WOMEN have to get their reproducing done early. The menopause curtails it, and even before that a woman's fertility falls significantly over the years. Men--those who can find willing partners, at least--do not suffer in quite the same way, as many stories of celebrity elder fathers testify. But perhaps such ageing Lotharios should think twice, for evidence is accumulating that their offspring are at greater-than-average risk of genetic disease.
The latest study to this effect has just been published in Nature by Kari Stefansson and his colleagues at deCODE Genetics, a genetic-analysis company based in Reykjavik that was founded to take advantage of Iceland's excellent medical records and its unique genealogical history. Recent immigrants apart, the relationship of almost everybody on the island to everybody else is known back as far as the first census, in 1703. In many cases it is known back to the first human settlement of the island, in 874.
The Des Moines metro area ranks 24th nationally for its relatively low gap between worker education and the education required for open jobs, a new report today shows.
The Brookings Institute developed an education gap index, looking at educational attainment and the education required for job openings between January 2006 and February 2012. The group also examined economic factors such as demand for a metro area's products and housing prices.
The report said the education gap can have a long-term impact on the economy, resulting in "unemployment rates that are two percentage points higher in areas with large education gaps."
Nicholas Kristof last wrote about Chinese schools shortly after the release of some stunning news: on a comprehensive exam testing students in 65 countries, China had come in first - thirty spots ahead of the U.S. in math. Kristof praised the Chinese model and ended with a warning: "These latest test results should be our 21st-century Sputnik."
This wasn't the first time Kristof had celebrated Chinese schools, but I remember it clearly, because at the time I was enrolled in one. I had come to China to bolster my Mandarin, but I was also excited to experience a Chinese education for myself. My imagination had been stoked by Kristof's descriptions, and I was eager to see how real Chinese schools stacked up. I would live ten months with a Chinese host family and attend classes at a high-ranked local school. I wondered: Would the real thing impress me as much as the reports?
As I took my first glance around my host brother's room, I was convinced it would. On the ride to his apartment, Edward had mentioned that studying consumed his summers, but it didn't register until I saw just how much homework he'd done. Piled on his desk were dozens of worksheets, all of which Edward had dutifully completed. When he told me he'd spent hours each day on the problems, I asked if all his classmates were so diligent. Yes, in fact he said he was something of a slacker.
As faculty members at Ohio State last week double-checked their syllabi, glanced at their rosters, and ran through the usual routines for the start of fall courses, some of them found a surprise in their e-mail in boxes. A senior English professor invited his colleagues to open their classrooms in the weeks ahead to organizers in the Obama campaign. They would first encourage students to register to vote and then, if the instructors were willing, encourage students to volunteer for the Obama campaign.
But don't take my word for it. Here is the memo, from Brian McHale, with the subject line "How to turn students into voters":
Charter schools are publicly funded schools that have considerable independence from public school districts in their curriculum development and staffing decisions, and their enrollments have increased substantially over the past two decades.
Charter schools are changing public and private school enrollment patterns across the United States. This study analyzes district-level enrollment patterns for all states with charter schools, isolating how charter schools affect traditional public and private school enrollments after controlling for changes for the socioeconomic, demographic, and economic conditions in each district.
While most students are drawn from traditional public schools, charter schools are pulling large numbers of students from the private education market and present a potentially devastating impact on the private education market, as well as a serious increase in the financial burden on taxpayers.
Is your child left-handed? Left-brained? Sensitive to feeling left out? And to the extent you know that these things impact her schoolwork, how much of a heads-up will you give her teachers before or around the first day of school?
The question of whether to brief the teacher on your child's particular quirks or learning style is one that dogs parents of typically developing children at the start of every school year. Of course, we know our children best. We know which ones weep in frustration over a setback, which will listen to verbal instructions and which need to be shown, and which just need to be allowed to make their own mistakes. Why not help the teacher get them off to a good start?
Like many home-schoolers, Harden is a true American eccentric. He quit before he finished high school, got a G.E.D. and spent his interim years drifting: loading cow manure for the gardening department at Walmart, working as a baggage handler for United and as a lounge singer in Florida, and volunteering with a medical relief charity. Somewhere in there he found his true love and, almost on a whim, married. Harden's accounts of his itinerant travels are in some ways the most entertaining parts of the book, although he takes pains to avoid seeming too world-weary so that when he arrives on campus he can be truly, deeply shocked.
Harden had been twice rejected by Yale before being accepted, and he had the misfortune of coming to New Haven during the decade when students were cementing a new tradition known as Sex Week. For days leading up to this biennial extravaganza Harden receives e-mails advertising seminars like "The Female Orgasm" and "Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Sex (and Sex Toys!)." When the big week arrives, he, along with hundreds of fellow students, attends lectures by porn stars and porn moguls and peddlers of every sex toy on the market (all eco-friendly, of course). Most of what he describes seems like fodder for satire, but Harden approaches it all with great seriousness, pausing often for helpful definitions: " 'double anal penetrations' -- a dangerous and frequently harmful act during which two males penetrate the anus of the female simultaneously."
