Archive | December, 2013

Parent homework: Working on vocabulary with your child

28 Dec

Educators have long recognized the importance of vocabulary in reading and learning. Francie Alexander writes in the Scholastic article, Understanding Vocabulary:

Why is vocabulary s-o-o important?
Vocabulary is critical to reading success for three reasons:
1. Comprehension improves when you know what the words mean. Since comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, you cannot overestimate the importance of vocabulary development.
2. Words are the currency of communication. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication — listening, speaking, reading and writing.
3. How many times have you asked your students or your own children to “use your words”? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.

A University of Chicago study, “Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary three years later,” published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights the importance of parental involvement at an early stage of learning. See more at:

Sarah D. Sparks reported in the Education Week article, Students Must Learn More Words, Say Studies:
Children who enter kindergarten with a small vocabulary don’t get taught enough words—particularly, sophisticated academic words—to close the gap, according to the latest in a series of studies by Michigan early-learning experts.

The findings suggest many districts could be at a disadvantage in meeting the increased requirements for vocabulary learning from the Common Core State Standards, said study co-author Susan B. Neuman, a professor in educational studies specializing in early-literacy development at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“Vocabulary is the tip of the iceberg: Words reflect concepts and content that students need to know,” Ms. Neuman said. “This whole common core will fall on its face if kids are not getting the kind of instruction it will require.”
In an ongoing series of studies of early-grades vocabulary instruction, Ms. Neuman and co-author Tanya S. Wright, an assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, analyzed how kindergarten educators choose and teach new words, both in the instruction that teachers give and in basal-reading books.
Ms. Neuman and Ms. Wright found limited vocabulary instruction across the board, but students in poverty—the ones prior research shows enter school knowing 10,000 fewer words than their peers from higher-income families—were the least likely to get instruction in academically challenging words….

There are methods that parents can use to improve their child’s vocabulary.

Lauren Lawry of the Hanen Centre wrote in the article, Build Your Child’s Vocabulary:

A recent study about vocabulary
However, it’s not just about how much you say, but also about what words you use that makes a difference to a child’s vocabulary. In a 2012 study, Meredith Rowe looked at the factors that contribute most to a child’s later vocabulary development. She studied the vocabulary of 50 young children when they were 18, 30, 42, and 54 months of age, as well as the amount (quantity) and type (quality) of words the parents used with their children. She found certain factors that contributed to a child’s vocabulary one year later, such as the parents’ education and the child’s previous vocabulary. But some of her most interesting findings were that:
• children’s vocabulary at 30 months was influenced by the quantity (number) of words a parent used one year earlier – This means that children aged 12-24 months benefit from hearing lots of talk and many examples of words.

• children’s vocabulary at 42 months was influenced by parents’ use of a variety of sophisticated words one year earlier – Children aged 24-36 months have learned a lot of common vocabulary, and are ready to learn more difficult words, such as “purchase” instead of “buy”, or “weary” instead of “tired”.

• children’s vocabulary at 54 months was influenced by parents’ use of narratives (talking about things that happened in the past or in the future) and explanations one year earlier – Children aged 36-48 months benefit from conversations about things that happened in the past (e.g. an outing they went on, something funny that happened at preschool, etc.) or something that is planned for the near future (e.g. a trip to see Grandma) is helpful. And providing explanations about things (e.g. answering children’s “why” questions) is also helpful at this age.
Rowe concluded that “quantity…is not the whole story” and that these other influences also have an impact on children’s vocabulary [2, p. 1771]. This is important information, as much literature that advises parents about children’s speech and language development encourages parents to talk to young children as much as possible (quantity). But Rowe’s study highlights the importance of quality, especially for children aged 24-48 months. Parents should try to keep one step ahead of their child – modelling words and concepts that are slightly beyond their child’s level to help his vocabulary grow.
How to help your child learn new words
From Rowe’s study, we know that:
• young children (12-24 month olds) benefit from exposure to lots of words (quantity)
• toddlers (24-36 months) benefit from hearing a variety of sophisticated words
• preschool children (36-48 months) benefit from conversations about past and future events as well as explanations
This tells us what to say, but what about how to say it?
Here are some tips to keep in mind when modeling new vocabulary for your child:
• Follow your child’s lead – This means emphasizing words that come up during everyday conversations and interactions with your child. If you talk about what interests your child, it is more likely your child will pay attention and learn a new word. If your child is interested in playing with cars, you can model words like “push”, “beep beep”, or “fast” with a young child or more complicated words like “mechanic”, “speed”, or “traffic” with a toddler. You can provide explanations for preschoolers like “he needs to get a new tire because his tire is flat”, talk about events in the past such as “remember when we had to take our car in to be repaired?”, or events that will happen in the future such as “Our car is dirty. Maybe we should go to the car wash.”

• Children need to hear a word several times before they start to use it – This means that you might use a word with your child many times before your child actually says the word himself. Children’s understanding of words precedes their use of words. So, they will understand far more words than they can actually say. If you repeat words for your child on different occasions, it will give him more opportunities to hear and learn new words.

• Don’t bombard your child with words – Just because quantity is important at some stages of development, this doesn’t mean that you should shower your child with constant talk. You should aim for a balanced conversation between you and your child – you say something, then your child says or does something, and so on. It is important to wait after you say something so you give your child a chance to respond in his own way.

• Help your child understand what a new word means – By giving details about new words or explaining what words means, you build your child’s understanding of new words. For example, if you are playing with cars and introduce the word “passenger”, you might say something like “a passenger is someone who rides in a car or a bus or a train. A passenger goes for the ride but doesn’t drive the car or the bus.” Relating new words to your child’s personal experiences also helps him connect with new words. For example, if you are talking about the word “nervous,” you might say something like “Remember when you started preschool – you felt nervous. But eventually when you were more comfortable there, you didn’t feel nervous anymore.”

• Actions can speak louder than words – If you accompany your words with actions, gestures, or facial expressions, it will help your child understand the meaning of the words. For example, when modeling the word “weary”, you could do a sleeping action (hands under your head) or yawn so that your child understands what the word means. Your voice can also add meaning to a word. For example, if you say the word “frightened” or “terrified” with a shaky voice that sounds like you are scared, it will help your child understand what you mean.

The bottom line… it’s not just how much you say, but also what you say and how you say it that makes a difference for your child’s vocabulary growth….
1. Weitzman, E. & Greenberg, J. (2010). ABC and Beyond: Building Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Settings. The Hanen Centre: Toronto.
2. Rowe, M. (2012). A Longitudinal Investigation of the Role of Quantity and Quality of Child-Directed Speech in Vocabulary Development. Child Development: 83(5), 1762-1774.
3. Hart, B. & Risley, T.R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experiences of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
The Hanen Centre is a Canadian not-for-profit

There are still more suggestions from Deanna Swallow in a North Shore Pediatric Therapy article.

