It has recently been suggested that, in order to elevate the quality and status of teachers in America, teachers need to take a "bar exam." After all, doctors and lawyers have serious hurdles to jump over in order to secure and maintain their licenses. The work that you do as a teacher is just as important as the work that a doctor or a lawyer does--in fact you educate future doctors and lawyers. Why shouldn't teachers be held to the same standard as lawyers and doctors?
Being an effective teacher requires more than just attending professional development workshops. Excellent instruction in the classroom facilitates student learning, which leads to better achievement on formal assessments and standardized tests. Starting the discussion with disappointing test results, however, often brings up the "chicken or the egg" dilemma: is poor performance on standardized tests the fault of the teacher for not providing quality instruction or is it the fault of the student for failing to work hard and learn? Frequently, teachers are shouldering the blame.
The Tennessee State Board of Education has cleared the way for a charter school backed by neighborhood parents to open in middle-class West Nashville.Nashville schools spent $674,034,800 [PDF] to educate 79,117 students [District Fact Sheet PDF, 71% "economically disadvantaged"] during the 2011-2012 school year ($8519.47/student), 42% less than Madison's $14,858.
The board voted Friday to direct the Metro Nashville Public Schools to approve an application by Great Hearts Academies, a nonprofit that operates prep-school-like charter schools in the Phoenix area, to open a school in 2014. The group hopes to open four more schools across Nashville after that.
The Nashville school board, whose members are elected on a nonpartisan basis, approved two other charter schools last month. But it twice rejected Great Hearts' application, claiming the school would recruit only affluent students and harm diversity efforts in the district, where 45% of elementary students passed state reading exams last year, and 33% passed math. The local teachers union didn't take a public stand on the application.
Yes, I admit, the editorial at the New York Time entitled "Is Algebra Necessary?" pushes my buttons. Hacker makes some valid and relevant points, and I'll get back to that. However, the core of his argument is the ultimate in anti-intellectualism. What's worse, it's the kind of anti-intellectualism that you get from intellectuals, the sort of thing that sprouts from those on the math-ignorant side of the "two cultures" identified by C. P. Snow.
Andrew Hacker's argument against making algebra necessary for high school and college students is essentially: Math Is Hard. Having to do it gets in the way of people who could be amazing at other things, because they will drop out of high school because Math Is Hard. So, rather than stop them from achieving all that they might achieve, we should just remove algebra from the high school curriculum. He points out that failing math is one of the main reasons students leave school. Now, I might think that this is a reason to look at our educational culture, at how math is taught, at the fact that it is somehow deemed acceptable and indeed normal to find basic math impenetrable. But, if you're on the other side of the two cultures, evidently this means that we as a society should just give up on the general teaching of basic algebra. Evidently, it's OK that the elites who understand the simplest things about science become that much more separated from the general educated public, and that the generally educated public know that much less about them.
As I said would happen in my post about a possible approach to teaching maths to non-mathematicians aged 16-18, I went last Wednesday to Watford Grammar School for Boys to try the approach out. The headmaster there, Martin Post, was remarkably helpful and assembled a usefully varied group of pupils, some from his school, some from the equivalent school for girls, and some from a nearby mixed comprehensive school (I wasn't told which one) whose pupils receive some of their teaching in scientific subjects from Watford Grammar School. What's more, some of the people there were doing maths and further maths, some were doing just maths, and some were not doing either. The one thing that was not representative about the group was that they were much brighter than average: for example, the non-mathematicians there had been chosen by their teachers as clever people who could have done maths but decided that they were more interested in other things. For most of the rest of this post, I'll say what questions I discussed and how the discussions went. All but two of them were taken from the list in the earlier post.
Here is how it works. Each year, a student (or more likely, their family) fills out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In this cumbersome, complicated process, families report income and other related assets. Essentially, this reports to the government the family's estimated ability to pay for higher education--not willingness to pay, but ability to pay. This is an important point. The government then calculates what is known as the "expected family contribution," which is sent to colleges, reporting what exactly the government deems a family can devote to their student's education.
Let's step back for a moment and frame this problem a little differently. Imagine you are on the market to purchase a new car. When a salesman approaches, you (the buyer) have an information advantage. You know exactly what you are willing to pay for the car based on your own personal preferences and your personal belief as to how much of your family budget you can realistically devote to purchasing the car. With this knowledge, you are in the driver's seat on negotiating the price of the car.
After the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved state Superintendent John C. White's version of accountability for voucher schools this week, some people were asking "what accountability?"
They especially feel that way since White reserved the right to waive any and all restrictions imposed in the accountability plan if he believes it's merited.
If a school doesn't have 40 students, there are no repercussions, even if every voucher student fails the state assessment tests.
This briefing document was developed with helpful inputs from industry stakeholders and other practitioners in preparation for the "E-Books in Libraries" workshop, hosted on February 24, 2012, by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society with the generous support of the Charles H. Revson Foundation.
The "E-Books in Libraries" workshop was convened as part of a broader effort to explore current issues associated with digital publishing business models and access to digitally-published materials in libraries. Workshop attendees, including representatives from leading publishers, libraries, academia, and other industry experts, were invited to identify key challenges, share experiences, and prioritize areas for action. This document, which contains some updates reflecting new developments following the February workshop (up to June 2012), is intended to build on and continue that discussion with a broader audience, and encourage the development of next steps and concrete solutions.
First time I heard about raspberry pi was through twitter. I thought: Oh I bet that's a cute name for a new python module. Didn't look into it.
Then I overheard a very dedicated PyLady saying "OMG my Raspberry Pi shipped today!"
Wait, a module shipped? She doesn't develop python modules. Is this a physical thing?
Then, weeks later, I asked another friend, "What is this Raspberry Pi?"
The world stopped to him. "What, are you serious?" he responded. "Yeah...?" Clearly I wasn't getting "it." Then I preceded to get educated in "it."
Dr. Sabrina Hope King is Chief Academic Officer for the New York Department of Education's Office of Curriculum and Professional Development. As part of her role, she leads the Campaign for Middle School Success, a multi-year strategic plan to develop a culture of success in schools throughout the city and improve the academic performance of middle school students.
The Campaign for Middle School Success is a $35 million initiative supported by both public and private funds, including a five-year, $17.9 million grant from the GE Foundation as part of the Developing Futures™ in Education program.
Dr. King's audio perspective discusses how New York City schools are addressing the achievement gap and creating a system of middle schools that help prepare children for success in further education and future careers.
I don't know how most people spend their second morning home schooling. I spent mine hyperventilating into a paper bag. After less than 24 hours of educating my child at home, I was struck by the realization that I wasn't up to the task and should move immediately to Plan B. Except I didn't have a Plan B.
For two years leading up to this I had watched my daughter convince experienced, well-meaning teachers that she was incapable of mastering long division when, in fact, she simply didn't like long division. Alice's ploy raised a larger concern: At age 9, she appeared to be cruising along in school without actually doing any work. To my sorrow, it appeared I had given birth to myself, another pleasant slacker fated to a lifetime of successfully studying for midterms between classes until barely paying attention stopped working. Alice wasn't learning how to learn, she was learning how to coast. Maybe I could wait and see if she came to learning on her own. Or maybe she needed a different kind of education.
Her father and I checked out a few middle-school programs known for their rigor. Each promised to challenge Alice academically but also promised hours of homework every night. I'm greedy. I want my child challenged, but I don't want her staying up until 2 a.m. every night translating "The Aeneid." I knew we had a small window of opportunity to teach Alice to love learning, but I also knew there was an equally small window for her to be a child. Her academic options seemed to lie on either side of a wide chasm: a fluffy pillow on one side, a jackhammer on the other. I tried home schooling because I couldn't find a better alternative.
39MB mp3 audio file
|President, Lawrence Township Board of Education [Note the "user friendly" budget ($14,483/student, about 4% less than Madison's $15,132/student)], publisher of the New Jersey Left Behind blog and author of an occasional column. .|
I appreciate the time Laura took to discuss her activism, experience and aspirations along with her views on where our ed system is going. Laura further discussed her District's recent turnaround strategy. Finally, Laura offered several useful suggestions for parents researching schools.
England's new academy schools can now hire unqualified teachers, after a change to the rules.Related: An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Math Teacher Hiring Criteria.
Government officials say this means academies will be free to hire "great linguists, computer scientists and other specialists who have not worked in state schools before".
Unions for head teachers and teachers have attacked the move, describing it as a damaging backward step.
The change is immediate.
Until now, most state-funded schools could only employ people with what is known as "Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)", meaning they have been trained and approved as meeting a range of standards.
Independent schools are exempt.
The change also brings academies in line with the new free schools, which are already free to employ people without QTS.
The subject is intended to engender national pride but is derided as a "brainwashing" tool by critics.
A representative of the central government's liaison office waded into the furore, urging parents to back the curriculum.
While Ng claimed there had been no "falling out", leaders of the National Education Parents Concern Group said they walked out of the talks and felt "disrespected" by Ng.
Convener Eva Chan Sik-chee said the talks were like "playing music to a bull" and called for more parents to join the march, due to start at 2.30pm in Victoria Park and end at government headquarters in Admiralty.
Chan said the talks were no more than a gesture, intended to "turn down the heat" before the protest.
Coursera has been operating for only a few months, but the company has already persuaded some of the world's best-known universities to offer free courses through its online platform. Colleges that usually move at a glacial pace are rushing into deals with the upstart company. But what exactly have they signed up for? And if the courses are free, how will the company--and the universities involved--make money to sustain them?
Some clues can be found in the contract the institutions signed. The Chronicle obtained the agreement between Coursera and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the first public university to make such a deal, under a Freedom of Information Act request, and Coursera officials say that the arrangement is similar to those with the other partners.
The contract reveals that even Coursera isn't yet sure how it will bring in revenue. A section at the end of the agreement, titled "Possible Company Monetization Strategies," lists eight potential business models, including having companies sponsor courses. That means students taking a free course from Stanford University may eventually be barraged by banner ads or promotional messages. But the universities have the opportunity to veto any revenue-generating idea on a course-by-course basis, so very little is set in stone.
During the eight years I served as chancellor of New York City's public schools, the naysayers and the apologists for the status quo kept telling me "we'll never fix education in America until we fix poverty."
I always thought they had it backward, that "we'll never fix poverty until we fix education." Let me be clear. Poverty matters: Its debilitating psychological and physical effects often make it much harder to successfully educate kids who grow up in challenged environments. And we should do everything we can to ameliorate the effects of poverty by giving kids and families the support they need. But that said, I remain convinced that the best cure for poverty is a good education.
And I'm equally convinced that pointing to poverty as an excuse for why we fail to properly educate poor kids only serves to condemn more of them to lives of poverty.
The use of the phrase "global marketplace" has become so commonplace it is almost trite.Related: www.wisconsin2.org
It has developed into one of those catch phrases that fill the hours of talking heads and appear in virtually every paper issued on the American economy.
Americans like to think of our country as an undefeated champion, capable of conquering every challenge. Yet, we find ourselves in an increasingly competitive universe of economies, all seeking to become economic giants; all working hard to become leaders across the spectrum of competitive fields.
In "Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World Class Education," published by the National Governors Association (NGA), the plea was made clear: "what matters is how a state's students compare to those in countries around the globe. America must seize this moment to ensure that we have workers whose knowledge, skills and talents are competitive with the rest of the world."
Charter schools, only 20 years old, are on the rise across America as parents and students try to escape failing public schools. The growth in charter schools has hit Catholic schools especially hard, as education historian Diane Ravitch noted, "Where charter schools are expanding, Catholic schools are dying." Instead of fearing the rise of Charter schools, Catholic schools should learn from their innovative practices.
Parents who once preferred Catholic schools to the failing public system are abandoning Catholic schools en masse. This coming school year (2012-2013), more American elementary and secondary school students will enroll in charter schools than Catholic schools for the first time.
Charters have grown precisely because they took some of the best practices of Catholic schools - uniforms, discipline and high expectations - and applied them zealously. Now, Catholic schools should adopt some of the best practices used by charters to stage a comeback.
Milwaukee's Catholic schools have a special opportunity to lead reform. Starting in the fall of 2013, one of the most innovative charter school networks, Rocketship Academy of San Jose, Calif., will open its first franchise in Milwaukee.
Rocketship plans to open eight in total and enroll 4,000 students in the coming years. Rocketship's model has improved student outcomes dramatically, especially for English language learners. More important, Rocketship spends half as much per pupil than traditional schools.
Researcher William H. Schmidt believes education has become a game of chance in which the odds of success are predicated on factors outside the control of the students, including where they live, the schools they attend, the teachers they have and the textbooks they use.
An internationally recognized researcher on effective math education, Schmidt says that U.S. students lack equal opportunities to learn math, something he saw firsthand when he took sabbatical from Michigan State University to spend a year at the University of Virginia.
As an author of Michigan's math standards, Schmidt knew his second grader would have been learning multiplication tables up to the number five back home in East Lansing. In Virginia, multiplication was not taught at all in second grade, reinforcing what Schmidt already realized from his international comparisons: All math classes are not equal and students do not have the same opportunities to learn math.
N.J. charter schools are, by statute and conception, public schools. They are funded by public money on a per pupil basis, just like traditional schools, although the sending districts keep a small portion. They are all non-profits.
They adhere to the same fiscal and curricular metrics as other N.J. public schools. The kids take the same tests. Staff members can unionize, although they don't have to. Admissions policies can't discriminate against kids new to the English language or children with disabilities. The charter universe in N.J. is tiny, serving only 2 percent of students, mostly poor minority kids.
While there's no current legislation that restricts new charters to needy districts, eight of the nine new charters just approved by the DOE are in Newark, Camden, Jersey City, and Willingboro.
A C+ is considered average on the grading scale but for one California high school student it was well below average, enough so that he filed a lawsuit against both his teacher and school district.
Bowen Bethards, 17, was a sophomore in Peggy Carlock's chemistry class at Albany High School in Albany, Calif., outside of San Francisco, in the 2010-11 school year when she gave him the C+ grade at the center of the suit, according to court records first reported by the Albany Patch.
Bethards, in a lawsuit filed with his mother, Laureen, in Contra Costa County Superior Court last month, claims that he has suffered severe physical and emotional suffering, damage to his academic reputation, and diminished chances of getting into his college of choice because of the grade.
The Bethards claim that Carlock, who no longer teaches at the school, punished Bowen for missing class on a day that his fellow students performed a lab. Bethards, according to the suit, had to miss class to attend the adoption hearing for his younger sister and so informed Carlock of his absence ahead of time. The two agreed upon a make-up date but when Bethards showed up on the agreed-upon date, he says, Carlock said he could not make up the lab and was instead, "going to fail him," according to court documents.
Following up on my previous post, Baylor Law School Sends Mass Email With Personal Data on Each of its 442 Admitted Students (Apr. 6, 2012): C. Michael Kamps, a CPA who was denied admission to Baylor Law School, has filed an age discrimination lawsuit agains the school based in part on the improperly released data, claiming that his 169 LSAT was higher than 97% of Baylor's admitted class and that the school failed to take into account the fact that his 3.2 GPA from Texas A&M (Class of 1979) was earned in the days before rampant grade inflation.From the complaint (2MB PDF):
Plaintiff, more than thirty years ago, graduated from a major and wel-respected university in the top quarter of his class comprising primarily his similarly aged peers.
Plaintiff first applied to Defendant Baylor University's Law School in 2009, for the fall quarter commencing in 2010. Plaintiff also applied for a specific merit based scholarship with published and long-established qualifying criteria which Plaintiff met. The candidate pol for this class, and for the scholarship, generally consisted of applicants substantially younger than Plaintiff.
2. Plaintiff expected to be, and insists that he be, allowed to compete on an equal footing with the much younger candidates for admission to Law School and access to merit based scholarships.
Plaintiff expects, and insists, that Defendants judge and evaluate his application as one submitted by a top quarter graduate of a major and wel- respected university.
3. Defendants refuse and insist upon applying disparate standards to older vs. younger candidates. Defendants pretend that these are not disparate standards at all ,but rather one factually neutral and uniform standard.
These standards, as applied by Defendants, are biased with respect to age and are therefore in violation of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, 42U.S.C.§6101etseq., ("the Act") and its implementing Regulations at 34C.F.R. Part 10 ("Regulations"). Defendants persist in this practice
even while faced with overwhelming evidence of, and while actually acknowledging, the bias.
Plaintiff scored at the 97th percentile on the Law School Admissions Test ("LSAT"), with a score of 169. Plaintiffs "Baylor Index," an index calculated by multiplying Plaintiff's UGPA by a factor of 10 and adding that product to Plaintiffs LSAT score, is 201.
A TYPICAL American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I've found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn't.
My question extends beyond algebra and applies more broadly to the usual mathematics sequence, from geometry through calculus. State regents and legislators -- and much of the public -- take it as self-evident that every young person should be made to master polynomial functions and parametric equations.
In the mid-2000s I made some friends in the world of higher education who were starting to think like the web and to imagine how that might transform an institution that everyone could see needed to change. One of them, Gardner Campbell, invited me to speak at the University of Mary Washington's Faculty Academy on Instructional Technologies. There I met an inspired team of thinkers and doers who were pioneering the academic use of what we now call cloud technology.
UMW isn't a wealthy school; there wasn't a big budget for IT; that was a constraint well embraced. Gardner's dream team found their way to BlueHost where, for $8/month, they could spin up web servers, wikis, and most importantly the blogs that have become central to the intellectual life of the school. Here's Jim Groom, aka Mr. Edupunk, reflecting on what UMW Blogs has become.
As the CEO of Manpower Group, Jeff Joerres knows a lot about what's required to fill the job needs of employers all over the globe, and as he has noted "we are in the human age, where economies compete and survive based mainly on talent."Through the looking glass.
Wisconsin's release of a new measure of student academic performance in grade and high school was a warning sign worth our attention ("Student scores slip with new standard," July 17). Credit goes to the state Department of Public Instruction, led by Superintendent Tony Evers, for its on-point and timely release of this new data showing how Wisconsin's students perform when we use a higher common standard to compare with students in other states.
The results were tough to swallow, 36% proficient in reading and 48% proficient in math on standards that are more representative of what is needed to compete nationally and globally. It looks as if we have been training our students on the low hurdles, when in reality we are running in an international high-hurdle race where jobs are the finish line.
We recently attended a conference sponsored by GE on this very topic. The national audience of business and education leaders came together to better understand the implications of all states adopting a common core set of standards to measure educational performance in K-12. Wisconsin has significant ground to make up.
"The real enemy is the man who tries to mold the human spirit so that it will not dare to spread its wings."
In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn't know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical.
This concern, it turns out, is hardly new. In The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (PDF), originally published in the October 1939 issue of Harper's, American educator Abraham Flexner explores this dangerous tendency to forgo pure curiosity in favor of pragmatism -- in science, in education, and in human thought at large -- to deliver a poignant critique of the motives encouraged in young minds, contrasting those with the drivers that motivated some of history's most landmark discoveries.
A literature professor at a Washington-area college wasn't surprised by my column last week on the terrible quality of college essays purchased on the Internet. She had suffered from the output of the paper mills and told me a story illustrating how bogus work sells even when it is bad.
One of her students wanted to raise his grade with extra-credit work. Because he had not understood a 19th-century novel that was key to her course, she said, she suggested that he "read a particular journal article and write a short summary/review of the author's analysis."
She thought this would be a plagiarism-proof assignment. She may have been right about that, but the essay she received had other flaws.
"It was clear to me that the writer of the submitted paper had read no more than two or three pages of the article, and although it was well-written, it did not really answer the assignment," she said. "I suspected that the paper was custom-ordered and custom-written."
A spectre is haunting Europe, and this time it is the spectre of plagiarism and scientific misconduct. Some high-profile politicians have had to resign in the last 18 months - but the revelations are also shaking respected European universities.
Many European countries, especially Germany, have long considered it unnecessary to give plagiarism more than a cursory look. One trusts in the self-cleansing powers of science, end of story.
Last February, a reviewer of German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg's doctoral dissertation discovered and documented some plagiarised passages.
When the papers pounced on this, zu Guttenberg denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations "absurd". If he had messed up the odd footnote, he said he would fix it for the second edition.
Perry Meridian Middle School student Trevor Russell will head back to his Indianapolis education facility on Tuesday - what many consider the middle of summer - but he's excited.
He gets to see friends sooner. He's going to have more breaks throughout the year. And he thinks he might start the semester remembering more from last year.
"I think most of my friends are excited too," Trevor said. "We usually get bored by the end of summer break because it is so long, so now we get to see each other more during the year."
Sometimes I wish I could take the education establishment by the throat and throttle it.
I know, I know - teachers are the problem. But teachers are like foot soldiers on the front lines, carrying out orders but rarely having a say in them. The real education establishment is the administrators, board members, legislators, think tanks, textbook publishers, testing services, educational researchers and "experts" who truly create the education agenda in our society. And these forces place teachers and students in a tug of war with political agendas and shifting priorities.
Anyone in education for more than a decade has seen trends come and go. I remember when everything had to be geared to the college-bound. Then came the Tech-Prep Initiative, wherein we were reminded that not everybody needed to go to college and schools needed to prepare students for workforce skills. I remember the eras of behavioral objectives, of Madeline Hunter, of WIDS. If you don't know what those mean, think buggy whips or Betamax.
It's drilled into college students' heads from day one: get an internship, you'll get a job.
But a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers finds that the equation isn't quite so tidy. That internship might lead to a job-but your chances are far better if you're getting paid.
The group released a study this week showing that 60% of 2012 graduates who worked a paid internship got at least one job offer, while just 37% of those in unpaid gigs got any offers. That's slightly - only slightly - better than the offer rate for graduates who skipped internships entirely, at 36%.
Unpaid internships are ubiquitous. A 2010 survey from NACE found that nearly 95% of member schools allow organizations to post unpaid internship opportunities, and less than a third of those require students to earn academic credit or some form of certificate for their work. Intern Bridge, a recruiting research and consulting firm, found that more than half of internships reported for its 2011 Internship Salary Report were unpaid.
Eleanor Chute's July 19 story "Report Criticizes Progress at Cyber Charter Schools" cites a new University of Colorado study showing that students in public cyber schools using education provider K12 Inc. programs are "falling behind." However, the article and study neglect important facts on Pennsylvania performance and funding.
While cyber schools are similar to school districts in both size and age groups served, they are assessed at a higher standard than school districts because of a flaw in Pennsylvania's education assessment system. To make adequate yearly progress, districts need to meet performance goals for only one age group, whether elementary, middle or high school. In contrast, individual schools including cyber schools must meet AYP standards overall, or they fail.
Moreover, Ms. Chute repeats an error advanced by the Colorado researchers and state Auditor General Jack Wagner that asserts cyber schools spend less per student than traditional public schools and therefore should get less funding. But cyber schools spend less because they receive less.
GARY, Ind. (AP) -- A company appointed by Indiana to run and try to turn around a troubled Gary high school is suing the Gary Community School Corp., demanding that it turn over student records it needs to run the school.
Edison Learning Inc. senior vice president Todd McIntire told The Times of Munster (http://bit.ly/MK29IQ ) for a story published Wednesday that the lawsuit requires the district to release student records and provide the for-profit firm with services as required by law, including those associated with student transportation and school maintenance.
In excusing more than half of the states from meeting crucial requirements of the No Child Left Behind education law, the Obama administration sought to require states to develop more realistic tools to improve and measure the progress of schools and teachers.
A report being issued on Friday by the liberal Center for American Progress shows that while some states have proposed reforms aimed at spurring schools and teachers to improve student performance, others may be introducing weaker measures of accountability.
"The increased flexibility of the waivers means that some states will experiment and move ahead," said Jeremy Ayers, associate director of federal education programs at the organization, "while others may backtrack."
Muskegon Heights and Highland Park--two of Michigan's most insolvent school districts--this year are handing their classroom keys over to charter school operators to save money. That's good news for local taxpayers, but the biggest beneficiaries may be the kids.
Both districts were running deficits that approached two-thirds of their budgets, thanks to the double whammy of rising labor costs and declining enrollment. To help the districts avert bankruptcy, Governor Rick Snyder appointed emergency managers who under a new state law can break collective-bargaining agreements. While such flexibility was essential to get their books in order, it may not have been sufficient.
According to Muskegon Heights manager Don Weatherspoon, the district would have to slash salaries by 35%--reducing hourly wage rates to about $10--merely to break even. That would have likely caused a teacher walk-out. When the emergency manager for Detroit schools last month proposed extending a 10% pay cut for a year, teachers threatened to strike.
On October 8, 2011, California Gov. Jerry Brown took a stand. Throughout the 2011 session of the California General Assembly, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg had been pushing legislation designed to revamp the state's system for holding K-12 schools accountable for student success. California's Academic Performance Index (API) system hadn't been updated since 1999 and relied mostly on standardized tests of basic proficiency in reading and math. Steinberg's bill, SB 547, would have changed the system to include graduation rates and measures of career and college readiness.1 The bill passed both the Assembly and Senate by wide margins and with bipartisan support, in addition to the backing of diverse organizations including business groups, charter school operators, and school administrators.