"The majority of the top 20 achievements would not have been possible without electricity. Electrification changed the country's economic development and gave rural populations the same opportunities and amenities as people in the cities. It provides the power for small appliances in the home, for computers in control rooms that route power and telecommunications, and for the machinery that produces capital goods and consumer products. If anything shines as an example of how engineering has changed the world during the twentieth century, it is clearly the power that we use in our homes and businesses.About the Author: Neil Armstrong, NAE, is a former astronaut and chairman of AIL Technologies. This article is an edited version of his remarks delivered at the National Press Club, 22 February 2000.
So, there you have it, the top 20. My descriptions have been sometimes trite, and it's likely that I missed some of the most important societal contributions from the nominees. And, without question, I did not even mention the work from those nominations that did not make the top 20 list, yet in many cases were of enormous importance to certain sectors of society or certain parts of the world. And in all honestly, I am guilty of a bit of subterfuge. Certainly the nominations were worthy and the committee was honest and diligent in evaluating them. And certainly you have been given their well-reasoned conclusions. The subterfuge is that my purpose was not to promote the competitive nature of the event, or to congratulate the winner, or to convince you that electrification was the most important technical activity of this past century. All of you have your own opinions on the importance of various technical developments to our society. What I really hoped to do was shamelessly use this occasion to remind you of the breadth, and the depth, and the importance of engineering as a whole to human existence, human progress, and human happiness.
There are perhaps, even more far-reaching consequences of this exercise. The likelihood of today marking the end of creative engineering is nil. The future is a bit foggy, but it's not unreasonable to suggest that the twenty-first century will enjoy a rate of progress not unlike the twentieth. And a century hence, 2000 may be viewed as quite a primitive period in human history. It's something to hope for.
For three decades I have enjoyed the work and friendship of Arthur Clarke, a prolific science and science fiction writer, who back in 1945 first suggested the possibility of the communications satellite. In addition to writing some wonderful books, he has also proposed a few memorable laws. Clarke's third law seems particularly apt today: Any sufficiently developed technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Truly, it has been a magical century.
It's three o'clock in the afternoon on Easter, and I'm standing on a wooden deck in the Corona Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, looking out toward Nob Hill. A man is cooking large slabs of meat on a gas grill as two dozen people mingle with glasses of bourbon and bottles of beer in the cool, damp breeze blowing in off the ocean. All of these people are would-be movers and shakers in American higher education--the historic, world-leading system that constitutes one of this country's greatest economic assets--but not one of them is an academic. They're all tech entrepreneurs. Or, as the local vernacular has it, hackers.
Some of them are the kinds of hackers a college dean could love: folks who have come up with ingenious but polite ways to make campus life work better. Standing over there by the case of Jim Beam, for instance, are the founders of OneSchool, a mobile app that helps students navigate college by offering campus maps, course schedules, phone directories, and the like in one interface. The founders are all computer science majors who dropped out of Penn State last semester. I ask the skinniest and geekiest among them how he joined the company. He was first recruited last spring, he says, when his National Merit Scholarship profile mentioned that he likes to design iPhone apps in his spare time. He's nineteen years old.
Students who average more study hours do better in school. But a study published last week in the journal Child Development shows that students who stay awake to study more than their average -- i.e., to cram -- up their odds of failing a test or having difficulty understanding instruction the next day.
To allay fears of correlation not implying causation and all the myriad other factors that could confound a study like this (perhaps students who cram are the same students most likely to do poorly in school?), the UCLA researchers Gillen-O'Neil, Huynh, and Fuligni had 535 students keep track of their sleep time, study time and academic problems for 14-day spans in 9th, 10th and 12th grades. The longitudinal data of these student "diaries" allowed the team to ask how individual students performed on days after average sleep/study, compared to the same student's performance on days after which the student had traded sleep for study.
Interestingly, they found that in 9th grade, there was no penalty for cramming. In 10th grade, staying awake to study started to predict higher next-day hits for the responses "did not understand something taught in class" and "did poorly on a test, quiz, or homework." And by 12th grade, kids who traded sleep for study showed a marked spike in academic problems the day after cramming.
The buildings at my French-born wife's alma mater don't look very impressive, although she studied and learned a lot there. If a French university outwardly looks more like a high school than a Harvard, that's OK with them. What matters to them is the learning that takes place within, not whether it looks like a college marketer's movie-set image of what a university should look like. French students also study a lot more than American students, so they may be more accustomed to not having spare time (something that may help prepare them to have kids after they graduate, since parents of young children have little free time).
U.S. colleges are borrowing lots of money for fancy, unnecessary facilities, gambling that they can pay the interest on their increased debt by increasing tuition on future students. This is already resulting in growing numbers of American universities facing "financial trouble," notes The Economist.
Discovering novel mathematics will enable the development of new tools to change the way the DoD approaches analysis, modeling and prediction, new materials and physical and biological sciences. The 23 Mathematical Challenges program involves individual researchers and small teams who are addressing one or more of the following 23 mathematical challenges, which if successfully met, could provide revolutionary new techniques to meet the long-term needs of the DoD:
Mathematical Challenge 1: The Mathematics of the Brain
Develop a mathematical theory to build a functional model of the brain that is mathematically consistent and predictive rather than merely biologically inspired.
