Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Education

Tutor Me Elmo, Getting Into College, and Messing With Kids’ Sleep

By Anthony Rebora — November 17, 2005 3 min read

Apparently, Sesame Street just doesn’t cut it anymore. The latest trend in early childhood learning is private academic tutoring, with firms like Kumon, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Kaplan expanding their franchises to include programs for 4-year-olds. Observers say that the emphasis on testing in public schools has made parents anxious to get their tots hitting the books (or at least the flashcards) as soon as possible. Whether such programs are effective is another question. While supporters say academic-skills training for prekindergartners can give them fundamentals they need for school, others point out that there’s no evidence of long-term benefits except in the case of children with learning disabilities. “Children learn in a very hands-on, very active way,” said Sara Wilford, director of a graduate education program at Sarah Lawrence College. “I do think ‘sooner means better’ completely loses everything we know about how children learn.”

Parents in Kalamazoo, Michigan, have a little less to be anxious about after the announcement that an anonymous group of benefactors plans to give college scholarships to nearly every graduate of the city’s high schools for the next 13 years. Talk about being in the right place at the right time: The scholarships will be good at any of Michigan’s public universities or community colleges and cover between 65 percent and 100 percent of tuition and fees, depending on how long the student has been enrolled in Kalamazoo schools. Officials expect the free-college perk to attract new businesses and increase property values in the largely middle-class city of 77,000, transforming its schools in the process. “I’ll bet the Kalamazoo system will experience unprecedented growth after this announcement,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

A nonprofit group in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area also aims to give kids a better shot at college by offering inner city students the kind of test-prep assistance typically available only to the upper crust. “My starting idea was what if we replicated Kaplan for poor kids,” said Jim McCorkell, who started Admission Possible in 2000 out of his own apartment. The program, which uses AmeriCorps members as instructors, has now set up shop in nine urban high schools, aggressively recruiting qualifying students for free ACT prep courses, private tutoring, and essay coaching. Instructors, who also seem to take on the role of proxy guidance counselors, even provide wake-up calls on test day. “They’re the glue keeping kids on track for college,” noted Mike Favor, principal of Minneapolis’ North High School.

On the subject of benevolent gestures in education, a Web site that allows individuals to fund teachers’ requests for classroom supplies continues to grow. DonorsChoose, which we recently highlighted for raising more than $1.5 million for schools in the storm-battered Gulf region, has now expanded from New York to cities nationwide and is attracting the interests of big businesses and celebrities, including Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Bette Midler, and Claire Danes. While donors credit the site for giving them a direct way to help teachers and kids, some experts warn that it may weaken the notion that adequate public school financing is a government responsibility. Still, teachers who’ve benefited from the service don’t seem to be complaining. Said Cynthia Rosado, a 1st grade teacher in Brooklyn who’s had more than 60 proposals financed through the site, “It’s changed the quality of life in my classroom, and in 20 years of teaching, there’s not too many things that have done that.”

According to new research, the quality of life in classrooms could also be improved if kids just got a little more sleep. In a study that seems equal parts cruel and instructive, scientists at Brown Medical School systematically deprived children of a couple hours of sleep a night for a week and then—here’s the interesting part—tested to see whether their teachers could tell. Guess what? They could. The teachers reported a significantly greater number of problems among sleep-deprived students, including difficulty learning new lessons and paying attention in class. Given the findings, the researchers speculated that not getting enough sleep could be a “double whammy” for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Sources for all articles are available through links. Teacher Magazine does not take credit or responsibility for reporting in linked stories. Access to some may require registration or fee.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, Web Watch will not be published on Thursday, Nov. 29. The next column will be posted on Dec. 1.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
The 4 Biggest Challenges of MTSS During Remote Learning: How Districts Are Adapting
Leaders share ways they have overcome the biggest obstacles of adapting a MTSS or RTI framework in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, HUMAN RESOURCES
Larkspur, California
Tamalpais Union High School District
Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read