Decades ago, colleges would start off freshmen orientation by pointing out how many students wouldn’t succeed. The practice has gone out of style. But the graduation rate has barely budged: less than two-thirds of students who start college ever finish. So the central mystery of higher education remains the same: who will graduate? Who won’t? What separates the successes from the dropouts? And how can colleges turn the latter into the former before it’s too late?
Ellen Wagner’s job is to answer those questions. The longtime education technology expert directs the Predictive Analytics Reporting Framework, one of the biggest data sets of higher education’s nascent era of Big Data.
Using data on 1.8 million students from the past, Wagner can see the future. Give her the bare bones of a college freshman’s biography — age, major, whether he is the first in his family to go to college, whether she has served in the military — and she can predict whether that student is likely to graduate.
One of the biggest arguments in favor of a college education is that college grads make more money than do those with only a high-school diploma or a few years of college. The difference in earning power over a lifetime—the college wage premium—has been well-documented: One of the most popular recent sources, a paper by Christopher Avery and Sarah Turner, estimated the gap at more than $500,000, on average.
Those last two words are more important than anyone gives them credit for. Focusing on the average college wage premium puts the emphasis on the expected gains from education, which is not a bad thing if you’re trying to persuade lots of people to go to college. But it’s only part of the story. College tuition is expensive, and plenty of students take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt in pursuit of that wage premium—when what matters just as much is how risky it is relative to other ways they might spend their money or time.
When we look at distribution of the college wage premium—how much more the lowest-, middle-, and highest-earning quartiles make relative to high-school grads, the picture of risk becomes clearer. At every level short of graduate school, there’s a not-insignificant chance that a successful high-school graduate will out-earn you. The chances are greatest for college dropouts—the people who spend some time and money but don’t walk away with a degree.
Do you see where that says “based on households with people between 20 to 40 years old with at least some education debt”? That’s actually quite a bit of a fudge!
What’s the deal with these numbers? GLAD YOU ASKED. It’s not what it sounds like!
Those aren’t households with people between 20 and 40; those are households headed by people between 20 and 40. Which is to say, this data excludes all people living in households headed by, say, their parents, or other adults. The way Brookings put this is: “households led by adults between the ages of 20 and 40.” Just another way to say it excludes all households led by anyone over 40! (Those households might be identical in student debt to “young” households! Or they might not? WHO KNOWS!)
One effect of this age spread sample is that it includes college graduates from up to almost 20 years ago. This is literally not at all a study of college graduates of the last five years, or even ten years. We’re talking about people up to the age of 40, well into Gen X.
Also, in this survey, when there are multiple people in the household, the Brookings Institution simply divided the amount of college debt by number of people in the household. So one person’s $20,000 college debt becomes two people’s $10,000 college debt. This works out mathematically, of course, but not structurally.
The application essay from a student in China sounded much like thousands of others sent each year to the University of Washington at Seattle.
“ ‘I did this,’ ” admissions officer Kim Lovaas remembers the essay saying, and, “ ‘I did that.’ ” Then she came to a phrase that stopped her short: “Insert girl’s name here.”
“I thought, ‘Did I just read that?’ ” said Lovaas, associate director for international student enrollment, admissions, and services. “To me, that was a really big red flag.”
The obvious clue in the essay was an indicator of a serious problem that’s not always so easy to detect: fraudulent applications from Chinese students seeking to get into U.S. colleges and universities.
As Americans debate revelations about sweeping data collection by the National Security Agency, the secretive federal department has funded a seemingly more benign agenda at Ohlone Elementary School in Palo Alto.
In a summer program known as STARTALK, 20 fifth- and sixth-graders are honing their Mandarin speaking, listening, reading and writing skills through in-depth study of the centuries-old Chinese folk tale “The Magic Paintbrush.”
Students have read the text in Mandarin, sung its stories, incorporated its lessons into their own 21st-century versions of the folk tale and created iMovies of the rewritten versions. On Thursday, July 3, they were to perform the original story in colorful, hand-made costumes for their parents.
The Ohlone program is one of more than 100 similar summer initiatives across the country aimed at boosting Americans’ abilities in Chinese languages and other “less commonly taught languages,” said Duarte Silva, the Stanford University-based executive director of the California World Language Project.
Those “strategic languages” include Arabic, Russian, Hindi and Farsi, with Korean soon to be added to the list.
Since the federal program began in 2006 Silva has been securing summer STARTALK grants, $90,000 of which this year is funding the four-week Ohlone program as well as a program for Sunnyvale middle school students that began this week. Later in the summer Silva and Stanford colleague Helene Chan will present their research about language training in a workshop for language teachers from across the nation.
Displacement of longtime low-income residents due to gentrification has been an all too common story in the Bay Area recently. Now the same insidious process is targeting some of the most “at-risk” students in Oakland.
Over the past two weeks, in the end of school rush, the Oakland Unified School District’s administration revealed they have been in close discussions with gentrifying developers that puts Dewey Academy, one of the public continuation high schools in the OUSD, in the cross-hairs of real estate agents and developers. The developers are already planning a 24-story luxury condo building overshadowing Dewey and now want to add Dewey and the old OUSD headquarters to the project.
What follows is an overview of the situation, why it’s problematic, how it’s situated in the context of gentrification in the Bay Area, and what those of us opposed to the displacement of Dewey and the gentrification of Oakland can do about it.
John Waite investigates why scientists say autism research receives a fraction of the funding invested in other conditions and that as a consequence, there are very few effective interventions to treat the disorder. Meanwhile, parents of autistic children say they face a long wait for treatment provided by their local authority, and have instead turned to unproven methods offered by nutritionists and psychotherapists.
WHEN I was about 9 years old, I graduated to a Little League whose diamonds were a few miles from our house, in a neighborhood that got rougher after dark. After one practice finished early, I ended up as the last kid left with the coach, waiting in the gloaming while he grumbled, looked at his watch and finally left me — to wait or walk home, I’m not sure which.
I started walking. Halfway there, along a busy road, my father picked me up. He called my coach, as furious as you would expect a protective parent to be; the coach, who probably grew up having fistfights in that neighborhood, gave as good as he got; I finished the season in a different league.
It was probably late sixties or early seventies – when this pen pusher was a school student – one came across an article by a gentleman called P N Oak in a Marathi magazine called ‘Amrit’. The article made a particular case about Taj Mahal which it termed as ‘Tejo Maha Aalay’ or hindu god Shiva’s abode. It tried to establish through various ‘explanations’ that a Shiva Temple was destroyed to build Taj Mahal and if we dig deep we can find ‘remnants’ of the earlier structure.
For someone who was taught in an ambience, where few of our teachers never lost any opportunity to fill our gullible minds about the ‘hated other’, it was rather difficult to immediately grasp the lie which was peddled by this soldier turned writer. Nobody could then have the premonition also that such false claims – that their places of worship were buried beneath the Mosques as a lame excuse to demolish them – would become order of the day, in Hindutva politics.
Given the expansive growth in the field, it’s become challenging to discern what belongs in a modern computer science degree.
My own faculty is engaging in this debate, so I’ve coalesced my thoughts as an answer to the question, “What should every computer science major know?”
I’ve tried to answer this question as the conjunction of four concerns:
What should every student know to get a good job?
What should every student know to maintain lifelong employment?
What should every student know to enter graduate school?
What should every student know to benefit society?
My thoughts below factor into both general principles and specific recommendations relevant to the modern computing landscape.
Computer science majors: feel free to use this as a self-study guide.
Please email or tweet with suggestions for addition and deletion.
Wearable technology in education can increase a child’s ability to more naturally interact with their environment, and to be be creative and innovative. Students can more easily access information without any obstructions. Examples of wearable technology in the classroom are: Autographer, Keyglove, Muse, VR, Smart Watches, GoPro, and Google Glass. Autographer allows students to capture students direct notes to ensure complete note taking. Keyglove are wireless gloves that are useful in gaming, design, art, music, data entry, device control, and 3D objects. Muse tracks students’ brain activity onto a smartphone or tablet so that it can detect what activities they might need to keep them focused on studying. Virtual Reality gives students hands-on experience that allows students to interact with the object in that particular environment. The iPod is also an effective learning tool that empowered students to creatively think about the subject as well as to allow greater collaboration. GoPro is a camera that can capture a student or teacher’s point of view of events, such as a lesson or student behavior. Finally, the Google Glass enables students and teachers to search, take a picture, record video, and answer and translate questions in a foreign language. One application would be for medical students to watch different medical procedures in real time.
Teachers, tutors, or anyone who is responsible for teaching children to read will be interested in an excellent and free online self-study course from Reading Rockets. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and The Overbrook Foundation.
Although it is titled “First Year Teacher Self-Study Course,” it can provide valuable professional development for even veteran teachers of grades K-3; it could easily be incorporated into a Professional Learning Community or an individual Professional Development Plan.
The course is divided into 10 self-paced learning modules: print awareness, sounds of speech, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, spelling, comprehension, writing, and assessment. In addition to in-depth information, the course offers pre- and post-assessments, practical application in the classroom, articles and video demonstrations, assignments, and a curated list of online resources.
When Andrea Chandler, a disabled Navy veteran, used her GI bill funds to go to college, she expected to graduate with a BA that would allow her to build a career and establish a new life for herself. Instead, she never completed the requirements that would have allowed her to transfer to a four-year college, joining the ranks of the many disabled students who are unable to attain a four year degree—despite the rising number of disabled students entering academia.
Today, an estimated 60% of disabled young adults make it to college after high school, yet nearly two thirds are unable to complete their degrees within six years. Is this the fault of their disabilities, or is something more complex at play? The testimony of disabled students suggests that the problem lies not with their disabilities, per se, but with the numerous barriers they encounter in higher education, from failing to provide blind students with readers, to the refusal to accommodate wheelchair users in otherwise accessible classrooms.
In Chandler’s case, going to college after leaving the Navy seemed like the logical next step, but she knew she would need help navigating campus with her wheelchair or service dog, depending on the pain levels caused by her fibromyalgia. She contacted her community college to request accommodations for her service dog, a German Shepherd named Sid, and was ordered to provide information above and beyond Department of Education requirements:
By running an experiment among Germans collecting their passports or ID cards in the citizen centers of Berlin, we find that individuals with an East German family background cheat significantly more on an abstract task than those with a West German family background. The longer individuals were exposed to socialism, the more likely they were to cheat on our task. While it was recently argued that markets decay morals (Falk and Szech, 2013), we provide evidence that other political and economic regimes such as socialism might have an even more detrimental effect on individuals’ behavior.
Last week I wrote that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there is no reason to believe that American colleges are, on average, the best in the world. A number of people who responded, including several in letters to The Times, raised issues worth addressing more broadly.
Several of the questions concerned whether the American graduates in the study, known as Piaac, short for the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, are somehow different from those in other countries to whom they’re being compared.
Steve Hochstadt, professor of history at Illinois College, noted that a third of Americans have a bachelor’s degree, “compared with about 23 percent” in member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and asserted that this causes Americans, on average, to score lower on tests.
A chart with the article showed that Austrian graduates scored highest in a test of numeracy; Mr. Hochstadt noted that less than 15 percent of Austrians complete college, implying that those who do are likely to be higher achievers.
At a time when the number of high school graduates and college enrollment rates are flat, New Mexico State University is poised to raise an important admission standard for incoming freshmen: the minimum grade point average.
The university’s Board of Regents will likely vote on a measure on July 23 that includes raising the GPA from 2.5 to 2.75, effective in the fall of 2016.
“I expect it to pass,” Provost Dan Howard said Friday, “but I don’t know that it will.”
A similar discussion is just getting started at the University of New Mexico, where the issue has caused heated controversy in the past.
Raising standards would almost certainly – at least at first – reduce the number of entering freshmen at the state’s two largest schools. And that would come at a time when the state
is projected to see only a small increase in its number of high school graduates over the next decade.
But officials say, in the long term, the move is expected to strengthen the NMSU brand, improve graduation rates and bolster the university’s image outside of New Mexico, all of which would make it easier to compete for out-of-state and foreign students.
The provost, however, said none of those benefits were behind the move to raise the admission standard.
More than two decades ago, Smith and Welch (1989) used the 1940 through 1980 census files to document important relative black progress. However, recent data indicate that this progress did not continue, at least among men. The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965. A move toward more punitive treatment of arrested offenders drove prison growth in recent decades, and this trend is evident among arrested offenders in every major crime category. Changes in the severity of corrections policies have had a much larger impact on black communities than white communities because arrest rates have historically been much greater for blacks than whites.
I generally am quite an optimistic person. I tend to believe that everything will work out for the best unless the evidence is overwhelmingly to the contrary, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not prone to drama. That’s why when I say that modern parenting is in serious trouble — crisis, even — I hope you’ll listen, and listen carefully. I’ve worked with children and their parents across two continents and two decades, and what I’ve seen in recent years alarms me. Here are the greatest problems, as I see them:
1. A fear of our children.
Summer break has come to an end for about 2,800 K-8 students in four Charlotte year-round schools.
Monday starts the 2014-15 school year at Bruns Academy, Walter G. Byers School, Druid Hills Academy and Thomasboro Academy. The schools are part of Project LIFT, a public-private partnership between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and donors who pledged $55 million to improve academics and graduation rates at nine westside schools. The private money helps cover the cost of extra teacher time and busing.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is perhaps best known for funding global health programs, but in the U.S., it has focused largely on education.
