children who do not have a prescription. (bold mine)

The story goes on to explain that a 7-year old girl in Virginia died from a peanut given to her by a classmate.  The girl's family had made her allergy known to the school but the school had no epi-pen assigned to them by the family.  They could not legally use another child's and the girl died.  The law has since been changed.  

Also from the NY Times, cheating is on the upswing.  

Studies of student behavior and attitudes show that a majority of students violate standards of academic integrity to some degree, and that high achievers are just as likely to do it as others. Moreover, there is evidence that the problem has worsened over the last few decades.
Experts say the reasons are relatively simple: Cheating has become easier and more widely tolerated, and both schools and parents have failed to give students strong, repetitive messages about what is allowed and what is prohibited.
That last part, about parents and schools, should be a big red flag.  
Experts say that along with students, schools and technology, parents are also to blame. They cite surveys, anecdotal impressions and the work of researchers like Jean M. Twenge, author of the book “Generation Me,” to make the case that since the 1960s, parenting has shifted away from emphasizing obedience, honor and respect for authority to promoting children’s happiness while stoking their ambitions for material success.  
Few schools "place any meaningful emphasis on integrity, academic or otherwise, and colleges are even more indifferent than high schools." said Michael Josephson, president of the institute.
The Internet has changed attitudes, as a world of instant downloading, searching, cutting and pasting has loosened some ideas of ownership and authorship. An increased emphasis on having students work in teams may also have played a role.
“Students are surprisingly unclear about what constitutes plagiarism or cheating,” said Mr. Wasieleski, an associate professor of management.
“When you start giving take-home exams and telling kids not to talk about it, or you let them carry smartphones into tests, it’s an invitation to cheating,” he said.


Anonymous said…
That is interesting. What is the epi pen law here?
Eileen said…
Families need to provide the necessary meds and physician directions for their use. This tragic situation was not the schools fault. Sadly, it was negligence on the parents part.

Catherine said…
@safe what would probably happen here, is that 911 would be on the phone with the school and the Harborview trauma doc. The trauma doc could - and likely would - give the order for anyone to dispense anybody's epi pen to a patient. I've personally heard that call made on a coast guard channel in this state.

There are also multiple other ways this can be dealt with on an emergency basis. Take a good Emergency First Aid class - preferably with a trauma component, and learn them from a pro.

@Eileen You are correct. None of this is a substitute for the parents making sure the right protocols and meds are available for their child at all times.
Mary Griffin said…
I don't see this particular scenario happening in Washington State. There are laws that if your child has serious allergic reactions, then you need to send the correct medications, including an epi-pen to school with your child, along with an emergency plan for life-threatening reactions.

What I can see happening is someone who has not had an anaphylactic type reaction before, have one at school. What to do if your medics don't get there in a few minutes could cause an ethical dilemma about using someone else's emergency supplies and/or waiting for the medics. As a nurse, I know what I would do, and good samaritan laws would protect me, but they would not protect school personnel. That is one of the problems that need to be addressed.
Addie said…
Our elementary school only has a nurse 1-1/2 days each week. I've volunteered at the lunch shift and I don't know what they would do if one of the kids had an anaphylactic reaction at lunchtime - especially on a day when there isn't a nurse.

Close to 400 kids at the school and the school secretary and teachers cover for first aid. Unbelievable.
Informative pot. I agree that nowadays students does not know whar cheating is. We should definitely not allow students to carry smartphones durring exams.
Anonymous said…
Funny that the modern way we all get information - is labeled cheating. Maybe we should consider rewarding knowing how to fish - instead of the fish.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said…
Parent, there is a difference between researching and lifting whole parts of other people's work and saying you wrote it.
Anonymous said…
-parent - There's a difference between draining the lake (or using dynamite) and casting.

Additionally, "the modern way we all get information" is not so much in question as is the use of that information.

"Cheating is defined as obtaining or attempting to obtain, or aiding another to obtain credit for work, or any improvement in evaluation of performance, by any dishonest or deceptive means."

"Plagiarism is defined as the act of using the ideas or work of another person or persons as if they were one's own without giving proper credit to the source."

