The Test by Anya Kamenetz [EPUB]
09 January 2015, 18:53
2015 | EPUB | 2.66MB
No sooner is a child walking and talking than the ABCs and 1-2-3s give way to the full-on alphabet soup: the ERBs, the OLSAT, the IQ, the NCLB for AYP, the IEP for ELLs, the CHAT and PDDST for ASD or LD and G&T or ADD and ADHD, the PSATs, then the ACTs and SATs—all designed to assess and monitor a child's readiness for education. In many public schools, students are spending up to 28% of instructional time on testing and test prep.
Starting this year, the introduction of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 45 states will bring an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year—forcing our national testing obsession to a crisis point. Taxpayers are spending extravagant money on these tests—up to $1.4 billion per year—and excessive tests are stunting children’s spirits, adding stress to family life, and slowly killing our country’s future competitiveness. Yet even so, we still want our kids to score off the charts on every test they take, in elementary school and beyond. And there will be a lot of them.
How do we preserve space for self-directed learning and development, while also asking our children to make the score and make a mark? This book is an exploration of that dilemma, and a strategy for how to solve it.
The Test explores all sides of this problem—where these tests came from, why they're here to stay, and ultimately what you as a parent or teacher can do. It introduces a set of strategies borrowed from fields as diverse as games, neuroscience, social psychology, and ancient philosophy to help children do as well as they can on tests, and, just as important, how to use the experience of test-taking to do better in life. Like Paul Tough’s bestseller How Children Succeed, it illuminates the emerging science of grit, curiosity and motivation, but takes a step further to explore innovations in education—emerging solutions to the over-testing crisis—that are not widely known but that you can adapt today, at home and at school. And it presents the stories of families of all kinds who are maneuvering within and beyond the existing educational system, playing and winning the testing game. You’ll learn, for example, what Bill Gates, a strong public proponent of testing, does to stoke self-directed curiosity in his children, and how Mackenzie Bezos, wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and mother of three, creates individualized learning experiences for each of her children.
All parents want their children to be successful, and their schools to deliver true opportunities. Yet these goals are often as likely to result in stress and arguments as actual progress. The Test is a book to help us think about these problems, and ultimately, move our own children towards the future we want for them, from elementary to high school and beyond.
Does State Spying Make Us Safer? [EPUB]
04 January 2015, 21:09
2014 | EPUB | 1.74MB
Does government surveillance make us safer?
The thirteenth Munk Debate, held in Toronto on Friday, May 2, 2014, pitted Michael Hayden and Alan Dershowitz against Glenn Greenwald and Alexis Ohanian to debate whether state surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedom. In a risk-filled world, democracies are increasingly turning to large-scale state surveillance, at home and abroad, to fight complex and unconventional threats — but is it justified?
For some, the threats justify the current surveillance system, and the laws and institutions of democracies are capable of balancing the needs of individual privacy with collective security. But for others, we're in peril of sacrificing to a vast and unaccountable state surveillance apparatus the civil liberties that guarantee citizens’ basic freedoms and our democratic way of life.
In this edition of the Munk Debates, former head of the CIA and NSA Michael Hayden and civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz square off against journalist Glenn Greenwald and reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to debate the legitimacy of state surveillance. With issues of Internet privacy gaining prominence, the Munk Debate on the Surveillance State asks: Should government be able to monitor our activities to keep us safe?
Nerve Center: Inside the White House Situation Room [EPUB]
04 January 2015, 21:05
2004 | EPUB | 2.02MB
The White House Situation Room is arguably the most important facility in the most important building in the world. As the president’s intelligence and alert center, it provides vital communication and crisis management capabilities to the chief executive and his advisers. It can also be “an island of calm,” as a top adviser for Vice President Al Gore once described it. So little is known about the Situation Room that, until the publication of Nerve Center, the American public’s knowledge of it is almost entirely based on its portrayal by the entertainment industry.
Yet, as Michael K. Bohn points out, Hollywood has failed to capture the real drama of the Situation Room. Numerous crises come alive in Nerve Center, from the Vietnam War (when President Johnson made late night visits to the Situation Room wearing his pajamas and went so often that he moved his Oval Office chair there), to the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, to today’s high-tech war on terrorism. Created in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs fiasco by advisers to President John Kennedy, presidents, cabinet members, and National Security Council staff members have all come to depend on the Situation Room. “I knew that I could always rely on the Situation Room,” President Jimmy Carter recalled, “and it never let me down.”
Bohn, who served as director of the Situation Room for the first President George Bush, has recruited numerous officials, including former and current staff, to tell the colorful forty-year history of the Situation Room. In a final chapter, Bohn uses a fictional crisis to describe how the Situation Room will evolve to help the president meet the challenges of an increasingly dangerous future.