News that Madison's new, interim Superintendent Jane Belmore seeks to add a "Chief of Staff" provides taxpayers, parents and students an opportunity to reflect on the District's priorities within the planned $376,200,000 2012-2013 budget ($15,132/student).
The District's job #1, in my view is to address its reading problems. A kind reader mentioned that Reading Recovery was discussed at this past Monday's school board meeting (video).
Will the status quo continue?
As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm pretty disappointed with the majority of my college classes over the past few years. I've spent quite a bit of time working on creating a sample curriculum that I wish I had in college; after all, what's the point in complaining without coming up with an alternative?
In high school I was home-schooled & attended a technical center in conjunction with taking college classes, so my past educational experience wasn't "the norm." I'll be borrowing certain elements from my past, simply because they worked for me!
While I'll be the first to admit that this curriculum is not for everyone (in fact, it's only for a small set of self-learners); my purpose is to challenge assumptions and create a simple learning framework for a fraction of the cost of a college degree.
Spokane Superintendent Shelley Redinger recently posted a survey. Via a kind Laurie Rogers email.
Spokane plans to spend $316,584,805 [2012-2013 Budget Document] for 29,275 students or $10,814.17/student, about 28% less than Madison's $15,132. Compare the community demographics here: Madison | Spokane.
Today's high school graduates suffer from systemically deficient abilities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) that poses considerable challenges to our increasingly technological military force. Research findings reported by the United States Mission to the Organization for Economic and Co-operation Development (OECD) reveals that U.S. middle school and high school students are habitually under-performing their international peers in STEM achievement measures.
President Obama, Secretary of Education Duncan, and Bill Gates also express concern that too few young people are acquiring the knowledge they need to use technology in creative and innovative ways. As U.S. student STEM achievement continues to race to the bottom of all industrialized competitors, adding non-volunteer recruits worsens the problem.
The Texas State University System is the state's third major university system to announce the development of a bachelor's degree that only costs $10,000 -- a response to Gov. Rick Perry's 2011 call for more affordable higher education offerings.
Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College, an upper-division college in the Texas State University System, has partnered with Southwest Texas Junior College to create a new "10K Scholars Program." Its degree model, which will become available in fall 2013, appears to be something of a hybrid of the previous two models introduced in the state.
Texas A&M University-San Antonio partnered with Alamo Colleges to offer a bachelor's of applied arts and sciences in information technology with an emphasis on computer security. In order to keep costs down, students must earn an associate's degree while still in high school and then take advantage of the lower costs at one of the Alamo community colleges before proceeding to A&M-San Antonio. At the University of Texas-Permian Basin, a $10,000 degree can be earned entirely at the institution for students who qualify for the new Texas Science Scholar program, essentially providing them a merit scholarship that caps their tuition.
My wife and I were both born in 1969. Here is a short list of debacles, missteps, and failures that we've witnessed in our time on the planet: stagflation, the energy crisis (gas lines), the tech bubble, the 2nd Iraq war, the housing bubble, and the great recession (and you can add to this list). Another way we could describe the past 40 or so years, if feeling negative, could be: rising inequality, stagnant real wages, rapid increases in health care and education costs, growth in structural unemployment/underemployment, and political polarization and ineffectiveness in the face of these challenges.
Christopher Hayes, editor-at-large for the Nation, thinks that many of the problems listed above can be traced back to the failures of elite decision making. These are problems that could have been avoided, or at least mitigated, if those in charge of the political and financial levers had demonstrated a modicum of clear thinking and firm leadership. Perhaps the 2003 Iraq invasion and failure of post-occupation planning is the most obvious elite failure, but in retrospect those policies that pumped up the housing bubble (lax regulation and non-existent oversight of sub-prime loans) constitute a clear example of elite malfeasance.
The history of measurement may seem arcane, but consider how people centuries ago measured time, length, or the Earth's rotation. Compare that to measuring atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope -- and all the historic milestones in between.
Today IBM is releasing a free, interactive app, IBM THINK, for iPad and Android tablets. It shows how early tools have evolved into modern advances that make the world word work better -- healthier populations, greener energy and safer, less congested cities. The app is for people of all ages who love science, history and technology -- think of it as an "innovation time machine."
WISC-TV: Are you good at "minding the ship" or are you going to want to make some changes?Much more on Madison's interim Superintendent Jane Belmore, here.
Belmore: I will be making a few changes and I already have a few things in the works. But those changes will be made in a very mindful way; I'm kind of looking at this as short-term changes for long-term good. So, I will not do anything that will drastically impede anyone else coming in. At the same time, I think there are a few changes that need to be made so we can have a year of growth and constantly moving ahead.
WISC-TV: What are some of those changes?
Belmore: One of them is that I'm kind of reorganizing a little bit so that some people are reporting directly to me who were not reporting directly to the superintendent in the current organizational scheme. Basically, that is just for the fact that (my tenure here) will be a year. I won't have time to move through the steps of the organization; I'm going to need that communication directly with myself.
The Harvard program, started by Peterson in 1996, seeks to develop a scientific basis for school reform policy.Related: Wisconsin's Achievement Stagnation: 1992 - 2011 and wisconsin2.org.
In his speech, Walker said Wisconsin has undertaken more education reform in the last 18 months than during the last 18 years. He said it's important to admit a problem exists.
Education reform doesn't tilt toward either political party, according to Walker. He said politicians on both sides of the aisle have tried to tackle various issues.
"It comes from risk takers," he said.
The study put the United States behind 24 countries in terms of improvement on test scores. Walker said it is important to break down denial about the country's standing academically. If all states were able to match student achievement growth of the top five states in the study, the U.S. would be leading the world, he said.
"We've done it before in so many areas, we can do it here," Walker said.
Raising standards and comparing Wisconsin students to the best in the world is long overdue.
Meanwhile, Madison's new "interim" Superintendent seeks to add a "Chief of Staff".
The conversation about how to improve American education has taken on an increasingly confrontational tone. The caricature often presented in the press depicts hard-driving, data-obsessed reformers--who believe the solution is getting rid of low-performing teachers--standing off against unions--who don't trust any teaching metric and care more about their jobs than the children they're supposed to be educating.
But in some ways the focus on jobs misses the point. As New York State School Chancellor John King has pointed out, with the exception of urban hubs like New York and L.A., few school districts have the luxury of firing low-performing teachers with the knowledge that new recruits will line up to take their places.
If we take firing off the table, what else can be done to resolve America's education crisis? The findings of several recent studies by psychologists, economists, and educators show that--despite many reformers' claims to the contrary--it may be possible to make low-performing teachers better, instead of firing them. If these studies can be replicated throughout entire school systems and across the country, we may be at the beginning of a revolution that will build a better educational system for America.
Campuses are places of intuition and serendipity: A professor senses confusion on a student's face and repeats his point; a student majors in psychology after a roommate takes a course; two freshmen meet on the quad and eventually become husband and wife.
Now imagine hard data substituting for happenstance.
As Katye Allisone, a freshman at Arizona State University, hunkers down in a computer lab for an 8:35 a.m. math class, the Web-based course watches her back. Answers, scores, pace, click paths--it hoovers up information, like Google. But rather than personalizing search results, data shape Ms. Allisone's class according to her understanding of the material.
The average student pursuing a postsecondary credential completely online is a white, 33-year-old woman with a full-time job and a household income around $65,000 per year, according to a new survey sponsored by two companies involved in online consulting.
This woman is likely to be studying business -- the chosen field of 34 percent of students who are, recently were, or soon plan to be enrolled in fully online programs, according to the survey. Business administration and management, a popular avenue for students across all of academe, is far and away the most popular degree among the survey respondents, enrolling a greater percentage of fully online students than STEM fields, the social sciences, and the humanities combined.
"Schools simply cannot offer enough business programs if they want to attract large numbers of online students," write the authors of the survey on behalf of its sponsors.
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/07/25/survey-provides-insight-who-enrolls-fully-online-programs-and-why#ixzz21h0eOzWi
Inside Higher Ed
In order to appreciate the recent explosion of business opportunities related to private education in China, we need to understand the cultural realities that have played a contributing role. Some of these factors include the traditional Chinese family structure with its emphasis on education, China's one child policy and China's explosive economic growth during the past twenty years. Additionally, with the rising growth of its middle class (currently at fifty-two plus million and projected to grow to over ninety-eight million people by 2015), one is far from surprised to see an education market currently valued at over $240 billion dollars and estimated to grow by 15% a year. Deloitte predicts that by 2015, the private education sector will have reached a market size nearing or in excess of $102 Billion.
ELC says that the investigation was instigated by a series of articles in the Asbury Park Press, which detailed the district's privileging of white Jewish students over the almost-entirely Hispanic and black public school students. While there are 28,000 schoolchildren in Lakewood, almost 22,000 attend private yeshivas. Current student enrollment in Lakewood Public Schools is about 5,600, almost all Hispanic and black. The district spends about 20% of its annual operating budget on transportation. (NJ districts transport students regardless of school location).
In addition, Lakewood sends many of its white special-needs kids to the School for Hidden Intelligence. Annual tuition is about $100,000 per student per year. Minority special needs kids stay in-district and receive sub-standard services.
Recent scholarly and media accounts paint a portrait of unhappy parents who find remarkably little joy in taking care of their children, but the scientific basis for these claims remains inconclusive. In three studies, we used a strategy of converging evidence to test whether parents evaluate their lives more positively than do non-parents (Study 1), feel relatively better than non-parents on a day-to-day basis (Study 2), and experience more positive feelings during childcare than other daily activities (Study 3). The results indicate that, contrary to previous reports, parents (and especially fathers) report relatively higher levels of happiness, positive emotion, and meaning in life.
Modern evolutionary psychologists position parenting at the top of the pyramid of human needs, reflecting its central role in human life (Kenrick, Griskevicius, Neuberg, & Schaller, 2010). Yet, some research has indicated that parenting is associated with reduced well-being (e.g., Evenson & Simon, 2005; Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004; McLanahan & Adams, 1987). In particular, attention has revolved around a study showing that working mothers in Texas enjoy parenting less than watching TV, shopping, or preparing food (Kahneman et al., 2004).
Although recent media accounts paint a dismal picture of parenting, the underlying scientific research is surprisingly unclear and inconsistent. Meta-analyses have linked parenthood to lower marital satisfaction on average (Twenge, Campbell, & Foster, 2003) and to decreases in life satisfaction in the months after childbirth (Luhmann, Hoffman, Eid, & Lucas, 2012). Few analyses, however, directly compare parents and non-parents on global measures of well-being. Instead, most investigations control for multiple demographic variables, which vary across studies. Some of these studies find that parents exhibit a higher prevalence of depression (Evenson & Simon, 2005), along with less positive and more negative affect (Ross & Van Willigen, 1996), than non-parents, whereas others reveal a net zero or small negative parenting effect (e.g., Blanchflower & Oswald, 2004; Di Tella, MacCulloch, & Oswald, 2003; Ferrer-i- Carbonell, 2005). Furthermore, other work suggests that parents do not experience these negative outcomes (Keizer, Dykstra, & Poortman, 2010; Kohler, Behrman & Skytthe, 2005; Rothrauff & Cooney, 2008), and, on the contrary, report relatively higher feelings of meaning, gratification, and reward (Russell, 1974; Umberson & Gove, 1989; White & Dolan, 2009). Such conflicting findings could be due to the use of divergent methods, analytical approaches, and measures, making it almost impossible to draw clear conclusions from this literature. The importance of this topic and its prominence in popular discourse demonstrates the need for rigorous examination of the link between parenthood and well-being, using multiple methods and broad well-being measures.
At Augustana College, they call it "the short goodbye."
It's when administrators at the small private college in Rock Island, Ill., give parents 15 minutes to say goodbye to their children. Then, students are told to report to the gym for freshman orientation, while parents are basically told to shove off.
"Parents go meet with advisers in small groups to compose themselves, and then they need to go home," says Evelyn Campbell, dean and vice president of student services at Augustana.
Faced with what a Syracuse University administrator calls "the most over-involved generation of all time," colleges across the country are increasingly focusing on parents who are struggling with the transition from high school to college. Colleges are holding special orientation seminars for parents, appointing administrators to handle outreach with parents and providing emailed newsletters and specific parent portal websites, among other services.
One of the toughest parts, administrators say, is educating parents how to stay involved without coming across as overbearing, or worse, a hovering "helicopter parent."
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, approved a new set of academic standards Tuesday for private schools participating in Louisiana's expanded voucher program. By a vote of 9 to 2, the 11-member panel adopted a plan proposed by state Superintendent John White that will require private schools to hit roughly the same academic bar that public schools do in order to continue accepting public funding, though only if they take 40 or more students through the program.
The plan sparked heated debate among board members, with Lottie Beebe, from St. Martin Parish, and Carolyn Hill, from Baton Rouge, twice trying to get the decision put off until White could come back with tougher standards. Hill compared the board's vote to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, warning that "evil is going to arise" from the board's decision.
Chas Roemer, a board member who also represents parts of Baton Rouge, offered the most full-throated support for White, calling the vote "one of our proudest moments as a board."
There's been a lot of excitement in the media about Stanford's 100,000+ student computer science courses, MIT's open-sourced classes, and other efforts at mass, distance-education. In some ways, these efforts really are thrilling -- they offer the first truly deep structural change in how we do education in perhaps a thousand years. They offer democratization of education -- opening up access to world-class education to people from all over the globe and of diverse economic and social backgrounds. How many Ramanujans might we enable, if only we could get high-quality education to more people?
But I have to sound three notes of caution about this trend.
First, I worry that mass-production here will have the same effect that it has had on manufacturing for over two centuries: administrators and regents, eager to save money, will push for ever larger remote classes and fewer faculty to teach them. Are we approaching a day in which there is only one professor of computer science for the whole US?
Second, I suspect that the "winners win" cycle will distort academia the same way that it has industry and society. When freed of constraints of distance and tuition, why wouldn't every student choose a Stanford or MIT education over, say, UNM? How long before we see the AT&T, Microsoft, or Google of academia? How long before 1% of the universities and professors garner 99% of the students and resources?
Imagine this scene: A young high school graduate, the class valedictorian, sits at the kitchen table with his parents, his newly opened acceptance letter from Cornell lying in front of him. Mom is crying softly, while Dad awkwardly pats his son's shoulder with a goofy grin plastered on his face.
"What about the money, Dad?" his son asks.
"We'll figure it out somehow," Dad replies as he starts to wonder how to come up with anything close to the $43,000 yearly tuition. The boy has worked so hard and come so far; there is no way he is letting money keep him from his dream school.
Now comes the second big moment. The boy has been mulling it over for months.
"I finally decided what I want to study when I get there. I know it's right for me," he hesitates. "I want to be an elementary school teacher!" His parents leap from their chairs and literally jump for joy as the pride and excitement washes over them.
MALAYSIA has set for itself an ambitious goal to become the region's premier centre for higher education, aiming to attract 200,000 international students to its shores by 2020, on top of its local student intake.
Success will mean that Malaysia would have been able to shake off stiff competition from neighbouring Singapore or even Indonesia, rake in billions in educational revenue and add significant depth to the country's manpower pool to ensure future growth in a knowledge-driven economy.
However, high costs of building infrastructure and the speed required to attract students and roll out curriculum effectively could pose major bottlenecks.
The price of failure will not only be lower student enrolment and insufficient skilled workers but also will deny Malaysia the opportunity to position itself as a leading global player in offering off-campus online education -- another opportunity which can have major benefits for the country.
It's probably too early to say whether Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a "tsunami" or a "seismic shift," but, continuing with the natural disaster theme, the last few months have seen a massive "avalanche" of press commentary about them, especially within the last few days.
Also getting lots of press attention (though not as much right now) is Adaptive/Personalized Learning. Both innovations seem to fascinate us, but probably for different reasons, since they are so fundamentally different at their cores. Personalized Learning, like more traditional concepts of education, places the individual at the center. With MOOCs, groups and social interaction take center stage and learning becomes a collective enterprise.
This post elaborates on this distinction, but also points to a recent blurring of the lines between the two - a development that could be troubling.
The CER Education Map provides a unique and compelling look at how the states are doing in providing the critical policy ingredients necessary for effective schools to serve all children. Though individual states may -- like real weather patterns -- have varying forecasts, the sunny spots are few and far between. Each state has been given an grade for each of several components, and those grades collectively factor into an overall grade and general education weather forecast for that state. As states adopt new policies and programs, the grades may change.
Chicago Public Schools will hire nearly 500 teachers for subjects including art, computer tech and physical education to accommodate a longer day for students that will only marginally increase the workday for teachers, under a plan announced Tuesday by CPS and Chicago Teachers Union officials.
The longer school day has been a major sticking point in ongoing contract negotiations between teachers and the district, and the deal announced Tuesday could go a long way to avoiding a threatened teachers strike.
Under the proposal, the day for elementary school students will remain at 7 hours, while high schoolers will be in school for 7 1/2 hours four days of the week, as originally planned.
Tess Vigeland: Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? By way of India?
The Children's Television Workshop has built Sesame into a global brand over nearly half a century. It broadcasts in more than 145 countries and licenses everything from books to Elmo toys. Now in India, it's launched a franchise business of for-profit Sesame Street-branded schools. It plans to open 20 preschools by next spring and 380 within five years.
Marketplace's Mark Garrison has this report, brought to you by the letters N and Y, for New York
In ancient China, upper-class women had their feet tightly bound as children, preventing the bones from growing normally, so that they could be hindered in their walking, and only capable of cute little "feminine" steps around the house.
We don't do that, of course. What we do instead with all our young people is see to it that they do not read a single complete history book in school (maiming their knowledge of history) and we confine their writing mostly to fiction, compositions about themselves, or brief little five-paragraph "essays" about something else (doesn't matter what), which cripples their ability to write.
Even when we ask them to apply to college and show us their writing, admissions officers ask only for 500-word pieces in which they talk about themselves and their lives.
In Boston the Boston Globe has a competition that asks young people to write about courage. But is it the courage of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or John Quincy Adams, or James Otis, or Patrick Henry or John Paul Jones, or Florence Nightingale that they want to hear about? Not a chance. They want the youngsters to write about their own courage, for instance perhaps when they spoke to a fellow student who was not popular, etc.
Thus we bind their learning and their imagination, and we try to prevent their access to knowledge of history and the achievements of mankind, and we try to keep them from learning how to write a serious term paper or read a substantial history book.
Why is this happening? One example of the problem is a writing consultant from Teachers' College, Columbia, who was given a $50,000,000 (yes, $50 million) contract to teach students reading and writing in New York City. When I asked her if she would be having the students write about history, she told me: "I teach writing, I don't get into content that much." So, naturally, the students her grant enabled her to "work" with probably didn't get into content that much either.
Mark Bauerlein wrote (The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future) that on the NAEP history test 57 percent scored "Below Basic." To score "Basic," the student has to know who George Washington was. To score "Below Basic" the student has to know that Scooby-Doo was never President, but they probably could not name anyone who ever was President. "Of those taking the exam, a majority, 52 percent, when asked to identify a U.S. Ally during World War II selected a member of the Axis powers--Germany, Italy, and Japan--rather than the Soviet Union" [or Great Britain].
We hear lots of complaints from many quarters that our kids are ignorant of history and cannot write. It would have made as much sense to criticize upper-class Chinese women in the Imperial days because they had such poor times in the 100-yard dash.
If we continue to keep history books away from our students, and limit their writing to brief solipsistic exercises, then we can only expect that they will continue to demonstrate the damage we have done to them, when we test them and look over the writing they are able to produce for us.
"Teach by Example"
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
Forty-five years ago, I married the best editor I have ever known. Most of the reasons I love Linda have nothing to do with writing, but it's useful to have her around when wrestling with a difficult column.
I'm lucky. Few people are willing to and capable of helping others produce engaging and instructive prose. Many editors of my books were helpful, but I still remember the one who did not change a word, good for my ego but not for the book. Newspaper editors, at The Washington Post and elsewhere, have more stories to deal with than ever before, but no more time to fix them.
This problem is particularly acute in our schools, where almost all of us learn to write. I got little instruction before a required composition class my sophomore year of college. The situation has gotten worse since then. Few teachers have enough experience and training to show students what is good writing and what is not. Those who have that skill lack the time to share it with all their students and still have lives.
In a recent column, Michael Shaughnessy of EducationViews.org discussed this with Will Fitzhugh, whose Concord Review publishes exemplary high school research papers. They agreed that writing instruction is in crisis. The latest solution - letting computers grade papers - is a dead end.
"These programs don't care if you are writing an 'Ode to a Grecian Urn' or an 'Ode to an iPhone,' " Fitzhugh said. "The content is of no interest to the robo-graders. They are programmed only to 'worry' about a small circumscribed set of writing skills, and the subject of your composition counts for nothing. You can write a dull composition, which amply displays ignorance, and still get a good score from the computers."
To be fair to the software that reads essays, and the people who created it, in most cases at least one human being also assesses the writing when the grade means something. Rachel Toor, a former editor who is an associate professor of creative writing at Eastern Washington University, acknowledged in a piece she wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education that a student can be helped by an Apple program that points out clichés, wordy phrases and needlessly complex words, such as "conceptualizing" instead of "thinking."
But the rest of Toor's essay was chilling. She cares about improving her students' writing. She finds that most college professors won't or can't do it. At a party, she met a political scientist with an Ivy League education who teaches at a good liberal arts college. He told her he never commented on his students' writing. "It's simply not part of his grading process," she wrote. "He assesses their ideas, he says, not the prose."
When she asked how he could separate the ideas from their expression, he said "he didn't feel that he had the expertise to comment on their writing," she wrote. "He wouldn't know, he said, what good writing looked like." She asked whether he thought he was a good writer. "He said yes, because he's been published," she wrote.
That suggests that it is better to teach writing in high school. I know several fine, if marginally employed, journalists who could do it. Writing is often mentioned as one of the premier 21st century skills, and it can be taught without exhausting the teachers.
Require students to take at least one semester of reading and writing instead of their regular English class. A paper is due each Monday. In class, students read whatever they like or work on next week's essay while the teacher calls them up in turn and edits their papers as they watch.
At the end of the day, there are no stacks of student papers to ruin the instructor's home life. Each student gets personal attention. Even Linda Mathews might be persuaded to teach that class.
Forty-five years ago, I married the best editor I have ever known. Most of the reasons I love Linda have nothing to do with writing, but it's useful to have her around when wrestling with a difficult column.
I'm lucky. Few people are willing to and capable of helping others produce engaging and instructive prose. Many editors of my books were helpful, but I still remember the one who did not change a word, good for my ego but not for the book. Newspaper editors, at The Washington Post and elsewhere, have more stories to deal with than ever before, but no more time to fix them.
This problem is particularly acute in our schools, where almost all of us learn to write. I got little instruction before a required composition class my sophomore year of college. The situation has gotten worse since then. Few teachers have enough experience and training to show students what is good writing and what is not. Those who have that skill lack the time to share it with all their students and still have lives.
In a recent column, Michael Shaughnessy of EducationViews.org discussed this with Will Fitzhugh, whose Concord Review publishes exemplary high school research papers. They agreed that writing instruction is in crisis. The latest solution -- letting computers grade papers -- is a dead end.
Parents in the impoverished desert community of Adelanto, California, will become the first in the nation to seize control of a failing public school under a controversial "parent trigger" law, the parents announced Monday.
The Adelanto School District had fought to preserve control over Desert Trails Elementary School. But on Friday, Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled that the parents had met all the requirements under the trigger law by gathering signatures from the legal guardians of at least half the students at Desert Trails.
Judge Malone ordered the district to validate the petitions and clear the way for parents to take over the school.
The new Sallie Mae-Gallup survey of attitudes toward higher education, "How America Pays for College 2012," shows that Americans are becoming increasingly resistant to rising college prices. Some people who were saying "I want the best college money can buy" a few years ago, are now saying "We aren't going to pay sky-high tuition when there are much cheaper colleges nearly as good."
How sensitive are people to price? I woke up in the middle of the night with a minor epiphany about this. My surmise is that, by and large, in the era before massive federal student loan programs and also smaller private scholarship offerings, the demand for college was highly elastic--people were extremely sensitive to price. In, say, 1925, when family incomes in today's dollars were typically perhaps $20,000 or $25,000, the cost of any school was burdensome, and the Ivy League, costing perhaps $8,000 or $10,000 a year for all costs (in today's dollars), was a luxury for the truly rich, while state schools, costing perhaps $4,000 a year, were available for some middle class people but by no means all.
Fast forward to today. Incomes have doubled or tripled, but the cost of college has gone up far more -five or six fold. The availability of loans and the development of a culture arguing that higher education is a good "investment" has made the demand for college not only larger, but also far more insensitive to price. A good college is now considered a necessity of life, almost like salt or life-sustaining drugs, whereas earlier it was what John Stuart Mill might call a "superfluidity."
Those remarks seemed unduly negative and failed to give full recognition to the myriad qualities this market offers any newcomer. Like many, we favor the "who wouldn't want to work in Madison?" view.Madison certainly has the community, financial and nearby (University of Wisconsin, Madison College, Edgewood College) assets to offer a world class K-12 education. Getting there will require substantial change and... change is very hard.