From the web page

Anonymous said…
Great news about the Dems unanimous vote to oppose. Has it been published or reported anywhere else? Would love to have a link to point to summarizing the results. (not that this isn't a good source :) )

-dem supporter

Anonymous said…
My son has a severe peanut allergy. We have to have all our meds (including his epipen) and forms turned in before the first day of school each fall.

We only have a nurse 1 day/week at our school, though staff are trained to use the epipen.

I still worry about him, but it is a small school, and the staff are aware of his peanut allergy. He is also very careful about what he eats.

What worries me is middle school. His assignment will be Eckstein, and I don't expect it to be any less crowded in 2015 than it is now.

I know Eckstein has a full-time nurse, but I worry about him accidently eating peanuts and going into anaphylaxis in some corner of the lunchroom or crowded hallway, and not being found until it is too late. Does anyone know if kids can carry their own epipens in middle school?

-Worried Mom

Anonymous said…
I have been thinking about this and I wonder if part of the reason for the increase in cheating is the emphasis on scores and the message that learning is not important.

When a child knows the material before taking a required class and spends 6 hours a week completing work that doesn’t increase their knowledge, who is being cheated? When a child has a learning disability and instead of getting specially designed instruction to bring them up to standard, gets the standards lowered, who is being cheated? When a child does all the work required and passes a class but still hasn’t mastered the material, who is being cheated? When a child writes a major paper & gets only 2 words of evaluation to learn from, who is being cheated? When a child fails a class because they need more time with the material, who is being cheated? The message to these children is that learning isn’t important. It is more important to hand in some work, on time, in a prescribed manner to get ‘credit’, than whether you learn anything.

If jumping through the hoops is more important than the integrity of learning, then perhaps we are encouraging cheating. Maybe the kids are just reflecting our values.

-Wondering about cheating
Jan said…
Wondering about cheating -- I love this. I have had kids in almost ALL of these situations (the only one I haven't personally seen is the one with a disabled kid and lowered standards). And yes. I absolutely believe that the message we send to the kids is that actual learning is not the point.

Kids see all around them instances where teachers move on, even when it is clear that kids are floundering and don't understand things, or where kids are left totally unchallenged by classes they will learn nothing in. Nonetheless, they are required to sit there, for 9 months. And, if they miss X number of days, they don't get credit for the class -- even if they could totally ace any end of course exam (conversely, some of them may get As by turning in homework, doing projects and extra credit, and class participation -- even though they are still pretty clueless -- and the other kids notice this too).

Grades are used as behavior management all the time ("portfolios of graded work" that have to be retained and turned in at the end, or you get a 0; "dioramas," posters, and other projects where what is graded is the ability to color nicely and use scissors well, suspension/attendance policies that provide that students NOT be permitted to make up work, if the school didn't approve the absence in advance; teachers who grade down when kids are tardy (if you want to deal with that bad habit, deal with it -- but it has nothing to do with whether the kids knows chemistry); the list goes on and on.) And then, we expect kids to view the grading process and sacred and academic honesty as a moral imperative?
Anonymous said…
Melissa et al. When most, if not all tests, are the simple regurgitation of information, or some sort of rearrangement of basic facts - then why not allow smart phones and internet access to get the answer? Somehow everybody thinks that remembering the answer is really worth a lot, and that remembering a bunch of facts is what we should reward with good grades. I'm sure that is what the article is talking about as "cheating". But the fact is, when most of really need information - relying on tools and internet is exactly what we do as adults, and without penalty.

Sure, I think we can all agree that turning in something from the internet as your own work is a problem. But the article was talking about test taking with a smart phone. Long live smart phones! Same with calculators btw. Is it "cheating" if I use a calculator when I do my taxes. Of course not!

Anonymous said…
I have had kids in almost ALL of these situations (the only one I haven't personally seen is the one with a disabled kid and lowered standards).