The foundation has strongly backed the national education guidelines known as the Common Core. The standards in math and English that specify what skills a student should have for every grade.
“Where it got tricky was in the implementation.”
– Melinda Gates on
the Common Core
“We got so interested in Common Core because we saw such a huge number of students not being prepared to go on to college,” Melinda Gates told Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.
Gates attributes this to different education standards from state to state. She said it was time for something “different.” That different standard was the Common Core, which has now been adopted fully by 45 states.
“We saw the difference they could make in kids lives and we also saw that it brought flexibility to the way you were teaching and that teachers could start to collaborate with one another on lesson plans,” Gates said. “We can help come up with tools that help teachers teach the Common Core. If a teacher wants to teach ‘The Scarlet Letter’ or ‘Beloved’ or ‘The Secret Life of Bees,’ we can have tools there that then help them teach and then scaffold those lessons appropriately to meet the needs of their students.”
But Common Core has been criticized by teachers unions and parent groups, and at least three states have dropped the program this year.
“You don’t understand,” the student said. “This is sociology. I took this class to increase my GPA. It wasn’t supposed to be hard!”
It was my first semester on the faculty, and the student had come to my office to complain about the grade she’d earned on the first paper for my sociology class: a B-minus. I had explained to her why the grade was appropriate, and one she could feel proud of. (UNC’s official grade system says the B range indicates “strong performance demonstrating a high level of attainment,” and that “the student has shown solid promise in the aspect of the discipline under study.”) But the student remained dissatisfied.
Alongside too many such conversations I’ve had, I’m happy to say that there have been at least as many with genuinely curious students who want to explore the material and see where it takes them. But the governing assumption—particularly in relatively humanistic fields like mine—that merely adequate performance deserves an A makes it difficult to document or reward the outstanding work of such curious young minds. That is why I became an advocate for curtailing grade inflation and grading inequality.
TESTS have a bad reputation in education circles these days: They take time, the critics say, put students under pressure and, in the case of standardized testing, crowd out other educational priorities. But the truth is that, used properly, testing as part of an educational routine provides an important tool not just to measure learning, but to promote it.
In one study I published with Jeffrey D. Karpicke, a psychologist at Purdue, we assessed how well students remembered material they had read. After an initial reading, students were tested on some passages by being given a blank sheet of paper and asked to recall as much as possible. They recalled about 70 percent of the ideas.
Other passages were not tested but were reread, and thus 100 percent of the ideas were re-exposed. In final tests given either two days or a week later, the passages that had been tested just after reading were remembered much better than those that had been reread.
This will be Part One of a thread about the Pre-K “mission trip” that several Seattle schools’ employees took as well as one Board director.
Part One will be the Narrative of what happened. Part Two will be the day-by-day planning for this trip.
Mirmac1 got e-mails via public disclosure and they paint a very damning picture. Because of my concerns over this troubling incident, I wrote a full report to the State Auditor. I can only say that I believe there may have been some illegalities in what happened but that’s not my call.
I DO think whether or not funds were misused, some of it feels unethical and it is clear there is a heavy push – from outside the district – on those inside the district for more and more pre-K in Seattle Schools.
There are a couple of SPS individuals who are either myopic or simply do not care about how their push for pre-K could affect/impact other programs and that money is scarce. There was very much of a “just find me the money for this trip” attitude.
Professor Michael F. Shaughnessy
1) Will, you have been editing The Concord Review for ages. When did you begin, and what are you trying to accomplish?
Since 1987, when I got started, the goals have been to: (1) find and celebrate exemplary history research papers by secondary students from the English-speaking world, and (2) to distribute their work as widely as possible to challenge and inspire their peers to read more history and to work on serious history term papers of their own.
2) Currently, very few high school students who want substantial robust feedback about their writing are able to procure it. How are you attempting to address this problem?
In 2002, The Concord Review commissioned a national study of term papers assigned in public high schools. The principal finding was that serious term papers (like the IB Extended Essay) are not being assigned. Our National Writing Board has, since 1998, been providing a unique assessment service for high school history papers, but we now feel that a more direct kind of help can be offered through The Concord Review Tutoring Services, which we are just getting set up.
3) It seems to me that a published author should be able to provide some assistance to a high school student. What is your current plan?
The Concord Review Tutoring Services will connect former authors (293 have gone to Harvard, Princeton or Yale, and 51 to Stanford) published in The Concord Review with high school students who want to work hard on a serious history research paper. Through Skype, it will be possible to provide more personal tutoring and feedback to guide diligent students through their work on a paper that most would not be asked to do in their school. In this way, they will be better prepared for college nonfiction reading and writing tasks. Of course they will be free to submit their papers to The Concord Review, but as we publish only 5% of the ones we get, there is no guarantee of a place.
4) It seems that the focus in high schools across America is sports rather than scholarly research. Any thoughts as to why this is so?
There are untold millions of dollars regularly spent here to provide high school (and younger) athletes with special coaches, summer programs, mentoring and other services to help them compete at the next level. In addition there are untold millions of dollars for athletic scholarships to colleges (including for cheerleading). This kind of support is simply tiny or absent for students who are as serious about their academic work as the athletes are about their sports. If there are any college scholarships available, for example, for the exemplary work in history done by authors published in The Concord Review over the past 27 years, I have not heard about them.
5) I would think that this would be a mutually beneficial experience. Paul Torrance used to talk about the importance of mentoring others. Is this part of your plan?
The old story is that the mentor/teacher learns a great deal in guiding a student through an academic task, and I have no doubt that will be true for Tutors working with The Concord Review Tutoring Services. But high school students with a chance to work online one-on-one with a published Ivy League history student should not only learn to write better, but also it is likely that their knowledge of history and their confidence as new scholars will be strengthened as well.
6) Will, The Concord Review just publishes an amazing number of first quality high school students’ history papers on a wide variety of topics. I would think The Concord Review would be a great addition to any high school library—Is this possible?
Bless all high school librarians, but they want to obtain what the teachers ask for, and too many teachers are just as happy for their students not to be exposed to the 8,000- and 12,000-word history research papers we publish in the journal. They may not want their students to start asking for the opportunity to do such challenging assignments themselves. More and more of our best papers are coming in as Independent Study efforts, because the schools do not ask students to do their best work in history, so some students who see the work of our authors just decide, as many of them have, to set higher academic standards for their own work.
7) As they say—the world has gone on-line—Is The Concord Review available online?
I am happy to report that our website (www.tcr.org) has just passed 927,000 visitors from across the United States and from more than 100 other countries, with a couple of million page views. All of the 1,110 history essays I have published so far are available in pdf for students who express an interest in seeing them. In addition, in our bookstore online (www.tcr.org/bookstore) there is a good selection of recent issues and there are a number of one-essay “Singles” available for purchase by anyone who wants to read such exemplary work by high school students of history.
8) Where can people get more information or make a donation to The Concord Review?
My favorite question! Because we are interested in the most diligent and successful high school students and those who aspire to be more like them, we have been near the bottom of the list of those thought worthy of support over the last 27 years. But we have been a nonprofit Massachusetts corporation since 1987 and we got our 501(c)(3) designation in June 1988. There is a “Donate” button on the website at www.tcr.org and we also accept checks at The Concord Review, 730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24, Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA. I also welcome questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9) What have I neglected to ask?
I hope that we may all start to ask why we are so reluctant to support, encourage, challenge and inspire our most serious high school students, while at the same time nearly overwhelming our young athletes with scholarships and many other kinds of special help and attention? Of course sports are very important. But can’t we at least ask why the exemplary academic work of our most serious and diligent high school students should be so widely ignored? But our trademark is Varsity Academics®—so we are making an effort!
“Teach with Examples”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
Dakota Blazier had made a big decision. Friendly and fresh-faced, from a small town north of Indianapolis, he’d made up his mind: He wasn’t going to college.
“I discovered a long time ago,” he explained, “I’m not book smart. I don’t like sitting still, and I learn better when the problem is practical.” But he didn’t feel this limited his options—to the contrary. And he was executing a plan as purposeful as that of any of his high-school peers.
It started in his junior year with release time from high school to take a course in basic construction skills at a craft training center run by the Associated Builders and Contractors. The next step was an internship with a local contractor, Gaylor Electric.
This summer, he’s at Gaylor full time, earning $10 an hour plus credits he can apply at the ABC training center, where he intends to return this fall for a four-year apprenticeship. Mr. Blazier, 18, beamed as he explained his plan. This was no fallback, no desperate Hail Mary pass. It was a thoughtful choice—and he was as proud and excited as if he were heading off to the Ivy League.
“Decisions about what content is to be taught,’ they insist, ‘are made at the state and local levels.’ At the same time, we read that Common Core’s “educational standards are the learning goals for what students should know.” Is what students should know different from content?” [That is the question. WHF]
The logic of education reform always points to more education reform. With experts having shown they didn’t really know how to improve education on a broad scale, and with state school officials having proved themselves in many cases to be cheats and bunco artists, the solution was clear to every educationist: State school officials should get together with experts to come up with a new reform. Except this time it would work.
At least since the heady days of “A Nation at Risk,” the world of education reform has been a cozy fraternity. Foundation directors sit on one another’s boards, think tankers beehive with other think tankers in the lounges of convention hotels, academics peer-review the work of academics who will soon peer-review their reviewers’ work. One foundation will give a grant to another foundation to study the work of the first foundation. In the last decade the fraternity has increasingly become a creature of the fabulously wealthy Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has spent more than a billion dollars studying primary and secondary education. Few institutions dedicated to education reform have escaped Gates funding. Recipients range from trade groups like the American Federation of Teachers (more than $10 million since 2010) and Council of Chief State School Officers (nearly $5 million last year alone) to think tanks of the left (Center for American Progress) and the right (Thomas B. Fordham Institute).
The Gates Foundation has tunneled into the federal bureaucracy, too, at levels low and high. Several Gates officials and recipients worked in the Education Department under the second Bush, back when NCLB was the thing. Now, under President Obama, they are clustered at the top. Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post, one of the few beat reporters who brings a gimlet eye to the work of educationists, points out that Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, oversaw a $20 million Gates grant when he was CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Duncan’s chief of staff is a Gates protégé, as are the officials who designed the administration’s “Race to the Top” funding initiative in 2009. As we’ll see, the initiative was indispensable to enlisting states into Common Core.
THROUGH THE NARROW GATES
The foundation’s generosity seems indiscriminate, reflecting the milky centrism of its founder. Evidently Bill Gates doesn’t have a political bone in his body. His intellectual loyalty lies instead with the ideology of expertise. His faith is technocratic and materialist: In the end he believes the ability of highly credentialed observers to identify and solve problems through the social sciences is theoretically limitless. “Studies” and “research” unlock the human secret. This is the animating faith of most educationists, too. All human interactions can be dispassionately observed and their separate parts identified, isolated, analyzed, and quantified according to some version of the scientific method. The resulting data will yield reliable information about how and why we behave as we do, and from this process can be derived formulas that will be universally applicable and repeatable.
“One size fits all” may be a term of mockery used by people who disdain the top-down solutions of centralized power; in the technocratic vision, “one size fits all” describes the ideal.
A good illustration of the Gates technocratic approach to education reform is an initiative called “Measures of Effective Teaching” or MET. (DUH.) The effectiveness of a truly gifted teacher was once considered mysterious or ineffable, a personal transaction rooted in intuition, concern, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, and professional ardor, combined in a way that defies precise description or replication. Such an old-fashioned notion is an affront to the technocratic mind, which assumes no human phenomenon can be, at bottom, mysterious; nothing is resistant to reduction and measurement. “Eff the Ineffable” is the technocrat’s motto.
To demystify teaching, MET researchers designed experiments involving more than 3,000 teachers, easily recruited after a layering of Gates money. They were monitored, either in person or by video, by highly trained observers who coded their every move according to one of five “instruments” of measurement that were also designed by highly trained professionals—the Classroom Assessment Scoring System, the Mathematical Quality of Instruction, and so on. So far, MET has cost Gates $335 million, spent on statisticians and psychologists from education schools, teachers’ unions, and not-for-profit companies with names like “Teachscape” and “Empirical Education.”
So what’s the answer? How do you build a good teacher? The findings produced by MET experts are choked with charts, graphs, and algorithms—intimidating to the layman, consoling to the educationist. Their research has uncovered the 22 components, or “competencies,” that are exhibited to one degree or another by effective teachers everywhere. Non-educationists will find some of these components frivolous or predictably trendy (“attention to access, equity, and diversity”). Others are banal (“teacher knowledge and fluency,” “intellectual engagement in key ideas”). Still others are redundant, and many more are simply too poorly defined to qualify as distinct human traits. Yet the Gates reformers believe that their method—rigorous, empirical, scientific—can instill competencies in America’s teachers if the same MET process of observation and evaluation is duplicated in local classrooms. “The goal,” says Gates, “is for them to become standard practice.”