Not to worry, said School Board member Ed Hughes, who asked the question that prompted Ray's comments at last week's meeting.
"It was reassuring to me," Hughes said. "It showed they had done their homework about this market. I thought it was realistic and useful."
Next, Ray and Co. will talk to board members about their desires for a superintendent, then add some community outreach to the fact-finding process. If all goes well, this nationwide search will yield a strong, successful leader for one of the most important jobs in town.
On a ranch of willows and wild grass outside Sacramento, the cowboy cooed to his tawny mustang. Then he led Little Buck through basic commands -- back up, step forward -- and rewarded him with a biscuit.
Dennis Parker is a part-Cherokee trainer in rural Zamora, Calif., who sports a silver ponytail beneath his cowboy hat. But his recent demonstration was aimed at training a different breed grappling with far bigger tasks: educators under mounting pressure to raise students' standardized test scores.
As a dozen educators watched, Parker explained that good relationships are key toward boosting achievement and that horses and humans both respond to similar strategies. Build rapport with friendly chatter. Gain respect by giving out tasks. And give treats not simply as rewards but just to be fun.
"Can you do that with your kids?" Parker asked. "It's like training horses; you don't break them, you teach them."
In a first-of-its-kind legal maneuver, students whose reading skills are below grade level are suing their state and school district. If successful, the lawsuit could spawn others nationwide
Students are suing the state of Michigan and their Detroit-area school district for violating their "right to read."
The class-action lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind, and potentially signals a new wave of civil rights litigation in the United States to enforce laws intended to boost academic achievement, education law experts say.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed what it has dubbed the "right to read" lawsuit on behalf of the nearly 1,000 students in the impoverished district.
Two-thirds of 4th-graders and three-quarters of 7th-graders in the Highland Park school district are not proficient on state reading tests; 90 percent of 12th-graders fail the reading portion of the final state test administered in high school, according to the complaint. Nearly 100 percent of the district's students are African-American.
"I think this is the most remarkable social development certainly of the last few years," said Eric D. Fingerhut at a Brookings Institution panel last week. The former chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, Fingerhut is vice president of education and STEM learning for the research firm Batelle.
"One of America's greatest products is our higher education system," said Fingerhut. "And we are opening it up for free to people anywhere in the world. You'd be amazed how many people have broadband connectivity, but didn't have access to a University of Virginia course or a Stanford course. There are, in fact, people all over the world accessing for free that which only an elite, small number of people could utilize."
Californians should understand those fiscal pressures. Average annual pay for a local government employee in the state rose by 60%, to $61,185 (excluding benefits), between 1999 and 2008, according to the Little Hoover Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy. That's about 70% more than the increase in private sector wages in the state over the same period. Average pay for cops and firefighters climbed 69%, to $89,056, again excluding benefits, in the same period.
Benefit costs have soared even more than wages. The annual cost of funding pensions in California's 20 largest municipalities has grown from $1.3 billion in 1999 to $5.1 billion last year, according to a study by Stanford University professor Joe Nation. That's an annual growth rate of better than 11%.
Faced with such increases, municipalities in California haven't had nearly the flexibility to mend their budgets that officials in Wisconsin have.
In San Jose, where the average cost of employing a city worker, including benefits, has soared to an extraordinary $142,000 annually, Mayor Chuck Reed had to fight long and hard for a ballot measure to reduce pension costs that was passed by voters in June. In the three years before the vote, the city had to lay off about 2,000 employees and cut back on parks, libraries and other services.
State money will continue to flow to scores of private and religious schools participating in Louisiana's new voucher program even if their students fail basic reading and math tests, according to new guidelines released by the state on Monday.
The voucher program, the most sweeping in the nation, is the linchpin of Louisiana's bold push to reshape public education. The state plans to shift tens of millions of dollars from public schools to pay not only private schools but also private businesses and private tutors to educate children across the state.
In a top-down era of rubrics, standards, and bureaucracy, and in an unprecedented atmosphere of teacher-bashing, NEW EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATIONS will offer independent and alternative voices. We invite outside-the-box critiques and nonstandard suggestions, ranging from opinion pieces to scholarly articles, for an online refereed journal of ideas and dialogue.
Because we expect to establish NEW EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATIONS (NEF) within the framework of a nonprofit organization, we are relying on NewFoundations Press (newfoundations.com) for support only during our start-up phase.
In this journal we are looking for neither cheerleading nor venting -- those are for blogs. We will neither favor nor reject any ideological bent, since as a group, we, the editors and reviewers of NEF ourselves, represent different, often conflicting commitments to fundamental beliefs.
Nor do we want to nurture either the culture of complaint or that of compliance -- we have politicians who do that for a living. Rather, we are looking for the kind of ideas and research that just don't normally arise in committee meetings or handpicked commissions, selecting for quality of thought and presentation and editing principally for space and grammar.
Cheating is so widespread these days. Students take stuff off the Internet, uncredited, with little remorse. What is there to stop them?
Maybe we have missed something. Maybe dishonest shortcuts are not as irresistible as they seem. Consider, for instance, a remarkable column by Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
His examination of cheating in college appeared in the Los Angeles Times under the headline "What money can't buy." He credits his lab manager, Aline Grunelson, with helping arrange a sting of the term paper industry. The piece's contrarian conclusion is both troubling and heartening, a neat trick.
Ariely designed an experiment to test his worries about essay mills. They provide papers to order for high school and college students. The companies say they are only supplying reference material -- wink, wink -- but everyone knows what is going on. Ariely ordered an essay from four companies. He told them he wanted 12 pages for a college-level social psychology class using 15 sources, conforming to American Psychological Association style guidelines.
A dire statistic, followed by a troubling fact: The cost of education has increased 550% since 1985; and the sector has, in the words of Coursera founder Daphne Koller, "not benefited at all from leveraging technology to reduce cost." Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company. It puts college courses online, for free. And, in just a year since its creation, it has registered 680,000 students in 43 courses offered by Princeton, Stanford, Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania. Today, the start-up announced another dozen universities are joining, which Koller says will add about 20 more courses by the fall.
So, can education be fixed? Or, following the example of Peter Thiel -- whose "20 Under 20" fellowship pays young entrepreneurs to eschew higher education -- is the system so broken it needs to be swept aside? Or is there, through Coursera and others like it, a new model emerging?
For a political chess player who never makes a move without thinking three moves ahead, Mayor Rahm Emanuel looks more like a high school clubber than a grand master when it comes to the teachers contract.
Emanuel pushed for a change in state law that raised the strike authorization threshold to 75 percent, a benchmark so high, at least one education advocate with ties to the mayor predicted that it could never be met.
Instead, the Chicago Teachers Union roared passed that benchmark, fueled by their anger against a mayor who had already stripped them of a previously negotiated 4 percent pay raise and tried to muscle through a longer school day immediately.
That same state law championed by Emanuel set up a fact-finding process that has now blown up in the mayor's face.
Online education like Khan Academy has been hailed as a major innovation which will revolutionize higher & lower education, educate students better, and cut costs. But in general, it seems unlikely that online education will reduce all costs equally and educate all students equally better. Hardly any change ever preserves all relative positions or ratios - someone benefits disproportionately, someone benefits only a little.
So what differentials can we expect from online education? Hoary articles from the '90s about the'digital divide' might make one predict that it will benefit middle and upper-class whites; but on the other hand, proponents love to talk about favored minorities (eg. a foreign black female - that is, a girl in an African village) who can now access online education through cheap cellphones, so one might predict that online education will instead level the playing field. No longer will there be a big gap between receiving essentially no education and receiving a real education, a gap that perpetuates cycles of poverty. As Internet access becomes more common than access to quality schools, quality school delivered through the Internet will lead to an equalizing effect (the elites will be no better off than before, and the non-elites now have the chance to obtain a prerequisite to becoming an elite).
Under RTE Act, mobile schools could be a solution to address needs of migrant labourers, says activist
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 has come into force and the Supreme Court too has upheld its validity. But a question that remains unanswered is: How the authorities obligated to implement the legislation are going to compel the children, especially those of migrant labourers, who do not want to go to school?
A case in point, in the digital era, is of R. Raja, a 12-year-old child labourer engaged in laying underground optic fibre cables for private telecommunication conglomerates. The boy, hailing from a hamlet close to Harur in Dharmapuri district, has been digging the roadsides of Madurai along with his family members for the past few days.
Many have seen him and a girl almost of the same age handle a wrecking bar and a shovel right outside a middle school run by the Madurai Municipal Corporation at Narayanapuram near here. But very few bothered to enquire as to why the children were toiling outside the school campus under the hot sun at an age when they were supposed to be sharpening their intellect inside the school.
"The single most important experiment in higher education," reads the headline to this piece posted at TheAtlantic.com.
Slate.com asks: "Will online education startups like Coursera end the era of expensive higher education?"
Those posts were related to the news announced earlier this week that a dozen more universities have signed on with Coursera to deliver free, online classes to the masses that are known as MOOCs (massive online open classrooms).
"The news certainly caught my eye," says Paul Peercy, the dean of UW-Madison's College of Engineering, which has a long tradition of delivering master's degrees and continuing education online. "I'm convinced that the rapid advances in information technology are going to change the world. And they're going to change education at all levels."
That said, UW-Madison officials explain they're not ready to jump on the MOOCs bandwagon just yet, instead opting for a more cautious approach to getting involved with this exploding trend in higher education.
If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.
Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss's more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar "stickler." And, like Truss -- author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves -- I have a "zero tolerance approach" to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.
Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have "zero tolerance." She thinks that people who mix up their itses "deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave," while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job -- even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.
In the summer of 2002, more than half of Wisconsin's school districts had been without teacher contracts for over a year. This summer, contract negotiations are being settled in as little as 15 minutes.
"I mean really, what's there to talk about?" said Christina Brey, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teachers union.
Brey said it is still a bit too early to establish an average. But negotiations are going quickly for the most part, according to Barry Forbes, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Under Act 10, only changes to base wages - defined as salary paid based on seniority, not educational attainment - are subject to collective bargaining, and those conversations are limited to a cost-of-living increase set by the Department of Revenue.
For the 2011-'12 school year, the maximum cost-of-living increase was 1.64%. Because the rules defining base wages were set in late March, many districts are now negotiating contracts for the 2011-'12 year. Once districts finish those negotiations, they can move on to the 2012-'13 year. For contracts beginning July 1, 2012, the maximum increase will be 3.16%.
Student debt is rising sharply among all age groups, but middle-aged Americans appear to be struggling the most with payments, according to new data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The delinquency rate--or the percentage of debt on which no payment has been made for 90 days--was 11.9% for debt held by borrowers aged 40 to 49 as of March. That compares with a rate of 8.7% for borrowers of all ages.
The New York Fed, which based its data on a sampling of consumer credit reports, said delinquency rates for all groups are much higher if one excludes loans in deferment for reasons such as a borrower still being in school.
In the next two decades, their political power will wane, and America will finally achieve meaningful K-12 reform.
Editor's note: In this essay, the author blends prediction with prescription to paint a vivid picture of what American education will look like in 2030. The essay is from an online publication of the Hoover Institution's Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, American Education in 2030.
In 2012 the American education system was doing what it did best. It was surviving. For decades, it had been subjected to blistering--and well-justified--criticism for its relentlessly poor performance. But thanks to powerful defenders in politics, it had weathered the storm like a rock, virtually immune to the efforts of reformers to bring about major change.
The school system of that era really had two problems. It had a performance problem. That much was obvious. But it also had a political problem--which, in the grander scheme of things, was more fundamental than the performance problem itself because it prevented the performance problem from being addressed and resolved. Reformers had been butting their heads against a wall of power, winning a few battles along the way but consistently losing the war. The system was a disappointment. It was failing the nation. But it was strong and resilient where it counted--in power politics--and it doggedly prevailed.
Nothing like a stifling hot classroom in the middle of July for an opportunity to learn about ductility.
OK, maybe you're inclined to other subjects in other places at this time of year. Suit yourself.
But if you're going to win "Are You as Smart as an MPS Fourth Grader in Summer School," you better brush up on ductility. I admit I would have lost at this when I walked into the room at Hi-Mount School on the west side one morning last week.
A fan was blowing across an aluminum pan filled with blue cold-packs to try to get some cooler air moving in the un-air-conditioned room. But it was still very hot. Despite that, 16 students appeared to be listening with reasonable attentiveness to MPS veteran teacher Dianne Ross.
What's the difference between practice, drilling, and memorization?
In the psychological literature Practice has a formal definition, which I know through Anders Ericsson; I think it originates with him but am not certain. Practice includes feedback on performance, and it's executed for the purpose of improvement. The distinction is important because it differentiates practice from performance (which is done for the pleasure of others) or play (which is done for one's own pleasure) or the routine execution of a task (which is done to achieve a goal).
Thus, if I practice guitar I'm trying to improve, and I'm monitoring my performance for the sake of noting errors and thinking of new ways to do it. Performance and play of the guitar differ in obvious ways. Routine execution might apply to a task like handwriting. My handwriting is pretty bad, despite thousands of hours of execution, because during all of that time I wasn't practicing. I was just writing to get something on paper.
A Pennsylvania mom faces six felony charges for allegedly hacking into her children's school computer to change their grades and read school officials' emails.
Catherine Venusto, 45, of New Tripoli, worked for the Northwestern Lehigh School District from 2008 through April 2011 and has at least two children in the district, according to the District Attorney's office.
She has been accused of changing her daughter's failing grade from an F to an M for "medical" in June 2010, and then changing her son's 98 to a 99 in February 2012, nearly a year after she quit her job as an administrative office secretary to work at another school district.
he federal government should have no role in education, and state and local leaders are best equipped to reform schools, said Clark Durant, who is bidding to become the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.
Speaking Friday on WGVU-TV's "West Michigan Week," Durant said he'd vote to eliminate the U.S. Education Department and use a Senate seat as a bully pulpit to encourage communities to work more closely to improve their schools.
"Arne, get out of our backyard!" he said, referring to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who described Detroit Public Schools as "ground zero in American education." "The federal government is too far away. They can drop in and get their pictures taken, but then they go home again."
Durant is co-founder of Cornerstone Schools, a group of charter schools and independent schools in Detroit. He also served on the state Board of Education, including a stint as board president.
U.S. colleges and universities have been able to keep raising tuition because so many people, from the U.S. and overseas, will pay to get an American degree. The average tab for tuition, room and board at a four-year public school--even after accounting for financial aid--has risen an inflation-adjusted 42% in the past decade, a period in which inflation-adjusted incomes of families in the middle of the middle class fell.
This is unsustainable. It can go on a while longer, not for another decade.
Higher education, meanwhile, has been changed less by information technology than, for example, music, movies, newspapers, books, finance, telephones, air travel, retailing and even health care.
Which raises a big question: Can technology restrain the cost of higher education without diminishing what students learn?
Twelve-year-old Oladimeji Elujoba kept getting into fights at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown. Every time the teacher took attendance in the morning, she would stumble over his polysyllabic name and inadvertently elicit jeers and giggles from his classmates.
"I'm not the kind of person to watch people laugh at me," Elujoba, now 17, says matter-of-factly.
And so he fought. He fought so much he got in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, after-school detentions. His parents, Ruth and Olalekan Elujoba, worried.
"One of the teachers in the middle school called me," Olalekan Elujoba recalls. "They had suspended him and said that if I don't take any action on this, I will spoil the boy's future. I couldn't sleep that night."
New York State is set to release its annual testing data today. Throughout the state, and especially in New York City, we will hear a lot about changes in school and district proficiency rates. The rates themselves have advantages - they are easy to understand, comparable across grades and reflect a standards-based goal. But they also suffer severe weaknesses, such as their sensitivity to where the bar is set and the fact that proficiency rates and the actual scores upon which they're based can paint very different pictures of student performance, both in a given year as well as over time. I've discussed this latter issue before in the NYC context (and elsewhere), but I'd like to revisit it quickly.
Proficiency rates can only tell you how many students scored above a certain line; they are completely uninformative as to how far above or below that line the scores might be. Consider a hypothetical example: A student who is rated as proficient in year one might make large gains in his or her score in year two, but this would not be reflected in the proficiency rate for his or her school - in both years, the student would just be coded as "proficient" (the same goes for large decreases that do not "cross the line"). As a result, across a group of students, the average score could go up or down while proficiency rates remained flat or moved in the opposite direction. Things are even messier when data are cross-sectional (as public data lmost always are), since you're comparing two different groups of students (see this very recent NYC IBO report).
Let's take a rough look at how frequently rates and scores diverge in New York City.
"EVERYONE'S pencil should be on the apple in the tally-mark chart!" shouts a teacher to a class of pupils at Harvest Preparatory School in Minneapolis. Papers and feet are shuffled; a test is coming. Each class is examined every six or seven weeks. The teachers are monitored too. As a result, Harvest Prep outperformed every city school district in Minnesota in maths last year. It is also a "charter" school; and all the children are black.
Twenty years ago Minnesota became the first American state to pass charter-school laws. (Charter schools are publicly funded but independently managed.) The idea was born of frustration with traditional publicly funded schools and the persistent achievement gap between poor minority pupils and those from middle-income homes. Charters enroll more poor, black and Latino pupils, and more pupils who at first do less well at standardised tests, than their traditional counterparts.
The Secretary proposes to amend the Federal Perkins Loan
(Perkins Loan) program, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program,
and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) program
regulations. The proposed regulations would implement a new Income
Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan in the Direct Loan program based on the
President's ``Pay As You Earn'' repayment initiative, incorporate
recent statutory changes to the Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan in
the Direct Loan and FFEL programs, and streamline and add clarity to
the total and permanent disability discharge process for borrowers in
the title IV, HEA loan programs. The proposed regulations implementing
a new ICR Plan and the statutory changes to the IBR plan would assist
borrowers in repaying their loans while the proposed changes to the
total and permanent disability discharge process would reduce burden
for borrowers who are disabled and seeking a discharge of their title
Student photos of state standardized tests posted on social networks have caused a two-week delay in the release of scores and could result in more serious ramifications for nearly 150 California schools.
In a letter sent to all state school districts this week, the Department of Education announced the postponement of the 2012 test results until Aug. 31.
"It is imperative that when districts, teachers, parents and students receive their test results, we all can be assured that the integrity of the system remains intact," Deb Sigman, deputy superintendent of public instruction, said in the letter.
Most of the posted images were of such things as "closed test booklets or blank answer documents," said Paul Hefner, a spokesman for the Education Department.
Fitch Ratings has published an exposure draft of the charter school criteria outlining the agency's changes to the way it analyzes charter schools. The draft includes a number of proposed amendments to existing criteria. If applied in the proposed form, the exposure draft would trigger a substantial number of downgrades to existing charter school ratings. Recent events in the charter school sector led Fitch to re-evaluate its assessment of the financial and operational downside risks facing these entities. Fundamentally, Fitch views charter schools as inherently non-investment grade because of their typically high leverage and lack of operational and financial flexibility. Those schools with significant credit strengths could reach investment grade, but will be capped in the 'BBB' rating category. Fitch invites feedback on the exposure draft during a four-week comment period ending Aug. 20, 2012. Please submit comments to email@example.com
When I graduated college last year, I was certain I wanted to make a real difference in the world. After 17 years of education, I felt an obligation to share my knowledge and skills with those who needed it most.
After this past year, I believe I did just that. Working as a volunteer teacher helped me reach out to a new generation of underprivileged children in dire need of real guidance and care. Most of these kids had been abandoned by the system and, in some cases, even by their families, making me the only person who could really lead them through the turmoil.
Was it always easy? Of course not. But with my spirit and determination, we were all able to move forward.
But inside, she's got the heart of an educator.
Of course, Sandra Day O'Connor will always be associated with her historic "first," as the first woman justice to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, she also served as a judge and a state senator.
Since her retirement from the high court in 2006, she has found a new passion - civics education.
How did she decide to become a champion of that cause? O'Connor says that in her last year on the bench, she was "very much aware of the major issues and debates" being brought before the high court. There were lots of complaints about the decisions, she says, and many were directed at the judicial branch - with some blaming the justices for certain outcomes.
"As you analyzed it, it appeared to show in many cases that the concerns were misdirected: There was a tendency to blame the courts for things that were really not a judicial matter," she told CNN.
The solution to that misunderstanding, she believes, is civics education - a subject she notes has changed through the years. She remembers her own schooling in El Paso, Texas, and how she learned about Texas government. Civics knowledge was helpful to her later in life, O'Connor says, and she's disappointed that today, many schools have stopped teaching the subject.
The identity of students who submit complaints about teachers to public schools, including colleges and universities, are public records and must be disclosed to citizens, a Florida appellate court ruled Thursday.
A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal said Gainesville-based Santa Fe College must release the name of a student who sent the school an email complaining about former math instructor Darnell Rhea's classroom performance.
"Hot diggity dog," said Rhea, who doesn't have a lawyer and argued the case himself, when he learned of the decision from The Associated Press. "This is amazing."
The appellate panel unanimously agreed with Rhea's argument that the student's name is not covered by state and federal laws granting confidentiality to education records because such complaints don't directly relate to students. Instead, they directly relate to teachers but only tangentially to complaining students, District Judge Stephanie Ray wrote for the panel.
Sometimes as I decide what kind of papers to assign to my students, I worry about essay mills, companies whose sole purpose is to generate essays for high school and college students (in exchange for a fee, of course).
The mills claim that the papers are meant to be used as reference material to help students write their own, original papers. But with names such as echeat.com, it's pretty clear what their real purpose is.
Professors in general are concerned about essay mills and their effect on learning, but not knowing exactly what they provide, I wasn't sure how concerned to be. So together with my lab manager Aline Grüneisen, I decided to check the services out. We ordered a typical college term paper from four different essay mills. The topic of the paper? Cheating.
Here is the prompt we gave the four essay mills:
This page comprises a list of 1009 "essentialist explanations" of the form "Language X is essentially language Y under conditions Z". I have edited some entries for uniformity, clarity, or good English. The entries are grouped for convenience rather than correctness. In particular, fictional languages belonging to actual language families are grouped with their natural language relatives. New contributions are solicited, especially for American and African languages. No flames, please.
Note: Entries attributed to me (John Cowan) are often ones that I have heard or read somewhere, or ones that were suggested by other people's contributions but heavily modified by me.
"[We] do but jest, poison in jest, no offence in the world." --Hamlet
A dozen major universities announced that they would begin providing content to Coursera, an innovative platform that makes interactive college classes available to the public free on the web. Next fall, it will offer at least 100 massive open online courses -- otherwise known as MOOCs*-- designed by professors from schools such as Princeton, CalTech, and Duke that will be capable of delivering lessons to more than 100,000 students at a time.
Founded by Stanford computer scientists Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera is one of a handful of efforts aimed at using the web's cost savings to bring Ivy League-quality courses to the masses. Its peers include the joint Harvard-MIT project edX and Udacity, a free online university created by Google executive and former Stanford professor Sebstian Thrun. (Another high-profile startup, Minerva, is attempting to create an actual "online Ivy" that students will pay to attend.)
But the deals Coursera announced Tuesday may well prove to be an inflection point for online education, a sector that has traditionally been dominated by for-profit colleges known mostly for their noxious recruitment practices and poor results. That's because the new partnerships represent an embrace of web-based learning from across the top tier of U.S. universities. And where the elite colleges go, so goes the rest of academia.
Coursera has previously teamed with Stanford, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Michigan to offer 43 courses, which according to the New York Times enrolled 680,000 students. It now adds to its roster Duke, Caltech, University of Virginia, Georgia Tech, University of Washington, Rice, Johns Hopkins, University of California San Francisco, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne, University of Toronto, University of Edinburgh, and Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
He isn't exaggerating. I was shocked to see, for example, that (according to the article) the State of California is currently providing less than $6000 per pupil each year; in contrast, New York City provides $13,500. Ouch. I know that government wastes lots of money, and certainly there are inefficiencies in education. But can we afford to do this our kids and our future? As Tony suggested, California has degenerated to the point where all they can do is support a teacher for every 30 kids or so, a tired old classroom and school, and little else.
I knew it was bad, but I didn't know it was this bad. There is plenty of blame to go around -- we all have our own pet targets -- but perhaps it is time to put our differences aside and do the right things.
State Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles had every reason to hope that the 11 members of the obscure but powerful state Assembly Education Committee in Sacramento would back his new legislation, Senate Bill 1530, designed to let public schools more easily fire teachers who commit sexual, physically abusive or drug-related acts with their students.
The bill, written by the former L.A. city councilman from the San Fernando Valley, a graduate of MIT who is seen by many as a man with a political future, had sailed through the Senate Education Committee in the upper house on a bipartisan vote. In the state Capitol, news reports about disgusting teachers who weren't fired thanks to rigidly protective laws -- teachers such as alleged sex pervert Mark Berndt -- were fresh in legislators' minds.
Egregious-behaving teachers have formidable powers. LAUSD secretly paid Berndt $40,000 to quit. That was far less money than LAUSD would have shelled out for attorneys and Berndt's ongoing salary -- only to perhaps see him reinstated by California's unusually powerful, three-person Commission on Professional Competence, controlled by two teachers-union appointees who are increasingly criticized for not acting on behalf of children.