Swallow wrote in 10 Ways to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary:

1. Create language-rich environments to encourage new vocabulary. This might include a trip to the zoo, a seasonal craft, or a fun picture-book. Introduce age-appropriate vocabulary to your child through a fun and memorable experience.
2. Use kid-friendly terms to explain new words. For example, if you are teaching your child what ”zebra” means, avoid a dictionary definition such as: a horse-like African mammal of the genus Equus . Instead, try a simple explanation: a zebra is an animal. It looks like a horse. Zebras have black and white stripes.
3. Encourage your child to brainstorm their own examples of new vocabulary words. For example, if the new word is “little”, you might encourage your child by saying “Can you think of a little animal?”
4. Practice sorting new vocabulary. Encourage your child to describe, sort and categorize vocabulary based on various features. You might think of “3 cold things”, “3 animals” or “3 things that take you places.”
5. Think of synonyms and antonyms. Encourage your child to think of substitute words (e.g. “can you think of another word for enormous?… big!”) or opposite words (e.g. “What is the opposite of hot?… cold!”).
6. Give your child opportunities to practice their new vocabulary words. If you recently enjoyed an outing at the zoo, you might print out digital pictures from the trip. Throughout the following week, enjoy looking at the pictures with your child and remembering what animals you saw. You might also read a picture-book about animals or zoos (“What is this animal called?” or “Can you find a tiger in this picture?”).
7. Introduce new vocabulary words ahead of time. Holidays, seasons, and special outings are all excellent occasions to introduce new words. For example, as Fall approaches you might choose 10 new words about Fall (e.g. pumpkin, Autumn, cool, leaves, apples, jacket, etc). Plan a fun craft that incorporates those new words. You might make play-doh shapes using vocabulary words, draw new words with sidewalk chalk, or search for words in a picture book or magazine.
8. Tap into other senses. Children learn best when information is presented through multiple senses (e.g. touch, sight, sound, smell). To tap into the various, you might have your child stomp to each syllable of new vocabulary words (el-a-phant), draw a picture of the word, or act out the meaning.
9. Encourage older kids to use strategies to remember new vocabulary. They might keep a “vocabulary flashcard box” that includes challenging words from chapter-books, their school curriculum, or new concepts encountered in their environment. Encourage your child to define vocabulary in their own words, and draw a picture to represent it. You might also brainstorm root words or word derivations (e.g. run, running).
10. Avoid vocabulary over-load. Try not to teach too many new words at one time. For example, if you are reading a book with your child, avoid explaining every unfamiliar vocabulary word. Instead, just stick with a few important words. As much as possible, learning should be motivating and stimulate curiosity. Follow your child’s lead, and explore concepts or words that they find interesting. Look for cues that they might feel overwhelmed or frustrated….

Parents must spend time with their children preparing them for beginning their education.
All About Learning Press has a checklist to help parents focus on issues which prepare their child.

All About Learning Press makes several suggestions in Checklist: Is Your Child Ready to Learn to Read?

Perhaps your child already knows the alphabet and loves read-aloud time—but how can you tell if your child is ready to begin formal reading instruction? Fill out the checklist below and evaluate your child’s reading readiness!
Letter Knowledge
[ ] Your child can recite the alphabet song.
[ ] Your child recognizes the capital letters. If you ask your child to point to an m, he can do it.
[ ] Your child recognizes the lowercase letters.
Print Awareness
[ ] Your child knows the proper way to hold a book.
[ ] Your child understands that books are read from cover to back.
[ ] Your child understands that sentences are read from left to right.
[ ] Your child knows that words on the page can be read.
Listening Comprehension
[ ] Your child is able to retell a familiar story in his own words.
[ ] Your child can answer simple questions about a story.
[ ] Your child asks questions (Why did the elephant laugh?) during read-alouds.
Phonological Awareness
[ ] Your child can rhyme. If you say bat, your child can come up with a rhyming word like hat.
[ ] Your child understands word boundaries. If you say the sentence Don’t let the cat out, your child is able to separate the sentence into five individual words.
[ ] Your child can clap syllables. If you say dog, your child knows to clap once. If you say umbrella, your child knows to clap three times.
[ ] Your child can blend sounds to make a word. If you say the sounds sh…eep, your child responds with the word sheep.
[ ] Your child can identify the beginning sound in a word. If you ask your child to say the first sound in pig, your child is able to respond with the sound /p/.
[ ] Your child can identify the ending sound in a word. If you ask your child to say the last sound in the word jam, your child is able to respond with the sound /m/.
Motivation to Read
Use your intuition to understand if your child is motivated to begin reading. The following are all signs that your child is motivated to read and has achieved the understanding that reading is fun.
[ ] Does your child enjoy being read to, at least for short periods of time?
[ ] Does your child pretend to read or write?
[ ] Does your child frequently request read-aloud time and show a general enthusiasm for books?

Education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process.


Reading Rockets

For the Love of Words

Raising Readers: Tips for Parents

Click to access ReadingVocabulary.pdf

School-age Readers

Ready to Learn


Baby sign language

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

The slow reading movement

Why libraries in K-12 schools are important

University of Iowa study: Variation in words may help early learners read better

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Kent State University study: College students who spend hours online get lower grades

25 Dec

Moi wrote in Social media addiction: Alexandra Rice is reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Bleary-Eyed Students Can’t Stop Texting, Even to Sleep, a Researcher Finds:

Students, the researchers found, were losing an average of 45 minutes of sleep each week because of their cellphones.
The phones were disrupting sleep and, in turn, were associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression because of insufficient rest. While depression is a well-documented side effect of a lack of sleep, Ms. Adams said, the anxiety element was something new.
Students already average a “sleep debt” of two hours each night, according to Ms. Adams’s study, which reflects similar findings from national sleep studies. Her study and others suggest that college students need nine and one-quarter hours of sleep each night, though they get an average of only seven hours. So losing those extra 45 minutes hurts even more. The students who had the highest rates of technology use also had higher levels of anxiety and depression compared with the rest of the students in the Rhode Island study.
The main message of her study, Ms. Adams said, is that college students struggle to set boundaries for themselves. Unlike high-school students, many of them don’t have anyone around telling them to put the phone away.
For Ms. Adams and other researchers studying the topic, finding out why students feel compelled to always answer their phones at night is an important piece of the puzzle. The most common reason, as reported by several researchers, is wanting to not miss out on something. An invitation to a party, a bit of gossip from a friend, or a text from a significant other all warrant staying awake just a little bit longer. Like the chicken and the egg, it’s hard to determine which comes first: the unwillingness to disconnect or the anxiety and loss of sleep.

Jason Dick has Internet Addiction and Children Hidden-Dangers and 15 Warning Signs See also Disabled World’s Internet Addiction in Children and CNN’s Internet Addiction Linked to ADHD, Depression in Teens Help Guide. Org has a good article, Internet Addiction on treating internet addiction in teens. According to a Kent State University study, teens who are internet addicts may have problems in college.

AP reported in the article, Ohio study: heavy online use can mean anxiousness:

College students reading this story and others online for hours may become more anxious and less happy.
A new Kent State University study says college students who spend hours each day online, texting or talking on cellphones are more anxious, less happy and get lower grades.
The Ohio researchers say this appears to be the first study correlating cellphone use to anxiety and happiness.
The study was done by Andrew Lepp, Jacob Barkley and Aryn Karpinski.
The researchers interviewed 536 students representing 82 different majors.
The students recorded daily cellphone use. Each took validated social science tests that measure anxiety and satisfaction with their life, or happiness.
“The lower frequency users use their phone to keep in touch, check the web and update Facebook but they can put it away and get on with other tasks,” Lepp told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (
“The higher users are not able to control it and are glued to the cellphone. They need to unplug and find some personal time where they can disconnect from the network,” he said.
“You need time to be alone with your thoughts, recover from the daily stressors in a way that doesn’t involve electronic media.”
The researchers selected college students for their study because they are the first generation to grow up immersed in the technology.
The research grew out of a study last summer by Lepp and Barkley on the relationship between cellphone use and cardiorespiratory fitness. Those results showed that students who had higher cellphone use were less fit.