Whether this is even possible is a question that doesn’t take up much room in the MET literature; technocrats are seldom preoccupied with bridging the theoretical and the actual. Yet the researchers themselves give off occasional hints that the process they’ve invented won’t travel very far. The observers used in the MET experiments had undergone training far too elaborate, time-consuming, and expensive for any but the richest school districts to afford. The observers were usually strangers to the teachers they evaluated in the experiments; in actual practice, in real schools, observers and teachers would be acquainted with each other, with the social and personal complications any such relationship entails. No consequences were attached to the ratings the observers came up with—no raises or job security influenced the experimental evaluations, as they would in real life. And even then, researchers found, evaluations of the same teacher often differed radically from one observer to the next, and depending on which “instrument” was used.
Exciting as it undoubtedly is for the educationist, MET research tells us nothing about how to improve the world that students and teachers inhabit. It is an exercise by educationists for educationists to ponder and argue over. Three hundred and thirty five million dollars can keep a lot of them busy.
CCSSO + NGA + CCSS = SMDH
The Common Core State Standards are a product of the same intellectual ecosystem that gave us MET: the same earnest good will, the same cult of expertise, the same tendency to overthink, the same bottomless pot of money. Common Core would not exist without the Gates Foundation.
When it became clear that NCLB wasn’t working, a Gates-funded trade group called Council of Chief State School Officers (yes: CCSSO) summoned a conclave of educationists, including officials from 48 states. They agreed that the embarrassing muddle of test results delivered by the varied state tests under NCLB should be cleaned up. The way to do it was through a single set of standards that would explicitly list the things a properly educated American child should know and be able to do as he rose from one grade level to the next, no matter what state he lived in. Even Tennessee.
Here the sequence of events in the story of Common Core grows murky. Official histories say only that “committees of educators” and “subject matter experts” were deputized by the National Governors Association (NGA, ahem) to develop the Standards. The Gates Foundation was generous as always. It kicked up a whirlwind of working groups, feedback committees, workshops, forums, advisory groups, development teams, and expert panels—a Full Employment Act for educationists. But how the experts who wrote the Standards were chosen, and which expert wrote what standard and why, are questions that are hard to get answers to. More than 10,000 educators commented on the Standards after they were developed, according to Common Core’s publicists. But the attention of the general public or press was never aroused, and the impression of a mysterious elite gathering secretly to impose a New Educational Order has been hard to shake.
The committees worked fast. In less than a year, in June 2010, their handiwork was unveiled at a little-noticed event in Suwanee, Georgia. Kentucky agreed to the Standards days before they were made public. Five months later, 41 states had agreed to “fully implement” the Standards by the end of 2014. More states signed on within another year, bringing the total to 46. (Alaska, Texas, Virginia, and Nebraska were the holdouts.)
All of this activity at the state level has allowed advocates to say, correctly, that the federal Department of Education did not produce the Standards. Our nation’s educationists, working together, produced the Standards. But it is a distinction without much difference. When the Ed Department found itself flush with cash from the 2009 Obama stimulus, it came up with “Race to the Top,” a $4.35 billion program that allocated federal money to states based in part on how closely they embraced “common standards” for “college and career readiness.” Department officials, especially Secretary Duncan, have been tireless in promoting the cause, and the revolving door of the Gates Foundation has made it hard to tell the difference between state and federal, public and private.
Once the states fell into line, the department paid another $330 million for two state consortiums to hire educationists to devise Common Core tests. These will measure how well students are rising to the Standards, and those results, in turn, will be used to evaluate how well individual teachers are teaching them. The new tests will replace tests that each state had to develop over the last few years in response to NCLB. Those tests cost a lot of money too—money down the drain. In fact, many school districts were still introducing the NCLB tests when word came down that Common Core would require new tests to replace the old tests. Educationists are always on the go.
ABSTRACTING PERSON C
Only half the Common Core states say they will have the program up and running by the 2015 deadline. The Standards, with thousands of pages of experimental research to support them, are proving difficult to put in practice. If you read them, you get hints why. I’ve spent many hours pinching myself awake as I read through the hundreds of thousands of words that make up the Standards for Language Arts and Social Studies. Their length is intimately involved in their ambition. “The Standards,” reads a preamble, “lay out a vision for what it means to be a literate person in the twenty-first century.” Students who meet the Standards are “engaged and open-minded—but discerning—readers and listeners. They work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying. . . . They use relevant evidence . . . making their reasoning clear . . . and they constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence.”
This is a lofty notion of a high school senior, and rare even among accomplished adults—I can think of several columnists for the New York Times who would fail to qualify. It is also notably abstract. The Standards are this way from necessity. The experts who wrote them had to insist on a distinction between a national curriculum, which the federal government is forbidden by statute to enact, and national standards, which any state or local curriculum must meet. Advocates try to draw a bright line between these two, curriculum and standards, without much success. According to the authors, the Standards “do not—indeed cannot—enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn.”
“Decisions about what content is to be taught,” they insist, “are made at the state and local levels.” At the same time, we read that Common Core’s “educational standards are the learning goals for what students should know.” Is what students should know different from content?
This distinction between content and learning—between what a student is supposed to learn and how he is supposed to learn it—has been a premise of educationist philosophy for a generation or more. Before schools fell under the sway of modern educational theory, it was assumed that a student would learn how to weigh and judge knowledge in the act of acquiring it; the best way to get a kid thinking, in other words, was to make him learn something. The educationist bisects the process. The act of learning is somehow to be separated from what’s being learned and then taught independently of it. The what of learning is much less important than the how. This is why such airy concepts as “critical thinking” and “problem solving” and “higher-order thinking skills” are the linchpins of modern education. As one disgruntled teacher put it: Rather than learning something in particular, students learn nothing in general.
Teacher training has developed accordingly. In the schools of education where most primary and secondary teachers learn the trade, the method is not to train teachers in the subjects they’ll teach but to train them in theories about teaching. The adage that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach has been topped off: Those who can’t teach, teach teachers. The technocrats in social sciences produce a limitless supply of theories to study and argue over—enough to amuse education majors and keep an entire academic discipline busy. Education schools are now understood to be the easy mark of higher education: Anyone can get an education degree. The paradoxical effect is that some college students are drawn to become teachers precisely because they don’t have to know much to be one.
In the confusion between content and learning, the Standards often show the telltale verbal inflation that educationists use to make a simple idea complicated. The Standards for Reading offer a typical example. They come in groups of three—making a wonderful, if suspicious, symmetry. Unfortunately, many of the triplets are essentially identical. According to the rubric Key Ideas and Details, a student should “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly.” Where one standard says the student must be able to “analyze the development of central ideas,” the next standard says the student should be able to “analyze” “how ideas develop.” One “key detail” is to “learn details.” Under Craft and Structure, the student should be able to “analyze” how “portions of text” “relate to each other or the whole.” Another says he “should cite specific textual evidence” and still another that he should “summarize the key supporting details.” All of this collapses into a single unwritten standard: “Learn to read with care and to explain what you’ve read.” But no educationist would be so simple-minded.
There are standards only an educationist could love, or understand. It took me a while to realize that “scaffolding” is an ed-school term for “help.” Associate is another recurring term of art with a flexible meaning, from spell to match, as when third graders are expected to “associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.” This seems like students are being asked to spell vowels, but that can’t be right, can it? And when state and local teachers have to embody such confusing standards in classroom exercises, you’re likely to wind up with more confusion. In a teacher’s guide to the Standards from Kentucky, I found this problem for tenth graders, who will be asked to decide “which person demonstrates more admirable qualities”:
“Aristotle describes three different types of people. He points out that Person A gets pleasure from doing good things. Other people get pleasure from doing bad things. Of these people, Aristotle mentions two types.” [So there are four types?]
“Person B eats too much food because he gets pleasure from it. Person C would also get pleasure from eating too much food. However, this person controls himself and eats the right amount of food even though he would prefer to eat more.” [Then Person C is doing a good thing?]
“In Aristotle’s system, both Person A and Person B eat the right amount of food. [Don’t you mean Person C?] Person A eats the right amount of food by nature. Person B eats the right amount of food by choice.” [Wait. He does?]
By the end Person C has vanished altogether apparently, leaving many unhappy tenth graders in his wake.
THE RISE OF THE RIGHT
Most of the criticism of the Standards has come from the populist right, and the revolt of conservative parents against the pet project of a national educationist elite is genuine, spontaneous, and probably inevitable. But if you move beyond the clouds of jargon, and the compulsory gestures toward “critical thinking” and “metacognitive skills,” you will begin to spy something more interesting. There’s much in the Standards to reassure an educational traditionalist—a vein of subversion. At several points, Common Core is clearly intended as a stay against the runaway enthusiasms of educationist dogma.
The Standards insist schools’ (unspecified) curriculums be “content-rich”—meaning that they should teach something rather than nothing. They even go so far as to require students to read Shakespeare, the Preamble and First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and works of Greek mythology. Phonics is the chief means of teaching reading in Common Core, rejecting the notorious “whole language” method first taken up in the 1970s and—research shows!—a likely culprit in the decline in reading scores. The Standards discourage the use of calculators, particularly in early grades where it has become a popular substitute for acquiring basic math. The Standards require memorization of multiplication tables as an important step in learning arithmetic, striking a blow against “fuzzy math.” Faddish notions like “visual literacy” are nowhere to be found.
Perhaps most impressively, at least in language arts, the Standards require students to read and write ever larger amounts of nonfiction as they move toward their high school diploma. Anyone familiar with the soupy “young adult” novels fed to middle- and high-school students should be delighted. Writing assignments, in tandem with more rigorous reading, move away from mere self-expression—commonly the focus of writing all the way through high school—to the accumulation of evidence and detail in the service of arguments. The architect of the Language Arts Standards, an educationist called David Coleman, explained this shift in a speech in 2011. He lamented that the most common form of writing in high school these days is “personal writing.”
“It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.”
Now, it is hard to imagine a more traditionalist sentiment than that. Yet conservative Common Core activists single out Coleman as a particularly sinister adversary, perhaps for his potty mouth. The populist campaign against the Standards has been scattershot: Sometimes they are criticized for being unrealistically demanding, at other times for being too soft. Even Common Core’s insistence on making the Constitution part of any sound curriculum has been attacked as insidious. Recall that students will be required to read only the Preamble and the First Amendment. That is, they will stop reading before they reach the Second Amendment and the guarantee of gun rights.
Coincidence? Many activists think not.
The conservative case, as seen in videos and blogs posted on countless websites, relies heavily on misinformation—tall tales and urban legends advanced by people who should know better. Revulsion at the educationist project predates Common Core by many decades. It is grounded in countless genuine examples of faddish textbooks and politicized curriculums. For the last few years, however, Common Core has been blamed for all of them. Textbook marketers and lesson-plan designers are happy to help. Their market, after all, isn’t parents but fellow educationists on state and local school boards that control purchasing budgets. Once Common Core was established as the future (for now) of education, the marketers knew the phrase was catnip. Every educational product imaginable now bears the label “common core,” whether it’s inspired by the Standards or not. A search of books for sale on Amazon.com shows more than 12,000 bearing the words “common core” in their titles. Many were produced long before the Standards were even a twinkle in an educationist’s eye.
And so, from a popular conservative blog, we get lists of horribles like this, attributed to Common Core:
“Would you be okay with your 4th grader learning how to masturbate from his school textbook? Would you think it’s a good idea to teach kids that the correct answer to 72 + 81 is 150, not 153? What about cutting Tom Sawyer from the curriculum, and replacing it with articles about the imminent dangers of man-made global warming?”
All these were evidently drawn from textbooks that sell themselves to educationists as being “aligned” with the Standards. Of course, if you live in the kind of school district that buys a textbook that teaches your fourth grader how to masturbate, that’s most likely the kind of textbook you’ll get. But Common Core has nothing to do with it. The Standards are agnostic on the onanism question at every grade level. Activist literature commonly confuses the Standards with the National Sexuality Educational Standards, a fringe concoction of left-wing “sexuality educators” that apes the Common Core but has no official or unofficial relation to it. The fact that the Common Core Standards can be plausibly linked to such enterprises is a testament to the neutrality of their content—their intentional blandness. Indeed, it might be an argument for making the Standards more demanding rather than for doing away with them altogether.
Conservative hostility to the Common Core is also entangled with hostility to President Obama and his administration. Joy Pullman, an editor and writer who is perhaps the most eloquent and responsible public critic of Common Core, wrote recently in thefederalist.com: “I wager that 90 percent of the debate over Common Core would instantly dissipate if states adopted the top-rated standards from, say, Massachusetts or Indiana and dropped the Obama administration tests.”
While the personal hostility to Obama might be overwrought, the administration’s campaign on behalf of the Standards has borne all the marks of the president’s other efforts at national persuasion. There is the hysterical overstatement—Secretary Duncan calls Common Core “the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown v. Board of Education.” (Has he forgotten Goals 2000?) There are the same sly elisions, the buried assumptions and question-begging, the drawing of Jesuitical distinctions. Here are Secretary Duncan’s remarks last year to a group of newspaper editors: “The federal government didn’t write [the Standards], didn’t approve them, and doesn’t mandate them, and we never will. Anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or willfully misleading.”
This is willfully misleading. The federal government doesn’t mandate Common Core, but when Duncan and his department made lots of federal funds contingent on a state’s embrace of “common standards,” the Common Core was no longer “voluntary” for most revenue-hungry state officials. At the same time, for all practical purposes, the department assumed oversight of the program. Only a federal bureaucrat can say when a state has satisfied its obligation to produce materials appropriate to the Standards. And as implementation of Common Core begins in earnest, with confusion about which tests comply with which standards, the federal role will only grow.