Since Berndt, a series of bad-teacher incidents has played out. Most recently, gym teacher Kip Arnold careened off a freeway after officers tried to question him about oral copulation and penetration with a foreign object of a girl at Nimitz Middle School in 2005. Kip told the officer he wanted to kill himself, fled and crashed.
The sight of cell phones during a lecture has typically been a source of frustration for many college professors attempting to teach students who may have more interest in their mobile devices than the lesson plans. But one university is hoping a new effort to leverage smartphones will better engage students inside and outside of the classroom.
Seton Hall University in New Jersey has launched its new initiative during summer orientation by providing smartphones and pre-paid cell phone plans to its incoming freshman class. Equipped with an app for freshmen to connect with other incoming students and academic advisers, university officials hope this mobile device, a Nokia Lumia 900, will keep students engaged with the school, even when they're not on campus.
"We need to be able to reach [students] and connect to them," says Michael Taylor, an associate professor and the school's academic director of the Center for Mobile Research and Innovation. "We want to [provide] a device that's always on, always connected, and tends to always be with the student no matter where they are."
Wisconsin has a "long way to go in all our racial/ethnic groups," said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.The issue of low expectations and reduced academic standards is not a new one. A few worthwhile, related links:
My hope is that, given Wisconsin's overwhelmingly white population, proficiency problems among white students will spur more people to push for policies inside and outside of school that help children -- all children -- learn.
"I hate to look at it that way, but I think you're absolutely right," said Kaleem Caire, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. "The low performance of white students in our state may just lead to the type and level of change that's necessary in public education for black and other students of color to succeed as well."
Indeed, Gamoran said Massachusetts' implementation of an evaluation system similar to the one Wisconsin is adopting now has been correlated with gains in reading and math proficiency and a narrowing of the racial achievement gap in math. But he emphasized that student achievement is more than just the schools' responsibility.
Madison has known for a while that its schools are not meeting the needs of too many students of color.
Moreover, parents of future West High students should take notice: As you read this, our department is under pressure from the administration and the math coordinator's office to phase out our "accelerated" course offerings beginning next year. Rather than addressing the problems of equity and closing the gap by identifying minority math talent earlier, and fostering minority participation in the accelerated programs, our administration wants to take the cheaper way out by forcing all kids into a one-size-fits-all curriculum.
It seems the administration and our school board have re-defined "success" as merely producing "fewer failures." Astonishingly, excellence in student achievement is visited by some school district administrators with apathy at best, and with contempt at worst. But, while raising low achievers is a laudable goal, it is woefully short-sighted and, ironically, racist in the most insidious way. Somehow, limiting opportunities for excellence has become the definition of providing equity! Could there be a greater insult to the minority community?
To ratchet up math and science achievement in American schools, President Obama announced Wednesday a plan to create a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps.
The $1 billion plan is dependent on Congress approving the president's budget plan. While the investment would be significant, improving science and math teaching has been a longstanding challenge, and the plan is not a silver bullet, education experts say.
Initially, 50 master teachers would mentor fellow teachers in 50 sites around the country. Over four years, the corps would expand to 10,000 teachers who earn up to $20,000 on top of their base annual salary in exchange for their expertise and leadership.
Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Robert Balfanz has uncovered a series of indicators that he says can predict how likely a student is to drop out of high school: attendance, behavior and course performance, which he describes as the "ABCs."
In high-poverty schools, if a sixth grade child attends less than 80 percent of the time, receives an unsatisfactory behavior grade in a core course, or fails math or English, there is a 75 percent chance that they will later drop out of high school -- absent effective intervention.
Middle schools are generally designed to give younger kids a more intensive level of support. If intervention doesn't occur until high school, Balfanz says it becomes much harder to "turn kids around and put them back on track."
School districts spent nearly $15 billion in the 2007-08 school year to pay teachers extra for earning master's degrees, up 72 percent from four years prior, concludes a report released this week by a left-leaning think tank.
The Center for American Progress suggests money for the so-called "master's bump" was not well spent because research shows there is little difference in effectiveness between teachers who have master's degrees and those who don't.
"This increase, which outstripped inflation many times over during the same time period, is music to the ears of those institutions of higher education that cater to teachers and their academic pursuits," the report says. "But for the nation's primary and secondary schools, this increase strikes a discordant note and underscores the need to uncouple teacher compensation from the earning of advanced degrees."
My new book, When Can You Trust the Experts: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education is now available. (There's a link for a free download of Chapter 1 on this page.) EDIT (7:17 pm 7/18) I just saw that it's listed as "Recommended," with a micro-review on the Scientific American website.
I wrote the book out of frustration with a particular problem: the word "research" has become meaningless in education. Every product is claimed to be research-based. But we all know that can't be the case. How are teachers and administrators supposed to know which claims are valid?
It's notable that this problem exists in many other fields. However good your training, research doesn't stand still. So how does a pediatrician who has been in practice 10 years know that what she learned in medical school as the optimal treatment for, say, croup, is still the best treatment?
In a single collective bargaining agreement, Western Washington University has undermined state efforts to control costs, spotlighted the tuition bubble, and spurred interest in a new delivery model. Western's mischief has not gone unnoticed.
Pointing to high unemployment and "the worst economic times in 80 years," Gov. Chris Gregoire wrote WWU president Bruce Shepard to express "grave concerns" about the school's decision to increase faculty pay by more than 14 percent over the next three years. Department chairs and faculty receiving promotions get additional boosts.
The agreement is not subject to review by the state budget office or Legislature.
Today's youth, both here and abroad, have been screwed by their parents' fiscal profligacy and economic mismanagement. Neil Howe, a leading generational theorist, cites the "greed, shortsightedness, and blind partisanship" of the boomers, of whom he is one, for having "brought the global economy to its knees."
How has this generation been screwed? Let's count the ways, starting with the economy. No generation has suffered more from the Great Recession than the young. Median net worth of people under 35, according to the U.S. Census, fell 37 percent between 2005 and 2010; those over 65 took only a 13 percent hit.
The wealth gap today between younger and older Americans now stands as the widest on record. The median net worth of households headed by someone 65 or older is $170,494, 42 percent higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger-age households is $3,662, down 68 percent from a quarter century ago, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.
A measure to direct a 1-cent sales tax increase to education and construction programs is eligible for the November ballot, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday morning.
Judge Robert Oberbillig made his ruling from the bench, taking less than an hour to hear arguments and make a decision.
He overturned Secretary of State Ken Bennett's decision earlier this month to reject the petitions submitted by the Quality Education and Jobs campaign. Bennett decided the paper copy of the proposed ballot measure filed with his office did not match exactly the one circulated to voters.
It is a finding certain to be hotly disputed - at least among half the population. According to the latest research, women are brighter than men.
For the first time in IQ testing, psychologists have found that female scores have risen above those of men.
Smarter: Women now have a higher IQ than men according to the latest tests
Since IQ testing began a century ago, women have been as much as five points behind, leading psychologists to suggest embedded genetic differences.
But that gap has been narrowing in recent years and this year women have moved ahead, according to James Flynn, a world-renowned authority on IQ tests.
When asked about the problems associated with standardized testing -- cheating, overtesting, blunt measures of student achievement -- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan often points to a duo of "next-generation assessments" funded by federal money.Wisconsin selected "Smarter Balanced".
But a new survey, which consulting group Whiteboard Advisors plans to publish this week, suggests that "education insiders" aren't so sure that the one of the new tests will resolve all of the issues with standardized testing. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed reported that they believe the Smarter, Balanced Assessment Coalition, one of the two state-based consortia developing the tests, is on the wrong track.
"Smarter Balanced seems to have started with a misdiagnosis of the testing program to begin with, and then gone from there," one respondent wrote.
New online learning models are bursting from startups and top universities, bridging the educational divide.
We are in the midst of a revolution that will bring high-quality education to hundreds of millions of people who have never had access to this level of learning before.
These tools will reach those in developing cities and countries but also foment a revolution in the U.S. classroom as they change our perception of what learning can be.
Here are the leading new platfoms disupting the education world:
Sebastian Thurn and his colleagues hit on wild success with their Stanford computer science courses when they opened them up to the online public.The team has left Stanford to start Udacity with venture backing and a new slate of courses. They have hit 150,000+ students in each course, signaling the demand for great online education. Thurn admits that there is no firm business model as yet, but will use the next year to experiment with different approaches.
CNN highlights Udacity's new model.
"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
- Patrick Henry
Several top leaders of Spokane Public Schools appear to believe they don't have to publicly justify their decision-making, or even respond to questions about it.
On June 11, I asked 11 Spokane school district leaders (six administrators and five board directors) for their rationale for adopting unproven Common Core curricula on top of the failed curricular materials the district already has. The administrators, from the Department of Teaching and Learning, collectively get more than half a million taxpayer dollars per year in base salary. Five didn't respond, one didn't answer the questions, and four of the board directors said the board president would answer for them.
Therefore, from 11 district leaders, I received one answer (and in my opinion, it isn't a very good one).
My questions aren't difficult. I didn't ask how the universe began, why God allows evil to exist, or how to build a rocket. I didn't ask how to climb mountains, survive a nuclear attack, or create world peace. Here's the gist of what I asked:
School governors in England are being urged to keep a close eye on individual teachers' performance records.
In a response to a report by MPs the government said confidentiality should not override the need for governors to scrutinise teaching standards.
The response says governors have too often been denied access to performance data on grounds of confidentiality.
Graham Stuart, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee said he welcomed the move.
"Otherwise you risk having the head as sole arbiter of performance within the school," said Mr Stuart.
It is now common wisdom that our schools are not educating children sufficiently to compete in a world economy. There are many causes and just as many proposed remedies to address this increasingly serious problem. More funding, charter schools, separating boys and girls, testing students and grading teachers according to skills acquired by their students are among the many ideas. Most of these ideas share the disadvantage of requiring money, which is not readily available in today's economy or of instituting major changes in the educational system.
One small and inexpensive change could help student achievement: school uniforms.
ongress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of the Congressional Record using Capitol Words.
Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications. And lawmakers of both parties still speak above the heads of the average American, who reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level.
Today's Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. The Gettysburg Address comes in at an 11.2 grade level and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is at a 9.4 grade level. Most major newspapers are written at between an 11th and 14th grade level. (You can find more comparisons here)
Those who hope 21st-century technological wonders will save our schools should read a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. It tells the story of Melvin Marshall, a seventh-grader at Barber Focus School in Highland Park.
During the just-completed school year, the lawsuit says, "Melvin was enrolled in a class called 'Virtual Learning English Language Arts,' in which he answered questions on the computer. While he worked on the computer, his teacher graded papers or did other work on her own computer. His teacher did not lecture or use the blackboard for instruction. Melvin did not receive direct instruction from his teacher and was frustrated that, although the computer program would indicate whether he answered a question correctly, it never explained why a particular answer was correct."
In January he began using in his homeroom an online course called Read 180, "America's Top Reading Intervention Program" according to its owner, Scholastic. The lawsuit said "occasionally, his teacher assisted students around the room, but she generally sat at her desk and kept track of how students did on the computer exercises. In this program, Melvin did not receive any explicit instruction from an adult."
When asked about his school, the lawsuit said, the child wrote: "My name is Melvin Marshall I go to Barber foucs school. I wish it was a batter [illegible] in the clean bathroom. Batter teachers and batter Lunch." When his reading proficiency was evaluated in May, he tested four grades below his age level. Other students had similar experiences, the lawsuit said.
The Scholastic.com Web site says hundreds of studies verify the effectiveness of Read 180. But Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good said it, like other programs, won't work "unless teachers are actively involved." Highland Park school officials did not respond to requests for comment.
"Yet when compared to gains made by students in other countries, progress within the United States is middling, not stellar (see Figure 1). While 24 countries trail the U.S. rate of improvement, another 24 countries appear to be improving at a faster rate. Nor is U.S. progress sufficiently rapid to allow it to catch up with the leaders of the industrialized world."Related:
"Meanwhile, students in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana were among those making the fewest average gains between 1992 and 2011. Once again, the larger political climate may have affected the progress on the ground. Unlike in the South, the reform movement has made little headway within midwestern states, at least until very recently. Many of the midwestern states had proud education histories symbolized by internationally acclaimed land-grant universities, which have become the pride of East Lansing, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Lafayette, Indiana. Satisfaction with past accomplishments may have dampened interest in the school reform agenda sweeping through southern, border, and some western states."
Underlying study: "Achievement Growth: International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance"
The results: Only 35.8% of Wisconsin's WKCE test-takers in third through eighth and 10th grade in fall 2011 scored proficient or better in reading, and just 48.1% scored proficient or better in math.
Compare that with March, when the state released 2011 WKCE results that showed 78% and 82% of students scored proficient or better in math and reading.
Under the new benchmarks, just 41.9% of white students scored proficient or advanced in reading, and 55.2% met that mark in math on the latest state test. Previously, more than 87% of white students were considered proficient or better in reading, and 84.3% were considered to have scored proficient or better in math in 2011.
As for the state's black students - many of whom attend Milwaukee Public Schools - 13.4% are considered proficient or advanced in reading, down from 58.7% using the old grading scale.
Rep. Steve Kestell, a Republican from Elkhart Lake who chairs the Assembly's Education Committee, called the revised picture of student performance a "necessary and long-delayed wake-up call for Wisconsin."
"We've been trying to tell folks for some time that we've been looking at things through rose-colored glasses in Wisconsin," he added. "It was a hard thing to communicate, and it was largely ignored. This is a new awakening."
State Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said: "We've known for years that our proficiency-cut scores are way below where they should be, and really, this shows that we have got to do a better job."
Under the past decade of No Child Left Behind, Wisconsin had been criticized for having a more lenient bar for proficiency than other states.
Still, the new results should be a "smack in the face" for Wisconsin, said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.
"It's going to be a wake-up call," Gamoran said. "It's a more honest reckoning of where Wisconsin students stand relative to other students across the nation and relative to the goals we want for all of our students."
The old results were based on whether students were meeting Wisconsin's definition of being at grade-level, whereas the new results reflect more rigorous standards of what it means to be prepared for college or a career used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation's report card.
About 3,000 4th and 8th graders in Wisconsin take the NAEP every other year. In 2011, 32 percent of Wisconsin 4th graders scored proficient on NAEP's reading test and 39 percent scored proficient on the math test.
The data released Tuesday marks the first time DPI has converted results of the state test, which more than 430,000 students in grades 3-8 and 10 take in the fall, to the NAEP benchmarks.
DPI won't release recalculated results for individual schools and districts until the fall, when it also plans to release individual school report cards with ratings on a scale of 0 to 100.
Kim Henderson, president of the Wisconsin Parent Teacher Association, said parents pay closer attention to state test scores than NAEP scores, so the results could "bring up a lot of good questioning."
To get the waiver, Wisconsin had to develop its own accountability system in addition to teacher and principal evaluations, among other things.
The scores will be included on new school report cards to be released in the fall. How well individual students in grades 3-8 and 10 do on reading and math tests they take in November will be released next spring.
The new school report cards were developed in conjunction with Gov. Scott Walker, legislative leaders and others over the past year. They will include a numerical rating for individual schools from 0-100 based on student achievement, growth, graduation rates and closing of achievement gaps between different groups of students. The scores will generate an overall total that will place each school into one of five categories ranging from "Fails to Meet Expectations" to "Significantly Exceeds Expectations."
"This new system will empower parents, allowing them to make education related decisions based on reliable and uniform data," Walker said in a statement.
Sample report cards, without actual school data, are posted online to solicit feedback through Aug. 12.
In 1893, when the Committee of Ten published its recommendations for high school education, Upper Education and Lower Education academics were still talking to each other. Harvard president Charles William Eliot was the chairman, and the committee, Diane Ravitch reported in Left Back (Simon & Schuster, 2000), included four other college presidents, three high school principals, and a college professor. In 1918, when the NEA Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education issued its report, the chairman was, as Diane Ravitch wrote, "Clarence Kingsley, a former social worker, former teacher of mathematics at Brooklyn Manual Training High School, and--at the time of the report--supervisor of high schools in Massachusetts." (Ravitch, pp. 42,123)
The main objectives for high school students in the NEA report were: "1. Health, 2. Command of fundamental processes, 3. Worthy home membership, 4. Vocation, 5. Citizenship, 6. Worthy use of leisure, and 7. Ethical character." These "became famous among educators as 'the Seven Cardinal Principles,' the seven objectives based on the needs of life." (Ravitch, p. 124)
With this new set of objectives in view, and with the transformation of the Normal Schools
into psychobabbling Graduate Schools of Education hostile to academic content, perhaps it is not surprising that college professors and other academics were increasingly estranged from the goings on in Lower Education. What professor of history or physics or Romance languages or nanotechnology could find common ground with those at the Lower Level who were dedicated to teaching secondary students the "worthy use of leisure"?
Nevertheless, as the number of high schools grew, along with the number of colleges, one Upper Education group formed a growing interest in what people were doing in sports at the Lower Level. This would be college coaches, who saw in the strong interest in athletics at the high school level a vital breeding ground for the athletes they would need to recruit for their college programs. As a consequence, college coaches began to keep track of the progress of especially promising high school athletes in a variety of sports, and in their Lower Education Level coaches. In fact, friendly relations were often formed between high school coaches and college coaches, so that news about really good athletes could get to the Upper Level in time to enable recruiting to begin (now at about the 10th grade).
Coaches in colleges recognized that success in their jobs depended in part on their ability to locate good candidates and persuade them to come to their place of work to be athletes after high school. Lower Education coaches understood that their work and their opinions were valued by those in the Upper Education reaches of their sports.
Meanwhile, among teachers of academic subjects in Lower Education, a very different situation could be found. Teachers who identified and prepared promising students of history or physics or literature realized that their counterparts in Upper Education did not want to know them or to hear about their students. Upper Education professors left recruitment of great candidates in their disciplines completely up to the Upper Education Admissions Committees.
By contrast, Upper Education coaches have decided not to depend on the Admissions people to find the best athletes for them. In fact, they typically bring the Admissions Committees lists of the athletes who they would like to have admitted to meet the needs of their teams. Upper Education professors rarely, if ever, come to the Admissions Committees with names of scholars from the high schools they wanted admitted to strengthen their academic departments.
Of course there are many differences in the reward systems for Upper Level coaches and for Upper Level professors. If the coaches do not get good athletes they will not be able to win games, matches, or other athletic competitions and before long their jobs will be in jeopardy. On the other hand, most Upper Education professors believe they lose nothing by simply ignoring their Lower Education colleagues, their students, and their curricula. Their jobs depend on their research and publications, for the most part, and they are content to let the Admissions Committees select their students for them. When the students arrive in their courses, they often complain that these recruits are ignorant and unable to do serious Upper Education academic work, but that never seems to increase their interest in meeting Lower Education teachers or finding out what academic work is being done at that Lower level.
One result of this situation is that Lower Education teachers and scholars are aware that Upper Education academics don't much care about what they do, while Lower Education coaches and athletes (often the same people) are quite sure that Upper Education coaches are very interested in what they are doing, to the extent, in some cases of forming good relationships between them. It is understood that Upper Education coaches may even wish to visit promising high school athletes in their homes in an effort to recruit them for their programs. It is beyond imagination that an Upper Education professor would do anything like that.
In their battles against anti-intellectualism, Lower Education people can expect little or no interest or assistance from their Upper colleagues, and the professors in Upper Education will no doubt continue to bemoan the level of preparation of their students, especially in reading and writing, without wondering, it seems, if that is the result in part of anything they have failed to do.
The Concord Review
17 July 2012
The College Application Boot Camp is a two-day intensive workshop to help rising seniors complete a bulk of the college application before school starts.
In these two days, students will:
Gain an understanding of the college admissions process and how admissions officers evaluate applications.
Receive advice on which teachers should write the recommendations and how to ask for their help.
Get feedback on which schools to apply to and the chances of admission.
Work one-on-one and in small groups to complete the Common Application datasheets.
Complete an activity chart that highlights high school awards, extracurricular activities, and leadership positions.
Brainstorm, write, and edit a personal statement essay that can be used with a variety of applications.
Learn interviewing techniques for admissions and alumni interviews.
In July 2011, Tennessee became one of the first states in the country to implement a comprehensive, student outcomes-based, statewide educator evaluation system. This implementation was a key tenet of Tennessee's First to the Top Act, adopted by the General Assembly with bipartisan support during 2010's extraordinary session under the backdrop of the federal Race to the Top competition. This landmark legislation established the parameters of a new teacher and principal evaluation system and committed to implementation during the 2011-12 school year. The act required 50 percent of the evaluation to be comprised of student achievement data--35 percent based on student growth as represented by the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) or a comparable measure and the other 15 percent based on additional measures of student achievement adopted by the State Board of Education and chosen through mutual agreement by the educator and evaluator. The remaining 50 percent of the evaluation is determined through qualitative measures such as teacher observations, personal conferences and review of prior evaluations and work.
An important component of the First to the Top Act was the creation of the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee (TEAC), a group of teachers, principals, superintendents, legislators, business leaders, and other community members, which met 21 times over the course of the following year to review and discuss various issues related to policy and implementation. The committee reviewed field tests of four different observation rubrics, which were conducted in the 2010-11 school year in approximately 125 schools across the state. The TEAC supported use of the TEAM (Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model) rubric as the state model and also voted on a number of key components of implementation, including the number and structure of observations for the year. By law, those recommendations were made to the State Board of Education, which was charged with adopting the final guidelines and criteria for the annual evaluation of all teachers and principals. The board ultimately unanimously adopted the TEAC endorsed TEAM model and, in addition, approved three alternative models - 1) Project Coach in Hamilton County; 2) TEM (Teacher Effectiveness Measure) in Memphis City; and 3) TIGER (Teacher Instructional Growth for Effectiveness and Results) in 12, mostly municipal, school systems statewide. The board also approved a menu of achievement measures that could be used as part of the 15 percent measure.
In the summer of 2011, the Tennessee Department of Education contracted with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) to provide a four-day training for all evaluators across the state. NIET trained more than 5,000 evaluators intensively in the state model (districts using alternative instruments delivered their own training). Evaluators were required to pass an inter-rater reliability exam, in which they viewed video recordings of teachers delivering lessons and rated them to ensure they understood the distinction between differing levels of performance.
The start of the upcoming school year will mark the debut of a new type of teacher preparation program for the Twin Cities.
The Twin Cities Teacher Collaborative STEM Urban Teacher Residency program is starting small, but organizers wonder if it might be the next big thing. The program, known as TC2 is planning to train 60 teachers over the next four years.
Eight teaching candidates are entering a full-year residency at five different middle and high schools in St. Paul and Minneapolis this fall. Residencies are common for future doctors and lawyers, but teaching residencies have only been around for 11 years in other states.
The residents met as a group last week and will spend the weeks before the start of class preparing for the year. They've already met their mentor teachers; the eight will be placed at Humboldt Senior High, Highland Park Senior High and Highland Park Junior High in St. Paul, as well as at South and Southwest High Schools in Minneapolis.
The existing contract for Detroit teachers was ripped up and chucked into the trash by the school district's emergency financial manager. The teachers' union is angry and making noise about a possible strike.
Want to know how a school system can kill an innovative program without leaving any fingerprints? All you need to do is watch how Fairfax County Public Schools is handling the charter school application of the Fairfax Leadership Academy.
Teacher Eric Welch is leading an effort to create the county's first charter school. He and other educators believe that this effort is critical to closing the achievement gap between white and minority students. Their goal is to create a school that will serve high-risk, low-income students -- the kids who often fall through the cracks. The school is actually focusing on many of the programs that FCPS used to provide to at-risk populations, such as an extended school day and year, which can be critical for students who need more time to master challenging content. Those programs were among the casualties of recent Fairfax budget cuts.
"No one knows who I am," exclaimed a senior in a high-poverty, predominantly minority and low-performing high school in the Austin area. She explained, "I have been at this school four years and had four principals and six algebra I teachers."
Elsewhere in Texas, the first school to be closed by the state for low performance was Johnston High School, which was led by 13 principals in the 11 years preceding closure. The school also had a teacher turnover rate greater than 25 percent for almost all of the years and greater than 30 percent for 7 of the years.
While the above examples are rather extreme cases, they do underscore two interconnected issues - teacher and principal turnover - that often plague low-performing schools and, in the case of principal turnover, afflict a wide range of schools regardless of performance or school demographics.
Over the past three decades, as developing economies industrialized and began to compete in world markets, a global labor market started taking shape. As more than one billion people entered the labor force, a massive movement from "farm to factory" sharply accelerated growth of productivity and per capita GDP in China and other traditionally rural nations, helping to bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. To raise productivity, developed economies invested in labor-saving technologies and tapped global sources of low-cost labor.
Today, the strains on this market are becoming increasingly apparent. In advanced economies, demand for high-skill labor is now growing faster than supply, while demand for low-skill labor remains weak. Labor's overall share of income, or the share of national income that goes to worker compensation, has fallen, and income inequality is growing as lower-skill workers--including 75 million young people--experience unemployment, underemployment, and stagnating wages.