It has come to this in California's saga over "parent-trigger" education reform: A local school board is openly defying a judge's order, with one member declaring "If I'm found in contempt of court, I brought my own handcuffs, take me away." So now the stalwarts of the status quo will break the law rather than allow parents school choice.
A California Superior Court judge ruled last month that several hundred parents in Adelanto, California had successfully pulled the nation's first parent trigger to force change at their children's failing public school. The judge "commanded" the Adelanto school board to let the parents "immediately begin the process of soliciting and selecting" proposals to transform Desert Trails Elementary into a charter school.
REES are a gift to students of the past. An entire discipline, known as dendrochronology, is devoted to using tree rings to date ancient wooden objects and buildings. Linguistic archaeologists, it seems, share these arboreal inclinations, though the trees they examine are of an altogether different species.
In 2003 a team led by Quentin Atkinson, of the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, employed a computer to generate a genealogical tree of Indo-European languages. Their model put the birth of the family, which includes languages as seemingly diverse as Icelandic and Iranian, between 9,800 and 7,800 years ago. This was consistent with the idea that it stemmed from Anatolia, in modern-day Turkey, whence it spread with the expansion of farming. A rival proposal, that their origin amid the semi-nomadic, pastoralist tribes in the steppes north of the Caspian Sea, supposes their progenitor to be several thousand years younger.
Some proponents of the steppe hypothesis remained unconvinced. They pointed out that the computer-generated phylogeny, to give the tree its technical name, showed only how Indo-European tongues evolved over time. It said nothing about how they spread across space. As Dr Atkinson and his colleagues report in Science, this issue has now been addressed. The results lend further credence to the Anatolian theory.
Sarah Koran was excited about applying for entry into the veterinary technician program at Madison College in 2010 but her application was denied. That meant hopes of starting the popular associate degree program, which often has a waiting list, was likely pushed down the road for two years.
So instead of putting her life on hold, she decided to investigate other options and was thrilled to learn that Globe University in Middleton, which is part of the burgeoning for-profit higher education industry, also offered a vet tech degree -- and she could start classes almost immediately.
Although the total cost of that two-year program at Globe (about $51,000) would be more than four times the price she could expect to pay at Madison College (about $12,200), Koran was eligible for $5,500 per year in federal grant aid and figured it was worth it to take out student loans to help pay for the rest.
"They were like, 'Oh, we know it's expensive but you're going to get a great education and a great-paying job,'" says Koran, noting she now realizes vet techs tend to earn between $10 and $15 per hour after first graduating, not exactly big bucks.
The issue of student attrition at KIPP and charter schools is never far beneath the surface of our education debates. KIPP's critics claim that these schools exclude or "counsel out" students who aren't doing well, thus inflating student test results. Supporters contend that KIPP schools are open admission with enrollment typically determined by lottery, and they usually cite a 2010 Mathematica report finding strong results among students in most (but not all) of 22 KIPP middle schools, as well as attrition rates that were no higher, on average, than at the regular public schools to which they are compared.*
As I have written elsewhere, I am persuaded that student attrition cannot explain away the gains that Mathematica found in the schools they examined (though I do think peer effects of attrition without replacement may play some role, which is a very common issue in research of this type).
But, beyond this back-and-forth over the churn in these schools and whether it affected the results of this analysis, there's also a confusion of sorts when it comes to discussions of student attrition in charters, whether KIPP or in general. Supporters of school choice often respond to "attrition accusations" by trying to deny or downplay its importance or frequency. This, it seems to me, ignores an obvious point: Within-district attrition - students changing schools, often based on "fit" or performance - is a defining feature of school choice, not an aberration.
In 1911, Wisconsin passed a pioneering Vocational Education law. It was far from perfect, but in two places the law made sure that in making public provision for explicitly preparing students fro employment our state was not simply turning education over to businesses and employers. This was done by guaranteeing that labor had an equal voice in the programs that were created. On the state Board:
The Chicago Teachers Union issued a 10-day strike notice Wednesday, saying teachers in the nation's third-largest school district are ready to walk off the job for the first time in 25 years.Madison Teachers, Inc. has been supportive of the Chicago Teachers Union's position. School Board members Marj Passman and Arlene Silveira provided food to traveling MTI members.
Union President Karen Lewis said contract talks with the Chicago Board of Education, which have been under way since November, have not yet touched on some issues that teachers are most concerned about, including wages. She said job security and teacher evaluations also are issues.
The notice means the soonest teachers could strike is Sept. 10, but it doesn't mean a strike will definitely happen.
School is in the air. It is the time of year when millions of apprehensive young people are crammed into their parents' cars along with all their worldly gadgets and driven off to college.
The rest of the world looks on with envy. American universities are the best in the world--22 out of the world's top 30, according to the Graduate School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Once it was Oxford or Cambridge that bright young Indians dreamed of attending; now it is Harvard or Stanford. Admission to a top U.S. college is the ultimate fast track to the top.
Little do the foreigners know that all is far from well in the groves of American academe.
Let's start with the cost. According to the College Board, average tuition and fees for in-state residents at a sample of public colleges have soared by 25 percent since 2008-09. A key driver has been the reduction in funding as states have been forced to adopt austerity measures. In the same time frame, tuition and fees at private universities rose by less (13 percent), but still by a lot more than inflation.
