Tag Archives: President Obama

Ask Your 4th Grader!

In fourth grade children really get to apply the skills they have learned in the first few years of school.  If you think about kindergarten through 3rd grade as the time in which children are taught how to read; how to add, subtract and multiply; and how to begin to write paragraphs, then 4th grade becomes the time when they really get to apply those skills in order to expand their overall knowledge.

In light of this, what can you do to help your child acquire additional knowledge through the application of these basic skills, while making sure he or she is developing appropriately in this grade?


1.  Division- work with your child to solidify his or her skills in division. Ask your child to complete long division problems.  For example:  137 divided by 7.  Solving this problem will require your child to multiply, divide, and subtract in order to find the right answer, thus applying several skills in one activity.  You can ask the teacher for worksheets in this area or simply work with your child in this area when he or she is doing homework problems that require long division.

2.  Place Value- work with your child to make sure he or she understands place values. This concept is very important in future math subjects and it is therefore good for children to get off to a good start in understanding this topic.  For example:

The number 34.76

3 is in the tens place, 4 is in the ones place, 7 is in the tenths place, and 6 is in the hundreths place.

3.  Fractions- work with your child to make sure he or she understands how to add and subtract fractions with like denominators. For example:

1/3 + 1/3 = 2/3


1.  Reading on a 4th grade level.  Make sure your child can read on a 4th grade level or higher.  Many books have the age ranges and/or reading level for which the book is appropriate right on the back of the book, near the bottom.  Select books within your child’s grade/age range and determine if your child understands the content and can follow story.

2.  Unfamiliar words. Ask your child to read with you and observe whether or not your child tries to figure out words he or she doesn’t know by looking at the entire meaning of the sentence or by taking clues from the content in the material.  Finally look up words with your child; if they are new or difficult to understand.


1.  Writing a multi-paragraph report. Many children will be asked to do some type of assignment in the 4th grade that requires them to write a multi-paragraph composition.  Look out for such an assignment and work with your child to make sure she or he understands the rubric (i.e. the criteria the teacher has laid out that explains how the paper will be scored).  Usually the teacher will want an opening paragraph which states the topic of the report; a couple of paragraphs that explain the main ideas of the report; and a concluding paragraph that sums up everything.

These are a few things you can do to support your child in fourth grade.


Plan to Turnaround America’s Most Troubled Schools

12% of America’s schools produce 50% of America’s dropouts, according to President Obama and the Dept. of Education. So the administration has announced an initiative to help the nation’s “5,000” lowest-performing schools over the next 5 years.

The plan offers Title 1 grant money to states & school districts- that money can be implemented using one of four methods::

1. “Turnaround”- Replace and rehire new principals and teachers
2. “Restart”- Convert the school to a charter school or to one run by a management company
3. “Closure”- Close the school and send students to other schools
4. “Transform”- Replace principal, increase teacher effectiveness, increase learning time for students, etc…

One of these four models can be adopted by a school to help “turnaround” education at a failing school.  School districts can compete for the money, determine which schools they want to help, then choose which model best fits each school.

See the example below and let us know your thoughts.

America Should “Have the Best-Educated Citizenry in the World”

President Obama has laid out his plan for helping to turnaround America’s education system.  The efforts involve:

– Transforming lower performing schools

– Motivating students to learn

– Firing consistently under-performing principals and/or teachers

– Increasing the number of students ready for college

– Decreasing the dropout rate

– Being open to alternative schools, like charter schools and schools that are run by management companies

– Increasing America’s competitiveness in the 21st century

See this speech and gain an understanding of his current approach….

Are Detroit & New Orleans Models for Reforming Public Education?

Educators in Detroit recently announced a plan, the Excellent Schools Plan, to turn around the city’s education system.  Unfortunately Detroit has been plagued with low graduation rates and poor performance in the city’s public schools for years.  Thus, the plan to improve its school system is getting a lot of attention from those interested in education reform.

The plan would have:

– Detroit’s Mayor take over the city’s public schools

– Eliminate the elected school board

– Close underperforming schools

– Encourage parents to choose the best options for schools for their children

– Open new schools to replace the failing ones

– Create competition between charter schools, public schools, and private schools for students in the hope that the best schools will attract students

The plan is controversial as it would do away with the elected school board and would place a lot of authority in the hands of the mayor.

Is this the blueprint for the future?

There have been other examples, such as the efforts in New Orleans, post Katrina.

In New Orleans, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) school district ran the majority of the schools before Hurricane Katrina hit.  The school board now runs 4 public schools and 12 charter schools.  The Orleans Parish School Board is still an elected school board.

In addition to the OPSB, New Orleans has a Recovery School District (RSD) which was originally created in 2003 to take over schools that were underperforming.  After Katrina, the Recovery School District  took on a more active role and now runs about 24 public schools and 47 charter schools in New Orleans.  The New Orleans Recovery School District is managed by a superintendent who is appointed by the state.

What do you think?  Should control of underperforming schools be taken away from local school boards and given to other state or local authorities?  Should more charter and private schools be allowed to compete for students in many areas where student test scores are low?

Is this the way to reform our school systems?

What do you think?

Specifics about the New Student Loan Law

The new student loan legislation provides the following adjustments to the current student loan system:

– Larger Pell Grants over time

– Increased investment in community colleges

– Increased investment in institutions that serve minority populations

– Expands income-based repayment program. “New borrowers who assume loans after July 1, 2014, will be able to cap their student loan repayments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and, if they keep up with their payments over time, will have the balance forgiven after 20 years. Public service workers – such as teachers, nurses, and those in military service – will see any remaining debt forgiven after just 10 years. More than 1.2 million new borrowers are projected to qualify and take part in the expanded program.”

– Federal student loans will now be made directly to students with banks simply servicing the loans

See the link above for more information. Is this good or bad for America’s students?

President Obama: His Plan to Improve American Schools

In his weekly address the President announced his desire to transform our public schools with his new “Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”  This would be an update to “No Child Left Behind.”

President Obama…”The nation that out-educates us today, will out-compete us tomorrow.”  See the President’s video below.

It will be important for us all to follow these developments.

Ten Things Your Child Should Know.com