After I accused American private schools of hiding vital data, a practice that makes it hard for me to compare them to other schools, National Association of Independent Schools President Patrick F. Bassett agreed to a chat. His organization represents many well-known private schools:
Mathews: You have said you don't like my way of comparing schools. Okay, what way of comparing schools would you prefer?
Bassett: When parents ask us, "What's the best school," we say, "The school that best meets your child's needs." The first step in finding that perfect school is to evaluate what your child needs. An environment that's more nurturing? Or more competitive? Does she thrive in a larger community or one that is smaller? Is he looking for specific classes or programs? Does the philosophy of the school mesh with your family's values? Look at the websites and other materials from the schools. Would the approach and program at a school work for your child?
If you live in an affluent community with a high-performing school district and are familiar with the pressure-cooker environment of endless test-prepping, extracurricular overload and early resume-building that students endure in their quest to get into elite colleges, you probably laughed at a recent report saying many students believe their schools are not sufficiently challenging them.
If, like me, you live in a community struggling with high rates of poverty, or one where state budget cuts have reduced the schools to shadows of their former selves, you know full well that the report -- "Do Schools Challenge Our Students?" -- produced by the Center for American Progress has a painful ring of truth to it.
The findings represent the everyday experiences of students stuck in less-than-high-performing schools, where enrichment opportunities such as field trips or in-school presentations are few, where gym, music and art classes are often a distant memory, and where boredom is a constant complaint.
Sallie Mae's "How America Pays for College 2012" (PDF, 1.3MB) study, conducted by Ipsos, finds that:
83% of college students and parents strongly agreed that higher education is an investment in the future, college is needed now more than ever (70%), and the path to earning more money (69%).
Drawing from savings, income and loans, students paid 30% of the total bill, up from 24% four years ago, while parents covered 37% of the bill, down from 45% four years ago.
The percentage of families who eliminated college choices because of cost rose to the highest level (69%) in the five years since the study began. Virtually all families exercised cost-savings measures, including living at home (51%), adding a roommate (55%), and reducing spending by parents (50%) and students (66%).
In 2012, families continued the shift toward lower-cost community college, with 29 percent enrolled, compared to 23 percent two years ago. In fact, overall, families paid 5 percent less for college compared to one year ago.
35% percent of students borrowed education loans to pay for college: 25% borrowing federal loans only, 9% using a mix of federal and private loans, and 1% tapping private loans only.
Q: Given a chance to oversee the Madison Prep debate again, would you have done anything differently?Much more on the Madison Superintendent position, here.
A: My approach was I was attempting to make that work as an instrumentality of the district, and costs were prohibiting that. In terms of it being a non-instrumentality proposal, there were two big problems there. One was the fact that contractually it wasn't permissible. The other area was the need for accountability to the public body and the governing board.
Q: So what would you have done differently?
A: I've looked into myself quite a bit on that and I don't know what that is.
Q: So you think you were decisive enough?
A: Let other people judge that. But if I didn't have an interest in looking at a program like Badger Rock Middle School and other innovative program designs, we wouldn't have spent the time we did on Madison Prep. We put considerable effort into trying to find alternative ways to work that out and the reality of it is that it didn't work out.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
When William Schmidt, an expert on math education at Michigan State University, moved his family from East Lansing to Charlottesville, Virginia for a year's research leave, his work took a personal turn. He noticed that the public school his daughters would be attending outside Charlottesville was academically behind the one they had attended in Michigan. Back home, his 2nd grade daughter would be learning multiplication tables up through the number 5, yet in Charlottesville, multiplication was not even part of his local school's second grade curriculum.Related: Math Forum.
His daughter's experience, he explains in a new book excerpted below, is not unique. " The [American] system of schooling represents a game of chance that few are even aware is being played," he writes in "Inequality for All: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools," co- written with Curtis C. McKnight. The inequalities pose a risk to every child, they write, regardless of socioeconomic background or race. They stem from differences in state education standards, in school funding, in curricula that districts choose to adopt and in the content that individual classroom teachers choose to teach. In this excerpt, Schmidt and McKnight focus on variations in how math teachers are trained and how that, in turn, affects student achievement.
The following is excerpted from Inequality for All: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools, by William H. Schmidt and Curtis C. McKnight. (Teachers College Press, 2012).
Faced with arguably the biggest crisis of its 155-year history--the loss of at least 100,000 full-time members--the nation's largest union plans to respond by organizing thousands of new members and transforming itself into an even more politically potent force.
Whether the National Education Association can accomplish those goals while simultaneously advocating improvements to the teaching profession--a role publicly supported by its leaders, but contested among rank and file--remains an open question.
Nothing less than the entire organization's future appears to hinge on the answer.
1. District Administrator Tim Culver's salary is higher than that of Governor Doyle. The combined salaries of the top 4 administrators in the district exceeds one-half MILLION dollars.
check it out:
2. While the rest of the world , including state employees, pays some or all of their health care costs, we, the taxpayers, covered 100% of school district employees' health benefits up until this year. Now they still pay only 2-4% of health care costs. State employes typically pay 6-8% or more.
3. During the past school year (2006-07) taxpayers paid for over $7000 worth of pizza, subs and other food for administrators and staff, typically charged to "[Department] Supplies"
4. Instead of appointing an individual who narrowly missed election in both 2006 and 2007 to a school board vacancy, the School Board appointed an individual who has lived in Sun Prairie for less than 3 years, and whose career experience is in school administration. Think we got a vote for taxpayers here?
5. It's budget time again! The annual public meeting is in October. Did you know that when the rest of us have a co-worker who loses a family member or celebrates some big event, we all chip in and buy flowers. The School District, however, has a policy that allows it to purchase flowers for its employees on these occasions on the taxpayers' dime.
Three New Mexico teachers unions are complaining the state Public Education Department has failed to consult parents and teachers as it crafts a new teacher evaluation system.
The state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and the Albuquerque Education Assistants Association sent a letter Friday to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The letter claims the state didn't include any teachers nominated by the American Teachers Federation on its evaluation task force.
The letter also says parents and school board members weren't included and that the task force violated the Open Meetings Act by meeting without public notice.
T: The assumption in the discussion of parent engagement and academic achievement is that it is African-American parents who are not engaged.Related: An interview the Henry Tyson, Superintendent of Milwaukee's St. Marcus school.
JH: I think that's the reality of it. The question is: why aren't they engaged? The latest survey we had showed that roughly 40 percent of African-American high school students were not engaged. Why? What happens to the kids? We seem to lose them over time, and we lose the parents.
CT: That's a pernicious thing for black youth, isn't it? Why do you think it's happening?
JH: I think one of the things is that we need to create a culture in our schools that these kids can feel they are more a part of. For example, we don't present "American" history -- there's a lot of African-American history that never makes it to the books. So, if we as a country, as a community, would depict the true picture and make them part of it, I think kids would remain engaged longer.
By the time summer's over, many families can't wait for school to start. Working parents have struggled to find camps or babysitting, kids are bored and teachers fret over "summer slide" -- the academic losses that research shows hits kids from poor families hardest.
Year-round schooling might seem like the antidote, and in some parts of the country, schools with just a few weeks off are not uncommon. In Raleigh, N.C., and other parts of Wake County, for instance, July 9 was the first day of school for 26,000 students on a year-round calendar.
But year-round schools, which once seemed like a panacea for everything from low test scores to overcrowding, have proven to be a mixed bag. And some places that once embraced them -- including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and parts of California -- have returned to traditional calendars.
Pennsylvania teachers must demonstrate a combination of classroom skills and student achievement if they want to make the grade on planned new statewide evaluations, the first overhaul of the assessments in more than 40 years.
Legislation enacted last month spells out specific criteria on which educators will be measured, and a possible new protocol for classroom observation has been getting trial runs in dozens of districts. But concerns linger about the still-unwritten final regulations.
What about those who teach grades or subjects not covered by standardized tests? What about those who work in high-poverty schools, where students can face challenges such as language barriers, lack of resources and little parent involvement?
The people of a large and mighty nation wonder why their schools can't do more to imitate those of another large, powerful nation across the Pacific Ocean. But this time it's not the United States seeking to emulate the schools of an Asian country -- it's China seeking to emulate ours, at least to some extent.
China is pushing for more emphasis on building creative skills and less on high-stress, high-stakes testing, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Under the existing system, a single entrance exam determines whether students attend college, and which one. Talk about teaching to the test: The last year of high school is often given over to cramming for the exam. In at least one classroom, students were placed on intravenous drips of amino acids in preparation for the test, in the belief that it would help their memories and provide an energy boost; in another sad case, a girl was not told about her father's death for two months to avoid disrupting her studies.
School districts crushed by surging retirement costs could save as much as $250 million this school year under a contentious bill that would make retirement benefits more expensive for public school employees but give districts millions they could use to decrease class size, restore cut programs or squirrel away more money for emergencies.Related: Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman in a 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:
On Wednesday, the state Senate is expected to take up the bill -- backed by Gov. Rick Snyder -- that would require current and retired school employees to dig deeper into their pockets to keep their benefits. Some employees would get reduced benefits.
Supporters say the bill, already approved by the House by a 57-47 vote largely along party lines, would help address a $45-billion unfunded liability in the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. Some Republicans believe it doesn't go far enough -- they want to end the pension system altogether for new employees, an extremely costly option the Snyder administration wants to study more.
The bill is hotly opposed by groups representing current and retired school employees.
"Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk - the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It's as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands." Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI's vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the "impossibility" of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars ("Similar to GM"; "worry" about the children given this situation).
Many people think of intelligence as static: you are born with lots of brains, very few, or somewhere in between, and that quantum of intelligence largely determines how well you do in school and in life.
The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has never liked this view. "I hardly ever use the word intelligence," says Mr. Tyson, who directs the Hayden Planetarium in New York. "I think of people as either wanting to learn, ambivalent about learning or rejecting learning." He speaks from experience: As a young man, he was booted from one doctoral program but managed to get into another and complete his Ph.D.
Over the past 25 years, social scientists have produced some key insights into how successful people overcome their unsuccessful moments--and they have found that attitudes toward learning play a large role from a young age.
The big theme of my working life (so far) has been programming, and yesterday I published a short list of things I've learnt about programming. The second (smaller) theme has been writing. Since 1996, when my first piece of writing was published in The Guardian, I've written quite a number of articles for newspapers and magazines (including a recent 3,000 word special on Alan Turing for New Scientist) and a book.
Almost everything I've written is non-fiction (except my parody startup CEO Brad Bradstone), so my thoughts are about that sort of writing. I have nothing useful to say about writing fiction.
Here are a few things I've learnt about writing. I hope you'll find them useful, as I think writing is a vital skill for almost everyone because good writing is simply good communicating and good communicating matters enormously in any job.
The Concord Review: A ProcessSEX-SELECTIVE ABORTION, FEMALE INFANTICIDE, AND THEIR LASTING EFFECTS IN CHINA AND INDIA
"I really hope it's worth it, Ayana." I can still hear my dad, exasperated, as I sat hunched over the family computer typing frantically at two a.m. one Sunday morning. I'd been writing for hours, determined to finish this paper, and now even he'd grown weary watching me work. I couldn't explain to him that, for me, writing this paper to be submitted for possible entry into The Concord Review was worth it for more than one reason. I couldn't explain, to him nor anyone else, that while this paper was the chance for me to delve more thoroughly into a research project than I ever had before, it was also a chance for me to prove to myself that I could do it, that at seventeen years old, I could write a twenty-page paper.
Interest in the main topic of my research paper, female infanticide, began as a sophomore in the previous school year. It was my first opportunity in my academic career to write about anything I wanted. There were no boundaries, no specifics, and few requirements; I was free to ask the unanswered questions probing my mind, and determine my own answers and conclusions accordingly. That feeling of liberation and freedom in the writing process proved crucial to the success of my paper.
It is significantly easier to break a research paper writing project into stages. Alongside my peers, I believe the most common difficulty we all faced was finding the academic support to affirm and corroborate the claims and statements we made. Thus, I learned to break the process into two simpler stages: reading and then writing. Never mind trying to write and read alternately; know your topic absolutely. Read as much as possible--highlighting and marking frequently--and note important facts. When beginning to write, write your own opinions, and then use the facts you've accumulated to further affirm what you have to say. Not only is this process less tedious and consuming than sifting back and forth from your research to your paper, it allows room for your own "voice" as you write.
Finally, the power of drafting and continuous editing can never be overstated. By the end of writing, my entire paper had probably been edited six times, and each sub-section of the paper innumerably. It is crucial to edit your work not only grammatically, but conceptually throughout its entire production.
At the close of my junior year, one faithful Monday morning, I submitted my paper for possible submission to The Concord Review with more than a feeling of gratification. In writing and researching over the course of two months, not only had I phenomenally expanded my knowledge on a global issue I felt justified my concern, I'd expanded my skill as a writer. I learned, most essentially, that what you write about must be what most impassions you. There will, inevitably, be periods of doubt as you write, and certainly times when you'd like nothing more than to rid yourself of all things relevant to your topic and even start anew. But if you choose to research something you truly care about, hopefully you feel the same way I did, as if it's your duty to write about it so that others may read and learn and desire to change something.
With a consistency comparable only to the world's abil- ity to change daily, humanity undergoes evolution. Politically, economically, and particularly socially, changes throughout the contemporar y world are unavoidable and, at best, only understood in part. Yet amidst many changes that threaten the global com- munity's future, demographic changes have caused increasing concern of late. As author Thomas Homer-Dixon notes in his The Upside of Down: "to understand the destiny of our global society... it is good to start with global demographics."1 Populations, most notably in impoverished areas of the world, are expected to grow astronomically in subsequent decades, resulting in an unprec- edented youth bulge2 in many developing countries. China and India--presently two of the world's most densely populated coun- tries--are especially affected by this rapid population increase. Yet despite impending threats of mass starvation and economic
downfall resulting from widespread poverty and overpopulation, sex-selective abortion and female infanticide are undoubtedly most threatening to populations in China and India.
If you or your kids have taken an online lesson at the Khan Academy (3,200 video lessons, 168 million views), been enlightened by a TED Talk (1,300 talks, 800 million views), watched a videotaped academic lecture (Academic Earth, Open Courseware Consortium, Open Culture), enrolled in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course, now being offered by companies like Udacity and a growing list of universities, including M.I.T., Harvard and Stanford), or simply learned to play guitar, paint a landscape or make a soufflé via YouTube -- then you know that the distribution channels of education have changed -- and that the future of learning is free and open.
This is good news for everyone, but it is particularly good for the vast number of people around the world whose job prospects are constrained by their skill levels and who lack the resources to upgrade them through conventional training. It's a problem that a company based in Ireland called ALISON -- Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online -- is helping to address with a creative model.
The task of building up Kim Jong-un as a credible leader continues, and Pyongyang's peculiar political culture adds its own burdens. On the one hand, thrusting a callow twenty-something into the top slot merely because of who his father was compels a relentless emphasis on continuity.
Now and for evermore, Kim Jong-un must be lauded as the political heir and inheritor of his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Jong-un.
On the other hand, continuity alone is not enough. Given the DPRK's problems, 'same old same old' on its own would not be a palatable message. Not that anyone is asking the people their view, but even a system as top-down as North Korea cannot wholly neglect the popular mood. So the leaden stress on continuity must also be leavened by hints of change, offering hope for the future.
I spent my last week of June at the ISTE Conference (International Society for Technology in Education) in San Diego, CA. Given that the new Common Core standards feature the use of technology by student prominently, I expected the standards to be front and center at the conference. Since I've been blogging about Common Core lately, I looked forward to hearing more. The conference program promised a number of sessions on the subject. Many of these were put on by vendors, who were no doubt seeking to make money off the fear of administrators, but the exhibitor floor was where they went all out. It reminded me of a quip I heard from one edublogger about the exhibit floor at these conferences pushing products to cure your NCLB blues; now, everything seems to be Common Core "aligned". Folks were excitedly discussing the new upcoming computer-based adaptive assessments which are due to roll-out in 2014. That brought another question to add to the five I'd previously raised: where on earth is my state planning to find the money for them? This led to some rather surreal conversational moments as I asked this question to folks who were excited about the new assessment, and their answers would often be a perplexed look, and the statement, "Well they have to implement this!" and I would say, "Really, why? We're not in Race to the Top so we aren't getting dollars dependent on this." At this point folks looked really perplexed.
Here are eight thoughts on why parents of students in top-flight schools (and parents in just about any school) should be paying attention to what is unfolding:
Rising standards for defining proficiency. Wisconsin is about to raise the bar for what it takes for a student to be labeled "proficient" or "advanced." The idea is that the new standards will be more realistic measures of whether a student is on track for college and a career. But a lot of parents used to their kids being among the, say, 89% or so of students doing well at high-testing school will now find their kids aren't in that category and the schoolwide figure is suddenly, say, 45%. Will parents and school leaders take this as a call for everyone to aim higher? I hope so, but brace yourself.
New school report cards. By next year, a new system for describing how each school in the state is doing will be launched. It will offer a lot more data and new types of ratings. Particularly for conscientious parents who take advantage of it, it will offer new perspectives on how to pick a school and what a child's school is doing well - or not well.
Achievement gaps at high-performing schools. Almost all top schools, including many suburban schools, have such gaps if they have more than a handful of poor children and minority children among their students, or if special education students aren't meeting state goals. The gaps, in terms of percentage of proficient students, are often just as wide in those schools as in Milwaukee. The decade-old No Child Left Behind system put these gaps in the spotlight without being very effective in bringing improvement. The new Wisconsin system will focus on this even more. Top schools are likely to be under even more scrutiny on these fronts.
Not long ago, an associate professor of Creative Writing (the most popular subject in which is now not Ozymandias or Dover Beach or Westminster Bridge, but "ME")...at an Upper Education institution west of the Mississippi wrote an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, bemoaning the incompetence and/or indifference of her Upper peers in evaluating, correcting or coaching the academic writing of their students:
"...And since there's little room in most graduate curricula to focus on writing, many future faculty members simply never learn. The truth is, everyone thinks whoever went before him or her was responsible for the job of teaching writing: College instructors believe students learned the mechanics in high school; graduate advisers assume their students learned as undergraduates what they needed to know about style and argumentation.
By the time people become professors, they have no one to turn to for help with their writing. Some hope or pray that editors will save them; sometimes that happens. But most acquisitions editors don't have the time or energy to do line-editing, and they assume that the copy editors will clean up the prose...And so, bad prose gets published and bad models proliferate....
...What, then, to make of the political scientist who didn't think he had the expertise to comment on his students' writing? I believe he's shirking an important aspect of his job...If professors don't tell students that the writing matters, who will? If professors don't know what good writing looks like, who does?"
I followed up this welcome interest in academic writing at the Upper Education level by sending her information about The Concord Review, which, for 25 years has been working to encourage, distribute and, with the National Writing Board, to assess, serious academic expository writing by high school students around the world (Lower Education Level).
The replies I got from the Upper Education personage were:
"I got a whole bunch of messages that I don't think were meant for me. You might check your computer for viruses."
When I sent more information, she replied that she had seen material about these efforts when she was in Admissions at an Upper Education place in the Southeast but:
"What made a big impression on me is that there was (as I recall) a submissions fee. At Duke, I saw a lot of 'honors' that came with a price tag. That troubles me."
So, of course, she never inquired further. (And yes, Duke takes an admissions fee...)
Now, so as not to charge all Upper Education people with having the same dim or poor vision about writing at the Lower Education Level, here is a letter I got from a physicist at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study...
INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDY
Einstein Drive, Princeton, New Jersey 08540
22 June 2000
Mr. Will Fitzhugh, President
National Writing Board
The Concord Review
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776
Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,
I recently came across The Concord Review, and I would like to express my appreciation for your leadership role and your continuous dedication to this endeavor. Not only am I impressed with the high quality of the history articles that appear in the Review, but I am also impressed with the very idea of a publication which provides a forum for the academic work of high school students in history.
As a physicist, I am accustomed to the many initiatives, such as math competitions and physics olympiads, instituted to recognize and promote interest and talent in the sciences among high school students. However, I have always felt that there was no equivalent mechanism to encourage and nurture students in the humanities, and to recognize their accomplishments. The Concord Review strikes me as a simple yet brilliant idea to help fill that gap, and as a very effective way to promote high standards and excellence in the humanities.
Chiara R. Nappi
The Concord Review
12 July 2012
Dan Nerad, the departing Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent, talked with WISC-TV on Thursday about his four years leading the district, plus the greatest challenges going forward.
He cited the four-year-old kindergarten program, which he implemented, and tackling difficult budgets as his achievements. Nerad said on some issues, such as over the heightened debate over the district's minority achievement gap, there were shortcomings.
Nerad is scheduled to leave July 27 for the top job at the school district in Birmingham, Mich., a smaller and more affluent suburb of Detroit.
THEO KEITH, WISC-TV: Is there an issue or issues where you had your greatest success or shortcoming?
In the past, the only way to get professional credibility was with a college degree. Now young people are using many different tools to gain a foothold in the business world.
The times they are a changin', and in this essay, I'd like to suggest they are changing in a way that has massive implications for education: sources of credibility--once the domain of expensive degrees-are becoming democratized, decentralized, and diversified.
In the past, there was pretty much one way to gain credibility: get some letters after your name, from as fancy an institution as possible.
Now, in 2012, I've seen dozens of young people who don't even have college degrees use the following tools as sources of credibility in the business world:
In the first case of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union is charging that the state of Michigan and a Detroit area school district have failed to adequately educate children, violating their "right to learn to read" under an obscure state law.
The ACLU class-action lawsuit, to be filed Thursday, says hundreds of students in the Highland Park School District are functionally illiterate.
"None of those adults charged with the care of these children . . . have done their jobs," said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. "The Highland Park School District is among the lowest-performing districts in the nation, graduating class after class of children who are not literate. Our lawsuit . . . says that if education is to mean anything, it means that children have a right to learn to read."
The world of higher education is abuzz with the news that a for-profit university, Ashford University, whose Iowa campus holds accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, has been denied accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for its online headquarters. Denial of accreditation for schools that already have it is pretty unusual and gives us a rare glimpse into accreditation and a detailed example of what's wrong with the existing system.
An Evidence-Based Decision?
According to the Chronicle, "Ralph A. Wolff [president of WASC]... said the extensive process was meant to provide an evidence-based reason for the association's decision on Ashford."
That certainly sounds reassuring. And WASC is leading the way on transparency, publicly releasing documents relating to the decision (though the posted versions of the documents are non-searchable, a significant barrier to actually making use of the documents).
One might expect to see some evidence about how Ashford University students are learning less than comparable students at other WASC-accredited universities. If so you'd be disappointed. Turns out student learning is not an important consideration when it comes to accreditation. Here are the allegedly unmet standards cited in denying Ashford accreditation for its large online program:
Madison West High School's rocketry team finished second behind the French team in the International Rocketry Challenge in London on Friday.Congratulations!
The four-student team won the national Team America Rocketry Challenge competition in May to qualify for the international competition. It's the second time a West team has represented the United States in the five-year history of the event, which took place this year at the Farnborough International Air Show.
Gary Solomon, Chief Executive OfficerRay and Associates: [2.6MB PDF Presentation]
Gary Solomon was elevated to CEO of PROACT Search in 2009. Previously, Mr. Solomon had founded Synesi Associates and worked in Education for the past twenty years, starting as a high school teacher and administrator in the Chicago suburbs. Gary transitioned from the public to the private sector taking on a position as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The Princeton Review, and was responsible for rebuilding the sales organization into a senior consultative team focused on creating custom solutions in the areas of assessment, professional development and academic intervention. During his six years with The Princeton Review, where annual revenue goals were exceeded by and average 150%, Solomon was fortunate to do significant business in many of the top 50 urban districts in the country, and work with some of the best and brightest reformers in the K12 space. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Solomon holds a Masters in Education Arts from Northeastern University.
Thomas Vranas, President
Thomas brings an extensive background in educational management in the private sector, as well as numerous start-ups across various industries. He recently served as Vice President at one of the largest publicly traded test preparation companies where he was directly responsible for their sales teams as well as online learning division. Previously Thomas built an urban tutoring program in Chicago to service over 8,000 students with recognition for a quality program from the local and national government. Thomas has also started-up a Wireless Internet company, a Sales and Marketing company as well as a boutique Venture Capital firm. Thomas has been published by the Northwestern Press for his work in political economics and is and active volunteer at many organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Northwestern University and Steppenwolf Theatre. He's been a guest lecturer at Northwestern University, where he earned his B.A. in Economics and Slavic Languages.
Phil Hansen, Chief Operations Officer
Phil Hansen is a seasoned educator with an impeccable record rooted in Accountability. For fifteen years Phil taught history, before moving on to five years as assistant principal for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and then Director of Special Education in the southern suburbs of Chicago. In 1991 Phil took on the role of Principal at Clissold Elementary, a Chicago Public school. In 1995 he became the CPS Director of School Intervention, before moving on in 1997 to take on the position of Chief Accountability Officer, where he served until 2002. At this time Phil was offered a position working as an assistant to the Illinois State Superintendent where he was the liaison between CPS and the Illinois State Board of Education specifically focused on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) implementation throughout the state.