Educational institutions shouldn't use proprietary software for these (and other) reasons. There are free software replacements that:
allow the students to study the program and even change it to function differently or better;
don't cost any money or cost way less than Apple and Windows machines;
help emphasize general and best computer practices, so students can figure out how to use any computing operating system and platform, not just the one they were forced to use in school.
DROPPING out of university to launch a start-up is old hat. The twist with Joseph Cohen, Dan Getelman and Jim Grandpre is that their start-up aims to improve how universities work. In May 2011 the three founders quit the University of Pennsylvania to launch Coursekit, soon rebranded as Lore, which has already raised $6m to develop what Mr Cohen, its 21-year-old chief executive, describes as a "social-learning network for the classroom".
Lore is part of a trend that builds on the familiarity with social networking that has come with the success of Facebook. It customises the rules of a network to meet the specific needs of students. Anyone teaching a class would reasonably worry that students using Facebook were gossiping rather than learning useful information from their network of friends. Lore allows teachers to control exactly who is in the network (by issuing a class-membership code) and to see how they are using it. They can also distribute course materials, contact students, manage tests and grades, and decide what to make public and what to keep private. Students can also interact with each other.
A high school student's plate isn't just filled with classes, but also sports, clubs, SATs and a social life of proms and pep rallies. Don't head into the classroom unarmed -- turn to your phone or tablet. There are plenty of apps to help keep your hectic life organized.
In high school, your courseload will tip the scales and the pressure of college apps and AP classes will challenge every moment. Use these 10 apps to make sure you're on top of homework assignments, ensuring studying is effortless and efficient rather than stressful and unproductive.
Four years ago at the beginning of Harvard's school term, I was going over an assignment with a freshman when she confessed that she was feeling guilty--because she was working for the Obama campaign. I assumed she meant that her campaign work was taking too much time from her studies, but she corrected me: She was feeling guilty because she supported John McCain.
So why, I asked, was she working for his opponent? She answered: "Because I wanted so badly to get along with my roommates and with everyone else."
Few of us survive adolescence without some conflict of the kind experienced by this freshman and dramatized by Tom Wolfe in his novel "I Am Charlotte Simmons" (2004): the conflict between the demands of new surroundings and the moral beliefs and values one brings from home. Every environment dispenses its conventional wisdom, and swimming against the current is always hard. But our freshman's predicament was driven by an exaggerated impression of "everyone else."
Education systems are under stress.
It is a problem felt in many parts of the world, but in Africa, the strain is even more acute.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 10m children drop out of primary school every year. Even those fortunate enough to complete primary school often leave with literacy and numeracy skills far below expected levels.
In addition, there is a major shortage of trained and motivated teachers. It is estimated that to ensure that every child has access to quality education by 2015, sub-Saharan Africa will need to recruit 350,000 new teachers every year. It seems increasingly unlikely that this will happen.
Throw in one of the highest concentrations of illiterate adults in the world, and you begin to understand the scale of the problem.
In the last decade many African countries have, against these significant odds, made solid progress in improving their education levels. However, the challenges are often too large. The "usual" tried and tested methods of delivering education are not enough.
Yet there is a potential solution.
While education struggles to cope, mobile communication has grown exponentially. Africa is today the fastest growing and second largest mobile phone market in the world. While in some countries - including Botswana, Gabon and Namibia - there are more mobile subscriptions than inhabitants, Africa still has the lowest mobile penetration of any market. There is plenty more growth to come. Over 620 million mobile subscriptions mean that for the first time in the history of the continent, its people are connected.
When Karen Johnson tripped over yet another toy that her son had left lying on the living room floor recently, she was furious - and just a hair's breadth away from shouting at him. So she closed her bedroom door and yelled into a closet. Then she gently reminded her little boy to clear away his toys, which he did. Johnson is sourcing anger-management techniques from the Orange Rhino Challenge - a parenting support network on Facebook derived from an American mother's public commitment to not yell at her children for 365 days.
The challenge, which began on January 21, is the brainwave of a stay-at-home mother of four boys, aged 5½ years and under. She chose the pseudonym Orange Rhino to symbolise her determination to forge ahead like a rhino, yet remain warm like the colour orange.
All options will be considered by the government-appointed advisory body on the controversial national education curriculum - including scrapping it.
The panel's head, executive councillor Anna Wu Hung-yuk, said it may also produce a "minority report" to reflect disagreement among members to the administration.
Her latest remarks, in a TVB (SEHK: 0511) interview, contrast with what she said on Wednesday when she was appointed to head the Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education. Then, Wu declined to respond to questions on whether the committee - set up to look into difficulties in introducing the curriculum and screen teaching materials - would consider ditching the subject.
IT IS as much a summer ritual as Wimbledon. Every August Britain's 18-year-old school-leavers tear open envelopes containing their A-level results and see whether they have done well enough to get into their chosen universities. The most successful students (and the prettiest ones) find their pictures splashed across the national newspapers. The less fortunate face the prospect of trying to get a place through "clearing", the mopping-up exercise in which state universities offer their unfilled places to the best of the rest.
But this year, thanks to both the parlous state of government finances and renewed attempts to make universities compete among themselves for students, the landscape is significantly different.