The relationship between cell phone use, academic performance, anxiety, and Satisfaction with Life in college students
• Andrew Lepp Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author,
• Jacob E. Barkley E-mail the corresponding author,
• Aryn C. Karpinski E-mail the corresponding author
• Kent State University, College of Education, Health and Human Services, Kent, OH 44242-000, USA
• Measured cell phone use (CPUse) to include the device’s complete range of functions.
• CPUse was negatively related to students’ actual Grade Point Average (GPA).
• CPUse was positively related to anxiety (as measured by Beck’s Anxiety Inventory).
• GPA was positively and anxiety was negatively related to Satisfaction with Life (SWL).
• Path analysis showed CPUse is related to SWL as mediated by GPA and anxiety.
While functional differences between today’s cell phones and traditional computers are becoming less clear, one difference remains plain – cell phones are almost always on-hand and allow users to connect with an array of services and networks at almost any time and any place. The Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project suggests that college students are the most rapid adopters of cell phone technology and research is emerging which suggests high frequency cell phone use may be influencing their health and behavior. Thus, we investigated the relationships between total cell phone use (N = 496) and texting (N = 490) on Satisfaction with Life (SWL) in a large sample of college students. It was hypothesized that the relationship would be mediated by Academic Performance (GPA) and anxiety. Two separate path models indicated that the cell phone use and texting models had good overall fit. Cell phone use/texting was negatively related to GPA and positively related to anxiety; in turn, GPA was positively related to SWL while anxiety was negatively related to SWL. These findings add to the debate about student cell phone use, and how increased use may negatively impact academic performance, mental health, and subjective well-being or happiness.

Here is the press release from Kent State:

Frequent Cell Phone Use Linked to Anxiety, Lower Grades and Reduced Happiness in Students, Kent State Research Shows
Posted Dec. 6, 2013
Today, smartphones are central to college students’ lives, keeping them constantly connected with friends, family and the Internet. Students’ cell phones are rarely out of reach whether the setting is a college classroom, library, recreational center, cafeteria or dorm room. As cell phone use continues to increase, it is worth considering whether use of the device is related to measurable outcomes important for student success, such as academic performance, anxiety and happiness.
Photo of Kent State student with cell phoneKent State University researchers Andrew Lepp, Ph.D., Jacob Barkley, Ph.D., and Aryn Karpinski, Ph.D., all faculty members in the university’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, surveyed more than 500 university students. Daily cell phone use was recorded along with a clinical measure of anxiety and each student’s level of satisfaction with their own life, or in other words happiness. Finally, all participants allowed the researchers to access their official university records in order to retrieve their actual, cumulative college grade point average (GPA). All students surveyed were undergraduate students and were equally distributed by class (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior). In addition, 82 different, self-reported majors were represented.
Results of the analysis showed that cell phone use was negatively related to GPA and positively related to anxiety. Following this, GPA was positively related to happiness while anxiety was negatively related to happiness. Thus, for the population studied, high frequency cell phone users tended to have lower GPA, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life (happiness) relative to their peers who used the cell phone less often. The statistical model illustrating these relationships was highly significant.
Earlier this year, a team led by Lepp and Barkley also identified a negative relationship between cell phone use and cardiorespiratory fitness. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that students should be encouraged to monitor their cell phone use and reflect upon it critically so that it is not detrimental to their academic performance, mental and physical health, and overall well-being or happiness.
The study reported upon here is published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior (2014), pages 343-350, DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.10.049 and can be accessed at
For more information about Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, visit
# # #
Media Contacts:
Andrew Lepp,, 330-672-0218
Jacob Barkley,, 330-672-0209
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal,9171,1200760,00.html See, also Family Dinner,The Value of Sharing Meals

Looks like social networking may not be all that social.


Two studies: Social media and social dysfunction

Children’s sensory overload from technology

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More colleges offering tuition guarantees or fixed tuition

24 Dec

About 25 years ago, Secretary of Education Bennett introduced a hypothesis about the rising cost of college. Andrew Gillen describes the “Bennett Hypothesis” in The Center for College Affordability & Productivity report, Introducing Bennett Hypothesis 2.0:

A quarter of a century ago, then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett made waves by declaring:
“If anything, increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”1
From that point forward, the notion that increases in financial aid cause increases in tuition has gone by the moniker of the Bennett Hypothesis, and its validity has been hotly debated ever since.

The debate about what causes increases in college costs continues.

Josh Mitchell has an intriguing article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article about a study documenting increased tuition in for-profit colleges where there is increased federal student aid. In New Course in College Costs, Mitchell reports.

The new study found that tuition at for-profit schools where students receive federal aid was 75% higher than at comparable for-profit schools whose students don’t receive any aid. Aid-eligible institutions need to be accredited by the Education Department, licensed by the state and meet other standards such as a maximum rate of default by students on federal loans.
The tuition difference was roughly equal to the average $3,390 a year in federal grants that students in the first group received, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Claudia Goldin of Harvard University and Stephanie Riegg Cellini of George Washington University.
The authors only examined programs that award associate’s degrees and nondegree certificates in fields including business, computer sciences and cosmetology. They didn’t look at tuition charged for bachelor’s degrees or at public and private nonprofit universities, which together educate roughly 90% of postsecondary students.
The authors said their findings lent “credence to the…hypothesis that aid-eligible institutions raise tuition to maximize aid.”
Steve Gunderson, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, a trade group for for-profit schools, disputes a link between federal aid and prices, saying colleges merely respond to market demand.
The study’s authors warned their findings don’t apply to public colleges and private nonprofit schools, which they say are different because they aren’t motivated by profits and because their prices are largely determined by state funding and donations.


Does Federal Student Aid Raise Tuition? New Evidence on For-Profit Colleges
Stephanie Riegg Cellini, Claudia Goldin
NBER Working Paper No. 17827
Issued in February 2012
NBER Program(s): DAE ED PE
We use administrative data from five states to provide the first comprehensive estimates of the size of the for-profit higher education sector in the U.S. Our estimates include schools that are not currently eligible to participate in federal student aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act and are therefore missed in official counts. We find that the number of for-profit institutions is double the official count and the number of students is between one-quarter and one-third greater. Many for-profit institutions that are not Title IV eligible offer programs and certificates that are similar, if not identical, to those given by institutions that are part of Title IV. We find that the Title IV institutions charge tuition that is about 75 percent higher than that charged by comparable institutions whose students cannot apply for federal financial aid. The dollar value of the premium is about equal to the amount of financial aid received by students in eligible institutions, lending credence to the “Bennett hypothesis” that aid-eligible institutions raise tuition to maximize aid.
You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.
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You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a “.GOV” domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

The reasons for escalating tuition are complex.