Upon his retirement Phil joined The Princeton Review and managed a turnaround project in Philadelphia, transitioning four middle schools to new small high schools. He also separately did consulting work for the School District of Philadelphia, the St Louis Schools Office of Accountability, and the Recovery School District of New Orleans. In the Recovery School District he served as the Interim Chief Academic Officer during the transition of leadership. Upon joining Synesi Associates, as Vice President of Policy and Development he has worked with the State Board of Louisiana and the East Baton Rouge Parish School District. His primary work has been in completing school and district quality reviews followed up by long term support as an external partner. Through Synesi he also continues to work in New Orleans, assisting with the High School Redesign efforts
As an active member of his community, Phil has also served as President and Secretary of the Beverly Area Planning Association, and has received rewards for service from both the local community as well as the greater city of Chicago. Most recently Phil was honored as an outstanding City of Chicago Employee and Outstanding Educator from the National Conference for Community and Justice.
Stephen Kupfer, Regional President
Steve Kupfer serves as Northeast Regional President for PROACT Search and is responsible for executing talent management and support strategies in K-12 education institutions and organizations. He was previously a Senior Consultant in the education practice at Public Consulting Group where he worked alongside district leadership to implement web-based special education and response to intervention (RtI) case management modules in some of the largest school districts in the country, including Miami Dade County Public Schools, The School District of Philadelphia, and the Louisiana Recovery School District.
Steve brings practical, district-level experience in organizational development to challenges in K-12 human capital management and support. In his most recent role, he leveraged local leadership to build operational and financial capacity through Medicaid reimbursement programs, mitigating budget shortfalls and sustaining critical student services. Steve has also developed and implemented comprehensive strategies to engage and communicate with key internal and external stakeholders across districts, and has front line experience with the urgency and complexity of the problems school leaders face today.
Steve is a proud product of the K-12 public school system. He went on to receive a B.A. in political economy from Skidmore College, where he played baseball and was a member of various chamber music groups. He continued on to receive an M.B.A. from Clark University.
Kristin Osborn, Director of Operations
Krissi Osborn runs all Operations and Recruitment for PROACT Search. In her role with the company, she has additionally established an award winning internship program exclusively with Northwestern University. Krissi is an active member in her Chicago community, volunteering as an ESL Tutor in Albany Park, as well as on the executive board for a community outreach group. Krissi graduated from Northwestern with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and History from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
Gary L. Ray, PresidentNotes, links, audio and video from the 2008 Madison Superintendent Search: Steve Gallon, James McIntyre and Dan Nerad.
Christine Kingery, Vice-President
William Newman, National Executive Director
Ryan Ray, Corporate Director
Heidi Cordes, Corporate Associate
HeidiAnn Long, Executive Search Assistant
Carrie Gray, Executive Search Assistant
Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.
You might think that the nation's teenagers are drowning in schoolwork. Images of sullen students buried in textbooks often grace the covers of popular parenting magazines, while well-heeled suburban teenagers often complain they have to work the hours of a corporate lawyer in order to finish their school projects and homework assignments. But when we recently examined a federal survey of students in elementary and high schools around the country, we found the opposite: Many students are not being challenged in school.
Consider, for instance, that 37 percent of fourth-graders say that their math work is too easy. More than a third of high-school seniors report that they hardly ever write about what they read in class. In a competitive global economy where the mastery of science is increasingly crucial, 72 percent of eighth-grade science students say they aren't being taught engineering and technology, according to our analysis of a federal database.
These findings come at a key time. Researchers increasingly believe that student surveys can provide important insights into a teacher's effectiveness. When the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released findings from their Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Project in 2011, they found that student feedback was a far better predictor of a teacher's performance than more traditional indicators of success such as whether a teacher had a master's degree or not. The mounting evidence on the importance of student surveys has also been shaping policy at the state and local level, and a variety of groups dedicated to the improvement of teaching--such as the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit that works to advance policies and practices to ensure effective teaching in every classroom--have been incorporating student surveys into their teacher evaluation and certification process.
"No loans" policies were the hit of 2007 and 2008, as many of the nation's most elite (and wealthy) colleges and universities announced that borrowing would be eliminated from the aid packages of students with family incomes below certain levels.
But this particular movement in higher education took off just before the economic downturn hit in the fall of 2008, sharply reducing these institutions' endowments and forcing many of them into budget-cutting mode. Now, a few years later, institutions are taking steps that reflect very different financial outlooks than those before the downturn. In May, Wesleyan University ended its policy of need-blind admissions, a policy seen by many as (when combined with meeting admitted applicants' full need) the gold standard of private college admissions. This policy is supposed to mean that applicants can rest assured of their ability to attend if admitted -- and that lack of resources shouldn't stand in the way.
You and I have been e-mailing about leadership traits, and at one point you suggested, "Good leaders know when to be boring, vague, emotionally detached, and authoritarian." Under what circumstances might such traits be desirable? Start with boring.
There are two situations in which it's a good idea to be boring. One is when you're working on something but, so far, all you've got is bad news. Under those circumstances, any outside attention is bad.
Don Petersen was the CEO of Ford after the Iacocca era, and he was responsible for turning the company around. He told me a story about being invited to speak at the National Press Club. He didn't want to do it. At the time, Ford had no good cars at all. But he and his PR chief decided he would go and give a speech about the most boring subject they could think of. At the time, that was safety. He practiced speaking in the most boring way possible, using the passive voice and long sentences. He put up charts that were hard to read, and then turned his back to the audience to talk about the charts. After that, the press lost interest in him for a while, so he could concentrate on doing the work.
At some point around the beginning of February 2012, David Coffey -- a co-worker of mine in the math department at Grand Valley State University and my faculty mentor during my first year -- mentioned something to me in our weekly mentoring meetings. We were talking about screencasting and the flipped classroom concept, and the conversation got around to Khan Academy. Being a screencaster and flipped classroom person myself, we'd talked about making screencasts more pedagogically sound many times in the past.
That particular day, Dave mentioned this idea about projecting a Khan Academy video onto the screen in a classroom and having three of us sit in front of it, offering snarky critiques -- but with a serious mathematical and pedagogical focus -- in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I told him to sign me up to help, but I got too busy to stay in the loop with it.
Shortly after the invention of the quantum computer chip, and the laying of fibre optic broadband to almost every house in the UK, it had been clear that the days of teaching as a profession were numbered.
Teaching had been relegated to a minority profession in a matter of years. It had been simply a question of scale. A teacher, working for 45 years, could teach maybe 1,500 children. Some lessons would be better than others, some children would get more attention and do better than others, they'd occasionally need time off and so on. Simply put, human teachers were inconsistent, and not always great.
So when the new educational bodies started recording the best lectures for every subject from around in the world, annotating them in 3D, and enhancing them with CG, what could the schools do to fight back?
There were 54 scholarship recipients in Wisconsin. Local recipients included: Alyssa A. Hantzsch, Baraboo, Baraboo High School; Katarina L. Klafka and Mikko S.R. Utevsky, Madison, East High School; Tristan H. Abbott, Shoshana L. Rudin and Joanna Q. Weng, Madison, West High School; Clare M. Everts and Katherine D. Stein, Madison, Edgewood High School; Winifred B. Hoerr, Madison, St. Ambrose Academy; Eva R. Fourakis and Andrew Gilchrist-Scott, Middleton, Middleton High School; Pratyusha Kalluri, Verona, Madison Memorial High School; and Max W. Molina, Whitewater, Whitewater High School.
The $376,200,000 2012-2013 Madison School District budget spends $15,132 for each of its 24,861 students. Madison's per student spending is about 45% higher than the Austin, TX school district.
A ways back I compared public support for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). Though not the perfect (and unattainable) "apples-to-apples" comparison, I came up with something reasonably logical. What follows is an updated comparison that includes independent charter schools in Milwaukee, as well as MPS and the MPCP.
First, MPS. According to the district's 2013 proposed budget the final adopted total district budget in 2012 (excluding carryover funds) was $1,188,160,523. Within that number:
- $17,952,177 goes to non-public schools.
- $20,868,734 (excluding carryover funds) goes to the extension fund. The extension fund is for public recreation and facilities that serve the broader community.
- $7,060,441 comes from private grants.
Subtracting the non-public schools allocation, the extension fund, and private grants from the MPS budget brings the relevant 2012 MPS budget number to $1,142,279,171. Dividing that number by the number of MPS pupils, 86,089, (MPS grand total excluding students leaving MPS via the chapter 220 program) puts the 2012 comparative per-pupil public support of MPS at $13,269.
Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, has an editorial in the Wall St. Journal this week assailing the "explosive growth" in America's public school work force. Since 1970, he charges, student enrollment has "flat-lined," yet the number of teachers and instructional aides has doubled, from 3.3 million to 6.4 million, with concurrent increases in costs.
Coulson writes, "America's public schools have warehoused three million people in jobs that do little to improve student achievement--people who would be working productively in the private sector if that extra $210 billion were not taxed out of the economy each year."
But there's a panacea readily available: create state voucher systems to send all our kids to private schools. (Also, elect Mitt Romney because President Obama's education agenda is an "expensive and tragic failure.")
While it's no doubt a challenge to squish a radical paradigm shift within the confines of the WSJ's 600-word limit, that's no excuse for specious logic or casual disregard for facts. Worse, this sort of inflammatory rhetoric gives education reform a bad name.
For example, let's look at Mr. Coulson's claim that American public schools hire too many teachers and aides (i.e., have too low a teacher/student ratio), and that private schools are cheaper and produce higher-achieving students.
He writes, "If we returned to the student-staff ratio of 1970, American tax payers would save about $210 billion in personnel costs."
There is no mystery about the size of the overall pie. The last budget under Governor Doyle appropriated $5,025,190,300 for elementary and secondary school aids for 2009-10 and $5,271,555,900 for 2010-11. Under Governor Walker's budget, this total was cut to $4,845,083,000 for 2011-12 and $4,913,986,100 for 2012-13. So Governor Walker slashed general state aid to schools by about $538 million over the biennium. This is hardly cause for celebration.
How next year's $4.9 billion in general state aid is split up among the state's 424 school districts is determined by the school funding formula. I describe how the formula works here. This year, to just about everyone's surprise, the formula has turned out to be Madison's friend.
Last year, application of the school funding formula resulted in MMSD qualifying for about $15 million in general state aid. This amount was increased to about $43 million by virtue of the hold-harmless provision of the law that capped each school district's reduction in state aid at 10% of the previous year's total.
How could it be that the same formula that calculated that MMSD was entitled to $15 million in state aid in 2011-12 would determine that the district was in line for $53 million for 2012-13?
It's widely presumed that the English language will become entrenched as the world's lingua franca and that minority languages will continue to die out. But you don't really buy into this theory and have argued that new technology might allow minority languages to thrive. I wonder if you could expand on this?
I try to look at things from a historical perspective rather than just what's happening in this decade or century. I look at the progress of languages over centuries and millennia - my book Empires of the Word starts in 3000 BC and ends in modern times. Each of us only lives two or three generations, so it's quite difficult for us to get that perspective without really striving for it. When it comes to languages, we tend to be familiar only with the one that we use on a daily basis. When we are also conscious that in the last century or two that language has spread out all over the world, it gives us a very foreshortened perspective. What I'm trying to do is to correct that.
My first real job was in advertising. I worked as a copywriter for an agency called Benton & Bowles in New York City. An artist or entrepreneur's first job inevitably bends the twig. It shapes who you'll become. If your freshman outing is in journalism, your brain gets tattooed (in a good way) with who-what-where-when-why, fact-check-everything, never-bury-the-lead. If you start out as a photographer's assistant, you learn other stuff. If you plunge into business on your own, the education is about self-discipline, self-motivation, self-validation.
Advertising teaches its own lessons. For starters, everyone hates advertising. Advertising lies. Advertising misleads. It's evil, phony, it's trying to sell us crap we don't need. I can't argue with any of that, except to observe that for a rookie wordsmith, such obstacles can be a supreme positive. Why? Because you have to sweat blood to overcome them-and in that grueling process, you learn your craft.
Here it is. Here's the #1 lesson you learn working in advertising (and this has stuck with me, to my advantage, my whole working life):
As Ivo Karlovic whacked a tennis ball at 135 miles per hour towards Andrew Murray on Wimbledon's Centre Court last week, I found myself staring at something behind his back that wasn't moving at all. Two kids of about 15 were standing in symmetrical formation, stock still. When a stray ball came their way, they scooped it up, threw it with speed and perfect accuracy into the player's hand and then returned to being statues once more.
As someone who has spent a decade trying and failing to get teenagers to pick up stray dirty socks from the floor and throw them in the general direction of the laundry basket, I found this performance even more remarkable than the one being given by the grown-up men with the tennis racquets.
We are thrilled to announce the release of Proloquo2Go 2.0! Version 2.0 introduces two new, research-based vocabularies: Basic Communication and Core Words. An analysis of commonly used sentences has shown that the Core Words vocabulary reduces the number of steps to build a sentence by more than 30%, when compared to previous versions of Proloquo2Go.
The completely redesigned editing interface of Proloquo2Go 2.0 offers many other new, cool features including:
Parents can play a key role in swelling the ranks of students pursuing careers in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) fields, according to a new UW study published in Psychological Science.
Increasing interest in STEM fields is crucial to developing a strong 21st century U.S. workforce, but interest in science and math begins to wane in high school when students choose not to take advanced courses in those subjects, according to the study.
While most efforts to change that have focused on things schools can do to increase student interest in STEM classes, researchers at UW demonstrated the influence parents can have.
Since lower and middle class consumers will earn less money they will have less credit -- and their demand won't be the main driver of the economy. The rich people however will be more able than ever to get loans from the banks which are looking for lending opportunities. They will pick up the slack from the poor and middle class because they have more savings in the banks.
We can already see this because the average savings is zero but we know the lower and middle class are highly in debt (at least until they default, in which case that money disappears from the system and the foreclosed properties drop in value). Basically there will be a growing disparity between the rich and the poor, unless we are able to reform the educational system and align it more with the jobs that will be needed in 4 years. And that's a tough thing to do.
Inequality is growing in the United States, and social mobility is slowing. A study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 62 percent of Americans raised in the top one-fifth of the income scale stay in the top two-fifths; 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.
Education, long praised as the great equalizer, no longer seems to be performing as advertised. A study by Stanford University shows that the gap in standardized-test scores between low-income and high-income students has widened about 40 percent since the 1960s--now double that between black and white students. A study from the University of Michigan found that the disparity in college-completion rates between rich and poor students has grown by about 50 percent since the 1980s.
What role has higher education played in society's stratification? Are colleges and universities contributing to economic inequality and the decline of social mobility?
The last day for Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad will be July 27. Nerad, who led the Madison Metropolitan School District for four years, will be replaced by newly appointed interim superintendent Jane Belmore. In March, Nerad submitted his resignation to the school board and was subsequently offered the job of schools superintendent in Birmingham, Michigan. He will start there in August.
Isthmus recently sat down with Nerad to discuss his tenure in Madison and his new post.
Isthmus: What were some of the factors that went into your decision to ask the school board to terminate your contract by August 1?
Nerad: We had been in a discussion for several months about my leaving the district, so that is not a brand new thing. But, I have an opportunity to continue this work in another school district in Michigan, and that's really what drove the more immediate consideration about leaving at this point in time.
The conversation turned to education. "The fundamental assumption is that we're all 'above average' and that everybody should go to college, but that's unfair to the kids who are not cut out for college," Morgan said. "A lot of kids go to college and drop out immediately. My high school class started with 600 and is going to end with 400-there should be other paths, like vocational education, for the ones not suited for college," she said and later admitted that she'd read my piece about Career and Technical Education in Arizona a few months ago. What a brilliant, discerning girl!Average.
Morgan was one of the three who were taking online courses. She was taking American History from the University of Miami. "It's more work than all my other AP courses combined," she said. "I wish I could take all my classes online." The other girls disagreed about that. Kelly Silnes had a great AP History teacher, "but when I have a bad teacher, it makes me feel dumber." Abigail Stone loved the social life of her school. Martha Scott* was taking college-level courses in government and economics. She said she had a weekly phone call with her online professors and participated in a chat room with her fellow online students. (This seemed to me a very promising educational development, a way to challenge top high school students and expand the curricula available in smaller high schools.)
I asked the girls about their less-extraordinary schoolmates. "I look at some of them," Morgan said, "And I think that five years from now, they'll be the sort of adults you see around town-their glory days were in high school. They won an athletic championship or were a cheerleader, or whatever. I can't understand that. I'm desperate to get out, see the world."
A CURIOUS WRINKLE in the strange case of Bo Xilai, the fallen Chinese politician, and Neil Heywood, his erstwhile British friend, is that Mr Heywood, who was allegedly murdered by Mr Bo's wife, is said to have helped their son, Bo Guagua, to get into Harrow, one of London's leading schools. This is not unusual. Woody Webster, of Bright Young Things, a consultancy that helps get children into London schools, cites "Chinese aristocrats" as a big growth area.
Quality is one reason rich foreigners want to send their children to school in London. According to the OECD, Britain's private schools are the best in the world, and London's schools are better than those elsewhere in Britain. Security is another reason for rich people from troubled countries, who are often more determined than the locals to get their children into the right establishments. "I've met children whose parents watch them on Skype while they're working," says Mr Webster.
Even if the dominant players in a staid, legacy industry see the writing on the wall -- that the Internet will eventually kill them -- it's not easy for them to do much about it.Substantial change is underway in education. Yet, most of the players continue to emphasize our Frederick Taylor, agrarian model.
Some publishers are merely waiting for Amazon to put them out of business. (See "We're in Amazon's sights and they're going to kill us.") Others have taken to suing startups which threaten their business model. (See: Publishers accuse textbook replacement service Boundless of copyright infringement.)
Macmillan Publishing has taken an entirely different route altogether. It's one that, until now, has remained relatively under the radar. The company hired Troy Williams, former CEO of early e-book company Questia Media, which sold to Cengage. Macmillan gave him a chunk of money and incredibly unusual mandate:
As of Independence Day, 2012, forty-five of the fifty United States have adopted the Common Core curriculum in their public elementary schools. Those states are now in the process of phasing out the teaching of cursive writing, which, apparently, does not accord with the mission statement of the curriculum's framers: to impart skills that are "robust and relevant" to the modern world.
I grew up in the nineteen-fifties, when the art of penmanship was taught to every schoolchild in America, and prized as a sign of cultivation. I loved ruling the blank pages of my copybook, then filling the spaces between the lines with shapely letters--"M" and "W" were my favorite capitals; "j" and "y" my favorite minuscules. If I had not learned to write cursive, I probably never would have learned to read it, and my archival work as a biographer--deciphering the handwritten letters of men and women born in the nineteenth century, or the early decades of the twentieth--would have been extremely arduous, if not impossible. A knowledge of cursive may not be "relevant" to the modern world, but it is essential to a visceral sense of the past, and an ability to examine the literature, correspondence, and history contained in original documents.
The idea of putting boys and girls in separate classrooms certainly is not new--private schools have been dividing the genders for eons. But lately, more and more public schools are opting for single-sex education. The ACLU is fighting against the trend, and already some programs have been dropped. But there are still plenty of educators advocating that separate-but-equal is better for everyone.
The AP has an interesting report on this growing conflict, which really ramped up in 2006 when the Department of Education relaxed restrictions on single-sex classrooms. In 2002, there were only about a dozen public schools that had separate classrooms, and now it's estimated that there are roughly 500 schools that have at least some same-sex classrooms. The interest in teaching the sexes separately grew largely out of research that showed that boys, especially minority boys, didn't do as well on tests as girls and graduated at lower rates. But the idea is that same-sex ed is supposed to benefit both boys and girls equally.
The idea of putting boys and girls in separate classrooms certainly is not new--private schools have been dividing the genders for eons. But lately, more and more public schools are opting for single-sex education. The ACLU is fighting against the trend, and already some programs have been dropped. But there are still plenty of educators advocating that separate-but-equal is better for everyone.
The AP has an interesting report on this growing conflict, which really ramped up in 2006 when the Department of Education relaxed restrictions on single-sex classrooms. In 2002, there were only about a dozen public schools that had separate classrooms, and now it's estimated that there are roughly 500 schools that have at least some same-sex classrooms. The interest in teaching the sexes separately grew largely out of research that showed that boys, especially minority boys, didn't do as well on tests as girls and graduated at lower rates. But the idea is that same-sex ed is supposed to benefit both boys and girls equally.
Many students in American classrooms don't feel challenged enough. That's according to new analysis of federal data (pdf) conducted by the Washington think tank American Progress.
The organization, which promotes "progressive ideas and action," came to that conclusion when it analyzed surveys given to students by the Department of Education for its National Assessment of Educational Progress.
In its press release, American progress says its analysis found that the popular images of students overburdened with work and keeping "the hours of a corporate lawyer in order to finish their school projects and homework assignments" are quite simply off base.
"Many students are not being challenged in school," the organization says. USA Today dug through the report and finds:
-- "37% of fourth-graders say their math work is 'often' or 'always' too easy;
-- "57% of eighth-graders say their history work is 'often' or 'always' too easy;
-- "39% of 12th-graders say they rarely write about what they read in class."
USA Today spoke Florida State University English education professor Shelbie Witte who said students are likely bored by an education system that puts too much emphasis on standardized testing and "when they're bored, they think the classes are easy."
Another interesting find from the report is that lower-income students reported that they comprehended their teachers less than their more affluent classmates.
American Progress points out that student surveys have been shown to be accurate predictors of a teacher's performance. It's the reason they decided to look at this set of data.
Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5%--and academic results have stagnated.
Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled--to 6.4 million from 3.3 million--and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers' aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs.
Or would they? Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has shown that better-educated students contribute substantially to economic growth. If U.S. students could catch up to the mathematics performance of their Canadian counterparts, he has found, it would add roughly $70 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 80 years. So if the additional three million public-school employees we've hired have helped students learn, the nation may be better off economically.
To find out if that's true, we can look at the "long-term trends" of 17-year-olds on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress. These tests, first administered four decades ago, show stagnation in reading and math and a decline in science. Scores for black and Hispanic students have improved somewhat, but the scores of white students (still the majority) are flat overall, and large demographic gaps persist. Graduation rates have also stagnated or fallen. So a doubling in staff size and more than a doubling in cost have done little to improve academic outcomes.
he Republican governor of Ohio, the Democratic mayor of Cleveland and the local teachers union have united to overhaul how teachers are hired, fired and paid, a rare example of cooperation in education that some critics warn could still face challenges in the implementation.
The overhaul, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich this month, will allow the district to link teachers' pay, in part, to student test scores, and to lay off teachers based on performance instead of seniority. It will also let the district fire teachers after two years of poor performance, based in part on test scores.
The district will become the only one in Ohio to share local tax dollars with charter schools--public schools run by outside entities that are now funded by state and federal money--and will have more say in who gets to operate those schools.
Lisa Samson is not yet up in the literary firmament with the likes of J.K. Rowling. But the Kentuckybased children's author, who writes as L.L. Samson, is in the midst of writing a wonderfully arch yet educational series, The Enchanted Attic. It's based on what might happen if some of literature's greatest characters wandered into modern times.
In the process, she is sending a message to young readers and their parents that the classics get that designation for a reason. When you pause to consider the characters and themes at their most basic, you learn quite a lot.
In the latest book in series, Saving Moby Dick, Ahab trades his whalebone leg for a comfortable prosthetic and garners a few lessons in internet etiquette. Young readers learn new words, the definitions of which are delivered gently and with humour.
In a previous blog post, I made the claim that much of the math curriculum is ordered based on historical precedent rather than conceptual dependencies. Some parts of the math curriculum we have in place is based on the order of discovery (not always, but mostly) and while other parts are taught out of pure habit: This is how I was taught, so this is how I'm going to teach. I don't think this needs to be the case. In fact, I think that this is actually a detriment to students. If we want to produce a generation of mathematicians and scientists who are going to solve the difficult problems of today, then we need to address some of the recent advances in those fields to prepare them. Students should not have to "wait until college" to hear about "Topology" or "Quantum Mechanics". We need to start developing the vocabulary for these subjects much earlier in the curriculum so that students are not intimidated by them in later years.
A 16-year-old, determined to succeed on her own merits, who finally bends under the pressure. Students with legitimate prescriptions who are hounded for their pills. Young men and women whose use of stimulants spirals out of control.
After inviting students to submit personal stories of the abuse of prescription drugs for academic advantage, The Times received almost 200 submissions. While a majority focused on the prevalence of these drugs on college campuses, many wrote about their increasing appearance in high schools, the focus of our article on Sunday. We have highlighted about 30 of the submissions below, almost all written by current high school students or recent graduates.
In often vivid detail -- snorting their own pills, stealing pills from friends -- the students described an issue that they found upsetting, valuable, dangerous and, above all else, real. Most of them claimed that it was a problem rooted not in drugs per se, but with the pressure that compelled some youngsters to use them.
