PISA results getting lots of commentary from experts in US education

So the results of the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment survey are in, and I gather that the U.S. did not do as well as many had hoped.

The survey is a paper test given by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, headquartered in Paris) to more than half a million students located in 65 different countries.

In a nutshell: In math, 35 countries did better than U.S. students. In reading, the U.S. came in 20th place (it was 14th place the year before); and in science, 25th place (down from 17th place in the last survey).

Predictably, lots of people have lots to say about this. For a small sample of commentary from three different sources, read on.

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Yes, there are children in Japan

Earthquake! Tsunami! Floods! Radiation leaks!

Gah, it’s hard to watch the news these days. It’s especially hard to watch it with kids.

We don’t make a point of watching the news on TV with our daughter, but she’s an attentive little owlet who picks up on things. She’s also empathetic and inquisitive, so she wants to know what’s going on and why and what is radiation and are there kids in Japan?

The answer, of course, is yes. There are kids in Japan.

The Guardian is reporting that the British charity Save the Children estimates as many as 100,000 children could be directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Thousands of Japanese are dead or missing. Adding to the confusion is the fact that a lot of children were in school when the natural disasters happened. Rescue workers and others were challenged first in reuniting children with their parents, and now in getting them medical attention, food and shelter.

The Guardian article touches on the emotional and psychological toll taken on children displaced by this kind of devastation. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has an article on helping children in the U.S. cope with the tragic news coming out of Japan.

The article, by child educal psychologist, parenting book author and UCLA associate clinical professor of psychology Charlotte Reznick, includes point-by-point advice on how to help your child cope, and how to help your child help the Japanese.

For my sensitive 6-year-old, I’m keeping my information and my answers as simple and straightforward as possible. Yes, there are kids in Japan.

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Teen philanthropists bring tales of Brazil’s orphans back to Missoula

Speaking of good parenting, somebody is sure raising these kids right. The five members of the Missoula Youth Philanthropy Club recently returned from a 10-day visit to Brazil, where they hung out with some 200 fellow teenagers at the Betel Orphanage.

They did so with a big boost of community support thanks to the Missoula Community Foundation. And along the way, “the club raised $6,800 for the Horses for Orphans program, which also operates similar programs in India and Mozambique.”

The club is looking for new recruits to replace the members who will be graduating this spring. AND it is also looking for worthwhile projects on which to bestow grants of up to $1,500. So if you know a teenager who might fit the bill, encourage him or her to look into the youth philanthropy club. And if you know of a good group that could use a grant, encourage its members to apply. The current application process will be open through April 1. Here’s where to find more information.

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UM to host discussion on the plight of women and children in Haiti

This upcoming Wednesday, Save the Children executive vice president Carolyn Miles will be in town to lead a community discussion titled “Women and Children at Risk: Haiti and the Developing World.”

The discussion will be hosted by the World Affairs Council of Montana, which is asking for a $5 admission fee for members of the public; it’s free for students and World Affairs Council members.

According to the news release:

Miles, an established leader in the nonprofit sector and developing world, has traveled to more than 45 countries. Her visit to Missoula is part of a national outreach effort to increase awareness of the challenges faced by women and children in developing nations.

She will speak about the growing efforts to empower women, as well as Save the Children’s successful programs that address issues of basic health and education services for children around the world.

Miles also will discuss efforts being made to increase economic opportunities, HIV/OVC initiatives for children and communities, and emergency assistance during natural disasters, war and conflict.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake disaster. Miles will share impressions from her recent visit to the country and the level of progress toward improving conditions from the tragedy.

The event is part of the World Affairs Council of Montana’s Distinguished Speakers Program and is the 2011 Dirk and Kim Visser/Allegiance Benefit Plan Management Inc. lecture. It is co-sponsored by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at UM.

Show up at the University Center Ballroom at 7 p.m. with your $5 if you want to attend. For more information, visit the World Affairs Council website.

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