David H. Feldman writes in the article, Myths and Realities about Rising College Tuition for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

The dysfunction narrative is the alternative tale of rising cost, and it is a sexier story with lots of villains. But it doesn’t fit the evidence very well. In this brief space I cannot address every part of that narrative, but a few choice nuggets of information should suffice.
Competition: If prestige competition were a driving engine of college cost, we would expect to see cost rising more rapidly in four-year schools than at community colleges. Four-year programs house the expensive research facilities and hire the superstar scholars. Yet the growth rate in expenditures per student at four-year and two-year programs is quite similar.
Administrative Bloat: Within the dysfunction narrative, any increase in the number of “administrators per student” is often taken as evidence of inefficiency. This notion is flawed on at least two grounds. Schools have dramatically reduced their clerical employment, and this raises the percentage of the employee base that is administrative. This is not a sign of inefficiency. At the same time, schools have added professional staff in everything from IT to counseling. But these same shifts are happening almost everywhere in the U.S. economy. The percentage of Americans who work in jobs classified as administrative has risen substantially over the last quarter century. This context is often missing from bloat stories, as is the benefit to student retention rates and graduation rates from the professionalized support staff available to help them.
Tenure: Lastly, faculty tenure and workplace culture have very little to do with college cost. For starters, tenure is a declining institution. The fraction of the faculty on tenure track has fallen steadily over the past few decades, especially at cash-strapped public institutions. Although the academy is not a particularly efficient institution, there is no good evidence that it has become more inefficient over time.
The Realities Are More Complex
The most important engine of cost growth in higher education is the fact that productivity growth in some industries, like manufacturing, has outstripped productivity growth in others, including artisan services like higher education. But this effect does not necessarily make college less affordable to the average family. Productivity growth, after all, adds to the nation’s income. To understand college affordability problems, we must look elsewhere.
Two features of the economic landscape have had a big effect on affordability. The first is a sea change in budget priorities in the states. In 1975, states allocated roughly $10.50 to higher education for every $1,000 of per capita state income. Today the figure is around $6.00, despite a massive increase in the number of students seeking postsecondary education. This type of budgeting has resulted in tuition increases at public universities, which have negatively impacted the availability and quality of their academic programs. The effect on affordability is clear. In 1975, the states picked up 60% of the tab for a year in college while families shouldered 33%. The federal government picked up the remaining 7%. Today, the states pay only 34% while families bear 50% of the cost. The federal government’s share, through grants and tax credits, is currently 16%. Much of this surge in the federal government’s share is a temporary response to the 2008 financial crisis and recession. Over the last 30 years, the federal share has normally been in the 10% range….
Private schools have long used tuition discounting as a way to reach families whose personal finances make an expensive private program a financial stretch. But discounting is itself a force for pushing up the list-price tuition that wealthier families pay. Schools need revenues to finance their programming, and if they discount the price to some students who otherwise could not come, they must increase it for others who can pay.
Over the last 20 years, private universities have pushed the envelope on tuition discounting, and this has increased the average list price. In 1993, for instance, the discount rate at private universities was roughly 25%; ten years later it had reached 32%. This means that list-price tuition rose by 30% more than if the discount rate had remained the same. Coupled with rising tuition at cash-starved public universities, the result is that many upper middle-income families increasingly bear the full impact of rising list-price tuition at both public and private institutions.

Many private schools are not only discounting tuition, but many are offering fixed tuition guarantees.

M.L. Johnson of AP reported about college tuition guarantees in the article, Hundreds Of Colleges Offering Fixed Tuition With Promises To Not Raise Rates:

Freshmen at Northland College, a small Wisconsin liberal arts school known for its environmental focus, will pay no more than $30,450 in tuition next year. They’ll pay the same the following year. And the year after that.
The college on the shore of Lake Superior is joining a growing number of schools promising fixed-rate tuition — a guarantee that students will pay a single rate for four or even five years.
The programs at schools like George Washington University, University of Kansas and Columbia College in Missouri aim to help families budget for college without worrying about big price jumps. They also give recruiters something to tout on the road to try to ease the sticker shock.
Tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose 27 percent in the past five years, while those at four-year private schools went up 14 percent, according to the College Board.
About 320 colleges and universities offered tuition guarantees during the 2012-13 school year, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data done by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. The schools represent about 6.7 percent of the nation’s nearly 4,800 institutions where students receive federal financial aid.
Many fixed-rate plans are coupled with a commitment to hold financial aid steady so students have a firm cost estimate, but they are not discounts. At Kansas, students starting as freshmen pay more than standard tuition in their first two years to offset lower rates in the last two. Other schools try to estimate expenses and inflation and set rates that cover costs when averaged over four years. Transfer students generally pay tuition for the year they enter; at Kansas, they pay standard tuition.
Students say the programs help them hold down costs by allowing them to budget wisely and borrow less….

Fixed tuition plans don’t affect the overall cost of tuition.

Amanda Fox-Rouch reported in the Generation Progress story, Fixed-Rate Tuition: A Solution to Unpredictable College Costs:

Although some schools provide calculators with which students may estimate their cost of attendance for four years, the tuition rate for the first year of attendance alone is often the only predictable. After year one, tuition hikes are often expected to inflate college costs.
Tuition fees are subject to increase at any time and are often imposed at the whim of a board of trustees, unlike financing a car or mortgage a house, which are financial obligations that often require relatively predictable payments over time.
Fears of rising tuition are not completely ungrounded. Tuition rates have increased by an average of eight percent during the past year.
According to a CampusGrotto study, in 2007 only one school—George Washington University—had a total cost including tuition, housing, and other fees that exceeded $50,000. In 2011, by contrast, 19 universities had fees totaling more than $55,000, indicating wildly fluctuating costs within the college market.
Fixing tuition ultimately deprives universities of their power to initiate tuition hikes that may compromise students’ abilities to continue their schooling.
Those colleges that currently offer fixed tuition may have been spurred by President Obama’s announcement earlier this year of a plan that would reward colleges with federal funds if they actively work to minimize tuition costs.
Fixed-rate plans may not do much to significantly impact the cost of attending college, as many schools that provide a fixed tuition rate have raised the tuition for subsequent classes at a higher than average rate. In addition, the fixed rate only applies to tuition; schools that offer a fixed tuition plan can still raise other costs such as housing and technology fees.
In addition, guaranteed fixed-rate tuition is difficult to impose in public universities due to the state regulations that the schools must adhere to.
Trustee boards at private universities, however, have a bit more leeway—and thus more of an obligation—to make their schools more affordable….

A couple of questions. First, has anyone ever looked at how efficient the academic world is in spending current resources? Second, is the current institutional model one that works? Should there be changes in the institutional model?

There is no simple answer to the question of why college tuition has risen so fast, but it is time to look at the college as an institutional model and to ask whether there could be a more efficient institutional structure. See, Can free online universities change the higher education model?

Myth: Increases in Federal Student Aid Drive Increases in Tuition

The Center for College Affordability & Productivity

Did Federal Aid Break the Education Market?

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The 12/25/13 Joy Jar

24 Dec

Today is Christmas which represents the birth of Christ, God Among us. This event is about hope for the human condition and hope for the redemption of mankind. It was a little over a year ago that moi began the ‘Joy jar’ exercise in response to that end of the world Mayan Calendar thing, which represented despair. It has been a journey of reflection and self-discovery which will continue long after Christmas even though the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise ends today. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the hope of a better tomorrow represented by Christmas.

Pamela Rose Williams compiled 21 Inspirational Christian Christmas Quotes:

“He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy. He, the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.”

“To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”
Calvin Coolidge

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
Benjamin Franklin

“Mankind is a great, an immense family… This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.”
Pope John Paul XXIII

“Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”
Ronald Reagan

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”
Margaret Thatcher

“It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.”
Frederick Buechner

“Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man – His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God – when we present our bodies a living sacrifice.”
Vance Havner

“There is no connection between the worship of idols and the use of Christmas trees. We should not be anxious about baseless arguments against Christmas decorations. Rather, we should be focused on the Christ of Christmas and giving all diligence to remembering the real reason for the season.”
John MacArthur

“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.”
J.I. Packer

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
Norman Vincent Peale

“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.”
John R. Rice

“The greatest and most momentous fact which the history of the world records is the fact of Christ’s birth.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

“Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born king.” Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
Charles Wesley

Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.
Corrie Ten Boom

“If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ. May God help us ourselves by the eternities that separate the Aucas from a Comprehension of Christmas and Him, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor so that we might, through his poverty, be made rich.”
Nate Saint

“Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again.” George Whitefield

“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Angel Gabriel, Luke 1:28-33

… “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Mary of Nazareth, Luke 1:46-55

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
An Angel, Luke 2:10-12

“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Some Shepherds, Luke 2:15

Merry Christmas and a better tomorrow.