Common Core does not impose a national curriculum, Duncan often insists, correctly; such an explicit move would not only be illegal but would face insurmountable resistance. Yet, in other venues where it is helpful to do so, he speaks of the program as if it had all the conveniences of a national curriculum: “Literally for the first time in American history . . . a fourth grade teacher in New Mexico can develop a lesson plan at night and, the very next day, a fourth grade teacher in New York can use it and share it with others if she wants to.” This assertion isn’t willfully misleading. To the extent it concerns the Common Core, it is nakedly untrue.
THUNDER ON THE LEFT
The administration’s bullying and dishonesty might be reason enough to reject the Standards. The campaign has even begun to worry its natural allies, who are losing trust in assurances that the Common Core is an advance for progressive education. Educationists on the leftward edge point to its insistence that teachers be judged on how much their students learn. This bears an unappealing resemblance to NCLB requirements, and they worry it will inject high-pressure competition into the collegial environment that most educationists prefer. Worse, it could be a Trojan horse for a reactionary agenda, a return to the long-ago era when students really had to, you know, learn stuff.
“The purpose of education,” says Paul Horton, a Common Core critic at the University of Chicago Laboratory School, “is for a person . . . to discover who they are, to grow as an individual. . . . I think current policymakers unfortunately see the purpose of education as being training people to acquire the minimum level of skills that are required to work in a technical workplace.”
The nation’s two largest teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, supported Common Core in its earliest stages, and were happy to accept very large grants to assist Gates and other pro-Standards institutions in their work. But as the deadline for implementation in 2015 approaches, the support among teachers shows signs of softening. Last month a group of nearly 200 local teachers marched on the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle protesting its role in Common Core. Gates’s attitude, one protester told the local public radio station, “is, ‘It’s the teachers that need to change, and it’s the standards and the testing that really will improve [schools].’ . . . Really, the issue is class size, support for teachers, and poverty.”
In May, one of the AFT’s largest subsidiaries, the Chicago Teachers Union, passed a resolution condemning Common Core. “Common Core eliminates creativity in the classroom and impedes collaboration,” said a spokesman. “We also know that high-stakes standardized testing is designed to rank and sort our children and it contributes significantly to racial discrimination and the achievement gap among students in America’s schools.”
Already last year, the president of the AFT called for a delay of at least two years in using Common Core-related tests for teacher evaluations; states would test students, in other words, but teachers would not be judged on the students’ scores. The Gates Foundation has agreed, and several states have already announced a moratorium on teacher evaluations. In perhaps the most dramatic development of all, Politico reported, the AFT’s Innovation Fund announced it would no longer accept its annual $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation. The “level of distrust” of Gates among its members was too great. Of course, distrust has its limits. The union itself will continue to accept Gates money for its general fund. And AFT leadership holds out the possibility that even the Innovation Fund will once again accept Gates money in the future, according to a union spokesman. “We don’t want to say never, never, ever, ever.”
THE UNREALITY CHECK
The delays and distancing suggest a cloudy future for the Common Core. Even its advocates say that the best possible outcome for now involves a great deal more unpleasantness: The tests will be given to many students beginning next spring, and the results will demonstrate the catastrophic state of learning in American schools. Of course, we knew that, but still. “Maybe this will be a reality check,” one booster told me the other day. “People will take a look at the results and say, ‘Aha! So this is what they’ve been talking about!’ It will send a very strong signal.”
It would indeed, but a signal to do what? Educationists don’t like unpleasantness; it’s not what they signed up for when they became reformers. We already know what happened when NCLB state tests exposed the reality of American public schools. It was time for a new reform.
In that case, Common Core would survive, but only as NCLB survives—as a velleity, a whiff of a hint of a memory of a gesture toward an aspiration for excellence. And the educationists will grow restless. Someone somewhere will come up with a new reform program, a whole new approach—one with teeth, and high-stakes consequences for stakeholders. Bill Gates will get wind of it. He will be intrigued. His researchers will design experiments to make sure the program is scientifically sound. Data will be released at seminars, and union leadership will lend tentative support. The president will declare a crisis and make reform a national priority. She will want to be called an education president too.
As governor, Burke said she would seek to improve the high school experience for students to decrease the number of students who drop out or leave without much direction.
“I see too much — we have either students who are not graduating or not engaged in their learning along with students who graduate but have no clear direction about their next step, and it doesn’t serve them well and it doesn’t serve the economy well,” she said.
Walker’s campaign said the governor’s approach to education is influenced by several of his closest friends who are teachers, and “each of them give the governor a unique perspective on education.”
The Republican Party of Wisconsin has highlighted Burke’s Madison School Board vote in June 2012 to increase property taxes by 4.95 percent. Later that year, after state aid came in higher than expected, she supported a 1.75 percent property tax increase, the maximum increase allowed under state law. She has not voted in favor of a school district budget since.
Related: The Common Core Commotion.
It’s one of those summer afternoons in Helena, Arkansas, where the sun is bright enough to wipe everything out in a glare of white. Even the breeze feels like a hairdryer on my neck.
I am sweating on top of Battery C. The last time I was here, I’d picked my way up an overgrown trail and had only a couple of ornery goats for company. Now, the goats have been supplanted by metal statues of Union soldiers aiming muskets down the kudzu-covered hill. Behind me, a concrete walkway leads to a pristine parking lot where a car is just pulling in. The development of Battery C is a good thing. It’s indicative of a small manufacturing town’s struggle toward economic recovery. But I just miss the damn goats.
The inequity and challenges facing my students were very real. There was nothing beautiful about their poverty.
“This land, this land … this Delta!” Even Faulkner was reduced to sentence fragments when he wrote about this place. Many great writers have tried, but it is just one of those places too immense for words. When I arrived in Helena after college for a job with Teach for America, my head was filled with romantic notions. My modest goal was to simultaneously teach 11th grade English, pocket some life experience, and write a novel. I relished the knowledge that I was living in Richard Wright’s boyhood town, on the banks of Twain’s mighty Mississippi, and 15 minutes down the road from Moon Lake, where Tennessee Williams drank himself into a stupor and wrote Blanche’s fiancé into a watery suicide.
Think women can’t do math? You’re wrong—but new research shows you might not change your mind, even if you get evidence to the contrary. A study of how both men and women perceive each other’s mathematical ability finds that an unconscious bias against women could be skewing hiring decisions, widening the gender gap in mathematical professions like engineering.
The inspiration for the experiment was a 2008 study published in Science that analyzed the results of a standardized test of math and verbal abilities taken by 15-year-olds around the world. The results challenged the pernicious stereotype that females are biologically inferior at mathematics. Although the female test-takers lagged behind males on the math portion of the test, the size of the gap closely tracked the degree of gender inequality in their countries, shrinking to nearly zero in emancipated countries like Sweden and Norway. That suggests that cultural biases rather than biology may be the better explanation for the math gender gap.
To tease out the mechanism of discrimination, two of the authors of the 2008 study, Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, economic researchers at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in Illinois, respectively, teamed up with Ernesto Reuben, an experimental psychologist at Columbia Business School in New York City, to design an experiment to test people’s gender bias when it comes to judging mathematical ability.
As usual, the U.S. Department of Education is a bit behind when it comes to data.
Published tuition and fees increased by about 4 percent at public and private nonprofit four-year colleges and by nearly 5 percent at public two-year colleges from 2011-12 to 2013-14, when adjusted for inflation, according to a new release from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The preliminary data were collected from about 7,400 postsecondary institutions in the fall of 2013 through the Integrated Postsecondary Education System, known as Ipeds.
On-campus room and board rose at about the same rate as tuition, while off-campus room and board rose by less than 1 percent at public and private nonprofit four-year colleges and fell by about 1 percent at public two-year colleges.
But we knew all of that already: The College Board released data in October for tuition, fees, room, and board in 2013-14 that showed roughly the same trends in the cost of attendance, or COA.
GÖRLITZER PARK, a patch of grass and concrete, has a seedy air. Its tall walls are covered in graffiti. Near the entrances, young African men stand around hassling bystanders, asking if they want to buy some “kiffen”. Yet in many respects, the “drug park” (as locals in Kreuzberg, a trendy district of Berlin, often call it) does not live up to its ugly reputation. On a Saturday afternoon, it is mostly full of 20-somethings sitting around on the grass in groups sipping coffees and beers. Young parents pass by with pushchairs. University students on picnic blankets peer into their textbooks. Over the course of an hour or so, not a single one of the drug dealers in view seems to make a deal. For most of the locals, they are a hassle—not a service.
Few European cities do youth culture and hedonism better than Berlin. Young people flock—or, if truly cool, just drift—here from all over the world. The nightlife runs until dawn, techno beats flood its streets. Yet as with Görlitzer Park, the wild appearance belies reality. The city’s middle-aged artists and musicians complain that its young hipsters are taking the edge out of its nightlife by trying to make money out of it. Their entrepreneurialism is driving up rents. “The city of heroin addicts, David Bowie and Iggy Pop has disappeared,” says a Berliner who was not yet born when the Thin White Duke came to stay. In its place is a town where people come to study, work and boost their creative careers, not just party.
Berlin is still an unusual city; the temperance of its youth is not. In 2002 just 13% of German teenagers had never had an alcoholic drink; by 2012, that figure had risen to 30%. Among 18- to 25-year-olds, the proportion drinking at least once a week has fallen by a third since the early 1990s. Cannabis use has dropped, too, and the number of deaths attributed to the use of illegal drugs has fallen by half since 2000. Similar trends are seen across the Western world.
In November 2013, the University of Michigan launched its new capital campaign, “Victors for Michigan,” which aims to raise $4 billion from private sources primarily to be deposited in the endowment. If successful, it will be the largest in the history of public higher education, topping U-M’s previous campaign which raised $3.2 billion between 2004-2008. On the surface, big donations and a fat endowment seem great. However, the growing importance of the endowment and the university’s dependence on wealthy donors and Wall Street firms are among the factors transforming the contemporary university from a place of learning and knowledge production to something that looks more and more like a corporation—or, in this case, a global hedge fund.
The endowment is a collection of about 7,800 pools of money that are invested around the world. The returns on these investments are then either reinvested or disbursed to different parts of the university, with each individual fund carrying certain restrictions regarding how it can be spent. These restrictions come from the individual donors, who unilaterally dictate that their money be used to fund a particular kind of scientific research, renovate a particular campus building, endow a specific professorship, and so on. A small percentage of the endowment’s returns (4.5%) is applied each year to university operations. Over the past five years, U-M’s $8 billion endowment has contributed an average of less than $300 million a year to operating expenses like professors’ salaries. The administration likes to talk up how 20% of this contribution goes toward financial aid, but $60 million is a drop in the bucket when you consider that tuition adds up to over $1 billion a year (and much of that aid is based on “merit” instead of financial need).
Soon after Maryanne Wolf published “Proust and the Squid,” a history of the science and the development of the reading brain from antiquity to the twenty-first century, she began to receive letters from readers. Hundreds of them. While the backgrounds of the writers varied, a theme began to emerge: the more reading moved online, the less students seemed to understand. There were the architects who wrote to her about students who relied so heavily on ready digital information that they were unprepared to address basic problems onsite. There were the neurosurgeons who worried about the “cut-and-paste chart mentality” that their students exhibited, missing crucial details because they failed to delve deeply enough into any one case. And there were, of course, the English teachers who lamented that no one wanted to read Henry James anymore. As the letters continued to pour in, Wolf experienced a growing realization: in the seven years it had taken her to research and write her account, reading had changed profoundly—and the ramifications could be felt far beyond English departments and libraries. She called the rude awakening her “Rip van Winkle moment,” and decided that it was important enough to warrant another book. What was going on with these students and professionals? Was the digital format to blame for their superficial approaches, or was something else at work?
Certainly, as we turn to online reading, the physiology of the reading process itself shifts; we don’t read the same way online as we do on paper. Anne Mangen, a professor at the National Centre for Reading Education and Research at the University of Stavanger, in Norway, points out that reading is always an interaction between a person and a technology, be it a computer or an e-reader or even a bound book. Reading “involves factors not usually acknowledged,” she told me. “The ergonomics, the haptics of the device itself. The tangibility of paper versus the intangibility of something digital.” The contrast of pixels, the layout of the words, the concept of scrolling versus turning a page, the physicality of a book versus the ephemerality of a screen, the ability to hyperlink and move from source to source within seconds online—all these variables translate into a different reading experience.
Here’s a suggestion for something to include in Wisconsin-specific education standards for Wisconsin children:
By the end of first grade, children will know that two Badgers plus two Badgers equals four Badgers.
You want Indiana-specific standards for Indiana kids? By the end of first grade, children will know that two Hoosiers plus two Hoosiers equals four Hoosiers.
North Carolina standards for North Carolina kids? You got it — two Tar Heels plus two Tar Heels equals four Tar Heels.
What kind of silliness is this? Best as I can see, it’s about the level of silliness the whole discussion of education expectations for our children is reaching, both in Wisconsin and across the nation.