Undergraduates starting in the autumn will be the first to pay up to £9,000 ($14,000) a year for tuition, almost triple the previous maximum. Fears that higher fees would deter poorer students from applying have not been borne out. While there has been a small fall in the application rate among English students (somewhat different rules apply in devolved Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), the drop was sharper among those from wealthier areas.
Monday on Marketplace, the "Food for 9 Billion" project looks at two very different worlds of waste. First, reporter Jori Lewis travels to a remote area of Senegal, where cattle herders throw away much of the milk their cows produce because they have no way to get it to market. Then Adriene Hill visits an elementary school near Los Angeles, where much of the milk kids take with their lunches ends up in the trash.
The stories echo the dual nature of the food waste challenge: In poor countries, most losses occur on the farm or in transit and storage, while in rich countries, the waste is greatest at the consumer end.
What's to be done? That depends on where in the world you are.
Kevin Carey's Washington Monthly feature on online higher education startups is a great read, but, fortunately for those of us looking to add value with a blog post, I think he buries the lead. The key thing you have to understand about the threat that Massive Open Online Courses pose to the business model of traditional colleges is that traditional colleges have a business model. It's a bit of a strange business model because the colleges aren't organized as businesses, but it's a business model all the same.
The way it works is that you charge the same price for all the courses. When I took Patrice Higonnet's five-person seminar on Vichy France, I didn't need to pay a premium tuition over what I paid to take his 150-person lecture survey course on the French Revolution. Part of the way the college works is that the large courses generate profits that subsidize other activities, including the small seminars. The seminars themselves happen in part because some of the faculty wants to do them, and in part as an investment in the value of the brand. But while it would be very difficult to replicate the value of the small Vichy seminar, it's pretty easy to imagine a French Revolution MOOC that's both higher quality than your average French Revolution lecture-format survey course and radically cheaper:
The closest approximation we have for such a device is a computer with spyware on it-- a computer that, if you do the wrong thing, can intercede and say, "I can't let you do that, Dave."
Such a a computer runs programs designed to be hidden from the owner of the device, and which the owner can't override or kill. In other words: DRM. Digital Rights Managment.
These computers are a bad idea for two significant reasons. First, they won't solve problems. Breaking DRM isn't hard for bad guys. The copyright wars' lesson is that DRM is always broken with near-immediacy.
DRM only works if the "I can't let you do that, Dave" program stays a secret. Once the most sophisticated attackers in the world liberate that secret, it will be available to everyone else, too.
Second, DRM has inherently weak security, which thereby makes overall security weaker.
Certainty about what software is on your computer is fundamental to good computer security, and you can't know if your computer's software is secure unless you know what software it is running.
That means, as teachers, we're probably starting in the wrong place.
It don't think it has to be this way. What do we expect children to understand about math? Negative numbers, zero, exponents, the square root of two, pi. In those boring little facts I see hope, precisely because they are boring little facts. It wasn't always like that. Once upon a time, the existence of negative numbers was considered the most difficult question in the world. People died arguing about the hypotenuse, for God's sake. The fact that we can teach these things to innocent children is evidence of progress. Real, measurable, personally empowering progress. The kind of progress we haven't had time to make in computer science.
If the mathematicians are making fun of you for being too complicated, you know there's work to do.
A Bowie High School administrator admits he helped remove students who might keep his campus from meeting federal accountability standards as part of a districtwide scheme that has shaken the El Paso Independent School District.
Johnnie Vega, an assistant principal at the South El Paso campus, said in an interview with the El Paso Times that he and others feared for their jobs and followed district and campus directives to prevent some students from enrolling, kick others out and award credits to yet other students who should have failed courses for not showing up.
"I feel terrible," Vega said. "I have nightmares. I don't want to say that it is post-traumatic stress, but in a way it is. I have nightmares about what we did. I have nightmares about the FBI coming to my office and handcuffing me and taking me out and EPISD firing me."
One of the students Vega admits pushing out of school is Roger Avalos, now 21, who said he was angry that he and his two brothers were kicked out of
Our ranking of liberal arts colleges also reveals institutions that stand out in unconventional ways. Bryn Mawr is ranked first this year, continuing a long tradition of women's colleges serving their country. Berea College in Kentucky is ranked third, far above its U.S. News position, because it enrolls a predominantly low-income student population and charges no tuition. Most colleges with 90 percent of students eligible for Pell Grants struggle to graduate even half of their students; at Berea nearly two-thirds finish in a reasonable amount of time. Tougaloo College, a small, private, historically black institution in Mississippi, has struggled financially in recent years. But it continues to enroll large numbers of low-income students, graduate more of them than expected, and keep prices low. Tougaloo also ranks above better-known colleges in research, helping to put the college in the top twenty on our rankings. The Johnnies of St. John's College in Maryland (number nineteen) remain proudly independent, sticking to a "Great Books" curriculum even as many colleges eschew any curriculum at all. It's not for everyone, which is probably why the college's 73 percent graduation rate, while respectable, is still slightly below par. But those who remain go on to earn PhDs at a rate far beyond their numbers, and the college's success in sending graduates into the Peace Corps is just as impressive. St. John's also has a campus in New Mexico, which, for very similar reasons, ranks second on our list of master's universities.
