Supplement Your Child's Education

Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your child's education. There are a number of ways to do it, with many helpful books and online guides. Our hope is to point you in the right direction below. 

Please keep in mind that there are a variety of options for parents, and often the decision should be made based on a variety of factors including time, money, personality of the child, etc. The key, though, is to take charge of your child's education and not leave his or her future beholden to a well-meaning, but often failing educational system.

Math

American students recently are reported as ranking 25th in the world for math. If you'd like to assess your child's math skills, you can do so for free through SingaporeMath. The site also has a helpful guide for determining material for teaching math at home, which is available by clicking here. Another curriculum company to consider is Saxon for math. You can view their material here (click on the "Request a Catalog" link).

If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of supplementing your child's education on your own, you may want to consider tutoring or a program like Kumon Learning Centers.

For individual math lessons, please consider visiting the Khan Academy online where you can view helpful videos like the following:

Area of a Circle

Finally, please keep in mind, too, that there are many, many other free resources online. For instance, here's a site, dadsworksheets.com, that offers free math worksheets. The site also links to numerous other free resources. 

Reading

Just as with their math scores, American students' reading scores rank quite low compared to other developed countries in the world. So what can you do? First, of course, you may want to determine how well your child is reading currently. A number of online reading assessments exist. Here are a few:   

San Diego Quick Reading Assessment Instructions

Checkpoints for Progress

Reading Skills Assessment Test

The Abecedarian Reading Assessment

We would be remiss if we neglected to mention the need for phonics education for younger children. Here are two helpful books for teaching your young ones: Noah Webster's Reading Handbook and Phonics Pathways.

Once your child is past the learning to read stage, one way of supplementing your child's reading is to recommend good books. Improving reading abilities and building a vocabulary involves reading ever more challenging texts. Additionally, you may want to inquire into the substance of the books your child is reading whether at home or at school. Does a book promote virtuous behavior? Does a book challenge the reader? Does the book enrich the mind? All of these questions (and more) are important to consider as there are good, mediocre, and bad books.

For a wonderful read on virtue and classic stories, please consider "Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination".

To learn more about the Great Books Programs, please consider visiting our Topic Page on the subject:


Great Books
Great Books

 

Cursive Handwriting

More likely than not, if you take a look at your grandparents' old letters, you will find well-written documents composed entirely in flowing cursive. It's just one more example of the subtle downward slide in education. Penmanship seems to be a dying art these days, which is a shame. If you share our appreciation for handwritten letters and cursive penmanship, and believe that it's important for your child to have such a skill, you may have to help your child yourself.

If you're wondering if cursive handwriting matters in our digital age, you may want to consider reading this article. For an interesting article on how cursive handwriting helps develop cognitive skills, click here

For a helpful site that will give you tips on how to start teaching your child (or yourself) cursive handwriting, please consider clicking here.

General Knowledge

Several recent studies indicate that American students aggregate understanding of history, civics, and other areas of general knowledge has declined precipitously in recent decades. Two studies on the subject are the following: E Pluribus Unum-The Bradley Project on America's National Identity and the Fordham Institute's The State of State U.S. History Standards 2011

It's certainly no easy matter to concisely lay out the various topics in history, civics, philosophy, etc. that a well-educated individual living in a free society should know. To that end, we recommend two books on the matter: The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and E.D. Hirsch's Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Teachers and Parents. Both books do a wonderful job of presenting quality educational material for children at each stage of learning. 

Finance/Economics

Judging by the rapid growth of the national debt and personal bankruptcies in recent years, at least a few Americans are in need of remedial finance education. You'll surely give your son or daughter a leg up in life by helping them understand economics and finances, particularly as they relate to the individual. Teaching finances is a mixed bag of teaching money discipline, the importance of thrift/saving, etc. to your children and often doing that in the real world. 

For online tutorials on various finance and economic topics, we again refer you to the free online Khan Academy. There you will find videos like the following:

If you would like to introduce your older child to economics, there are a few books that you might want to consider starting with: The Law by Bastiat and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. 

 

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Quote Page

Commentary or Blog Post

"I asked Fulton County high school teacher Jordan Kohanim to write a piece about what she wanted for her students this year. Jordan joined forces with fellow Centennial High School English teachers Larken McCord and Cathy Rumfelt to write a powerful letter about their goals for their students and for all students. School resumes in Fulton County on Monday

Here is their combined effort....

