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Kansas is Rebuilding its Entire Educational System
Kansas has launched such an ambitious educational project that public officials are likening it to the NASA moon missions of the 1960s.
In August this year, Kansas officially launched an exciting educational reform with the goal to completely redesign the educational system in the state. It is called Kansas Can School Redesign Project and public officials are likening it to the NASA moon missions of the 1960s. They have even named the pilot school districts that will launch the new school designs in 2018 “the Mercury Seven.”
The foundations of the school redesign project were laid in 2015 during a state-wide listening tour where state officials met with community and business leaders, parents and educators and asked them one question: “What are the characteristics, qualities, abilities and skills of a successful 24-year old Kansan?” The answers defined the bones of the redesign project.
Interestingly, the majority of the attributes mentioned were non-academic. Business leaders in particular cited non-academic skills with the most frequency (81%) and the most often mentioned one was “conscientiousness.”
Kansans overwhelmingly replied thаt in addition to academic skills, they wanted schools to teach character, citizenship, work ethics and, most importantly, for the schools to be able to address students’ individual needs, talents and interests.
Based on the collected information, as well as plenty of additional data like academic performance and graduation trends in the state, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) came up with a new vision for its schools, that it aims to materialize in the next 10 years.
State Education Commissioner Randy Watson said:
"We have likened this to when Kennedy issued a challenge to land a man on the moon. We have a 10-year journey […]. It's a serious journey. We're trying by 2026 to totally redesign K-12 education for all 286 school districts.”
He elaborated on the need for an entirely new educational system:
“[The old system] has worked for a long time, but it was predicated on two concepts. The first of those is that most workers were either going to be on a farm or they were going to go to assembly line work. Employers in Kansas and across the nation are saying that’s not what work looks like today. We need different workers, we need higher skill workers. We don’t need low skilled workers."
"It was also predicated on a home life that had very supportive parents that could see delayed gratification – you study this thing now, you don’t know if that makes any sense, but later on you’ll use it. And we had a more homogeneous clientele. So when you looked at a third grade, the (achievement) gap – there was a gap, but it wasn’t that wide. Now it’s pretty wide."
The new vision is built on five pillars: social and emotional growth, kindergarten readiness, individual plan of study, high school graduation rates, and post-secondary completion. As long as they follow the vision, school districts will be given freedom as to how to reorganize themselves in order to achieve it. What is important is that the schools are reorganized “around the student not the system.”
Schools will be encouraged to focus on strategic activities like improving school climate and culture, engaging the family from birth, collaborating with the community and implementing project-based learning. In addition to improving graduation rates and academic success, they should also focus on improving non-academic skills, developing critical thinking, employability and financial skills.
Brad Neuenswander, the deputy commissioner in charge of learning services, says that someone walking into a transformed school will not see a traditional setting. For example, there maybe group of kids not based on age, but on their experience. Many adults may be supporting the kids in the group. What he describes sounds similar to what Montessori schools are like.
The pilot districts - "the Mercury Seven" - will be the first to encounter the difficulties in impleneting this new vision and provide valuable knowledge and experience for the rest of the state. They will also help create new measures for the skills that are prioritized by the project. Different measures will be eventually needed at state level - for employability skills or cognitive abilities as well as new assessment methods different than tests.
Still, testing is certainly not at the center of the new vision. Tammy Mitchell, one of the school redesign specialists said during a conference with pilot school representatives:
“Test scores are important but they shouldn’t be what drives our work. What should drive our work is what our kids need, who they are and who they can become.”
The department of education is already actively working with the first 7 school districts (14 schools) that will start the 2018-2019 academic year with their new individualized structures.
Plenty of information about the Kansas Can project and its different components can be found on the KSDE youtube channel.
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Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.
- The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
- Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
- Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.