Each month on Instagram, we team up with KPCC and suggest a photo assignment for our project called . In October we wanted to see your commute — that perfectly average and ordinary part of the day that many of us share. Lots of you participated. And one photo in particular had a special story. Amateur photographer commutes by subway from Brooklyn into New York's Penn Station every morning. But on a recent return trip home he noticed something different with the assignment in mind: "It was as if all of New York City had vanished into the background," he says. "All the noise and chaos of the subway and commute had died down. And all that was left was a mother and her son reading."
The local library is considered a vital asset even though you might not use it as much as you might have in the past, according to findings from a new Pew Survey released Wednesday. Just under 50 percent of us say they have visited a public library in the past 12 months. About the same percent of folks said they don't need a public library as much as they used to because they can find a lot of information on their own, rather than say research through the library's stack of books. Even though personal visits to libraries have gone down, the survey found strong support for them in general: 94 percent said that having a library improves the quality of life in their community.
"We — teachers, librarians, parents, authors — have a responsibility for the imagination of the child. I don't mean we have to educate it — you can't do that, any more than you can teach a butterfly how to fly. But you can help the imagination to develop properly, and to survive things that may threaten it: like the over-use of computers and everything I classify as SOS, Stuff on Screens. I do realize that the Age of the Screen has now replaced the Age of the Page. But on all those screens there are words, and in order to linger in the mind, words still require pages. We are in grave danger of forgetting the importance of the book." All that was 23 years ago and it's all still true. The screens have just grown smaller, and multiplied. In America, there are already a few digital schools, which have no books, not even in the library.
The bipartisan budget accord reached by congressional negotiators to roll back part of the federal sequestration cuts over the next two fiscal years is a "positive step," said one special education advocate, but it's still important to keep pressure on lawmakers to ensure adequate federal funding for special education.
When the University of Minnesota won an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant two years ago, it bet that it could expand one of the nation's most successful PreK-3rd grade programs from only 10 Chicago schools to schools around the Midwest. On one level the gamble was pretty basic. The grant would breathe new life into one of the most well-regarded and second oldest federally-funded early education programs in the U.S., Child-Parent Centers, by spreading its approach to public schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin. At the same time, it would reinvigorate the program in Chicago, where it was born 46 years ago and has operated ever since.
Millions of students from kindergarten through 12th grade are learning computer code this week as part of "Hour of Code," a nationwide campaign embraced by President Obama and featuring free tutorials by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft titan Bill Gates that are designed to get U.S. students interested in computer science. Through its Web site, "Hour of Code" offers lessons in computer coding that are aimed at every age group and accessible on a range of devices from tablets to desktops. Entire schools have been holding "Hour of Code" sessions for their students; in other cases, students also have been logging on at home.
Hey there, befuddled aunts, uncles and family friends. Not sure what to get for all those nieces, nephews and offspring of other people? This year (for the first time!) we've included kids titles in our year-end best books roundup. Pay a visit to to see what our staff and critics recommend for and in 2013. Librarian Mara Alpert keeps a running list of "top picks" in the children's literature department at the Los Angeles Public Library. When we asked her to share her 2013 favorites, she gave us the stories she could "see a parent reading to a child over and over (and over and over)"; these are the books children will unwrap and then "read under the table at Christmas dinner," she says.
The increased role of standardized testing in our schools raises some troubling issues. Initiatives such as No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards have increased the emphasis on standardized testing. In her book "Overcoming Dyslexia," Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning, wrote, "Under scrutiny these ubiquitous and influential tests do not seem to hold up very well. Many of our assumptions concerning the tests and their predictive value turn out to be questionable. The imbalance between their power and their flawed nature are particularly harmful to those who are dyslexic."