Because my editor here at guardian.co.uk/books is unaccountably unwilling to allow italics in my submissions, I suspect you will be unable to understand the following: "You can't teach creative writing."
The reason for the sentence's ambiguity is that, unitalicised and out of context, it is unclear how the stresses work. It might mean any of the following:
You can't teach creative writing, but I can.
(As if said to oneself): I can't teach creative writing.
You can teach other sorts of writing, but not creative writing.
You can teach other sorts of creative stuff, but not writing.
I could go on ...
Playing a lively tune on the keyboard, Chu Sui-ming tells a group of youngsters to follow her instructions. She asks them to imagine that they are rain. They can run in whatever direction they like, but they must follow the pace of the melody.
This will change from fast to slow or from loud to soft to indicate heavy rain or drizzle. The barefooted children dash about in a squash court in the Mui Wo Municipal Services Building, running faster as the music speeds up and stomping when Chu strikes harder on the keys.
Then she cries, "Freeze!" The music stops and the children strike a pose to mimic an icicle in whatever shape they picture it. When the music starts again, it's to depict the sun that comes out and melts the icicles. So the children slowly fold their bodies, descending to the floor as human puddles.
Patricia Hoben, a former Washington, D.C., science adviser, experimented with a different kind of school model when she founded Carmen High School of Science and Technology on Milwaukee's densely Latino south side.
The school has heightened grading policies, gives quarterly assessments on ACT standards, mandates college application boot camp over the summer, holds a January term to salvage credits or enrich high achievers, and requires four years of math, laboratory science, history and English.
Her five-year test yielded one of the best public schools in the city that don't require an entrance exam.
Like any good scientist, Hoben is hoping to replicate her results in a new school, this time on the mostly African-American northwest side.
Leaders of the south side's successful Carmen High School submitted a proposal to the Milwaukee School Board last month to open a new grades six to 12 charter school on the northwest side in fall 2013. The proposal for Carmen Northwest Secondary School, as it will temporarily be referred to, earned a rare perfect rating from the charter review panel, which called the proposal "exemplary" for its longer school year and mandatory summer school programs - features that mimic the south-side campus.
What can we expect from our school boards in this new era without collective bargaining? Can our elected school officials, unconstrained by union contracts, spend time creating the conditions for our professional teaching staff to succeed in reaching high levels of learning districtwide? Or will they continue to let operational issues - buses, buildings, personnel, etc. - dominate board agendas?
New Berlin provides an example for how school leaders plan to use their new power to create changes in their district. Is it necessary to lose almost one-third of your teachers in the process? Maybe in a failing school district where total transformation is needed, but New Berlin's students perform well on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exams with around 90% scoring proficient or advanced in both reading and math.
Since some New Berlin students score at lower levels, improvements are still needed, but the district's teachers deserve respect. New Berlin is one of the higher ranking school districts in the state.
In a recent Journal Sentinel article, some New Berlin teachers were quoted as saying they were leaving because they did not feel respected. School boards need not let that happen in their system. There is a better way.
A man named Gerald Chertavian came by my office not long ago, and, by the time he left, I was filled with renewed appreciation for the potential of community colleges to help stem the decline of the middle class. There are few more urgent tasks.
Chertavian is not the president of a community college or even a teacher at one. Rather, he runs a program, Year Up, which he founded, that makes it possible for poor high school graduates to land good jobs. It does so, in part, by imparting important soft skills that the upper-middle-class take for granted, like how to interact with colleagues in an office setting.
U.S. business schools are trying to master a new corner of the market: specialized master's degrees.
The courses in topics such as management, accounting and analytics, generally lasting one year and aimed mainly at college graduates with little or no work experience, have a decadeslong history at many European and other international schools.
But the programs have gained particular traction in the U.S. recently, more than doubling student enrollment to 52,014 in the 2010-2011 academic year, compared with the 2006-2007 year, according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. (Demand is still higher outside the U.S., where member schools enrolled 84,134 in the 2010-2011 year.)
The benefit for schools is obvious--more tuition revenue and a critical mass of students to entice recruiters when interest in traditional M.B.A. programs is declining. But the long-term value for students remains unclear, as graduates' salaries and job titles often look very similar to those assigned to new hires coming straight from undergraduate schools.
AT the Macmillan Dictionary Blog, Stan Carey has a nice post on commas. For the life of me I've never understood why some people think that their personal comma preference is linguistic law. There are those who think the "Oxford comma" is the last barricade protecting civilisation from the barbarians, and those who are equally convinced of the opposite. I, for one, have always been with Vampire Weekend on the subject, though I omit the Oxford comma as per The Economist's style (a work habit that has become a personal one).
Marty Peretz, a former editor and owner of the New Republic, insists that commas must always come in pairs. He once made his staff count the commas in an entire issue of the magazine, telling them that the number had better come out even. (The incident, which is not fiction, was made famous in the film "Shattered Glass".) Where Mr Peretz got this ridiculous view is beyond me, I confess. (Need I point out the fully grammatical, single comma in that last sentence?)
College students aren't just concerned with getting good grades and finding the best parties. More than ever, they're using their smartphones to navigate life on campus.
On the bus, waiting in line, in bed, on the treadmill and even while driving, college students can't seem to put their phones down. Fifty-two percent say they often check their phones before getting out of bed in the morning, according to one study. Nearly half do so while in bed at night before they fall asleep.
Thirty-five percent say they sometimes use their phones while driving but stopped at a red light, and nearly 20% say they sometimes use them while the wheels are even moving. But it's not all addiction and danger. Forty-five percent of college students say smartphones frequently help with school assignments, and 46% say they're often helpful for work-related tasks.
When Arlington teacher R.J. Williams speaks during her online multimedia classes, high school students all over Texas log on to listen.
Williams is among a growing number of educators who are teaching in the Texas Virtual School Network, a clearinghouse established by the Legislature in 2007. The network offers a statewide catalog of supplemental online courses to students in charter and public schools.
"This year is the only time I've had two students from Arlington," Williams said of her summer online schedule. "They're usually from Austin and all over the place. I've had a few from rural areas."
Mississippi recently became the first state in the nation to adopt a public and private school choice program in which state and federal monies are provided directly to schools which parents choose. Aimed at students with dyslexia, it's also the second special needs school choice program in the country designed for children with a single type of disability. (Ohio's Autism Scholarship Program enacted in 2003 was the first.)
What makes this new program interesting is that it may be a starting point for other state legislatures where special needs voucher bills have failed due to concerns about parent accountability - Wisconsin comes to mind - or where special needs voucher laws have come under increased scrutiny due to reports of private school abuse of public money - Florida comes to mind.
Mississippi's program morphed from a dyslexia screening and treatment bill (supported by a governor who struggled with the learning disorder) into a school choice measure during the proverbial sausage-making legislative process. It's not as carefully or as broadly designed as it could have been. It also appears there's currently only one school in the state which is specialized enough to meet the exceedingly specific criteria to participate. But nonetheless, it succeeds in incentivizing the growth of more highly-accountable school options for parents.
Two founders of a restaurant chain have been asked to carry out a review of school food in England.
Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent run the London-based Leon chain, which markets itself as offering healthy fast food.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has invited them to look at nutrition in schools and see how it can be improved.
But TV chef Jamie Oliver, who has long campaigned for better school meals, hit out at the announcement, saying it was "not the time for more costly reports".
Our public education system may be beyond reform. Every attempt at reform either ends up accentuating the very features we were trying to change or making life worse for teachers and students. Take, for example, the new liberal studies curriculum, a signature programme of the government's dismal, decade-old education reform.
A new study by University of Hong Kong academics has found that liberal studies, introduced in September and compulsory for all pupils in forms four to six, has achieved the opposite of the government's original intention.
Most teachers, the study found, admitted they just spoon-fed students with liberal studies materials taken directly from textbooks, a practice they were explicitly told to avoid. Predictably, many of the 70,000 students who sat the first liberal studies exam in May simply repeated answers they had learned from textbooks. Nearly 90 per cent of 300 teachers said their main source of teaching materials came from textbooks. Only a small number of teachers believed pupils should be encouraged to explore new ideas through critical thinking. And while more than 200 teachers said bringing different perspectives to students was vital in liberal studies, only 50 of them said they would do so.
When I was a college freshman in the late 1990s, antidepressants were everywhere. Prozac was appearing on magazine covers, and I'd just seen my first commercial for Paxil on TV. Halfway through the semester, I was laid out by a prolonged anxiety attack and found myself in the school's campus health center, tearfully telling a newly minted psychiatry resident about my feelings of panic and despair. Given the spirit of the times, it wasn't a complete surprise when she sent me away a few minutes later with a prescription and a generous supply of small cardboard boxes full of beautiful blue pills, free samples dropped off on campus by a company rep.
Photo Illustration by Stephen Webster
When young people who grew up on antidepressants become adults, should they stay on their medications or try to stop?
The school psychiatrist didn't suggest talk therapy. She simply asked that I return for a "med check" every few weeks to make sure that the pills were working.
It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins's "Hunger Games" trilogy on the Kobo e-reader--about 57 pages an hour. Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: "Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them." And on Barnes & Noble's Nook, the first thing that most readers do upon finishing the first "Hunger Games" book is to download the next one.
In the past, publishers and authors had no way of knowing what happens when a reader sits down with a book. Does the reader quit after three pages, or finish it in a single sitting? Do most readers skip over the introduction, or read it closely, underlining passages and scrawling notes in the margins? Now, e-books are providing a glimpse into the story behind the sales figures, revealing not only how many people buy particular books, but how intensely they read them.
Miss Chan, who has a daughter, did not want to leave anything to chance when she decided to have another child a year ago. For a foolproof way to conceive a boy, she turned to a local consultancy which arranges for couples to undergo gender-specific artificial insemination in Thailand and US. After spending HK$180,000 and 10 days in Bangkok, the 26-year-old's wish came true six months ago.
"I had a test after returning from Thailand, and it confirmed that I'm carrying a boy. All the money and procedures are worth it as my mother-in-law wants a grandson very much,"she says.
Chan's treatment consisted of in-vitro fertilisation and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) - also known as embryo screening - which tests embryos for genetic diseases and gender.
Gender selection is illegal in Hong Kong, so couples must travel to have the treatment in the US, Thailand, South Africa and the Middle East, the handful of countries where the process is legal.
New technology can be inspiring, exciting or sometimes infuriating - but I can't ever remember it being really moving. Until, that is, I met Ruby Dunn, whose life is being changed by a piece of software.
Ruby, who was born 14 weeks premature in 2006, has autism and has never spoken. She does, however, attend her local school - Sandford Primary in Somerset - and is well integrated into every aspect of school life. But it is an app which she uses on an iPod and an iPad which is making a big difference.
Ruby uses the app, Proloquo2Go, to communicate with her teachers, her family and other children. She taps on symbols, constructs a sentence and out it comes, spoken in a child's voice. So in the playground, she taps "head, shoulders" to choose a game. At lunchtime she chooses "lasagne" and "carrots" adds "please" and "Tina" and hands it to the dinner lady. And in the classroom she reads a story and then taps out answers to questions about it via the iPad version of the app.
Sarah Hui Xin Wong, who attended an elite private girls' school in Sydney, said she had a wrist problem, suffered discrimination and her mark should have been 100. Her result, a university entrance score, meant she beat 99.95 per cent of other students - but she believed she would have received the top mark if treated fairly.
Miss Wong was ridiculed for the appeal, as was her mother, who was inevitably labelled a "Tiger Mom" after it emerged she had lodged the initial complaint to the board of studies.
"What's the 0.05 mark going to do?" said a comment on the news.com.au." The mother needs to back down."
Another said: "It's probably a publicity stunt by her parents to get others to acknowledge her talent."
Cowichan Valley School Board's nine trustees have been fired by British Columbia's education minister after failing to submit a balanced budget for the upcoming school year.
The School Act requires boards to pass balanced budgets, but in May School District 79 approved a budget with a $3.7-million shortfall, saying it had a duty to provide a quality education.
Board members were given until June 30 to comply but failed to do so and on Sunday, Minister of Education George Abbott followed through on his threat to relieve them of their posts.
Former Chair Eden Haythornthwaite said they were simply trying to protect students.
In the past three years, at least 30 states have begun to use student achievement to evaluate teachers, spurred in part by President Barack Obama's Race to the Top education initiative as well as by some Republican governors. California isn't one of them.
That could change after a ruling by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. At a hearing Tuesday, Judge James Chalfant said the Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the nation's largest, violated California's Stull Act, a 41-year-old law that requires teacher evaluations to take into consideration the performance of students.
The current evaluation system in Los Angeles focuses on teaching methods, such as how a teacher demonstrates knowledge or guides instruction, according to the district.
In his ruling, Judge Chalfant contrasted the high rate of positive teacher evaluations in the district--97.6 in the 2009-10 school year--with low student proficiency in English and math.
"My name is Erik Demaine. You should call me Erik. Welcome back to 6.046. This is Lecture 2. And today we are going to essentially fill in some of the more mathematical underpinnings of Lecture 1. So, Lecture 1, we just sort of barely got our feet wet with some analysis of algorithms, insertion sort and mergesort. And we needed a couple of tools. We had this big idea of asymptotics and forgetting about constants, just looking at the lead term. And so, today, we're going to develop asymptotic notation so that we know that mathematically. And we also ended up with a recurrence with mergesort, the running time of mergesort, so we need to see how to solve recurrences. And we will do those two things today. Question? Yes, I will speak louder. Thanks. Good..."
"As long as he keeps the bad people rich and the good people scared, no one'll touch him. ... What chance does Gotham have when good people do nothing?"
- The Rachel Dawes character in "Batman Begins"
How much does it cost to educate a child? Has anyone in education EVER answered this question? I've asked around, and nobody provides a number, but they're all certain they need more money.
Districts keep saying K-12 education has suffered massive cuts. This stunning deceit is winning hearts and minds - largely because media lapdogs refuse to investigate. Repeat after me: There is no money shortage in K-12 public education. There are very few bottom-line cuts. Money has been shifted - away from classrooms and toward adults. Various groups complain about each other, but they're all to blame.
One morning in early fall Andrei Mongush and his parents began preparations for supper, selecting a black-faced, fat-tailed sheep from their flock and rolling it onto its back on a tarp outside their livestock paddock. The Mongush family's home is on the Siberian taiga, at the edge of the endless steppes, just over the horizon from Kyzyl, the capital of the Republic of Tuva, in the Russian Federation. They live near the geographic center of Asia, but linguistically and personally, the family inhabits a borderland, the frontier between progress and tradition. Tuvans are historically nomadic herders, moving their aal--an encampment of yurts--and their sheep and cows and reindeer from pasture to pasture as the seasons progress. The elder Mongushes, who have returned to their rural aal after working in the city, speak both Tuvan and Russian. Andrei and his wife also speak English, which they are teaching themselves with pieces of paper labeled in English pasted onto seemingly every object in their modern kitchen in Kyzyl. They work as musicians in the Tuvan National Orchestra, an ensemble that uses traditional Tuvan instruments and melodies in symphonic arrangements. Andrei is a master of the most characteristic Tuvan music form: throat singing, or khöömei.
State aid, curriculum, technology, school boards. All are important factors in K-12 education; none educate a single child.
That task is of course in the hands of teachers. It follows that teachers are the most important employees in schools, and arguably the most important employees in the public sector. After all, hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites send their kids to spend the bulk of their childhoods learning from these employees. It only makes sense for the public to treat teachers with respect. But, as Alan Borsuk argues convincingly in the Journal Sentinel Sunday, this is not always the case.
I have written numerous times about the increasing financial burdens placed on teachers in the Milwaukee Public Schools and across the state. In general, districts offset some or all of last year's 5.5% per-pupil reduction in revenue limits by increasing employee contributions to health and pension benefits. This means that teachers across the state received a cut to their take-home pay totally unrelated to their performance. It is easy to see why teachers felt they were being disrespected.
The Golden Goose Award makes use of a formal fallacy, a pattern of reasoning that is illogical and wrong, called "asserting the consequent." It takes the form of: "If A, then B. B, therefore, A." An example would be: "If Warren Buffett owned the British Crown Jewels, he would be rich. Buffett is rich; therefore, he owns the Crown Jewels." The rationale for the award seems to be, "Some criticism of federally-funded research projects has been uninformed and ill-advised. People continue to criticize federally funded projects; therefore, their views are uninformed and ill-advised."
It's astonishing that some of the projects awarded passed any kind of peer-review for merit. The first two awards went to the National Science Foundation. The first NSF grant, for $84,000, was intended to discover why people fall in love. The second, for $500,000 (part of which was from two other federal agencies), was to determine which stimuli cause rats, monkeys, and humans to bite and clench their jaws.
There's plenty that divides the parties in this pivotal election -- from taxes to drones, from public workers to private equity. But there's one uber-policy that brings Democrats and Republicans together that doesn't get the attention it deserves.
That policy involves you, younger Americans. You're in big trouble. You don't even know it. You're busy trying to get a degree, land a job, start a family, save for a home. You don't follow the news. But trust me -- you've been taken for a ride by your elders.
The question isn't whether such talk will stir up generational war. That's already being waged -- and you're losing. The question is whether you'll wake up and engage in a little generational self-defense. Let me see if I can motivate you.
How are you being swindled today? Let me count just some of the ways:
As many as 100 million Americans live in households today that are earning less than their parents did at a similar age. And this is happening well before we feel the full impact of global economic integration with rising economies like India and China.
In 2004, Carolina Izquierdo, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, spent several months with the Matsigenka, a tribe of about twelve thousand people who live in the Peruvian Amazon. The Matsigenka hunt for monkeys and parrots, grow yucca and bananas, and build houses that they roof with the leaves of a particular kind of palm tree, known as a kapashi. At one point, Izquierdo decided to accompany a local family on a leaf-gathering expedition down the Urubamba River.
A member of another family, Yanira, asked if she could come along. Izquierdo and the others spent five days on the river. Although Yanira had no clear role in the group, she quickly found ways to make herself useful. Twice a day, she swept the sand off the sleeping mats, and she helped stack the kapashi leaves for transport back to the village. In the evening, she fished for crustaceans, which she cleaned, boiled, and served to the others. Calm and self-possessed, Yanira "asked for nothing," Izquierdo later recalled. The girl's behavior made a strong impression on the anthropologist because at the time of the trip Yanira was just six years old.
My son is in Primary Five and doesn't seem to take any interest in world affairs. I try to encourage him to read the newspaper and watch the news on television with me, but he'd rather play video games or watch television. Any ideas?
Computers and other electronic entertainment media have a very strong pull on children and can easily distract them from other interests. Research tells us that the pros and cons of spending a lot of time with them are complex and vary by the individual. In the short term, at least, you could limit your son's time in front of a screen so that he has the opportunity to take an interest in other things.
Researchers have known that babies born premature are at risk for slowed brain development, but a new study suggests that even among those considered "normal term" - between 37 and 41 weeks - a couple of extra weeks in the womb might make a difference.
Kids born on the shorter end of that range scored lower on math and reading tests as eight-year-olds than those born later - but the differences were small and "shouldn't be alarming," one researcher who wasn't part of the study team said.
"Certainly the vast majority of 37-weekers and 41-weekers would end up developing typically," said Dr. Kimberly Noble, the lead author on the new study from Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
Still, she said, until more research is done, "We would urge caution to both parents and physicians when considering early elective delivery."
Lawmakers and education advocates came to a remarkable compromise in forging an overhaul of tenure laws to make it easier for public schools to oust ineffective educators. But building a consensus meant dropping a change that most other states have already made: Making teachers' effectiveness a factor in determining which lose their jobs in case of layoffs.
GOP Gov. Chris Christie, who opposes using seniority to determine layoffs, is still deciding whether he's willing to accept the compromise.
If he vetoes the bill, he'll undo a deal among a unanimous Legislature and groups who don't often agree on the details of improving schools.
If he signs it, he'll have to sacrifice -- for now, at least -- something that's been a core principle in his beliefs about school reform and leave New Jersey as one of only 11 states with a last-in, first-out policy for educators in the face of layoffs.
WHEN retailers want to entice customers to buy a particular product, they typically offer it at a discount. According to a new study to be published in the Journal of Marketing, they are missing a trick.Related: Math Forum.
A team of researchers, led by Akshay Rao of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, looked at consumers' attitudes to discounting. Shoppers, they found, much prefer getting something extra free to getting something cheaper. The main reason is that most people are useless at fractions.
Consumers often struggle to realise, for example, that a 50% increase in quantity is the same as a 33% discount in price. They overwhelmingly assume the former is better value. In an experiment, the researchers sold 73% more hand lotion when it was offered in a bonus pack than when it carried an equivalent discount (even after all other effects, such as a desire to stockpile, were controlled for).
New York city's controversial ban on cellphones in schools has persuaded some kids to leave their devices at home -- a stranger's home! The New York Post reports.Dozens of students at the former Bushwick HS campus have been paying $1 per day to store their phones at an alumnus' apartment -- just down the street from the Brooklyn campus.
Academy of Urban Planning graduate Giovanni Monserrate -- known affectionately as either "Gio" or "The Mayor" -- has padded his income as a Broadway usher by serving as a cellphone-storage site for between 30 and 100 teens daily over the last seven years.
My first school was not just a small school but a very small school indeed. I think there were usually around 27 pupils, taught by two remarkable women: a charismatic, creative dynamo called Miss Allen and quiet, wise Miss Bagehot, who apart from keeping us reasonably calm (and providing voluminous bloomers for little girls who had accidents), I guess performed the same role for her gifted, volcanic colleague and friend.
I was always a little bit afraid of Miss Allen because of this explosive tendency but the brightness with which the school shone, the sense of possibilities it gave us, came from her. I went to Little House school aged five, much older than most children arriving at their first schools today, and with considerable reluctance. I had no great wish to go to school at all; I was very happy at home, with the big garden to explore, the vegetable patch where Mr Appleby in his seventies still hoed and dug potatoes and carrots for me to take down to the kitchen, with its wonderful smells of baking and roasting, the marmalade cat Diddles and then the black cat Dusk to play with - not to mention my mother and father and sister.
``It is idiotic to have an internal war when we are threatened with extinction from the outside,`` said Shanker. ``We have to work together to improve public schools or the American taxpayers, in their wisdom, will simply go elsewhere.``
Shanker said public educators must do a better job of heeding the warning signs than automakers did.
``American car manufacturers went to Japan 10 years ago and saw what was happening, but they came back and did nothing,`` said Shanker. ``They said that labor and management would have to make too many sacrifices to compete with the Japanese-style factories and predicted that no one would buy those little cars the funny names anyway.``
``We can`t make the same mistake,`` Shanker said. ``Labor and management have to make significant changes, significant sacrifices to keep public education alive. Tinkering will no longer help.``
Shanker, head of the nation`s second largest teachers union for 10 years and its chapter in New York City for 20 years, has reversed several traditional labor stands since a number of national reports criticizing education spawned an education reform movement.
ExxonMobil supports the efforts of local educators in 45 states who, along with community and business leaders, have come together to develop voluntary, rigorous Common Core State Standards in math and English. For the US to remain competitive globally, we must ensure all children, no matter where they live, are provided the best education possible and are prepared to go to work or college when they finish high school.Exxon Mobil is running Olympic event television advertisements promoting the "Common Core". Steve Coll's latest book is worth reading: ExxonMobil: A 'Private Empire' On The World Stage.
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy. The Common Core State Standards are anchored by requirements for college and career success, providing a more accurate and rigorous description of academic readiness.
It's easy to forget that our crowded state of New Jersey, clogged with suburban sprawl and crisscrossed with busy highways, was once largely rural. Tales of farmers' children ambling across fields and dirt roads to one-room schoolhouses often seem like bucolic fables when compared with our current era of internet scandals, bullying problems and school budget strife.
But Larry Kidder's recently published book, "The Pleasant Valley School Story," not only assures us such schools existed in New Jersey, he describes in affectionate and accurate detail the lives of the Hopewell Township school's students and teachers, as well as the story of the surrounding agricultural community in the 19th and 20th centuries.
It is a truly American story of concerned citizens and hardworking farmers, committed teachers and local pride, with the little school at Pleasant Valley as its centerpiece. Kidder tells the tale with ease; though packed with careful research, photos and statistics, this local history is immensely and almost compellingly readable.
The story is universal, the gradual evolution of a small school through the years, from slate and chalk to mass-produced textbooks; and a school's vital role in uniting a sometimes far-flung community.
"I'm not going to tell you that she's going to come up there and everybody's going to like her," he said "But I've never seen her make a spiteful decision about a teacher or an educator."
A group of local officials, teachers and parents have objected to Lyles' appointment, arguing that they see acting state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf's influence in the selection. Both Cerf and Lyles are graduates of the controversial Broad Superintendents Academy.
Young said he is "no friend of corporate educational reform," calling the academy's founder, billionaire Eli Broad, "meddlesome." But he added that Lyles only cares for reforms that improve education for children in her district.
"If she didn't like something Christopher Cerf tried to do, I think she would tell him and I think she would resist him," he said.