The 12/24/13 Joy Jar

24 Dec

Today is Christmas Eve and it heralds the birth of Jesus, God Among us. This is a festive occasion. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the herald day before Christmas, Christmas Eve.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christmas Eve represents many things:

… God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity … down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.
CS Lewis

The best part of Christmas is not the presents we receive, but the presence of God with us. Christmas can be a hint, a foretaste of the celebration God’s family will enjoy together.
Randy Alcorn

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!
John F. MacArthur, Jr.

God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ.
Wilda English

Take Christ out of Christmas, and December becomes the bleakest and most colourless month of the year.
A. F. Wells

If New Testament Christianity is to reappear today with its power and joy and courage, men must recapture the basic conviction that this is a Visited planet. It is not enough to express formal belief in the “Incarnation” or in the “Divinity of Christ”; the staggering truth must be accepted afresh… that in this vast, mysterious universe, of which we are an almost infinitesimal part, the great Mystery, Whom we call God, has visited our planet in Person. It is from this conviction that there springs unconquerable certainty and unquenchable faith and hope. It is not enough to believe theoretically that was both God and Man; not enough to admire, respect, and even worship Him; it is not even enough to try to follow Him. The reason for the insufficiency of these things is that the modern intelligent mind, which has had its horizons widened in dozens of different ways, has got to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact… that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.
J. B Phillips

One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity.
Billy Graham

It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you… yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.
Mother Teresa

Jesus Christ became Incarnate for one purpose, to make a way back to God that man might stand before Him as He was created to do, the friend and lover of God Himself.
Oswald Chambers

You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.
John W Rice

When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart.
Howard Thurman

Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.
George W. Truett

In a couple of days another Christmas will be over. Decorations will be taken down and the grind of daily life will resume. We must do something to remember that the message and meaning of Christmas does not cease when the celebration is over. Christmas is not really about a celebration, Christmas trees, and piles of gifts. Christmas, the coming of Christ, is about everyday life. God is with us and we need to do anything we can, to remember that fact the rest of the year.
Bruce Goettsche

Journal of American Medical Association study: Consumption of nuts by pregnant woman may reduce nut allergies in their children

24 Dec

Moi wrote about allergies in Food allergies can be deadly for some children:
If one is not allergic to substances, then you probably don’t pay much attention to food allergies. The parents and children in one Florida classroom are paying a lot of attention to the subject of food allergies because of the severe allergic reaction one child has to peanuts. In the article, Peanut Allergy Stirs Controversy At Florida Schools Reuters reports:

Some public school parents in Edgewater, Florida, want a first-grade girl with life-threatening peanut allergies removed from the classroom and home-schooled, rather than deal with special rules to protect her health, a school official said.
“That was one of the suggestions that kept coming forward from parents, to have her home-schooled. But we’re required by federal law to provide accommodations. That’s just not even an option for us,” said Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District.
Wait said the 6-year-old’s peanut allergy is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To protect the girl, students in her class at Edgewater Elementary School are required to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch, and rinse out their mouths, Wait said, and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school during last week’s spring break….
Chris Burr, a father of two older students at the school whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of small accommodations have added up to frustration for many parents.
“If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change….

More children seem to have peanut allergies. Researchers are trying to discover the reason for the allergies, but also asking the question of whether the number of nut allergies in children can be reduced.

Michael Pearson of CNN reported in the story, Study: Eating nuts during pregnancy may reduce baby’s allergy risk:

The children of women who regularly ate peanuts or tree nuts during pregnancy appear to be at lower risk for nut allergies than other kids, according to a new study published Monday.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to demonstrate that a mother who eats nuts during pregnancy may help build up a baby’s tolerance to them after birth, its lead author, Dr. Michael Young, told CNN.
The effect seemed to be strongest in women who ate the most peanuts or tree nuts — five or more servings per week, according to the study, which controlled for factors such as family history of nut allergies and other dietary practices.
Peanut and tree nut allergies tend to overlap, according to the researchers.
What food allergies are costing families — and the economy
Earlier studies indicated that nut consumption during pregnancy either didn’t have any effect or actually raised the risk of allergies in children.
However, the authors of the latest study say those studies were based on less reliable data and conflict with more recent research suggesting that early exposure to nuts can reduce the risk of developing allergies to them.
There is currently no formally recognized medical guidance for nut consumption during pregnancy or infancy.


Original Investigation | December 23, 2013 JOURNAL CLUB
Prospective Study of Peripregnancy Consumption of Peanuts or Tree Nuts by Mothers and the Risk of Peanut or Tree Nut Allergy in Their Offspring FREE ONLINE FIRST
A. Lindsay Frazier, MD, ScM1,2; Carlos A. Camargo Jr, MD, DrPH2,3,4; Susan Malspeis, MS2; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH4,5,6; Michael C. Young, MD7
[+] Author Affiliations
JAMA Pediatr. Published online December 23, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4139
Importance The etiology of the increasing childhood prevalence of peanut or tree nut (P/TN) allergy is unknown.
Objective To examine the association between peripregnancy consumption of P/TN by mothers and the risk of P/TN allergy in their offspring.
Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective cohort study. The 10 907 participants in the Growing Up Today Study 2, born between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 1994, are the offspring of women who previously reported their diet during, or shortly before or after, their pregnancy with this child as part of the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study II. In 2006, the offspring reported physician-diagnosed food allergy. Mothers were asked to confirm the diagnosis and to provide available medical records and allergy test results. Two board-certified pediatricians, including a board-certified allergist/immunologist, independently reviewed each potential case and assigned a confirmation code (eg, likely food allergy) to each case. Unadjusted and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate associations between peripregnancy consumption of P/TN by mothers and incident P/TN allergy in their offspring.
Exposure Peripregnancy consumption of P/TN.
Main Outcomes and Measures Physician-diagnosed P/TN allergy in offspring.
Results Among 8205 children, we identified 308 cases of food allergy (any food), including 140 cases of P/TN allergy. The incidence of P/TN allergy in the offspring was significantly lower among children of the 8059 nonallergic mothers who consumed more P/TN in their peripregnancy diet (≥5 times vs <1 time per month: odds ratio = 0.31; 95% CI, 0.13-0.75; Ptrend = .004). By contrast, a nonsignificant positive association was observed between maternal peripregnancy P/TN consumption and risk of P/TN allergy in the offspring of 146 P/TN-allergic mothers (Ptrend = .12). The interaction between maternal peripregnancy P/TN consumption and maternal P/TN allergy status was statistically significant (Pinteraction = .004).
Conclusions and Relevance Among mothers without P/TN allergy, higher peripregnancy consumption of P/TN was associated with lower risk of P/TN allergy in their offspring. Our study supports the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases tolerance and lowers risk of childhood food allergy.
Peanut allergy affects 1% to 2% of the population in most Western countries,1- 3 and in the United States, the prevalence of childhood peanut allergy has more than tripled, from 0.4% in 1997 to 1.4% in 2010.4 Typically, the onset of peanut allergy is in early childhood; 70% of reactions occur during the first known exposure.5 These IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reactions require prior allergen exposure and sensitization, implying that prior exposure to peanut had already occurred in utero or through unknown exposures in the diet or environment, such as through skin or respiratory routes.6 Because of frequent overlap between peanut allergy and tree nut allergy and their similar natural history, with 80% to 90% persistence of the food allergy into adulthood,7 these 2 allergies are often considered together as peanut or tree nut (P/TN) allergy.
For many years, pediatric guidelines have recommended the avoidance of P/TN for at least the first 3 years of life, with some experts also recommending that P/TN be avoided during pregnancy.8 These recommendations were rescinded recently when literature reviews showed little support for them.9,10 For decades, many investigators have posited that modifications of the maternal diet during pregnancy might prevent food allergies.11- 14 However, some studies on maternal avoidance of peanut during pregnancy actually demonstrated an increase in peanut sensitization in the child,15- 17 while other studies found no association.5,14,18,19 In related research, early exposure to allergenic foods in infant diets may decrease sensitization and increase oral tolerance to those foods.20- 24
Given the lack of clarity in the current literature, an important quandary exists: should the pregnant mother include or exclude P/TN in her diet? The goal of our investigation was to clarify the association between peripregnancy consumption of P/TN by mothers and the subsequent development of P/TN allergy in their offspring….