This article describes the various contentions and diverse viewpoints that have arisen over the implementation of No Child Left Behind. While the NCLB Act originally had wide margins of bipartisan support, the passage of time...

"At the GOP's convention in St. Paul, there was little mention of the administration's signature initiative. The new party platform doesn't reference NCLB and instead includes a new section - 'reviewing the federal role in elementary and secondary education' - signaling that Republicans intend to return to conservative principles. The platform calls for giving federal education funds to the...

"No Child Left Behind (NCLB) turned 10 yesterday, and the anniversary is a good time to assess the toll of federal education intervention and to identify steps Congress can take now toward restoring constitutional governance in education."

This article reports on the Obama administration's recent attempts to revamp No Child Left Behind. According to Burke, Obama's reform plans argue for more state control over school standards and an extension...

According to Rick Hess, the accountability standards laid out in NCLB have enabled individual states to determine their own scholastic achievement levels. Some states have taken...

According to McCluskey, dissatisfaction over inadequate achievement gains under No Child Left Behind was the principle motivator in causing South Carolina to lower its academic standards. This incident in South Carolina is a perfect demonstration of one of the most...

According to Jay Ambrose, NCLB has helped to improve academic achievement levels for children in America. Written during the midst of the 2008 presidential election campaign, this article notes that both Barack Obama and John McCain approved of the NCLB legislation, but that both...

This article weighs the pros and cons of NCLB. On the positive side, Chester Finn reports that No Child Left Behind has helped to improve test scores for disadvantaged and minority students. On the negative side, NCLB has inadvertently encouraged lower state standards, and in the process has...

According to Rick Hess, the reauthorization of NCLB greatly relies on public perception and opinion of its methods. Due to the relatively small amount of information on NCLB's public opinion levels, Hess seeks to determine the public's true feelings toward this...

"After being buffeted by Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections, White House aides saw education as ripe for bipartisan cooperation. Both parties wanted to address complaints about the No Child Left Behind law. Congress seemed prepared to act.

But while the White House talked up cooperation in public, in private it was preparing Plan B. In December that year, Education...

Given the increasing role of federal government in education through NCLB, Dan Lips advocates for the A-PLUS Act, a piece of legislation that would return more educational control to...

According to Rep. Scott Garrett, "NCLB entirely missed the mark." Instead of simply "fiddling around the edges" of NCLB to make it a little better, Rep. Garrett suggests that a whole new program be inaugurated. Rep. Garrett's...

According to George Clowes, No Child Left Behind demands that "school districts to put a 'highly qualified' teacher in every classroom." This requirement stems from the idea that better teachers...

"Back in 2001, when the federally mandated No Child Left Behind initiative became law, most educators knew it would only be a matter of time.

Whether it was two years down the line or 10 years down the line, their school would almost certainly be impacted by sanctions stemming from the lofty initiative, which calls for all students to be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by...

This piece seeks to answer what Finn views as five common myths about NCLB. According to Finn, NCLB is not "an unprecedented extension of federal control over schools," nor is it "egregiously underfunded." This short article helps to bring rational clarity to the...

Chart or Graph

This chart traces the NAEP eighth grade reading scores for a variety of states and demonstrates that many are unable to reach the NAEP level of "proficiency." The chart is described in more depth below:

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2002 and was touted as a massive initiative to boost test scores in reading and math.

Analysis Report White Paper

In this piece, Cheri Yecke traces the origins of NCLB and describes the various ramifications it holds for individual states like Minnesota. Overall, Yecke seems to applaud the accountability efforts of NCLB, but she notes that a variety of changes would increase the law's effectiveness and workability for states, teachers, and students.

According to Schaffer and Hoekstra, conservative legislators lost their way when they threw their weight behind the federal education policy of No Child Left Behind. Schaffer and Hoekstra encourage a return to state control of education and specifically urge practices that place education decisions in the hands of parents.

This paper exposes the failures of NCLB in regards to boosting academic achievement scores. According to the authors, the creators of NCLB attempted to please two polar opposite political ideologies in its formation, and as a result, NCLB was doomed to failure from the start.

In this report, Lawrence Uzzell condemns the increased role of the federal government through the education policies of No Child Left Behind. Uzzell chronicles the many instances of fraud and abuse that NCLB’s policies have inadvertently encouraged school leaders to pursue.

Published shortly after No Child Left Behind was signed into law, this report compiles a variety of scholarly viewpoints and opinions on the implications and effects that NCLB would have on students, teachers, and states.