Research universities and liberal arts colleges that draw students from across the nation get the lion's share of attention from the media. But huge numbers of students attend regional, master's-granting universities and colleges that focus on job-related fields along with the liberal arts. The best of them give far more to their country than do their more prominent peers. Elizabeth City State University, a public, historically black institution in North Carolina, tops our ranking of baccalaureate institutions. Tuskegee University, another historically black college, comes in at number three. Both enroll large numbers of low-income students and graduate more of them than statistics predict. Elizabeth City is extremely affordable, with one of the lowest reported net prices in the nation. Tuskegee maintains a strong pipeline into the ROTC program, and tops all but a handful of peers in research. Converse College, an economically diverse all-female liberal arts college in South Carolina, is our third-ranked master's institution, by virtue of its strong commitment to service and record of graduating women who go on to earn PhDs.
Welcome to the hallowed halls of academia. Now start planning for life in the real world.
It's still a tough jobs market out there and likely will continue to be for some time. So it isn't too early for freshly minted college students to start making themselves more marketable--from taking classes that polish essential skills to building a strong network.
"The size of your support network and mentoring group can often be as important as your degree," says Rich Feller, president of the National Career Development Association, which provides programs and services for career development.
Here's a timeline on the moves to make over the next four years:
I invite you to visit University School and explore why now is the right time to invest in your child's education. Our expectations are different. We help all students reach their greatest potential and that leads to the best results.A few links:
In these uncertain and challenging times, there is no comparison to a USM education. We develop the strongest possible foundation for lifelong learning. Our students become critical thinkers and problem solvers, and they acquire the character skills, confidence, and work ethic necessary to make good decisions, contribute to society, and enjoy rewarding lives.
A lot of data from the last couple of decades shows a strong association between executive functions (the ability to inhibit impulses, to direct attention, and to use working memory) and positive outcomes in school and out of school (see review here). Kids with stronger executive functions get better grades, are more likely to thrive in their careers, are less likely to get in trouble with the law, and so forth. Although the relationship is correlational and not known to be causal, understandably researchers have wanted to know whether there is a way to boost executive function in kids.
Tools of the Mind (Bedrova & Leong, 2007) looked promising. It's a full preschool curriculum consisting of some 60 activities, inspired by the work of psychologist Lev Vygotsky. Many of the activities call for the exercise of executive functions through play. For example, when engaged in dramatic pretend play, children must use working memory to keep in mind the roles of other characters and suppress impulses in order to maintain their own character identity. (See Diamond & Lee, 2011, for thoughts on how and why such activities might help students.)
Wisconsin students, parents, teachers and property owners will feel the impact of major changes rolling out in Wisconsin's public schools this school year.Related:
This fall for the first time:
"This is huge," State Superintendent Tony Evers said. "I've been doing this for 37 years and I haven't seen this level of reform efforts."
- The state will assign numerical ratings to schools based on various test score measures.
- Most students will start to see a new, more specific curriculum -- in math and language arts, and with literacy incorporated in all subjects -- in anticipation of a new state test in two years.
- And dozens of schools, including three in Madison, will take part in the state's new teacher evaluation system, which takes into account student test scores.
The unifying reason for the changes is the end of the No Child Left Behind era and the national move toward a more rigorous set of standards for what students are expected to know at each grade level, said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison. In order to obtain a waiver from NCLB, Wisconsin had to adopt the accountability system, higher curriculum standards and a teacher evaluation system.
"This has nothing to do with the turmoil we experienced in Wisconsin last year," Gamoran said. "This is happening in every state in the country."
IN A small classroom four teenage boys laugh and roll their eyes at each other's wisecracks. The instructor, sometimes speaking in Spanish, encourages them to think about their futures. For his family, one says, "I want to buy a big-ass house." Another wants to work with cars. A third thinks a family reunion would be great. The classroom is on Rikers Island, New York City's biggest jail. The teens are participating in the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) programme, which helps them focus on personal responsibility through cognitive behaviour therapy. The programme's goal is to cut the re-incarceration rate among the youngsters, and it is funded using social impact bonds (SIB).
After four years of college, many graduates are ending up in jobs that only require the ability to operate a cash register with a smile.
After commencement, a growing number young people say they have no choice but to take low-skilled jobs, according to a survey released this week. And while 63% of "Generation Y" workers -- those age 18 to 29 -- have a bachelor's degree, the majority of the jobs taken by graduates don't require one, according to an online survey of 500,000 young workers carried out between July 2011 and July 2012 by PayScale.com, a company that collects data on salaries, and Millennial Branding, a research and management consulting firm.
Another survey by Rutgers University came to the same conclusion: Half of graduates in the past five years say their jobs didn't require a four-year degree and only 20% said their first job was on their career path. "Our society's most talented people are unable to find a job that gives them a decent income," says Cliff Zukin, a professor of political science and public policy at Rutgers.
It's no secret that America's educational systems could use some help. New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow charges that the country is in dire straits. Lining up statistics from a recent report, Blow details how students in the United States have little chance of besting their competitors -- specifically, students in China.Marcella Kreiter has more.