Micheal Borella’s Chicago-Kent Law Review article, Food Allergies In Public Schools: Toward A Model Code

Click to access Borella.pdf

USDA’s Accommodating Children With Special Dietary Needs

Child and Teen Checkup Fact Sheet
Video: What to Expect From A Child’s Physical Exam

New federal guidelines for schools regarding student allergies

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Northwestern University study: Young adolescent use of marijuana results in changes to the brain structure

23 Dec

Often children who evidence signs of a substance abuse problem come from homes where there is a substance abuse problem. That problem may be generational. eMedicineHealth lists some of the causes of substance abuse:

Substance Abuse Causes
Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood to abuse substances.
Factors within a family that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to increased risk of drug abuse.
o Chaotic home environment
o Ineffective parenting
o Lack of nurturing and parental attachment
Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse.
o Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom
o Poor social coping skills
o Poor school performance
o Association with a deviant peer group
o Perception of approval of drug use behavior

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self-esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs?

Anahad O’Connor reported in the New York Times article, Increasing Marijuana Use in High School Is Reported:

A new federal report shows that the percentage of American high school students who smoke marijuana is slowly rising, while the use of alcohol and almost every other drug is falling.
The report raises concerns that the relaxation of restrictions on marijuana, which can now be sold legally in 20 states and the District of Columbia, has been influencing use of the drug among teenagers. Health officials are concerned by the steady increase and point to what they say is a growing body of evidence that adolescent brains, which are still developing, are susceptible to subtle changes caused by marijuana.
“The acceptance of medical marijuana in multiple states leads to the sense that if it’s used for medicinal purposes, then it can’t be harmful,” said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which issued the report. “This survey has shown very consistently that the greater the number of kids that perceive marijuana as risky, the less that smoke it.” Starting early next year, recreational marijuana use will also be legal in Colorado and Washington.
Experts debate the extent to which heavy marijuana use may cause lasting detriment to the brain. But Dr. Volkow said that one way marijuana might affect cognitive function in adolescents was by disrupting the normal development of white matter through which cells in the brain communicate.
According to the latest federal figures, which were part of an annual survey, Monitoring the Future, more than 12 percent of eighth graders and 36 percent of seniors at public and private schools around the country said they had smoked marijuana in the past year. About 60 percent of high school seniors said they did not view regular marijuana use as harmful, up from about 55 percent last year.
The report looked at a wide variety of drugs and substances. It found, for example, that drinking was steadily declining, with roughly 40 percent of high school seniors reporting having used alcohol in the past month, down from a peak of 53 percent in 1997. Abuse of the prescription painkiller Vicodin is half what it was a decade ago among seniors; cocaine and heroin use are at historic lows in almost every grade.
Cigarette smoking has also fallen precipitously in recent years. For the first time since the survey began, the percentage of students who smoked a cigarette in the past month dropped below 10 percent. Roughly 8.5 percent of seniors smoke cigarettes on a daily basis, compared with 6.5 percent who smoke marijuana daily, a slight increase from 2010.
Studies show that the concentration of THC in marijuana, its psychoactive ingredient, has tripled since the early 1990s, and Dr. Volkow said there was concern that the rising use and increased potency could affect the likelihood of car accidents and could lower school performance.
“What is most worrisome is that we’re seeing high levels of everyday use of marijuana among teenagers,” Dr. Volkow said. “That is the type that’s most likely to have negative effects on brain function and performance.”
Northwestern University researchers studied the effect of early marijuana use on adolescent brains.


Cannabis-Related Working Memory Deficits and Associated Subcortical Morphological Differences in Healthy Individuals and Schizophrenia Subjects
Matthew J. Smith*,1,
Derin J. Cobia1,
Lei Wang1,2,
Kathryn I. Alpert1,
Will J. Cronenwett1,
Morris B. Goldman1,
Daniel Mamah3,
Deanna M. Barch3–5,7,
Hans C. Breiter1,6,7 and
John G. Csernansky1,7
Author Affiliations
1 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL;
2 Department of Radiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL;
3 Department of Psychiatry, Washington University, St Louis, MO;
4 Department of Psychology, Washington University, St Louis, MO;
5 Department of Radiology, Washington University, St Louis, MO;
6 Warren Wright Adolescent Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
7Denotes shared senior authorship on this article.
↵*To whom correspondence should be addressed; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 710 N. Lake Shore Drive, 13th Floor, Abbott Hall, Chicago, IL 60611, US; tel: 1-312-503-2542, fax: 1-312-503-0527, e-mail:
Cannabis use is associated with working memory (WM) impairments; however, the relationship between cannabis use and WM neural circuitry is unclear. We examined whether a cannabis use disorder (CUD) was associated with differences in brain morphology between control subjects with and without a CUD and between schizophrenia subjects with and without a CUD, and whether these differences related to WM and CUD history. Subjects group-matched on demographics included 44 healthy controls, 10 subjects with a CUD history, 28 schizophrenia subjects with no history of substance use disorders, and 15 schizophrenia subjects with a CUD history. Large-deformation high-dimensional brain mapping with magnetic resonance imaging was used to obtain surface-based representations of the striatum, globus pallidus, and thalamus, compared across groups, and correlated with WM and CUD history. Surface maps were generated to visualize morphological differences. There were significant cannabis-related parametric decreases in WM across groups. Similar cannabis-related shape differences were observed in the striatum, globus pallidus, and thalamus in controls and schizophrenia subjects. Cannabis-related striatal and thalamic shape differences correlated with poorer WM and younger age of CUD onset in both groups. Schizophrenia subjects demonstrated cannabis-related neuroanatomical differences that were consistent and exaggerated compared with cannabis-related differences found in controls. The cross-sectional results suggest that both CUD groups were characterized by WM deficits and subcortical neuroanatomical differences. Future longitudinal studies could help determine whether cannabis use contributes to these observed shape differences or whether they are biomarkers of a vulnerability to the effects of cannabis that predate its misuse.