Krista Kafer provides an excellent analysis of the past, present, and future of the NCLB Act in this piece. Although the original plans for NCLB contained positive reform ideas such as school choice, they were quickly eliminated, and according to Kafer, NCLB became a more bloated and bureaucratic version of the ESEA of 1965.

"Collectively, these states and districts provide a case study in how determined states can undermine even tightly constructed laws like NCLB. And, as importantly, they provide a cautionary tale for members of Congress working to write the next version of the nation's most important education law."

This piece lays out the background behind the implementation of No Child Left Behind. According to Hess and Petrilli, NCLB was the result of bipartisan collaboration and combined the school reform ideas of the Right with the racial equity ideas of the Left.

This piece offers sensible resolutions for conservatives who believe they ended up with the short end of the rope in regards to No Child Left Behind. The authors of this piece describe how NCLB was created, specifically implying that conservatives were duped into accepting many key education policies which were traditionally touted by liberals.

This report looks into the choice aspect of NCLB and discovers that it is often neglected and overlooked by many schools and parents. The authors of this piece seek to discover the reasons behind this problem and suggest that schools are not doing their duty in informing parents of their options.

Video/Podcast/Media

"Eric Hanushek of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the current state of education and education policy. Hanushek summarizes the impact of No Child Left Behind and the current state of the charter school movement. Along the way, he and Roberts discuss the role of testing as a way of measuring achievement. The...

This podcast briefly answers many of the main questions about NCLB. Neal McCluskey explains the mindset of the Democrats and Republicans who originally passed the NCLB law, and then goes on to explain why many in these same parties have now turned against it. McCluskey also gives insight into why NCLB is not working and suggests several...

According to Neal McCluskey, "NCLB has been one big deception." In this podcast, McCluskey describes how many states are outwardly meeting the goals and expectations of NCLB. Inwardly, however, many states are lowering their own academic standards and trying to get by with the least amount of effort in hopes that NCLB will be obsolete by the time its expectations...

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is long overdue for reauthorization, and pressure is mounting to get it done before NCLB labels the vast majority of our schools as failures.

This short documentary describes the perceived successes and failures of No Child Left Behind. According to many of the teachers interviewed by CBS News, NCLB is a good program that is challenging both teachers and children to attain higher academic levels. Many teachers report that the extra funding that NCLB provides is the true reason why the controversial...

"The No Child Left Behind Act was meant to compel states to adopt high standards and rapidly improve K-12 education in public schools. It is now clear that NCLB has been a failure and has set the stage for even greater federal control over curriculum. The solution, contrary to what many advocates claim, is to get the federal government out of America's classrooms. Neal McCluskey, associate...

This video focuses on one of the more progressive objections to NCLB by criticizing the standards that it enforces on children and teachers. According to the individuals in this clip, NCLB focuses far too much on "teaching the test," and hence, fails to encourage proper development and learning in children.

Primary Document

"I was pleased to learn on February 9 that Minnesota is among the 10 states selected to receive Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility. We applaud President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius for their advocacy and leadership in moving toward a meaningful system of school improvement accountability."

"Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), states are required to report the percentages of students achieving proficiency in reading and mathematics for grades 3 through 8. For each subject and grade combination, the percentages vary widely across states. For grades 4 and 8, these percentages can be compared to the estimated percentages of students achieving proficiency with respect to the...

No Child Left Behind is a descendant of "The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965." Its opening lines describe it as "An Act [t]o close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind."

In his last policy speech as the President of the United States, President Bush addressed a group of people on the effects of his landmark education bill No Child Left Behind. Ever an enthusiastic supporter of NCLB, President Bush used...

In his speech celebrating the signing of the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush stated that "[t]he fundamental principle of this bill is that every child can learn, we expect every child to learn, and you must show us whether or not every child is learning." This speech mentions the key players in the passage of NCLB, and also outlines the four main...

In this speech, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urges his audience to put political differences aside and invest in education through the reauthorization of ESEA, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. Duncan acknowledges the...

In this testimony, Chicago's public school CEO and future education secretary Arne Duncan describes the education advances made under NCLB. According to Duncan, Chicago's public schools made commendable progress under NCLB,...

In this testimony, Lisa Keegan speaks in favor of the reform policies that No Child Left Behind advocates. Keegan specifically speaks to the funding issues of NCLB, noting that many of the funds allotted to the program were not even being spent. As...

Books

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