With Gov. Scott Walker’s one-sentence statement on Thursday that he wants the Legislature to repeal Wisconsin’s involvement in the Common Core standards movement, we have crossed onto turf where chaos in education policy is likely to reign for the coming school year.
At the same time, I bet we’re also on the way, in the long run, to changing very little when it comes to state standards for what kids should learn. I say that because states that have announced they are going to set their own standards are generally coming up with new plans that actually change little. That’s for two reasons.
This Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence sailed through our Faculty Senate without the least bit of attention, much less the “sifting and winnowing” on which it prides itself.
Although much of the language is a thicket of clichés, no one dared challenge it. Moreover, there was no probing of the ramifications of the plan. Apparently, “diversity” has become such a sacred cow that even tenured professors are afraid to question it in any way.
To begin, the university’s justification for the new policy is difficult to understand: “Our commitment is to create an environment that engages the whole person in the service of learning, recognizing that individual differences should be considered foundational to our strength as a community.”
That language is mere education babble, but the Faculty Senate swallowed it whole. So did the academic staff and the students.
The plan¹s definition of diversity focuses on a wide array of differences that can be found in every enrolled student. Here’s what it includes:
The U.S. education policy world—the entire country, for that matter—is on a quest to increase the ranks of future innovators in science and technology. Yet the programs that get funded in K–12 education do not support students who are already good at and in love with science. These students have potential for outstanding contributions, but without public investment they will not be prepared for the rigors of a scientific career. This is especially true for those without highly educated and resource-rich parents.
This lack of investment is not a matter of chance. It is the result of two related myths about who these students are and what they need from our education system. The first myth is that all talented students come from privileged backgrounds. A second is that students who are successful at a particular time in their school career can somehow thrive on their own, unassisted and unsupervised. We argue that all children deserve to be challenged cognitively, including the most able. Many students with low socioeconomic backgrounds never get the opportunity to develop their talents beyond the rudimentary school curriculum. Jonathan Plucker of the University of Connecticut has shown that high-achieving, low-income students fall further behind their higher-socioeconomic-status peers the closer they get to graduation. Moreover, international comparison studies show science scores improving for all students except those in the top 10 percent.
We know how to identify students who are talented in science and motivated to achieve. We find them thriving in enriched environments (think math and rocketry clubs) inside and outside of school. Standardized tests identify exceptional reasoning abilities in mathematics and spatial skills. Expressing and showing interest in science in elementary or middle school are good predictors of future pursuit of career interests in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
Six years ago, 225 students graduated from St. Paul’s Como Park High School. More than 70 percent went to college. Almost 40 percent got a degree.
That’s the sort of information Minnesota educators and parents have long wished they had. Now, it is readily available for the first time on a newly launched website that shows where a high school’s graduates went to college, how long they stayed on campus and how many graduated.
For state officials like Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, the information promises to highlight hidden success stories and inform policy decisions at a time of intense focus on college and career readiness. High schools can use it to assess how well they are preparing students and to spur partnerships with campuses popular with their graduates.
“This is a huge step forward in understanding how our students do when they leave us,” said Joe Munnich, the St. Paul district’s assistant director of research, evaluation and assessment. “It opens up amazing possibilities.”
Of Minnesota’s 2008 high school graduates, 69 percent went to a two- or four-year college, and 45 percent have since gotten a diploma. Eventually, the web site will also include information on how college graduates are faring on the job market.
The new data and web site are a joint effort by Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education, the Departments of Education and the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The project is funded with the same federal grant that has supported the state’s “Getting Prepared” reports, which show what portion of a high school’s graduates had to take remedial courses in college.
Until now, high schools knew which of their students graduated in a given year. Higher education institutions knew which students arrived on their campuses and which stuck around until graduation. The state project linked up that data for each student.
This data has been discussed from time to time in Madison & Wisconsin. Yet, our Wisconsin DPI – parent of the oft criticized WKCE – seems to be living in the status quo.
It appears that the Wisconsin DPI spent $48,531,028.75 during 2013 according to the Wisconsin “Open Book” site.
Dive in at the SLEDS site.
Gov. Scott Walker’s call to drop the Common Core State Standards in Wisconsin threw a new dart at the beleaguered academic expectations this week.
But his plan to have lawmakers pass a bill in January that repeals and replaces the standards might be easier said than done, especially because the standards are voluntary for districts.
A leading Republican senator said that establishing new, state-specific standards could actually shift power away from local school boards and to the state.
Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a vocal supporter of the standards, said there’s actually nothing to “repeal” with Common Core. That’s because the standards are not codified in state law.
Much more on the Common Core, here.
And, a primer.
“UNDER capitalism”, ran the old Soviet-era joke, “man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.” In fact new research suggests that the Soviet system inspired not just sarcasm but cheating too: in East Germany, at least, communism appears to have inculcated moral laxity.
Lars Hornuf of the University of Munich and Dan Ariely, Ximena García-Rada and Heather Mann of Duke University ran an experiment last year to test Germans’ willingness to lie for personal gain. Some 250 Berliners were randomly selected to take part in a game where they could win up to €6 ($8).
The resulting index is bad news for business: It shows that, behind the mirage of financial engineering, mergers and acquisitions, tax gadgets, share buybacks, seemingly rising profits fed by cheap government money and soaring executive compensation, the underlying reality is harsh: US business is in a long-term secular decline and has been so for decades.
The conclusion is inescapable: big hierarchical bureaucracies with legacy structures and managerial practices and short-term mindsets have not yet found a way to flourish in this new world.
The Shift Index 2009 thus anticipated the conclusion to which macro-economists are now reluctantly coming, namely, that an economy comprising mainly big hierarchical bureaucracies are undergoing a “Great Stagnation” (Tyler Cowen) or “Secular Stagnation” (Larry Summers).
The 2011 edition of the Shift Index covered industry-specific data for nine key sectors and provided a guide to the thought leadership, methodology, and data that drives the index’s metrics.
This post focuses on the University of California’s budget situation, but it is broadly applicable to public colleges and universities across the country. More evidence of the national pattern came in this week, with reports of Moody’s negative outlook on higher education’s finances. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Don Troop provided highlights of Moody’s view of the overall sector. UC reflects the convergence of all but the fourth of these trends.
Growth in tuition revenue remains stifled by affordability concerns, legislative ceilings on tuition levels, and steep competition for students.
State financing of higher education will increase, on average, just 3 to 4 percent—not enough to meet the growth in expenses.
Already stiff competition for sponsored-research dollars is getting stiffer, with success rates for proposals dropping from 19 percent in 2008 to below 15 percent last year.
Fascinating given the tuition cost + student loan explosion.
Millennials aren’t optimistic about Social Security: 53% say Social Security is “unlikely” to exist when they are 67 years old, while 45 percent say it probably will remain.
But if it does exist at that time, even fewer millennials believe government will provide them with the same level of benefits that today’s seniors receive. Only 34 percent say they are confident that government will provide them with the same level of retirement benefits as it does for today’s retirees; 64 percent say they are not confident.
Education decreases the likelihood one believes Social Security will continue in the future. A majority (54%) of those with high school degrees or less expect Social Security to exist when they retire, compared to 36 percent of college graduates.
I actually began writing this post as soon as I heard the news that Michael Gove was to be replaced as Secretary of State for Education. However, it has taken me rather longer than I expected to get back into the swing of writing, and I know that many bloggers have now beaten me to it. Nonetheless, here is my take on the legacy of Gove (with apologies if it seems somewhat skewed towards my subject of secondary English). So, what chains did Michael Gove forge in post as SoS that may have lasting impact on the future of our education system? *Please note that this is simply my take on the matter, and, as ever, all comments and opinions are welcome. • He knew that there was exam dumbing down, and he dealt with it. This was a hugely unpopular stance, at the time. Prior to the reforms, some educationalists were (and some still are) suggesting that teaching was improving year on year and kids were simply getting brighter. In fact, it is now widely accepted that exam boards were deliberately making courses easier. The course with the reputation for being the easiest naturally proved more popular. The inflated grades supplied kudos for teacher, school and pupils in one fell swoop – not to mention extra business for the board’s.
A damning report into extremist infiltration of Birmingham schools has uncovered evidence of “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city”.
The conclusion emerges from a leaked draft of a report, commissioned by the former education secretary Michael Gove and written by Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan police’s counterterrorism command, which is due to be published in the next 24 hours.
Clarke said there was a “sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam”.
The draft, marked as sensitive, added that: “Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain”.
The uncompromising report may deepen community tensions in England’s second city and provoke a fierce debate on whether Britain has been sufficiently muscular in efforts to expose and uproot Islamism. It will also make uncomfortable reading for Birmingham city council as it accuses local politicians and officials of ignoring evidence of extremism for years, repeatedly failing to support bullied headteachers and putting the need to soothe community tensions ahead of all else.
You can argue that driving is necessary, but it seems to me that raising independent children is also necessary. Arresting parents who allow any child younger than a college freshman to spend time alone amounts to a legal mandate to keep kids timid and tethered. This should not be an object of public policy.
What is truly bizarre is that the cops cuffing these women were most likely raised with exactly the freedom they are now punishing. Do they think their parents should have been put in jail? Or have the intervening years rendered tweens unable to figure out how the car doors work?
I’m not saying that parents should take their toddlers into the wilderness and leave them there to hike their way out. What I can’t understand is how our society has lost the ability to distinguish between that and letting your pre-teen hang out in the car for a half-hour or spend some time in a nearby park. As Jessica Grose says, if this had been illegal in 1972, every single mother in America would have been in jail. Yet millions upon millions of us lived to tell the tale.
The Madison School District has decided to stop telling children with overdrawn meal accounts that they can’t have the same meals the district gives to children of parents who are keeping up with their bills and to children who are enrolled in the free and subsidized lunch program.
Providing overdrawn children with a bare-bones cheese sandwich lunch is cheaper, but district officials decided it was also an exercise in shaming, especially when a lot of the children were probably poor but whose parents just hadn’t filled out the paperwork to get help paying for them.
“Doing it at the lunch line was very inappropriate,” said School Board member Dean Loumos.
Board president Arlene Silveira didn’t respond to requests for comment about the district’s new plans for handling overdrawn accounts. But Mike Barry, the assistant superintendent of business services, said district staff would make greater efforts to help families apply for subsidies before school starts, as well as make it easier for families to pay their meal bills.
Not under consideration are more punitive measures, Barry said, including sending bills to collection agencies or denying students access to extracurricular activities or their diplomas until meal bills are paid.
Regardless of how long it took to appoint a new state task force on special education, the 17 members will have less time to come up with recommendations.
Formally called the Task Force for Improving Special Education of Public School Students, the group appointed by Gov. Chris Christie met for the first time on July 1 to begin its work looking into the needs of students with disabilities — assessing everything from programs to costs.
But as complicated as that job may be, the law creating the task force — enacted in spring 2013 — calls for final recommendations by the end of this calendar year.
That’s a tall order. New Jersey’s schools face some vexing issues, such as how to best pay for services for special-needs students, how to implement and monitor those services, and how to balance the sometimes-conflicting needs and wants of families, districts, and the state.
Laura Waters has more.
Unlike the numerous graphics I shared here on the topic of flipped learning which were substantially theoretically based, the one I have for you today provides a practical demonstration of how Dr.Russell flipped his classroom . The graphic also features some of the activities and procedures he drew in his flipped instruction. Another section of this graphic highlights some of the bearings of this flipped methodology on students performance particularly in terms of the enhanced test scores. The purpose behind sharing this visual is to provide you with a concrete example of how you can go about integrating a flipped learning methodology in your instruction. This is only a paradigmatic example which you can adapt with due modifications to your own teaching situation.
From the front lobby, it could easily be mistaken for a spa hotel—the blue wave lighting on the wall behind the concierge desk, the sleek sofas and flat screen monitors. But this is no hotel. It is student housing—millennial style—and it may be one of the best under-the-radar real estate plays of the decade.
“This is an industry that is ripe with opportunity,” said Bill Bayless, CEO of American Campus Communities, the largest student housing REIT (real estate investment trust) in the nation and developer of Drexel University’s Chestnut Square, a 361,000-square-foot luxury dormitory for 861 students on the Philadelphia campus. “If you look at the student housing sector, it was ignored by the mainstream real estate industry for more than 40 years.”
More than 500 adjunct professors and their advocates have signed a petition calling for the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate their working conditions. The petition’s authors, all current or former adjuncts at various colleges and universities, allege that they are being paid for only part of the work they do, and that that amounts to wage theft. The petition is addressed to David Weil, director of the agency’s Wage and Hour Division, and urges him to “open an investigation into the labor practices of our colleges and universities in the employment of contingent faculty, including adjunct instructors and full-time contract faculty outside the tenure track.” The investigation should be conducted at the “sector” level, they say, rather than individually.
IN HIS “Odyssey”, Homer immortalised the idea of resisting temptation by having the protagonist tied to the mast of his ship, to hear yet not succumb to the beautiful, dangerous songs of the Sirens. Researchers have long been intrigued as to whether this ability to avoid, or defer, gratification is related to outcomes in life. The best-known test is the “marshmallow” experiment, in which children who could refrain from eating the confection for 15 minutes were given a second one. Children who could not wait tended to have lower incomes and poorer health as adults. New research suggests that kids who are unable to delay rewards are also more likely to become criminals later.