Here is the press release from Northwestern University:

Marijuana Users Have Abnormal Brain Structure and Poor Memory
Drug abuse appears to foster brain changes that resemble schizophrenia
December 16, 2013 | by Marla Paul
• The younger drug abuse starts, the more abnormal the brain
CHICAGO — Teens who were heavy marijuana users — smoking it daily for about three years — had abnormal changes in their brain structures related to working memory and performed poorly on memory tasks, reports a new Northwestern Medicine® study.
A poor working memory predicts poor academic performance and everyday functioning.
The brain abnormalities and memory problems were observed during the individuals’ early twenties, two years after they stopped smoking marijuana, which could indicate the long-term effects of chronic use. Memory-related structures in their brains appeared to shrink and collapse inward, possibly reflecting a decrease in neurons.
The study also shows the marijuana-related brain abnormalities are correlated with a poor working memory performance and look similar to schizophrenia-related brain abnormalities. Over the past decade, Northwestern scientists, along with scientists at other institutions, have shown that changes in brain structure may lead to changes in the way the brain functions.
This is the first study to target key brain regions in the deep subcortical gray matter of chronic marijuana users with structural MRI and to correlate abnormalities in these regions with an impaired working memory. Working memory is the ability to remember and process information in the moment and — if needed — transfer it to long-term memory. Previous studies have evaluated the effects of marijuana on the cortex, and few have directly compared chronic marijuana use in otherwise healthy individuals and individuals with schizophrenia.
The younger the individuals were when they started chronically using marijuana, the more abnormally their brain regions were shaped, the study reports. The findings suggest that these regions related to memory may be more susceptible to the effects of the drug if abuse starts at an earlier age.
“The study links the chronic use of marijuana to these concerning brain abnormalities that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it,” said lead study author Matthew Smith, an assistant research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “With the movement to decriminalize marijuana, we need more research to understand its effect on the brain.”
The paper was published Dec. 16 in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin.
In the U.S., marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug and young adults have the highest — and growing — prevalence of use. Decriminalization of the drug may lead to greater use.
Because the study results examined one point in time, a longitudinal study is needed to definitively show if marijuana is responsible for the brain changes and memory impairment. It is possible that the abnormal brain structures reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to marijuana abuse. But evidence that the younger a subject started using the drug the greater his brain abnormality indicates marijuana may be the cause, Smith said.
The groups in the study started using marijuana daily between 16 to 17 years of age for about three years. At the time of the study, they had been marijuana free for about two years. A total of 97 subjects participated, including matched groups of healthy controls, subjects with a marijuana use disorder, schizophrenia subjects with no history of substance use disorders, and schizophrenia subjects with a marijuana use disorder. The subjects who used marijuana did not abuse any other drugs.
Few studies have examined marijuana’s effect on the deep regions in the brain — the ‘subcortical gray matter’ below the noodle-shaped cortex. The study also is unique in that it looked at the shapes of the striatum, globus pallidus and thalamus, structures in the subcortex that are critical for motivation and working memory.
The Marijuana and Schizophrenia Connection
Chronic use of marijuana may contribute to changes in brain structure that are associated with having schizophrenia, the Northwestern research shows. Of the 15 marijuana smokers who had schizophrenia in the study, 90 percent started heavily using the drug before they developed the mental disorder. Marijuana abuse has been linked to developing schizophrenia in prior research.
“The abuse of popular street drugs, such as marijuana, may have dangerous implications for young people who are developing or have developed mental disorders,” said co-senior study author John Csernansky, M.D., chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “This paper is among the first to reveal that the use of marijuana may contribute to the changes in brain structure that have been associated with having schizophrenia.”
Chronic marijuana use could augment the underlying disease process associated with schizophrenia, Smith noted. “If someone has a family history of schizophrenia, they are increasing their risk of developing schizophrenia if they abuse marijuana,” he said.
While chronic marijuana smokers and chronic marijuana smokers with schizophrenia both had brain changes related to the drug, subjects with the mental disorder had greater deterioration in the thalamus. That structure is the communication hub of the brain and is critical for learning, memory and communications between brain regions. The brain regions examined in this study also affect motivation, which is already notably impaired in people with schizophrenia.
“A tremendous amount of addiction research has focused on brain regions traditionally connected with reward/aversion function, and thus motivation,” noted co-senior study author Hans Breiter, M.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Warren Wright Adolescent Center at Feinberg and Northwestern Memorial. “This study very nicely extends the set of regions of concern to include those involved with working memory and higher level cognitive functions necessary for how well you organize your life and can work in society.”
“If you have schizophrenia and you frequently smoke marijuana, you may be at an increased risk for poor working memory, which predicts your everyday functioning,” Smith said.
The research was supported by grants R01 MH056584 and P50 MH071616 from the National Institute of Mental Health and grants P20 DA026002 and RO1 DA027804 from National Institute of Drug Abuse, all of the National Institutes of Health.
– See more at:–poor-memory.html#sthash.coRZr6cm.dpuf

What Steps Should a Parent Take?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a series of questions parents should ask
If you suspect that your child has a substance abuse problem, you will have to seek help of some type. You will need a plan of action. The Partnership for a Drug Free America lists 7 Steps to Take and each step is explained at the site.
If your child has a substance abuse problem, both you and your child will need help. “One day at a time” is a famous recovery affirmation which you and your child will live the meaning. The road to recovery may be long or short, it will have twists and turns with one step forward and two steps back. In order to reach the goal of recovery, both parent and child must persevere.

Questions to Ask a Treatment Facility

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (Center), lists the questions that should be asked of a treatment center. Assuming you are not one of those ill-advised parents who supply their child with alcohol or drugs like marijuana in an attempt to be hip or cool, suspicions that your child may have a substance abuse problem are a concern. Confirmation that your child has a substance abuse problem can be heartbreaking. Even children whose parents have seemingly done everything right can become involved with drugs. The best defense is knowledge about your child, your child’s friends, and your child’s activities


University of Washington study: Heroin use among young suburban and rural non-traditional users on the increase


Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base

Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

Is Your Teen Using?

Al-Anon and Alateen

WEBMD: Parenting and Teen Substance Abuse

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

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The 12/23/13 Joy Jar

23 Dec

It is just over a day until Christmas and moi will be celebrating Christmas and reflecting upon the end of the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise. Aside from persistence, reflection, balance and of course, gratitude – the purpose of the exercise; moi learned quite a bit of values from reading the thoughts of a kaleidoscope of people and philosophies. Moi kept returning to her Christian faith and it’s aspirational values. The true message of Christmas is the Return of the Savior. The Return of the Savior is significant for Christians because each of us is a Child of God. Knowing that we belong to the Father gives each a peace that passes all understanding. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the fact moi is a Child of God.

Christianity is a love relationship between a child of god and his Maker through the Son Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Adrian Rogers

Do you see that God’s sometimes painful dealings with you are but an extension of his fatherhood? Do you understand that his rebuke only affirms your glorious position as a child of god, who loves you enough to place his disciplining hand on your life?
Charles Stanley

Be encouraged, child of god. He loves you even in the midst of your pain. He loves you even when you don’t love Him. He loves you when you feel utterly alone. He loves you with an everlasting love. Your suffering can take many things away form you, your health, your happiness, your prosperity, your popularity, your friends, your career, even your family. But there’s one thing suffering can’t take away: it can’t take away the love of God.
Ray Pritchard

It is better to be the child of god than king of the whole world.
St Aloysius Gonzaga

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of god. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Maryanne Williamson

“God makes three requests of his children: Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have, now”
African-American Proverb

“An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”
A. W. Tozer

“Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealously, and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.”
Og Mandino

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
Marianne Williamson

The 12/22/13 Joy Jar

22 Dec

It is just a few days until Christmas and moi will be celebrating Christmas and reflecting upon the end of the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise. Aside from persistence, reflection, balance and of course, gratitude – the purpose of the exercise; moi learned quite a bit of values from reading the thoughts of a kaleidoscope of people and philosophies. Moi kept returning to her Christian faith and it’s aspirational values. The true message of Christmas is the Return of the Savior. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the expectation of eternal life.

