Weekend Education Links (2/25/18)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Weekend Education Links (2/11/2018)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

The Food Pyramid Is Wrong and We Need to Stop Teaching It in School

USDA_Food_Pyramid.gif

By Andrew Pillow

How often have you seen the “food pyramid”? Probably your whole life. You’ve seen it in school. You’ve seen it at doctor’s offices. You’ve seen it on cereal boxes. The food pyramid has become almost ubiquitous in our daily lives.  

For as long as most of us can remember, the food pyramid has guided traditional wisdom about meal choices. If you are like me, you can remember the general idea by heart: You should eat mostly grains, followed by vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, and fats, in that order.  

Would it surprise you to learn that the food pyramid was inaccurate? Because it is.

Here’s the truth: The food pyramid is a USDA marketing tool that completely ignores the advice given to them by their own nutritional experts in order to encourage people to eat more refined grains and meat… all of which, are coincidently subsidized by the USDA.

This isn’t some conspiracy theory or anything either. It is a well-documented fact. The USDA had nutritional experts craft a food pyramid. The original version that they came back with featured fruits and vegetables as the biggest and most important food groups. That version was overturned and edited into the final product that we are all familiar with today.

Luise Light, a former USDA insider, and creator of the original food pyramid explains:

"When our version of the Food Guide came back to us revised, we were shocked to find that it was vastly different from the one we had developed. As I later discovered, the wholesale changes made to the guide by the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture were calculated to win the acceptance of the food industry. For instance, the Ag Secretary’s office altered wording to emphasize processed foods over fresh and whole foods, to downplay lean meats and low-fat dairy choices because the meat and milk lobbies believed it’d hurt sales of full-fat products; it also hugely increased the servings of wheat and other grains to make the wheat growers happy...”

Grains, particularly refined ones, are not necessarily healthy. Especially not in the quantities that the food pyramid encourages you to eat them.

So, if the food pyramid is problematic and we know it, why do I still see it in lunchrooms all across the country? Why do they still put it in publications meant for children? And why do teachers continue to show and teach it to students in school?

The USDA has revised the food pyramid once before in 2005. They scrapped the pyramid all together in 2011 in favor of the MyPlate design. Both designs were improvements, but still problematic. Still, neither of these revisions have trickled down to the schools. Worse still, you can still find lesson plans based on the original flawed pyramid.

This is hardly surprising. Half the textbooks in my class have not fully accounted for the fall of the Soviet Union. However, it falls upon us as teachers to give students accurate information. Especially when it comes to their health.

I am challenging you to teach your kids the correct foods to eat in spite of years of inaccurate and misleading information. The appropriate information is out there. Don’t depend on the USDA or any other entity with an agenda to teach our students accurate information about their health.

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Weekend Education Links (2/4/2018)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Weekend Education Links (1/28/2018)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Company with Ties to Betsy DeVos Awarded Department of Education Contract

 By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Betsy DeVos) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Betsy DeVos) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andrew Pillow

The United States government is big and robust, but it can’t do everything. So whenever the government has something it needs to do that doesn’t fall in its wheelhouse, they hire an outside contractor.

Businesses bid on the contracts and they are supposed to be chosen by the government objectively. Generally, it is frowned upon to for a government official to choose a business to which they have ties. Some, even consider it illegal. This is why some people have called foul on the latest contract awarded by the department of education.

Performant Financial Corp. was chosen by the department of education to collect overdue student loans. This is problematic because DeVos has ties to that company.

The Hill sums up the potential conflict of interest:

DeVos invested in a firm tied to Performant before she was named Education Secretary and was required to divest from that company within 90 days of her confirmation.

An Education Department spokesman told The Post that DeVos had “no knowledge, let alone involvement,” in the contract with Performant.

And the head of investor relations at Performant told the Post that the corporation “has never had any direct or indirect contact with Secretary DeVos or anyone related to Mrs. DeVos. 

Some critics have complained because only two firms were chosen’s and in the past, the department of education has chosen up to 17 companies to collect the past-due payments.

Windham Professionals was the other firm chosen for the contract. 

The department of education insists the bids were chosen based on the advantages they provided to the government.

Only Betsy DeVos and Performant Financial Corp know if her former ties had anything to do with being awarded the contract, but it’s this blogger’s opinion that an administration consistently mired in controversy should at least attempt to avoid these types of situation. Even if everything is on the up and up, the optics look bad.

Read more here. (The Hill)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Weekend Education Links (1/21/18)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Weekend Education Links (1/14/2018)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

STUDY: Students Perform Better When Teachers Receive Performance Based Bonuses

dollar-499481_1280.jpg

By Andrew Pillow

Almost every teacher I know claims that they “don’t do it for the money.” However, this hasn’t stopped people from asking the question: Can you pay teachers to teach better?

According to a recent study by Mathematica Policy Research and the US Department of Education, the answer is yes.

The study was an evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund. The Teacher Incentive Fund was established by Congress in 2006. It was a grant that was meant to create a performance-based compensation system for educators in “high need” schools. This study examined 10 of the 130 school districts that received the grant.

So what did they find?

1.       The districts that were evaluated did have higher student achievement in reading and math due to the pay-for-performance mechanisms.

"Student reading achievement was higher by 2 percentile points at the end of the first year in schools that offered pay-for-performance bonuses than in schools that did not. The total difference remained at 1 to 2 percentile points across the subsequent three years and was statistically significant in most years. From the second year onward, the total difference in math achievement was similar in magnitude, but was statistically significant in only one year. In both subjects, these differences were equivalent to about three to four weeks of learning."

2.       The districts had trouble sustaining the program after the grant was gone.

"In each year, about half or more of the districts reported that sustainability of the TIF program was a major challenge (63 percent in the second year, 48 percent in the third year, and 58 percent in the fourth year). Consistent with these concerns, slightly fewer than half (47 percent) of the districts planned to offer bonuses to teachers based on their performance in the 2015–2016 school year, the year after their grant ended."

None of this is exactly groundbreaking information. Other studies have come to the same conclusion. Many wealthier districts have been using performance bonuses for years, and it’s certainly not because “they don’t work.”

However, this study is valuable because of how comprehensive it is and the fact it was a study of a government program using government money. These types of studies and programs tend to go further in terms of creating policy recommendations.

If nothing else, it’s further proof that well-compensated teachers, teach better, in spite of what they may say on a survey.

Read the full study here. (IES.ED)

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.