I’m not a teacher, but I play one on TV…

A new course at Illinois State University asks students to examine education issues through the lens of pop culture, specifically the TV show Abbott Elementary. The course - “Public Education’s Possibilities and Predicaments: Exploring Portrayals of Critical Issues in ‘Abbott Elementary’” – introduces students to topics by reading academic research articles and textbook chapters, then explores how those issues are addressed in the news media, TV and movies. Relevant Abbott Elementary episodes are used to discuss topics such as gifted programs, charter schools, discipline and more. At the end of the course, students craft a pitch for an episode that highlights an issue not previously addressed on Abbott Elementary.


The end of college admittance tests?

More than 80% of U.S. colleges and university require ACT or SAT scores on applications, a number that is more than twice what it was in the spring of 2020. While many institutions will factor in a standardized test score if the applicant chooses to include it, there are 85 that will not consider that information at all. That group includes the University of California system. Advocates for excluding college admittance exams note that the tests typically aren’t useful for measuring a student’s potential, and that a student’s high school GPA is a much better predictor for college success. The number of 18-year-olds choosing to go to college is decreasing, so institutions want to make it as easy a possible to apply. Colleges that did not require test scores saw a larger pool of highly qualified applicants, along with more diversity within that group in the Fall of 2021.


A High School for Future Teachers

A school district in San Antonio is combating the teacher shortage by creating a high school geared toward future teachers. The CAST Teach High School is a partnership between the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Northside Independent School District and the CAST Schools Network, a nonprofit behind several career-focused San Antonio high schools. In its first year, the district had 85 rising ninth-graders sign up for a high school experience that includes hands-on experience working with younger students and observing teachers in action. Students take all their core classes at CAST Teach High School in addition to learning the curriculum. For example in Algebra I, they also learn the strategies that go into teaching those concepts. Students are also able to help design and deliver lessons. Older students participate in field experiences to expose them to various facets of education, like coaching, counseling and different subject matters and grade levels. The district acknowledges the program is a bit of experience, but one they hope will pay off when its first students become certified teachers in 2030.


Creating School Savings Through Sustainability

According to a report from the Center for Green Schools at the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, districts reported high savings when hiring a sustainability director to focus on energy savings and other initiatives. Districts that responded to the survey reported they saved nearly 10 times what they spent on the administrator’s salary. One district reported cutting energy costs by 30%, which amounted to $300 for each of its students and created funds to be shifted to the education side of the budget. In addition to focusing on ways to reduce waste and conserve water and energy, people in these roles are increasingly working with student activist and curriculum leaders to bring sustainability into teaching and learning.