This week, the Center for American Progress and the Center for the Next Generation released a report entitled "The Race That Really Matters: Comparing U.S., Chinese and Indian Investments in the Next Generation Workforce." The findings were breathtaking:
Half of U.S. children get no early childhood education, and we have no national strategy to increase enrollment.
Only 25% of 2012 ACT test takers met college readiness benchmarks in all four subjects tested. The ACT is a college-entrance exam that tests high schoolers in English, Reading, Math, and Science. The ACT defines college and career readiness as "the acquisition of the knowledge and skills a student needs
to enroll and succeed in credit-bearing first-year courses at a postsecondary institution (such as a 2- or 4-year college, trade school, or technical school) without the need for remediation."
Breaking down college readiness by subject yields better numbers. For instance, 67% of students tested met English college readiness benchmarks. However, that means 33% of students taking the ACT have not been sufficiently prepared by their schools for learning at the next level. And that's just students taking the ACT.
A black teenager who says he has been stopped about 50 times by the Metropolitan police is planning to sue the force, claiming he has suffered almost four years of harassment and false charges, which he believes have been motivated by racism.
Between the ages of 14 and 17, the college student says he has faced a series of charges of which he has either been found not guilty or which have been dropped before getting to court, as well as numerous stops and searches and two strip searches, none of which identified any criminal activity. He says he has also been detained several times in police cells after which he was released without charge.
Last week the teenager appeared at Bromley youth court, south London, charged with assaulting a police officer. The case collapsed after CCTV footage contradicted the evidence in court of PC John Lovegrove, who claimed to have been assaulted by the youth during a stop and search.
If the loss of more than 1,000 teaching positions in this county's underperforming school district wasn't enough to alert the public to the state's political and policy dysfunction, would the loss of 1,000 more do the trick?
That's the scenario that could play out next summer if parents and taxpayers fail to demand massive changes to a collective bargaining process that discourages good-faith negotiations, rewards union obstinance, ignores the community's interests and insulates elected officials from accountability.
The Clark County School District starts a new year Monday with about 1,000 fewer teachers in the classroom. That's because last spring an out-of-state arbitrator awarded teachers pay raises the taxpayers couldn't afford rather than accept the district's offer of a pay freeze.
U.S. colleges including New York University and Northeastern University are pushing freshmen into study-abroad programs -- before the students even set foot on campus -- to enroll larger classes and get more tuition dollars.
NYU and Boston-based Northeastern, which both charge more than $50,000 a year to attend, make some freshmen spend the first semester or two abroad. They then use the students and their tuitions to fill the beds of midyear dropouts and upper classmen heading overseas. While some students find the opportunity rewarding, others are disoriented at not starting off with their class or having a choice.
Teen drinking is a complicated issue. Just how complicated can be seen by taking a look at the Haddonfield schools.
The school board six years ago established a so-called "24-7 policy," which was supposed to control even students' off-campus behavior. Students charged with alcohol offenses were barred from extracurricular activities, including athletic teams, choir, and drama productions.
It seemed to be a good and reasonable measure to many Haddonfield residents, especially a year after the policy was implemented, when a reportedly intoxicated 17-year-old football player leaped to his death from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Indeed, a central component of public education should be the protection of children. In that regard, children's education should include showing them that bad personal decisions have consequences. Supporters of the 24-7 policy stressed that point. The policy, though, appears doomed.
IN THE summer of 2011 a 16-year-old girl called Dayana Vazquez-Buquer arrived at the reception desk of Roncalli High School, a nice private school in the south side of Indianapolis. Her parents were Mexican immigrants who could not afford the $8,030 tuition fees. Yet Miss Vazquez-Buquer felt Roncalli would be better for her than her current public school and said she had heard about a new school voucher scheme that would pay most of the fees. She was correct. Today she is a student at Roncalli and on track to attend university.Roncalli's tuition is currently $8,030 for the first student in a family. The Indianapolis Public Schools 2013 budget will spend $540,000,000 for 32,000 students, or $16,875/student. Madison will spend $15,128/student during the 2012-2013 school year.
The voucher scheme, potentially the biggest in America, was set up a year ago as part of a big package of educational reforms led by Indiana's governor, Mitch Daniels, and his superintendent of schools. These include teacher evaluations that take student performance into account, giving school heads more autonomy and encouraging the growth of charter schools. Jeanne Allen, president of the Centre for Education Reform, a Washington-based advocacy group, says the reforms are unique because Indiana has looked at education reform in its "totality", rather than taking a piecemeal approach as many other states have done.
The first question when ACT releases its annual wave of data on college entrance test results is: What's our score?Related: Madison's ACT scores lowest since 1995, still above average.
The statewide answer in the results released last week was pretty good, which is to say, almost exactly the same as every year for more than a decade. Wisconsin (22.1 overall average score) did better than the nation as a whole (21.1). Some schools and districts were up, some down, most almost exactly the same.
But if you really want to know how we did, there are insights in the results that go deeper than one number. They deserve attention not only in schools but in every home where children are at the start of a new school year. Let's look at four:
Early grades: In addition to college entrance tests, ACT offers tests such as EXPLORE, which assesses whether eighth-graders are on track to succeed. In fact, as part of the new "waiver" plan to improve student success, Wisconsin officials are going to push to have that test used more widely.