David Akerlund, Hans Gronqvist and Lena Lindahl of Stockholm University and Bart Golsteyn of Maastricht University used data from a Swedish survey in which more than 13,000 children aged 13 were asked whether they would prefer to receive $140 now or $1,400 in five years’ time. About four-fifths of them said they were prepared to wait.
That’s according to the Education Week Research Center, a nonpartisan group that measured indicators such as preschool and kindergarten enrollment, high school graduation rates, and higher education attainment. The yearly study also considered family income and parental employment, which are linked to educational achievement.
In almost every category, the Bay State beats the national average: More than 60 percent of Massachusetts children have a parent with a post-secondary degree, 14 points higher than average, and nearly 60 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, more than 10 points above the national average.
No surprise, nearly half of Massachusetts fourth-graders are proficient on National Assessment of Educational Progress reading tests, and more than 54 percent of eighth-graders get proficient scores on NAEP math tests — both the highest rates in the country.
The underlying reason is a bipartisan commitment to education reform. Massachusetts passed a major school reform package in 1993, increasing spending, particularly in poorer districts; raising assessment standards; and making licensure exams for new teachers more difficult. Several other states improved their standards around the same time. But when partisan priorities shifted in other places, Massachusetts Republicans and Democrats alike continued investing heavily in education.
Improving scores, particularly among low-income and minority students, is still a challenge, and Massachusetts has done no better in closing the achievement gap than most other states.
Wisconsin took a very small step toward Massachusetts’ content knowledge requirements by adopting MTEL-90 for elementary English teachers.
Wisconsin results are available here.
These college presidents appear to believe that their good ship is on course and can continue steaming full speed ahead. And, why shouldn’t our captains of erudition have a rosy view? Many are lavishly compensated, expensively dressed and coifed, and surrounded by legions of deanlets and toadies who always agree with them. How could anything be wrong with such a world? Cries of alarm from faculty members, students, parents and legislators must be uninformed. Tell the band or, perhaps, order the university office of public information and administrative propaganda to turn up the volume and drown out the grumblers.
Editor’s Note: In Making Sen$e’s report on “the artisan economy” Tuesday evening on the NewsHour, Paul Solman speaks with two exterminators and a dementia coach. Not what you typically think of as “artisans”? Well, how about operators of a fresh fruit Popsicle company or a line of handmade dog leashes, both crafted in a repurposed Brooklyn factory? Any of those jobs can be artisan says Larry Katz, the Harvard professor who’s coined the term “artisan economy.” What makes them artisan is that they’re not standardized occupations; they involve what he calls “personal flair” in each stage of the job.
But this movement is about a lot more than hipsters bucking a traditional career path. Katz believes the artisan economy can help shore up the American middle class by creating new jobs to replace those mass production and middle management jobs lost to outsourcing or new technology. And he thinks that a firm grounding in the multidisciplinary liberal arts is the best preparation – better even than a business degree – to taking advantage of the artisan economy that he hopes will be a path to upward mobility for the average American. His extended interview with Paul Solman, edited and condensed for clarity, is below.
Less than a month before Mayor Bill de Blasio struck a major contract agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, gave $350,000 to a nonprofit run by de Blasio advisers, which lobbies on behalf of the mayor’s priorities, newly released records show.
The AFT’s donation, on April 9, was the largest donation to the de Blasio-affiliated nonprofit, Campaign For One New York, since it was founded after the mayor was elected last November. Its timing raises questions about the ability of outside interests to advance their agendas before the city by supporting a nonprofit close to the mayor.
Related: $1.57 million for four senators – WEAC.
very three years, Americans wring their hands over the state of our schools compared with those in other countries. The occasion is the triennial release of global scholastic achievement rankings based on exams administered by the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which tests students in 65 countries in math, science, and languages. Across all subjects, America ranked squarely in the middle of the pack when the tests were first given in 2000, and its position hardly budged over the next dozen years.
The angst over U.S. student performance—and its implications for the American workforce of the near future—is inevitably accompanied by calls for education reform: greater accountability, more innovation. Just as inevitable are the suggestions for how more accountability and innovation could be realized: more charter schools, more choice, less bureaucratic oversight.
Advocates for choice-based solutions should take a look at what’s happened to schools in Sweden, where parents and educators would be thrilled to trade their country’s steep drop in PISA scores over the past 10 years for America’s middling but consistent results. What’s caused the recent crisis in Swedish education? Researchers and policy analysts are increasingly pointing the finger at many of the choice-oriented reforms that are being championed as the way forward for American schools. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that adding more accountability and discipline to American schools would be a bad thing, it does hint at the many headaches that can come from trying to do so by aggressively introducing marketlike competition to education.
What were the highlights of Rocketship’s first year here?
Strong growth. Rocketship set a goal of having 65% of its Milwaukee students meet the national average for reading and math growth over the course of the year. In fact, 72% of the school’s students, almost all of whom are low-income and Hispanic or black, learned as much as a typical American student in English and language arts. In math, 87% of Rocketship students met or exceeded that average growth target.
New style. Rocketship introduced children to spending part of the day doing reading and math exercises on the computer, using software that adapts to each child’s skill level. Sessions are overseen by an aide rather than a teacher, which is one way Rocketship keeps costs down. Most teachers also specialize by subject matter.
Parent involvement. A Rocketship hallmark is involving parents in schools, not only to help their children with homework and goal-setting, but also to advocate in the community. Kinser said almost all teachers had 90% of their parents meet the 30-hour goal of interacting with the school.
Enrollment. This year’s enrollment goal is 487 children in kindergarten through fifth grade, and the school on its way to meeting it, Kinser said.
The turbulent first year in Milwaukee also set Rocketship on its heels at times. Some challenges included:
Special education. About 17% of Milwaukee Rocketship children had special needs last year, which is close to the district average in Milwaukee Public Schools. Venskus said Rocketship went about $500,000 over budget to serve those students.
Teacher turnover. Rocketship, like other demanding urban charter schools with long hours and high expectations, was not a good fit for some teachers who left early in the school year. Rocketship did not renew some others. This fall there will be four new teachers at the school from Teach For America, the alternative teacher certification program from which Rocketship frequently recruits.
Political challenges. Rocketship leaders had to negotiate with lawmakers in Madison to try to clear a path for their staff with out-of-state teaching or administrator credentials to be recognized in Wisconsin.
Rocketship has a charter agreement with the Milwaukee Common Council to open up to eight schools serving 500 students each.
Madison’s disastrous long term reading results.
A majority if the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.
Via Molly Beck.
To understand why that’s more than a platitude, check out Underwater Dreams, a seemingly modest human interest film that may be the most politically significant documentary since Waiting for Superman. (It opened in Los Angeles and New York on July 11 and can be seen on cable later this month).
The film tells the story of four undocumented Mexican teenagers who are members of a robotics club at Carl Hayden High School in the barrio of Phoenix; their parents speak no English, and their own horizons are limited.
With the help of dedicated teachers, they build an underwater robot and enter a grueling collegiate competition held at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004. The boys figure they might learn something from the older college-age engineers showing off their robots.
The Carl Hayden team— Christian Arcega, Lorenzo Santillan, Luis Aranda, and Oscar Vasquez—get off to a bad start when their robot, nicknamed “Stinky,” takes on water during a practice round on the first day. In one of the film’s many humorous moments, they buy a box of tampons that turn out to have the perfect absorbency for plugging Stinky’s leaks.
One afternoon in the spring of 2006, Damany Lewis, a math teacher at Parks Middle School, in Atlanta, unlocked the room where standardized tests were kept. It was the week before his students took the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, which determined whether schools in Georgia had met federal standards of achievement. The tests were wrapped in cellophane and stacked in cardboard boxes. Lewis, a slim twenty-nine-year-old with dreadlocks, contemplated opening the test with scissors, but he thought his cut marks would be too obvious. Instead, he left the school, walked to the corner store, and bought a razor blade. When he returned, he slit open the cellophane and gently pulled a test book from its wrapping. Then he used a lighter to warm the razor, which he wedged under the adhesive sealing the booklet, and peeled back the tab.
He photocopied the math, reading, and language-arts sections—the subjects that would determine, under the No Child Left Behind guidelines, whether Parks would be classified as a “school in need of improvement” for the sixth year in a row. Unless fifty-eight per cent of students passed the math portion of the test and sixty-seven per cent passed in language arts, the state could shut down the school. Lewis put on gloves, to prevent oil from his hands from leaving a residue on the plastic, and then used his lighter to melt the edges of the cellophane together, so that it appeared as if the package had never been opened. He gave the reading and language-arts sections to two teachers he trusted and took the math section home.
The U.S. risks a fiscal crisis if it doesn’t get large and continuously growing federal debt under control, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.
In its new long-term budget outlook, the nonpartisan CBO said federal debt held by the public is now 74% of the economy and will rise to 106% of gross domestic product by 2039 if current laws remain unchanged. Read the 2014 long-term budget outlook.
In its last long-term budget outlook in September 2013, CBO said debt held by the public was 73% of GDP and projected debt would be 102% of GDP in 2039.
The stark warning from the CBO comes as deficits have recently been falling. For the current fiscal year, for example, the CBO is projecting a deficit of $492 billion, which would be 2.8% of gross domestic product.
The deficit in fiscal 2013 was $680 billion, the first shortfall below $1 trillion of Barack Obama’s presidency. The deficit hit a record of $1.4 trillion in 2009.
But the agency expects deficits to rise in coming years as costs related to Social Security, Medicare and interest payments swell.
Last month a small national group of graduate career counselors met on the University of California at San Diego’s campus in La Jolla to discuss one of the academic world’s hottest and most vexing topics: how to help Ph.D.’s and postdoctoral scholars get jobs.
The three-day conference, which was organized by the Graduate Career Consortium, was the group’s 26th annual meeting, and its largest ever: Around 100 advisors and counselors from 80 institutions attended. One-third of this year’s attendees were new registrants, an indication that campus administrators are responding to growing calls from around the country to reform graduate education.
When the GCC formed, back in 1987, only a handful of counselors showed up to these annual gatherings. As recently as a decade ago, relatively few colleges offered career-counseling services to graduate students beyond managing their dossiers. Victoria Blodgett, the GCC’s president, attributed the uptick in attendance to this year’s conference to a confluence of factors: the recent expansion of career services for Ph.D.’s, the creation of postdoctoral-affairs offices on more campuses, the growing demand for better counseling about alternative and nonacademic careers, and the need for more transparent data on job placement for advanced degree-holders.
Nobody goes into teaching to get rich, but that’s no excuse not to pay teachers as professionals.
Compensation is one of the most important factors in determining who enters the teaching profession and how long they stay—yet 90 percent of all U.S. school districts pay teachers without any regard for their actual performance with students, shortchanging our best educators. If we seriously believe in the value of great teaching, we have to not only pay teachers more but also pay them differently.
Shortchanged examines why lockstep pay undermines the value of great teaching and hurts students and teachers, making it difficult to recruit and keep top talent, and discouraging high performers from teaching where they’re needed most. It’s time to build smarter compensation systems that actually pay for what really matters: how hard teachers’ jobs are and how well they’re doing them. Schools and districts can—and should—free up existing funds and pay teachers according to three principles:
“I have trouble with this issue because it’s so totally illogical,” says Diane Ravitch, an education historian. “It’s hard to understand why anyone thinks taking away teachers’ due-process rights will lead to great teachers in every classroom.”
As for Brown, Ravitch is dismissive: “She is a good media figure because of her looks, but she doesn’t seem to know or understand anything about teaching and why tenure matters … I know it sounds sexist to say that she is pretty, but that makes her telegenic, even if what she has to say is total nonsense.”
Why, yes, that does sound rather sexist. Now, Ravitch suggests here that Brown’s analysis is so transparently illogical that perhaps only her looks can account for her views. Why, Ravitch wonders, would the elimination of a job protection help attract better teachers? Let me reveal, via the power of logic, how this can work.
The basic problem is that some proportion of American teachers is terrible at their job and immune to improvement, yet removing them is a practical impossibility. (A good overview of the research on chronically ineffective teachers can be found here. Standard caveat: The author is my wife.) Under some conditions, loosening tenure laws can lead directly to more effective teachers in the classroom. For instance, when the Great Recession drove states to lay off teachers in order to balance their budgets, last-in, first-out hiring rules led them to fire teachers regardless of quality, thus removing highly effective (yet unprotected) teachers from classrooms.
Our Frederick Taylor style monolithic education model has obviously run its course.
College graduates in the class of 2008 had it rough. They started college when the economy was thriving and took on more student loan debt than anyone before them.
Then, they graduated just as the Great Recession rushed in. The Class of 2008 was blindsided by an economic reality that they hadn’t planned on and weren’t prepared to handle.
You want to give your children everything. But sometimes you can go too far and create a spoiled, entitled brat.
The consequences can be severe: In addition to acting like whiny complainers now, spoiled children are more likely to grow into financially dependent, irresponsible adults plagued by overspending and debt.
“Some parents want their children to have everything for free,” says Katherine Dean, managing director of wealth planning at Wells Fargo Private Bank in San Francisco. “But the real world doesn’t work that way.”