Wow Jan. Your experience as a parent of a sped kid is different than nearly everybody I know! Maybe you're new in town. Go check out a "resource room" in secondary school. They are known by many things: Modified . Rotation. etc. Better yet, go to a self-contained program in high school and check that out. The self-contained students are RHS are tracing numbers in math class. Guess what? You could do that anywhere, including in regular math. The only difference for the student with a disability in attending a general ed math class and attending this special ed thing: the self-contained classroom ONLY expects you to trace numbers. EG. The standard is lowered... to an unbelievably low place.

And, if you have any doubt about those classes listed above... you should go visit something that is an absolute special ed do-nothing place. "Study Skills". sometimes known as "Life Skills". sometimes known as "IEP class". How can you have "study skills" when you are not in any real class requiring "study"? How is a little homework help possibly construed as the subject material for a "study skills" class? In many schools "life skills", "study skills", and "IEP" is the entire content of a student's day... or nearly so. If that isn't lowered standards, I don't know what is.

-sped parent
Jan said…
Oops, Sped parent. You got me. I forgot about "Study Skills," probably because it is so incredibly "unclass-like" that I literally failed to even put it in the "class" box.

I avoided many of the pitfalls you describe above by keeping my kid OUT of public school until high school (at which point I avoided the placement debacle by simply enrolling my kid at our neighborhood school and showing up in September (with my "plan of what we were doing, and not doing, -- and why.") Actually, I tried to do this all wrong -- through the SPED department. But fortunately, since they never return phone calls, respond to mail, etc., I could never get the SPED folks downtown who were supposed to talk to me to ever, ever do so. Sort of "survival by institutional neglect." And since our neighborhood school had no clue that he was a sped kid -- they just took us.

We did get "rolled" by the high school fairly early on -- when they suddenly announced part way through my child's freshman year, that we could not get the level of help we were getting (mostly, a great SPED teacher who helped him negotiate his IEP issues in each class, steered us clear of the teachers with a reputation of finding a way to fail EVERY SPED kid in their classes, etc.) UNLESS we agreed to rearrange his schedule, and pull him out of all his existing classes -- so we could fit "study skills" in. To this day, I still don't understand the rationale (as "study skills" was clearly a do nothing class) -- but when we tried to politely decline (because we could see little value in it, and lots of harm in making this child reassiminate into all new classes), we were coldly told that doing so would mean declining ALL SPED services -- and they would be happy to rewrite the IEP that way, if that is what we wanted (which of course was NOT what we wanted, and virtually certainly was also a ludicrous lie -- but oh well). I think it had something to do with money (they got more if the child was classified one way than another -- but maybe it was just a vindictive power trip by someone a tier or two up from the SPED teacher whom we really, really liked! AT any rate, BECAUSE we really liked the SPED teacher (and my kid actually could benefit from the the organizational/time management help and extra homework time in the study skills class), we DID rearrange my child's class schedule (not a minor thing for many SPED kids who work hard at making friends, finding study partners, etc.). It helped that we had few classes (3) to rearrange, as one of our "deals" with the school is that my child took both ninth grade math (Algebra I) and English by correspondence through his old, private school. After 9th grade, we continued outside the District only with math. So, my child has never seen the inside of a CMP booklet, or a Discovery math text. Heh!

But I guess you are right. We did have to endure the foolishness of "study skills" for four years. It just never occurred to me to treat it as a class with lowered standards -- because it was so far below that (in terms of any academic content) that it never occurred to me to consider it a class at all.
Jan said…
Sped parent -- I should add, other than Study skills, my kid took regular stuff, Spanish, biology, world history, European history, US history, American literature, marine biology, etc. Most of the humanities/social science stuff was AP. Some of the science stuff was honors; some was not. Just fewer classes, because the reading load was so difficult for a kid with language processing problems to handle.
Anonymous said…
Worried Mom -

I believe that kids can carry their own Epi Pen and be responsible for administering it to him/herself as well. I have a peanut allergic kid, too, and he carries an Epi Pen in his school bag, and this is declared on his annual allergy plan documentation. In addition, we have pens in the nurse's office and in his classroom. He's still in elementary school and doesn't know how to give himself an injection, so those pens are only for others to use, but we'll be working on that as he becomes mature enough to handle the responsibility.

-Another allergy parent

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