Saving faith is an immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, resting upon Him alone, for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of God’s grace.
Charles Spurgeon

I believe that nothing happens apart from divine determination and decree. We shall never be able to escape from the doctrine of divine predestination – the doctrine that God has foreordained certain people unto eternal life.
Charles Spurgeon

The reward of eternal life requires effort.
Thomas S. Monson

Each heartfelt prayer, each Church meeting attended, each worthy friend, each righteous decision, each act of service perfomed all precede that goal of eternal life.
Thomas S. Monson

As a Christian, Christ died so that we will have eternal life in Him in Heaven. What it looks like doesn’t matter, what it smells like doesn’t matter, as long as Christ is there it will be Heaven to me.
T. D. Jakes

Eternal life and the invisible world are only to be sought in God. Only within Him do all spirits dwell. He is an abyss of individuality, the only infinite plenitude.
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

Besides the physical ordinance of baptism and the laying on of hands, one must be spiritually born again to gain exaltation and eternal life.
Ezra Taft Benson

The destination is a happy life, an accomplished life that doesn’t end with death but with eternal life.
Angelo Scola

The hope of eternal life is not to be taken up upon slight grounds. It is a subject to be settled between God and your own soul; settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin.
Ellen G. White

Among the many signs of a lively faith and hope we have in eternal life, one of the surest is not being overly sad at the death of those whom we dearly love in our Lord.
Saint Ignatius

Saving faith is an immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, resting upon Him alone, for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of God’s grace.
Charles Spurgeon

“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”
C.S. Lewis

Michigan State University study: Young children can understand large numbers

21 Dec

Mary Niederberger of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes in the article, Formula written for math success:

Mastery of fractions and early division is a predictor of students’ later success with algebra and other higher-level mathematics, based on a study done by a team of researchers led by a Carnegie Mellon University professor.
That means more effective teaching of the concepts is needed to improve math scores among U.S. high school students, which have remained stagnant for more than 30 years….
The study said a likely reason for U.S. students’ weakness in fractions and division could be linked to their teachers’ “lack of a firm conceptual understanding” of the concepts, citing several other studies in which many American teachers were unable to explain the reasons behind mathematical solutions, while most teachers in Japan and China were able to offer two or three explanations.


Early Predictors of High School Mathematics Achievement
1. Robert S. Siegler1,
2. Greg J. Duncan2,
3. Pamela E. Davis-Kean3,4,
4. Kathryn Duckworth5,
5. Amy Claessens6,
6. Mimi Engel7,
7. Maria Ines Susperreguy3,4 and
8. Meichu Chen4Abstract
Identifying the types of mathematics content knowledge that are most predictive of students’ long-term learning is essential for improving both theories of mathematical development and mathematics education. To identify these types of knowledge, we examined long-term predictors of high school students’ knowledge of algebra and overall mathematics achievement. Analyses of large, nationally representative, longitudinal data sets from the United States and the United Kingdom revealed that elementary school students’ knowledge of fractions and of division uniquely predicts those students’ knowledge of algebra and overall mathematics achievement in high school, 5 or 6 years later, even after statistically controlling for other types of mathematical knowledge, general intellectual ability, working memory, and family income and education. Implications of these findings for understanding and improving mathematics learning are discussed.
1.Published online before print June 14, 2012, doi: 10.1177/0956797612440101 Psychological Science June 14, 2012 0956797612440101

Math is important for a number of reasons.

Michigan State University’s Office of Supportive Services succinctly states why math is important:
Why is math important?

All four year Universities have a math requirement
Math improves your skills:
◦Critical Thinking Skills
◦Deductive Logic and Reasoning Skills
◦Problem Solving Skills
A good knowledge of math and statistics can expand your career options
Physical Sciences – Chemistry, Engineering, Physics
Life and Health Sciences – Biology, Psychology, Pharmacy, Nursing, Optometry
Social Sciences – Anthropology, Communications, Economics, Linquistics, Education, Geography
Technical Sciences – Computer Science, Networking, Software Development
Business and Commerce
Actuarial Sciences

Young children have the ability to grasp large numbers.

Science Daily reported in the article, Kids Grasp Large Numbers Remarkably Young:

Children as young as 3 understand multi-digit numbers more than previously believed and may be ready for more direct math instruction when they enter school, according to research led by a Michigan State University education scholar.
The study, online in the journal Child Development and funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, has implications for U.S. students who continue losing ground internationally in mathematics performance.
“Contrary to the view that young children do not understand place value and multi-digit numbers, we found that they actually know quite a lot about it,” said Kelly Mix, MSU professor of educational psychology and co-author of the study. “They are more ready than we think when they enter kindergarten.”
Understanding place value is the gateway to higher math skills such as addition with carrying, and there is a strong tie between place value skills in early elementary grades and problem-solving ability later on.
“In short, children who fail to master place value face chronic low achievement in mathematics,” the study states.
In several experiments, Mix and Richard Prather and Linda Smith, both from Indiana University, tested children ages 3 to 7 on their ability to identify and compare two- and three-digit numbers.
In one task, for example, children were shown two quantities (such as 128 and 812) and asked to point out which was larger. “There was significant improvement in interpreting place value from age 3 to 7,” Mix said, “but it was remarkable that even the youngest children showed at least some understanding of multi-digit numbers.”
Mix said the surprising findings are likely due to the fact that children in today’s society are bombarded with multi-digit numbers — from phone numbers to street addresses to price tags.
Interestingly, children may be developing partial knowledge of the place value system at least partly from language, she explained. Children often hear multi-digit numbers named while also seeing them in print, such as when parents comment on a calendar, ask their child to push the elevator buttons or look for a room number in an office building.


Journal Reference:
1.Kelly S. Mix, Richard W. Prather, Linda B. Smith, Jerri DaSha Stockton. Young Children’s Interpretation of Multidigit Number Names: From Emerging Competence to Mastery. Child Development, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12197
Michigan State University (2013, December 18). Kids grasp large numbers remarkably young. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2013,

Jonathan Cohn reported about an unprecedented experiment which occurred in Romanian orphanages in the New Republic article, The Two Year Window. There are very few experiments involving humans because of ethical considerations.

Drury, Nelson, and their collaborators are still learning about the orphans. But one upshot of their work is already clear. Childhood adversity can damage the brain as surely as inhaling toxic substances or absorbing a blow to the head can. And after the age of two, much of that damage can be difficult to repair, even for children who go on to receive the nurturing they were denied in their early years. This is a revelation with profound implication—and not just for the Romanian orphans.
APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILLION American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers get care from somebody other than a relative, whether through organized day care centers or more informal arrangements, according to the Census Bureau. And much of that care is not very good. One widely cited study of child care in four states, by researchers in Colorado, found that only 8 percent of infant care centers were of “good” or “excellent” quality, while 40 percent were “poor.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that three in four infant caregivers provide only minimal cognitive and language stimulation—and that more than half of young children in non-maternal care receive “only some” or “hardly any” positive caregiving.,0&passthru=YzBlNDJmMmRkZTliNDgwZDY4MDhhYmIwMjYyYzhlMjg

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children.


Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls

Girls and math phobia

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

Dr. Wilda ©