Financial advisers and therapists suggest various ways to avoid spoiling your children. A few:
There’s a great anecdote one often hears from professional dancers: As a kid, I could never sit still, they’ll say. My teacher wanted to put me on Ritalin, but my parents put me in dance class.
I think we ought to tell a similar story for a different kind of troubled adolescent, the kind more burdened by angst than by ADD. You know the type: sullen, apathetic, bored. Perhaps she’s dressed all in black. Perhaps he’s failing geometry. This child’s teacher wants to put the rebel in detention. I say, Put the kid in physics class.
Despite the stereotype of the lovable nerd being embraced by popular culture in TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and on T-shirts like “Talk nerdy to me,” the truth is that physics is the rebel’s subject. It’s for those who reject all authority, even that of our most basic assumptions, those who know in their bones that the world is not what it seems and who refuse to take the common, easy route of living unquestioningly on the surface.
Last September, Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle, a student at Citrus Community College near Los Angeles, was collecting signatures on a petition asking the student government to condemn spying by the National Security Agency. He left the school’s designated “free speech area” to go to the student center. On his way there, he saw a likely prospect to join his cause: a student wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt. He stopped the student and they began talking about the petition. Then an administrator came out of a nearby building, informed them their discussion was forbidden outside the speech zone, and warned Sinapi-Riddle he could be ejected from campus for violating the speech-zone rule.
Sinapi-Riddle has now sued Citrus College, a state institution, for violating his First Amendment rights by, among other things, demanding that “expressive activities” be confined to the 1.34 percent of campus designated as a “free speech area.” Perhaps the most outrageous part of his experience is how common it is. The vague bans on “offensive” language and other “politically correct” measures that most people think of when they imagine college speech codes are increasingly being joined by quarantine policies that restrict all student speech, regardless of its content.
Ben Wei was already paying hefty tuition to earn a sociology degree from Bowdoin College, which charged nearly $57,000 at the time, but worried his classes weren’t teaching him skills he needed in the workplace.
So he gave up his winter break just a semester before graduating and paid another $3,000 to take a three-week business boot camp designed to teach him how to work a full-time job.
The course, offered by a company called Fullbridge, covered problem-solving, collaboration and communication—the kinds of skills employers say they want but aren’t getting from college grads.
“You can sit in a room and learn economic theory from a professor or a textbook, but at the end of the day, it’s still just theory,”said Wei, who now works as a data analyst. “They don’t really teach you how to apply that theory.”
American students have yet to embrace digital textbooks in considerable numbers. Many of the top universities and colleges have a very slim minority that either use them exclusively or in parallel with print. A recent survey by Hewlett Packard illiminates the role digital is playing in the classroom.
HP conducted a survey last winter, talking to 527 students at San Jose State. 57% of the respondents said they prefer the standard textbook. A paltry 21% said they prefer the digital variant and 21% stated that they utilize both formats.
The preference for print was also much higher with ages 18 to 35 year-olds with 62%, which accounted for 75% of the respondents. Contrary to what most would expect, the younger and supposedly tech-savvy students are not all that into e-textbooks. The survey also reveals that Education and Library & Information Science students, representing 49% of the total respondents, used printed textbooks more than other majors, including Business and Science.
Letters to the New York Times Editor on The Fallacy of ‘Balanced Literacy, via a kind reader:
To the Editor:
Kudos to Alexander Nazaryan for his eloquent defense of “conventionally rigorous” teaching techniques.
The decision by the New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, to reinstate balanced literacy despite the unfavorable results of studies done during the Bloomberg administration reflects, in my opinion, a general aversion to empirical evidence within the educational establishment in favor of ideology and faddish group think.
I very much appreciate the excellent K-12 teaching I received in Brooklyn public schools during the 1940s and ’50s, when a “conventionally rigorous” approach was the norm.
My more recent experience as a volunteer tutor in Wisconsin elementary schools during the past 12 years mirrors that of Mr. Nazaryan in Brooklyn in 2005-06. Again, an approach appropriate for the Midwestern equivalent of “brownstone Brooklyn” kids was employed in classrooms where half the kids were poor or minorities or both. The results of this approach are what the local press has described as a notoriously high racial achievement gap.
The University of Wisconsin System cannot charge high school students taking courses offered in their schools for college credit, known as concurrent enrollment classes, the state’s attorney general says.
“This opens a lot of doors, basically. This is a good deal for kids and parents,” said John Johnson, spokesman for the state Department of Public Instruction. “The bottom line is that parents and students won’t be on the hook for costs.”
In an opinion released Thursday, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen also said the state’s Department of Public Instruction — rather than UW System — should determine concurrent enrollment program costs for UW System and school districts.
“Impact on UWS (the payments it will receive) and the resident school district (the payments it will make) will be decided by DPI,” Van Hollen wrote. “Not only does the student no longer pay any tuition for a concurrent enrollment course, his application to attend a concurrent enrollment court cannot be denied on the ground that it might impose ‘an undue financial burden’ on his resident school district.”
IN the late 1970s, in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, Iowa, the threat of summer boredom was real. The nearest theme parks were hours away, and the best video games (Space Invaders, Asteroids) were coin guzzlers, fueled by hard-earned lawn-mowing or paper-route funds. While we had the requisite tennis courts and public swimming pools, which we used to exhaustion, our best resources were our rawest ones — hilly streets, undeveloped woods, local streams and hours of unstructured, unsupervised playtime.
As a 6- to 8-year-old, when I wasn’t searching for sticks to whittle with my collection of X-acto knives (or giving myself the scars to remember them by), I was getting lost in ragtag gatherings of kids. We played afternoon-long basketball games and twilight sessions of kick the can that could span three streets and involve 30 or more screaming kids.
« Cette initiation devrait être inscrite dans les programmes du second degré », selon le ministre, qui considère que « certains professeurs pourraient, plus naturellement que d’autres, être des pédagogues du code : les professeurs de technologie et de mathématiques ».
« Nous lançons par ailleurs, avec Arnaud Montebourg, un grand programme en faveur de la filière industrielle française du numérique éducatif », ajoute Benoît Hamon, précisant que 70 % des élèves du primaire et de collège et 100 % des enseignants seront équipés à l’horizon 2020 en ordinateurs et tablettes dotés de ressources pédagogiques numériques.
Last week, after years of being on the financial precipice and facing accusations of improper recruiting practices by authorities in several states, Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education company with 74,000 students in more than 100 locations around the country, began to wind down its operations. In an agreement with the federal Department of Education, Corinthian said it would halt admissions and try to sell 85 of its campuses.
At another 12 Corinthian campuses, students can continue their studies until they graduate. Certain students who choose to stop attending classes will receive refunds, the company said.
Even as the company’s fortunes faded in recent years, Corinthian’s five top executives piled up real money: Over the last three years, they’ve shared $12.5 million in salaries and cash bonuses.
But taxpayers and Corinthian students — a vast majority of whom have borrowed to finance their educations — will be the biggest losers. When Corinthian eventually vanishes, its graduates will be left holding degrees from a defunct institution. This will make it even tougher for them to get jobs, resulting in higher default rates on their federal student loans.
Related: NYU’s student debt stories.
Dr. Quoc Le from the Google Brain project team (yes, the one that made headlines for creating a cat recognizer) presented a series of lectures at the Machine Learning Summer School (MLSS ’14) in Pittsburgh this week. This is my favorite lecture series from the event till now and I was glad to be able to attend them.
The good news is that the organizers have made available the entire set of video lectures in 4K for you to watch. But since Dr. Le did most of them on the board and did not provide any accompanying slides, I decided to put the contents of the lectures along with the videos here.
In this post I posted Dr. Le’s lecture videos and added content links with short descriptions to help you navigate them better.
Census data suggests that in 1980 a college graduate could expect to earn about 38 percent more than a worker with only a high-school diploma. Since then, the difference in their wages has only widened as our economy has shifted to bestow greater and greater rewards on the well-educated. By 2000, that number was about 57 percent. By 2011: 73 percent.
These figures, though, reflect only part of the inequality that has pushed the lives of college and high school graduates in America farther apart. As the returns to education have increased, according to Stanford economist Rebecca Diamond, the geographic segregation of the most educated workers has, too — and not by neighborhood, but by entire city.
In New York City’s East Village, there are a number of hole-in-the-wall spots that advertise sushi at 50 percent off. But I can never bring myself to sample the goods. We’re talking about a delicacy flown in from around the world. Marking it down drastically just doesn’t sit right. Something — either the price, or the fish — has to be a little off.
The same uneasiness arose recently when the National Association of College and University Business Officers released a survey of tuition discounts at private, nonprofit, four-year colleges and universities. NACUBO looked at 401 schools, and the survey found two things: almost no one pays full price, and the discounts are quite steep.
They estimate 88.9 percent of first-time, full-year freshmen received some kind of discount in 2013-2014. Of those students, the average grant they received is estimated to cover 53.5 percent of tuition and fees. In other words: more than half off. These discount rates are climbing fast. They are the highest recorded since the study began in 2000.
But they don’t appear to do much financial training in Shanghai?
One of the report’s most interesting conclusions was that the best way of teaching financial literacy is not necessarily by instruction in the classroom. Far more important as indicators of proficiency were mathematical skills and personal experience with financial products.
So Chinese children, who score very highly on fundamental maths and science, are more likely to understand money-related concepts than those taught directly about banks, credit and interest rates. Countries such as the US or Slovak Republic, which had much higher levels of in-class teaching than Shanghai, performed worse when tested.
Andreas Schleicher, OECD education director, said: “The volume of exposure to financial literacy in the classroom has no relationship with performance. That is very different for maths or science teaching.”
The data also suggest having a bank account or managing phone credits gives a youngster much more opportunity – and motivation – to learn about financial concepts. On average, students in the 13 core OECD economies who held a bank account scored 33 points higher than those who did not.
America should do away with middle schools, which are educational wastelands. We need to cut the middle out of middle schools, either by combining them with the guidance and nurturing that children find in elementary school, or with the focus on adult success that we expect from our high schools.
For much as half of middle schools across the country, national statistics show substantial performance gaps, especially in math and reading achievement, between middle school and high school. It’s time to admit that middle school models do not work—instead, they are places where academics stall and languish.
via Marc Eisen.
Mr Eisen wrote “My Life & Times with the Madison Public Schools” in 2007. Well worth reading.
To solve this problem, UCLA is introducing a $4 student fee to pay for better concerts. That illuminates a budgeting issue in higher education — and indeed among human beings more generally.
That $4 is not a large fee. Even the poorest student can probably afford it. On the other hand, collectively, UCLA’s student fees are significant: more than $3,500, or about a quarter of the mandatory cost of attending UCLA for a year.
Those fees are made up of many items, each trivial individually. Only collectively do they become a major source of costs for students and their families and potentially a barrier to college access for students who don’t have an extra $3,500 lying around.
As I’ve written before, this is a common phenomenon that you see among people who have gotten themselves into financial trouble — or, for that matter, people who are doing OK but complain that they don’t know where the money goes and can’t save for the big-ticket items they want. They consider each purchase individually, rather than in the context of a global budget, which means that they don’t make trade-offs. Instead of asking themselves “Is this what I want to spend my limited funds on, or would I rather have something else?” they ask “Can I afford this purchase on my income?” And the answer is often “Yes, I can.” The problem is that you can’t afford that purchase and the other 15 things that you can also, one by one, afford to buy on your income. This is how individual financial disasters occur, and it is also one way that college tuition is becoming a financial disaster for many families.
ARE we ever going to figure out how the brain works?
After decades of research, diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s still resist treatment. Despite countless investigations into serotonin and other neurotransmitters, there is still no method to cure clinical depression. And for all the excitement about brain-imaging techniques, the limitations of fMRI studies are, as evidenced by popular books like “Brainwashed” and “Neuromania,” by now well known. In spite of the many remarkable advances in neuroscience, you might get the sinking feeling that we are not always going about brain science in the best possible way.
New York City’s mayor handed teachers a big win. Struggling students will be the losers
Back in 2005, when New York City was pre-crash flush, Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered the United Federation of Teachers a raise in return for 150 extra minutes of classroom work per week. The mayor’s idea was to spend that extra time tutoring the kids who needed the most help–the bottom third of each class. UFT president Randi Weingarten agreed that the group sessions would be small, no more than 10 students per class. Schools chancellor Joel Klein wanted three 50-minute periods per week. The union wanted five 30-minute periods. They compromised on four 37½-minute sessions.
The program was never given a name, which made it easier for New York’s new “progressive” mayor Bill de Blasio to give it back–to eliminate the required 150 minutes of special instruction–in his negotiations with the UFT this spring. You might well wonder why. I tried to find out but received a heaping ration of gobbledygook from a source close to the mayor. He said that the program had been “inflexible” and “one size fits all.” That it was not “workable to the purpose.” Translation: it didn’t work. But how do we know that? No studies or evaluations were done. At his press conference announcing the new union deal, the mayor and his schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, gave several foggy reasons for the change: the time would be used for additional parent conferences and for “professional development” so the teachers could learn how to teach the new core curriculum. A lot of unspecific wiggle room was negotiated on both counts–part of the mayor’s drive toward “flexibility.”
Colleges selected by institutions as peers show the power players in the world of higher education. Those choices also reveal sometimes surprising connections.