With the long summer holidays upon us, many parents will be hoping to keep themselves sane and their children entertained by signing them up for summer classes. But with a plethora of programmes to choose from, selecting one that will entertain and educate your child can be a daunting task.
"One of the most important considerations when selecting a summer programme for your child is their interest," advises Dr Caleb Knight, an educational and child psychologist at the Child and Family Centre in Central. "It is not productive to push a child into a programme of activity in which they show little motivation."
In response to my last blog, two commenters asked whether the intent was serious. The answer is yes. Why wouldn't it be? Jumping off their comment as a foil (because I admittedly do not know their reply), allow me to delve a little deeper into an analysis.
Are many people still in the throes of anti-Microsoft views, now long in the tooth of Internet time? Are many still swimming in the miasma of Google glory? Or do they know something about the negotiations that higher education has had with both of these companies over the last many years that I don't know?
Everyone knows that Google, for obvious business reasons and playing on its company's consumer sex appeal, took well advantage of "free" to garner the major market share of outsourced mail services in higher education. What many do not know is how painfully difficult negotiating with Google can be for those services. Just getting some one on the phone is an achievement, but don't expect a lawyer. Google is an engineering company, apparently with a powerful preference for project management where the law used to tread. A glorious revolution, you might say, but think about it from the perspective of the bargainer: for better or worse, at least a contract spells out actionable terms. We are a contracting separate party, not a distant cousin of the company to be project managed.
Eight-year-old Daniel Katari isn't just playing computers games this summer--he's making them too.
Daniel, who will enter third grade in the fall, built five computer games within a week last month. He did this at iD Tech Camp, which specializes in teaching kids ages 7 to 18 everything from 3D modeling and animation to Web design and programming in C++. Daniel spent a week at the camp at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga.
"The best part is playing the games and seeing how they're all put together," says Daniel, who named one of his new creations Brick Braker II. Next summer, he says, he would like to enroll in a session for game design for the iPhone and iPad, which his 12-year-old brother, Michael, just completed.
By the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War, Northerners had discovered how ill-prepared they were for a crisis. The peacetime Army had been tiny. Volunteers rallied to defend the Union, but what they brought in enthusiasm they lacked in experience. Many were too young to have fought in the Mexican War and, since most military academies were located in the South, few Northern youths had formal training in combat. To win the war, the Army had to create citizen-soldiers from scratch.
On July 2, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill designed to change that: the Morrill Land-Grant College Act, which offered federal financing to colleges that taught military tactics. When the next war began, its supporters believed, alumni of those colleges would be ready for battle. The law also required funded colleges to teach agriculture and engineering, thus preparing young men to serve their nation in both war and peace.
Since the United States' founding, education had remained a local and state concern. Now, in the midst of the Civil War, the federal government began to play a major educational role. Indeed, while its requirements were responses to the country's security and economic needs, the act proved to be one of the most transformative pieces of legislation in American history, seeding the ground for scores of high-quality public colleges and universities around the country.
The Sunshine Portal is the official transparency and accountability portal for New Mexico state government. This is your window into government spending, budgets, revenues, employees, contracts and more. Come back often to see new reports, enhanced features, and fresh data!Albuquerque plans to spend about $1,200,000,000 for approximately 90,000 students during their 2013 budget cycle [PDF], or $13,333/student. Madison plans to spend about 13% more or $15,132 per student during the 2012-2013 budget.
The sunshine portal is a great idea, that should be available in every state.
The Education Ministry has issued a public tender for outside organizations to hire teachers who would give many pupils an extended school day. The issue of outsourcing the hiring of teachers has been a source of controversy as many contract teachers do not get the same employment conditions as regular teachers.
Nir Michaeli, who heads the education department at the Seminar Hakibbutzim Teacher's College in Tel Aviv, said: "The main thing that I am bothered by is the quality of service that will be provided to the public." He said that instead of a long school day, the students will get a babysitting service that will be administered at the lowest possible cost.
The terms of the public tender explicitly state that the staff of these outsourced extended school day programs will not be considered government employees. Responsibility for hiring and firing and payment of the staff of the program lies with the outside organization, not with ministry.
A Silicon Valley entrepreneur and the University of California are combining ready-made software, rented Web services and Apple Inc.'s AAPL +2.39% iPad tablet computer in a high-tech effort to bring career training to baby boomers looking to upgrade their skills.
Empowered Careers last week began enrolling students in 10 certificate programs to be taught by instructors at the UCLA Extension, the continuing-education arm of the University of California, Los Angeles. The programs target areas--such as patient advocacy, health-care management and new media marketing--that are expected to generate job growth.
The effort is part of a recent rush of colleges, start-ups and nonprofits tapping a mix of Web services and software to open online educational ventures. Coursera in April raised $16 million to start Web-based classes for four top schools, including Princeton and Stanford Universities. A month later, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said they had committed a combined $60 million to create edX, a platform for teaching courses online. EdX courses are expected to start in the fall.
The world is changing, and higher education is no exception. The numbers of students participating in higher education is escalating globally, those doing so outside their own country is on the rise dramatically. In many countries funding is being slashed and tuition fees introduced or raised, international students have become a critical commodity for some universities and there is little compromise in the attempt to attract them.QS top universities for geography, 2012, via the Guardian.
Google (1998), Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), and Twitter (2006) amongst others, have changed the face of communication and marketing and few universities hold back from using such tools to blast prospective international students with compelling messages. Never before has this crucial life decision involved so many options or such an unfathomable volume of information.
That is who we are for. The students. And more specifically, prospective international students.
Delaware is on the verge of prohibiting schools from monitoring students' social media activity without their consent.
The state Senate unanimously voted to ban public and private schools from requiring students to allow access to their social media lives, the Los Angeles Times reported. The bill, which also passed the Delaware House, only needs the governor's signature to become law.
Some colleges and universities have required students to download social media monitoring software on their personal electronic devices or accounts as a condition of their scholarships or participation in athletics.
A recent revision in the University of North Carolina handbook on this matter is said to be typical, according to MSNBC.
The so-called "parent trigger," the policy by which a majority of a school's parents can decide to convert it to a charter school, seems to be getting a lot of attention lately.
Advocates describe the trigger as "parent empowerment," a means by which parents of students stuck in "failing schools" can take direct action to improve the lives of their kids. Opponents, on the other hand, see it as antithetical to the principle of schools as a public good - parents don't own schools, the public does. And important decisions such as charter conversion, which will have a lasting impact on the community as a whole (including parents of future students), should not be made by a subgroup of voters.
These are both potentially appealing arguments. In many cases, however, attitudes toward the parent trigger seem more than a little dependent upon attitudes toward charter schools in general. If you strongly support charters, you'll tend to be pro-trigger, since there's nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you oppose charter schools, on the other hand, the opposite is likely to be the case. There's a degree to which it's not the trigger itself but rather what's being triggered - opening more charter schools - that's driving the debate.
If, for example, the parent trigger originally arose as a mechanism for decreasing class size or eliminating the role of high-stakes testing within a school (or, ironically, converting charters back to regular public schools), I suspect that many (but certainly not all) of its current opponents would be more supportive, or at least silent, while a substantial proportion of advocates would likely protest.*
Perhaps it's time to reflect on that change and project the effect the new face of the school board could have on the Sun Prairie Area School District. One noticeable change we've observed is that rubber stamps seemed to have been traded in or discarded. We now have a clear majority of board members that care (or demand) to see and review hard data before making decisions. That is a huge change, people.
Palatre & Leclère did this spectacular remodel on the Ecole Maternelle Pajol in Paris's 18th arrondissement. As Tuija Seipell writes on The Cool Hunter: "The building has kept its 1940s brick-wall feel, yet it radiates exuberance and has an up-to-date energy. Most likely its current users feel it was built just for them."
After months of debate, the "school choice" bill is now law.
The Legislature on Wednesday voted to override the governor's veto of Senate Bill 372, which allows businesses to receive tax credits for donations to scholarship funds to help low- and middle-income students attend private and religious schools.
The Senate voted 16-7 on Wednesday to override the veto of SB 372 - the exact margin needed to overrule the governor.
The House voted 236-108, also surpassing the two-thirds margin necessary for an override.
Republican leaders in both chambers have considered the "School Choice Scholarship Act" one of their highest priorities this session.
Democrats, including Gov. John Lynch, are roundly opposed to the bill, which they say would undermine public schools and downshift costs to local districts and property tax payers.
"Did you forget your glasses?" I asked the driver as politely as possible, hoping to hide my frustration under a joke. (The other choice was to throw my helmet, which is frowned upon but not unprecedented.) "I left them at home," she said, her right foot planted firmly on the accelerator, and traffic cones flying everywhere. "I can't see a thing!" I prayed, poorly, and said under my breath the motto of right-seat driving instructors everywhere: "Today's a beautiful day to die."
I've taught just about every kind of driving instruction, from a superspeedway-stockcar school to basic high school driver's ed. I also used to work for one of the major tire companies and have ridden with more than 10,000 people (including the woman who couldn't see a thing) while doing product presentations. Most of those were exercises in which we wanted the cars to spin out. These days I work weekends at an advanced teen driving school. "I've lived a long, good life," I tell myself. Here are some stories from the right-hand seat.
A few links on Madison's interim Superintendent, Jane Belmore. Belmore was Madison's Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools before moving to the School of Education at nearby Edgewood College.are quite a few schoolinfosystem.org links, including this post on the District's reading problems.
Reading, which is clearly the District's job number one, continues to be a challenge, according to this 2009 Reading Recovery study: 60% to 42%: Madison School District's Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags "National Average": Administration seeks to continue its use.
Dan Simmons article mentioned the School District's spokeswoman: Rachel Strauch-Nelson. Interestingly, Ms. Strauch-Nelson formerly worked for Madison's previous Mayor, Dave Cieslewicz and prior to that for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Chief Information Officer Andrew Statz also worked for the previous Mayor.
But Walsh, a lifelong Wisconsin resident whose parents were public school teachers, says she first ran up against the public/private divide when visiting a community in northwestern Wisconsin during the spring of 2008.The Economist:
She says that a group of loggers, most of whom were self-employed, believed that while schoolteachers may work hard during the year, they have cushy positions. Among the perks: great benefits, health care, summers off and an annual salary of about $50,000 a year. "Nobody in this town makes anywhere near $50,000," says Walsh, paraphrasing comments she heard. "At the lumber mill, they're making $20,000 and losing their fingers!"
Walsh says when she probes further, asking why people see a public employee/private employee divide and not a rich/poor divide, she gets stares of disbelief.
It seems to come down to what is tangible and what can be controlled. Private-sector workers, many of whom are struggling, perceive that a large portion of their taxes are going to pay for the salaries of public workers. A cut to public-employee wages and benefits would, at least in theory, mean lower taxes.
One woman, Diane Windemuller (slide 7), "a former HR executive, lost her job in April 2011 and was very reluctant to look for anything less than a comparable position and salary...". Meanwhile, "the Windemuller family is accessing public safety net services: the family has received rent assistance and goes to food pantries twice a week to shift money they otherwise would spend on food to other important bills." It was, I believe, Ms Windemuller, who experienced her first visit to the local food bank as such a humiliation that she felt it necessary to park where no one she knew would see her car, and to try to sneak in unobserved, disguised by sunglasses and a hat. Yet, for a time, her family's straitened financial circumstances were in part a direct consequence of her refusal to seek jobs she considered in some way beneath her prior executive post, and she took a temporary administrative position only after her unemployment benefits had run out, and her husband (whom she had criticised for not working harder to find a job more in line with his last one) started threatening to leave her.
But getting back to open courses offered online, here's the problem. It looks a lot like what happened to journalism. As someone has written, "this is what happens when you let English majors run businesses." They gave away the same content they were selling in their papers on the Internet for free. And all that free access to information has resulted in fewer newspapers, fewer professional journalists and, I would say, a poorer public exchange of ideas.Madison should be leading the online learning revolution.
Could the same thing happen in academia? Maybe. The question is this: Why would any cash-strapped family pay north of $40,000 for an education in a bricks and mortar university when world-class knowledge is just a click away for free?
Well, the answer might be that there's no substitute for being on campus -- no substitute for seeing the professor and asking him questions, no substitute for mixing it up with your classmates from around the country and world, no substitute for getting shit-faced and walking home alone along Lake Mendota at midnight on a breezy, balmy early May night and lying on the grass outside Adams Hall, staring up at the stars shining through the old oaks and wondering where your life might take you, not to say anyone I know has done the latter.
I agree that online learning is not the be all/end all. BUT, it can augment and replace some aspects of traditional education. Again, Madison, with the UW, Edgewood College and MATC should be leading the revolution.
n the not too distant future you will learn new key skills through free or low-cost professional online courses, available both from prestigious world-class academic institutions as well as from private experts. Companies will in turn tap into these new learning ecosystems and knowledge providers to discover and hire their top talent.
A brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeks to shake up the legal and political calculus of a case that could determine the constitutionality of programs in which colleges consider the race or ethnicity of applicants. In the brief, four Asian-American organizations call on the justices to bar all race-conscious admissions decisions, arguing that race-neutral policies are the only way for Asian-American applicants to get a fair shake.
Much of the discussion of the case has focused on policies that help black and Latino applicants. And the suit that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court was filed on behalf of a white woman, Abigail Fisher, who was rejected by the University of Texas at Austin.
But the new brief, along with one recently filed on behalf of Fisher, say that the policy at Texas and similar policies elsewhere hurt Asian-American applicants, not just white applicants. This view runs counter to the opinion of many Asian-American groups that have consistently backed affirmative action programs such as those in place at Texas.
Last month, Achieve unveiled and solicited comments on the first draft of the Next Generation Science Standards, the product of months of work by a team of writers on behalf of twenty-six states. This review by Fordham provides commentary, feedback, and constructive advice that we hope the NGSS authors will consider as they revise the standards before the release of a second draft later this year.
The head of Florida's Department of Education is writing parents to tell them that they shouldn't be overly concerned about the results of the state-required exam that's supposed to measure year-to-year improvements of students, teachers and public schools.Related: Education wake-up call is looming.
One dispute over tying teacher evaluations to data on student growth has been the charge that teachers who are effective with wealthy students would see their value-added scores plummet with poor students. Those opposed to data-infused evaluations argue that even great teachers can't maintain the same degree of effectiveness with needy kids. It's the poverty, not the pedagogy.
However, there's a new working paper out from the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research, "Portability of Teaching Effectiveness Across School Settings," that comes to a different conclusion. From the abstract:
I can't remember ever crying at a commencement speech - not one I attended and heard live and certainly not one I read after it was given.
But that changed this week when I read the commencement address given on May 22 at the University of Pennsylvania by Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone, a New York City organization devoted to breaking "the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families it serves."
Canada's speech is powerful in its honesty about the shape of the world today; it brought me to tears because of a personal story he tells; yet it remains hopeful because of the redemptive possibility with which it ends.
Canada begins his speech by telling the class of 2012 their graduation "is a great moment for you, and it could be a great moment for our country."
He explains, "You are graduating at a time when our country is desperate for highly educated women and men who will fight to see through the veils of pure self-interest and half-truths to search for what is truly moral and just."
Los Angeles schools chief John Deasy blasted state lawmakers Thursday for not passing a bill to speed up the teacher-dismissal process, which he and others pushed following the sex-abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School.
The bill fell one vote short of clearing an Assembly education committee when six of the seven Democratic members either opposed it or abstained. Committee Chairwoman Julia Brownley (D-Oak Park) supported the bill, as did four Republican colleagues.
The measure would have allowed school boards to immediately suspend without pay a teacher or administrator notified of dismissal for "serious and egregious unprofessional conduct" involving sex abuse, drugs or violence toward children.
Madison will be looking to its own collective bargaining agreement as well as handbooks adopted by other districts and input from employees, Nadler said. Unlike previous collective bargaining discussions, however, School Board meetings on the subject will be held in open session.Related: Current 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. Collective Bargaining Agreement (PDF) and Concessions before negotiations ("Voluntary Impasse Resolution Procedure")
Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews, who in 45 years has had a hand in expanding the collective bargaining agreement from four to 157 pages, has been emphasizing since Act 10 passed that everything in the agreement has been jointly agreed upon by the School Board and union.
"Instead of collective bargaining it's going to be meet and confer," Matthews said. "We have really 50 years of developing things together that make the school system work."
Don Severson, president of a conservative watchdog group and MTI critic, sees the handbook as an opportunity for the district to break away from MTI's influence over school operations. He wants a middle school to be able to hire a math teacher from outside the district with math certification, for example, rather than be forced to hire a district teacher who meets minimum requirements but lacks such certification.
"They need to keep in mind that the only thing the union has any involvement or responsibility for is negotiating salary," Severson said.
Conversely, some Districts will think differently and create a far different and more appealing world for some teachers.
Artificial intelligence began with an ambitious research agenda: To endow machines with some of the traits we value most highly in ourselves--the faculty of reason, skill in solving problems, creativity, the capacity to learn from experience. Early results were promising. Computers were programmed to play checkers and chess, to prove theorems in geometry, to solve analogy puzzles from IQ tests, to recognize letters of the alphabet. Marvin Minsky, one of the pioneers, declared in 1961: "We are on the threshold of an era that will be strongly influenced, and quite possibly dominated, by intelligent problem-solving machines."
Fifty years later, problem-solving machines are a familiar presence in daily life. Computer programs suggest the best route through cross-town traffic, recommend movies you might like to see, recognize faces in photographs, transcribe your voicemail messages and translate documents from one language to another. As for checkers and chess, computers are not merely good players; they are unbeatable. Even on the television quiz show Jeopardy, the best human contestants were trounced by a computer.
State educators are celebrating scores on standardized tests offered to high school students, but call achievement gaps between some student groups "shameful."
Those concerns are echoed by an education advocacy group's analysis of last week's Michigan Merit Exam and ACT scores that show black and low-income students are falling even further behind the state's white students.
While white student achievement has risen slightly over five years, scores for black and Hispanic students and students in poverty "remain grim," according to the Education Trust-Midwest.
In the never-ending dialogue about math education that has come to be known as the "math wars", proponents of reform-based math tend to characterize math as it was taught in the 60's (and prior) as "skills-based". The term connotes a teaching of math that focused almost exclusively on procedures and facts in isolation to the conceptual underpinning that holds math together. The "skills-based" appellation also suggests that those students who may have mastered their math courses in K-12 were missing the conceptual basis of mathematics and were taught the subject as a means to do computation, rather than explore the wonders of mathematics for its own sake.
Without delving too far into the math wars, I and others have written that while traditional math may sometimes have been taught poorly, it also was taught properly. In fact, a view of the textbooks in use at that time reveal that they provided both procedures and concept. Missing perhaps were more challenging problems, but also missing from the reformers' arguments is the fact that not only are procedures and concepts taught in tandem but that computational fluency leads to conceptual understanding. (See http://www.psy.cmu.edu/~siegler/r-jhnsn-etal-01.pdf )
Education is undergoing an incredible and exciting transformation, but I can't help but wonder if the "experts" can't see the forest for the trees. We are continuing to see roiling debates from the likes of Vivek Wadhwa and Peter Thiel over whether kids should go to college or not, administrations battling technologists over whether they need to flip the classroom, and politicians forcing us to pick sides as if there were only two options - all the while missing the extraordinary revolution taking place around us.
The education industry seems to be tracking similarly to every early stage tech industry or product with big potential - innovators are coming up with new products (check out Khan Academy, Udacity, or EdX), early adopters and investors (like Learn Capital, Apollo Group, Kapor Capital, and Education Growth Partners) enthusiastically take the initial risk, only some survive (rightfully so), and the good ones go mainstream or even viral.
A.J. Duffy is, at least for the moment, a man without a country.
He led United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents teachers in the nation's second-largest school district, for six bruising years, tussling with the mayor and several superintendents and racking up critics. Then he went on to found a charter school, infuriating his old allies in labor who reflexively, and stupidly, reject charters as a threat to their existence. And then the school that Duffy helped create, Apple Academy, announced that it didn't have room in its budget for a chief executive officer.
So Duffy's back to teaching. He says he loves it, relishes the classroom, is especially gratified to be helping special education students. He was one himself many years ago, before he shook off drug addiction and developmental problems and launched his career in education and labor. But as Duffy talks about how happy he is, it's fairly clear that he's not. He was a high-roller for six years, and he isn't anymore. He misses it. A lot.
"It's a pretty basic educational problem we have: Students' willingness to learn is not there," says 17-year-old Joseph A. Ryan, Jr.More at college confidential.
Ryan posted his video in response to CNN iReport's assignment question "What's wrong with America's school system?" He says the problem is not about technology or books, but about student motivation.
"I go to school where most kids don't even want to learn....They don't care, and teachers get in trouble for it," says Ryan. "They have to see the value in education."
This case is not about a direct denial of public access to records, but the issue in the present case directly implicates the accessibility of government records. The greater the fee imposed on a requester of a public record, the less likely the requester will be willing and able to successfully make a record request. Thus, the imposition of fees limits and may even serve to deny access to government records. In interpreting the Public Records Law, we must be cognizant that the legislature's preference is for "complete public access" and that the imposition of costs, as a practical matter, inhibits access.A number of open records requests have been published here, including 1996-2006 Police calls and a school district land purchase that lacked competitive offers.
Related: The Sunlight Foundation.
The state Board of Education has approved guidelines for how Oregon teachers and administrators will be evaluated.
Starting in 2013, multiple measures will be used to evaluate how well individual teachers are doing in three broad areas: professional practice, professional responsibility and student learning and growth. The evaluations will not be made public and standardized test scores will not be the sole measure of student progress.
The Oregon Legislature approved a bill last year to create statewide teaching standards, and Friday's action satisfied that requirement. Moreover, states seeking waivers from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law must have teacher evaluation systems that factor in student progress. State education officials hope to obtain a waiver in the next week or two.
It is common for education researchers to contend the topic they are studying or the policies they are promoting have never been researched before, says Dr. Richard Phelps in a new article for Academic Questions, the journal of the National Association of Scholars. This is common even among well-known and influential researchers, he says. And its prevalence contributed to the much-hated and unwieldy No Child Left Behind Act.
Phelps joins the School Reform News podcast to discuss this curious and repeated assertion and its effect on education policy. He is the founder of the Nonpartisan Education Review and author of several books and the article prompting this discussion, titled "Academe's Memory Hole."
Gardening guru Titchmarsh, 63, also said he wants horticulture to be taught in all secondary schools as a "useful life skill".
Titchmarsh, who left school at 15 to become an apprentice council gardener, hopes soaring university tuition fees will see teenagers turn to careers in gardening.
He told Amateur Gardening magazine: "We've been in this ridiculous system where we're sending everyone to university.
"It's a mad way of proceeding.
"We need practical skills to keep the country going and the fact that they've been undervalued, underrated and under catered for is a great mistake in terms of our civilisation. We need to value these skills again.
Almost two-thirds of Wisconsin's 424 school districts will receive less general state aid in the 2012-'13 school year than they did last year, while some suburban Milwaukee school districts will get a sizable aid boost, according to preliminary state estimates released Friday by the Department of Public Instruction.Madison fared quite a bit better in this year's redistributed state tax dollar program.
In all, the state will provide $4.29 billion in general aid to schools in the second year of Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget, a small increase over what the state budget set for aid last year - $4.26 billion, according to the DPI.
That's far below what schools received in general aid before Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature dramatically cut funding for schools and limited districts' ability to make up those funds by raising local taxes - changes that were passed as part of the biennial 2011-'13 state budget.
"It's a bigger balance from last year, but if you compare this to what school districts had two and three years ago, it's a reduction," said Patrick Gasper, spokesman for the DPI.
Nikki Graziano's intriguing integration of mathematical curves into her photography sparked a Radar discussion about the relationship between mathematics and the real world. Does her work give insight into the nature of mathematics? Or into the nature of the world? And if so, what kind of insight?
Mathematically, matching one curve to another isn't a big deal. Given N points, it's trivial to write an N+1 degree equation that passes through all of them. There are many more subtle ways of solving the same problem, with more aesthetically pleasing results: you can use sine functions, wavelets, square waves, whatever you want. Take out a ruler, measure some points, plug them into Mathematica, and in seconds you can generate as many curves as you like. So finding an equation that matches the curve of an artfully trimmed hedge is easy. The question is whether that curve tells us anything, or whether it's just another stupid math trick.
John Hennessey (Stanford president) and Salman Khan (Khan Academy) discuss higher education and digital technology.
Learning or Credentialing? Signaling or Sorting?
Teacher Sharon Collins' letter selflessly calls for higher taxes for education, citing socialist Sweden as her shining light.
She didn't do her homework.
She thinks Sweden values education more than America because they have a 25 percent sales tax (actually a VAT tax). But that high tax tells us nothing.
For a meaningful comparison, look at education spending per student. Of the 32 OECD counties (the economically advanced countries of the world) providing data, in 2008 Sweden ranks 6th in primary school per student spending, the U.S. 5th. Sweden ranks 9th in secondary school spending, the U.S. ranks 4th.
Sweden spent $9,080 per primary school student. The U.S. spent $9,940. Sweden spent $9,940 per secondary school student -- the U.S. spent $12,007.