Explore the 1,595 colleges in this network to find out more, or read our article to learn about the trends.
Your editor didn’t bother paying much mind to last week’s call by the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly for Arne Duncan’s resignation as U.S. Secretary of Education. For one, your editor was more-concerned with spending time with his lovely wife and fast-growing son during the Fourth of July weekend than with anything dealing with the union. The fact that the NEA’s call for Duncan’s resignation comes two years or so before he actually steps down from the job as part of the end of the Obama Administration’s term-limited tenure also makes the demand especially silly.
wpid-threethoughslogoBut what got your editor’s attention is the response to the resignation call from both Duncan and the Obama Administration. It was clearly not to the liking of either the NEA or other traditionalists long-opposed to the administration’s reform efforts. Duncan simply brushed off the NEA — and actually pointed out the lack of credibility the teachers’ union even has among its own rank-and-file membership — when he said that “I always try to stay out of local union politics” and that “I think most teachers do, too”. As for the White House? The president’s flacks didn’t bother to comment at all.
There are certainly some national reporters outside the education beat (along with a few newbies within it) who are finally, belatedly acknowledging what Dropout Nation and others have pointed out for at least the past six years: That neither the NEA nor the American Federation of Teachers can count on the Democratic National Committee for unquestioned support. So the NEA’s call for Duncan’s resignation is about as newsworthy as the fact that the union’s longtime second-in-command, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, was formally anointed as Dennis Van Roekel’s successor as its overlord.
At the same time, the NEA’s desperate move — along with the Obama Administration’s response to it — is noteworthy for this important reason: It epitomizes how far the NEA’s influence over education policy (as well as that of the AFT) has declined at the federal level as well as within states.
When New York and Kentucky rolled out the first tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards, the results were dismal: Most students failed the new standardized tests, in stark contrast to the old assessments, which the vast majority passed.
The results alarmed parents, but the scores on these new tests—just like those on earlier forms of assessment—reveal less about what children know than about the way the test makers decide to measure that knowledge.
The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers unveiled the Common Core standards in 2010, saying they were intended to raise academic standards, and the test scores so far appear to reflect the increased expectations.
The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings 2014 employ the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey to provide the definitive list of the top 100 most powerful global university brands. A spin-off of the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the reputation league table is based on nothing more than subjective judgement – but it is the considered expert judgement of senior, published academics – the people best placed to know the most about excellence in our universities.
Back in February, a slight dip in LSAT test-takers led Law Blog to wonder if the law-school crisis had turned a corner? The latest LSAT numbers suggest law schools are still digging into a hole.
The number of law school admission tests administered in June was down 9.1% compared to a year earlier, according to figures released by the Law School Admission Council on Thursday.
The 21,802 people who sat for the test last month is the lowest June total in 14 years, suggesting that law schools may still be having difficulty convincing college graduates on the value of a J.D. degree.
As the average cost of higher education in America continues to rise, at least 50 American colleges and universities are now charging students more than $60,000 per year.
We found these numbers by examining the average cost of tuition, fees, room, and board that an incoming student would face over the 2014-15 academic year. Check out a more in-depth breakdown of the 20 most expensive colleges here >>
While these direct costs are a significant portion of the total cost of college, they alone do not reveal the true financial burden of higher education — students are also responsible for paying for textbooks, travel costs, and, of course, any social expenses. These “indirect costs” can often add up to an extra $2,000.
Today, it was reported that a girls’ state school in Bradford has been criticised by Ofsted for only employing female teachers. Feversham College, a Muslim school, has been told to hire positive male role models for its 664 girls, aged 11-18, who currently have an ‘all-female learning environment’.
Its head teacher has stated that the school – which used to be private – was established “in response to parental demand for single-sex education based on religious beliefs” and said the policy had been accepted when the it applied for voluntary-aided status in 2001.
That may be. But, as Chief Executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) – a group of 26 independent schools and academies in England and Wales – I can’t help but agree with the Ofsted report. Simply, we can’t argue for diversity in the boardroom and then not allow it in the staffroom.
Girls’ schools have long been at the forefront of extending opportunities for young women. We expect, quite rightly, that no doors will be closed to the girls leaving us at the end of their school lives this month and going on to university, or the world of work.
Nearly half of black males and almost 40 percent of white males in the U.S. are arrested by age 23, which can hurt their ability to find work, go to school and participate fully in their communities.
A new study released Monday (Jan. 6) in the journal Crime & Delinquency provides the first contemporary findings on how the risk of arrest varies across race and gender, says Robert Brame, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina and lead author of the study.
The study is an analysis of national survey data from 1997 to 2008 of teenagers and young adults, ages 18
Were there differences by sex in the percentage of youth who watched TV or used a computer for 2 hours or less daily?
Were there differences by race and Hispanic origin in the percentage of youth who watched TV or used a computer for 2 hours or less daily?
Were there differences by weight status in the percentage of youth who watched TV or used a computer for 2 hours or less daily?
Nearly all (98.5%) youth aged 12–15 reported watching TV daily.
More than 9 in 10 (91.1%) youth aged 12–15 reported using the computer daily outside of school.
In 2012, 27.0% of youth aged 12–15 had 2 hours or less of TV plus computer use daily.
Among youth aged 12–15, girls (80.4%) were more likely to use the computer 2 hours or less daily when compared with boys (69.4%).
Fewer non-Hispanic black youth aged 12–15 (53.4%) reported watching 2 hours or less of TV daily than non-Hispanic white (65.8%) and Hispanic (68.7%) youth.
Excessive screen-time behaviors, such as using a computer and watching TV, for more than 2 hours daily have been linked with elevated blood pressure, elevated serum cholesterol, and being overweight or obese among youth (1–3). Additionally, screen-time behavior established in adolescence has been shown to track into adulthood (4). The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-supported Expert Panel and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that children limit leisure screen time to 2 hours or less daily (5,6). This report presents national estimates of TV watching and computer use outside of the school day.
Survey finds many city parents are choosing their child’s public school but challenges remain.
School choice is increasingly the new normal in urban education. But in cities with multiple public school options, how can civic leaders create a choice system that works for all families, whether they choose a charter or district public school?
To answer this question, CRPE researchers surveyed 4,000 parents in eight cities (Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.) with high degrees of school choice. The researchers also conducted interviews with government officials, choice advocates, and community leaders in four cities, and looked at how many different agencies oversee schools in 35 cities.
The study found that:
In the eight cities surveyed, the majority of parents are actively choosing a school for their children.
Parents face significant barriers to choosing schools, including inadequate information, transportation, and lack of quality options.
Challenges facing families are not confined to the charter or district sector.
Responsibility for schools often falls to multiple parties, including school districts, charter school authorizers, and state agencies, weakening accountability and making it difficult for leaders to address the challenges facing parents.
If you spent the 1990s plucking songs from a stack of cassettes to make the perfect mixtape, you probably welcomed innovations of the next decade that served your favorite albums up as individual songs, often for free. The internet’s power to unbundle content sparked a rapid transformation of the music industry, which today generates just over half of the $14 billion it did in 2000—and it’s doing the same thing to higher education.
The unbundling of albums in favor of individual songs was one of the biggest causes of the music industry’s decline. It cannibalized the revenue of record labels as 99-cent songs gained popularity over $20 albums. It also changed the way music labels had to operate in order to maintain profitability. The traditional services of labels: identifying artists; investing in them; recording, publishing, and distributing their work; and marketing them—are now increasingly offered a la carte.
Pressure from labels then had downstream effects on content creators, specifically artists. The top one 1 per cent of artists now take home 77 per cent of revenue, and the rest is spread across an increasing number of artists. The pain of the record labels is forced on artists through smaller royalty payments.
When Michelle Arvelo returned to her prekindergarten classroom on June 30 after a weeklong vacation in the Dominican Republic, 18 exhilarated 4-year-olds sprinted to the door to greet her, wrapping their arms around her thin frame and inquiring about her tan, her haircut and whether her plane had a co-pilot in the cockpit.
Her boss at Cypress Hills Childcare Center in Brooklyn, which runs a year-round preschool, was thrilled to see her, too. But she was also worried that Ms. Arvelo might soon be departing again, this time permanently.
Ms. Arvelo has applied to the city in the hope of getting one of the new prekindergarten teaching jobs opening up in public schools. Directors who oversee dozens of independently run programs like Cypress Hills say that they cannot compete with the salary and benefits offered by the Education Department, so a program that promises to be a boon for families of young children may end up being a loss for them, an unintended consequence of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s prekindergarten expansion.
The intellectuals are a paradoxical product of the market economy, because “unlike any other type of society, capitalism inevitably and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization creates, educates and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest.” Like Hayek, Schumpeter described intellectuals broadly as “people who wield the power of the spoken and the written word.” More narrowly, “one of the touches that distinguish them from other people who do the same is the absence of direct responsibility for practical affairs.” That is, intellectuals do not participate in the market (at least not in the areas they write about), and do not generally rely on satisfying consumers to earn a living. Add to this their naturally critical attitude—which Schumpeter argues is the product of the essential rationality of the market economy—and it is easy to see why intellectuals would be hostile to the market.
In other words, intellectuals are often out of place in entrepreneurial societies. The growth of the intellectual class is not a response to consumer demand, but to the expansion of higher education. Passing through the higher education system does not necessarily confer valuable skills, but it often does convince graduates that work in the market is beneath them:
Hillary Clinton gave a Luskin Thought Leadership lecture at UCLA last March for which she raked in $300,000 in speaking fees. The appearance was one of at least eight lectures she gave at various universities throughout the past year. Her minimum speaking fee at said universities was reportedly $200,000.
There has been outrage among some students of these universities, who lambaste their administrators for doling out stratospheric speaking fees while students are left to grapple with tuitions that have increased by 500 percent over the last thirty years.
In defense of Clinton’s exploits, it’s been noted that the fees she was paid did not come out of the pot of money funded by tuition but rather from privately donated grants. For instance, at UCLA, the Luskin Lecture for Thought Leadership fund established in 2011 by benefactors Meyer and Renee Luskin paid her fee.
The nascent Luskin Lecture for Thought Leadership program has thus far brought in three speakers: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Kofi Annan, all of whom are, incidentally (or not?), of the liberal bent.
It is correct to point out that, because she was paid by a private donation, it is not as if her speaking fee directly diminished the school’s ability to pay for classroom resources and the like.
The percentage of young first-time mothers who are married is dropping, according to Fertility of Women in the United States: 2012, a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the early 1990s, at least half of all first births to mothers younger than age 23 occurred in marriage. Since 2005, more young mothers were cohabiting (38 percent) than were married (24 percent) at the time of their first birth. However, the majority of all women continue to have their first child within marriage.
Fertility of Women in the United States: 2012 uses data from the 2012 American Community Survey and the 2012 Current Population Survey. The report examines women’s marital status at the time of their first births, the completed fertility of women up to age 50 and the fertility patterns of young women. Fertility patterns are shown by race, ethnicity, age, citizenship and employment status, as well as state of residence.
National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen García on the use of student test scores to evaluate teacher effectiveness:
They’re “the mark of the devil.” “For us, one thing is clear. Before anything is going to get better: It’s the Testing, Stupid. Better yet, it’s the stupid testing.”
New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Vice President Marie Blistan on the use of student test scores to evaluate teacher effectiveness:
“We need to safeguard against a test-taking tsunami that enriches private corporations’ wallets but impoverishes our students.”
Denver, the site of the NEA’s annual meeting last week, is a long way from Trenton but you’d never know it from the sound bites.
During this past year the rhetoric from both the national teacher union leadership and N.J.’s state chapter have grown progressively more rancorous. The bicoastal target of ire is, ostensibly, the practice of linking student test scores to teacher evaluations.
When it comes to financial literacy around the world, American teens are middling.
The United States may fuel the world’s largest economy and operate its most robust financial system. But compared to the financial prowess of teenagers in 17 other countries, U.S. teens come off downright mediocre.
That’s according to a new study published Wednesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as part of its Program for International Student Assessment, conducted once every three years.
The OECD, a 34-nation organization based in Paris, surveyed 15-year-old students in 13 member nations and five other nations throughout 2012 to ascertain their level of familiarity with the financial system as they neared adulthood.
“Finance is part of everyday life for many 15-year-olds, who are already consumers of financial services, such as bank accounts,” the report said. “As they near the end of compulsory education, students will face complex and challenging financial choices, including whether to join the labor market or continue with formal education and, if so, how to finance such study.”
The OECD report.
Last September, the day before PennApps 2013f, a 48-hour, 1,000+ student hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania, I created a Facebook Group called “PennApps HS Hackers” for the dozen or so high school students who were also attending the event.
If the words “hacker” and “hackathon” evoke mental images of scary-looking criminals breaking into computers, I can assure you we’re nothing like that. Hackers, in the original spirit of the term, are programmers and designers who use technology to build things — not destroy things. Hackathons are events where hackers of all kinds come together to collaborate on new projects and compete for prizes, often on college campuses.
Turns out I picked an incredible time to start a community — the hackathon scene exploded in rhythm with my Facebook Group. In the course of a school year, the group would grow to include high schoolers from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries, organizers from nearly every major U.S. college hackathon, founders of high school hackathons and hacker meetups, and even the president of the well-known startup incubator, Y Combinator.