An eye-catching result, based on national data: ACT determines what percentage of eighth graders meets some or all of four benchmark goals. The percentages of kids who meet zero, one, two, three or all four goals in eighth grade are almost exactly the same as the percentages who meet comparable benchmarks in 12th grade.
If you or anyone close to you is grappling with the decision of whether to commence or continue college or graduate studies, there are several important facts of life you should know about--facts that colleges themselves aren't likely to mention. These are a few of the uncomfortable truths they won't tell you:
1) "Far more people earn degrees in many liberal arts majors than can be employed in those fields."
Consider the following statistics: More than half of Americans under the age of 25 who have a bachelor's degree are either unemployed or underemployed. According to The Christian Science Monitor, nearly 1 percent of bartenders and 14 percent of parking lot attendants have a bachelor's degree.
Adding additional degrees is no guarantee of employment either. According to a recent Urban Institute report, nearly 300,000 Americans with master's degrees and over 30,000 with doctorates are on public relief.
Using data on student outcomes and school choice lotteries from a low-income urban school district, we examine how school choice can affect student outcomes through increased motivation and personal effort as well as through improved school and peer inputs. First we use unique daily data on individual-level student absences and suspensions to show that lottery winners have significantly lower truancies after they learn about lottery outcomes but before they enroll in their new schools. The effects are largest for male students entering high school, whose truancy rates decline by 21% in the months after winning the lottery. We then examine the impact attending a chosen school has on student test score outcomes. We find substantial test score gains from attending a charter school and some evidence that choosing and attending a high value-added magnet school improves test scores as well. Our results contribute to current evidence that school choice programs can effectively raise test scores of participants. Our findings suggest that this may occur both through an immediate effect on student behavior and through the benefit of attending a higher-performing school.
Shadowbosses, released this week, tells a story of intrigue, drama, and corruption and reads like an organized crime novel. Amazingly, it is actually a true story of how public sector labor unions (including teacher unions) are spending member dues and controlling the political process.
Written by Mallory and Elizabeth Factor, this compelling and insightful book exposes how unions have organized federal, state, and local government employees without their consent, and how government employee unions force members into paying for partisan political causes and elections.
This is a great read for teachers interested in the history and path of modern-day teacher unions. Remember, forced unionism and forced dues are serious business for the unions. In 2010, teachers unions collected $2 billion in union dues. $1.3 billion of those dues came from states with compulsory unionism. This book sheds light on the lengths the unions take to bring members into the fold and illustrates their true priorities.
Carol Dweck was obsessed with failure. You know how some people just seem to succeed at everything they do, while others seem helpless, doomed to a life of constant failure? Dweck noticed that too -- and she was determined to figure out why. So she began watching kids, trying to see if she could spot the difference between the two groups.
In a 1978 study with Carol Diener, she gave kids various puzzles and recorded what they said as they tried to solve them. Very quickly, the helpless kids started blaming themselves: "I'm getting confused," one said; "I never did have a good rememory," another explained.
But the puzzles kept coming -- and they kept getting harder. "This isn't fun anymore," the kids cried. But still, there were more puzzles.
The kids couldn't take it anymore. "I give up," they insisted. They started talking about other things, trying to take their mind off the onslaught of tricky puzzles. "There is a talent show this weekend, and I am going to be Shirley Temple," one girl said. Dweck just gave them even harder puzzles.
Now the kids started getting silly, almost as if they could hide their failure by making it clear they weren't trying in the first place. Despite repeatedly being told it was incorrect, one boy just kept choosing brown as his answer, saying "Chocolate cake, chocolate cake."1
I was elated and furious: "Why didn't they explain it like that the first time?!"
Paranoid I'd forget, I put my notes online and they evolved into this site: insights that actually worked for me. Articles on e, imaginary numbers, and calculus became popular -- I think we all crave deep understanding. Bad teaching was a burst of gamma rays: I'm normally mild mannered, but enter Hulk Mode when recalling how my passion nearly died.
My core beliefs:
A bad experience can undo years of good ones. Students need resources to sidestep bad teaching.
Hard-won insights, sometimes found after years of teaching, need to be shared
Learning "success" means having basic skills and the passion to learn more. A year, 5 years from now, do people seek out math? Or at least not hate it? (Compare #ihatemath to #ihategeography)
As Wisconsin school districts enter their second year in a post-Act 10 world, some are beginning to experiment with performance-based pay. It's a good idea.Caryl Davis:
But it's also an idea that will work only if it's based on sound measures to determine who gets that extra pay.
A few districts, including Hartland-Lakeside in Waukesha County, are trying performance-based pay on a voluntary basis this year; it would be mandatory for all teachers by 2015 in that district, reports the Journal Sentinel's Erin Richards.
We think districts are wise to wait for full implementation until a new statewide educator evaluation system is in place. The Educator Effectiveness System is being piloted in a few districts this year and is expected to be implemented during the 2014-2015 school year.
"We have to get the evaluation part right in the beginning, or this won't work," state Superintendent Tony Evers said during a meeting with the Editorial Board last week. He's right.
It's important to acknowledge a few facts of life:
In an effort to improve teacher quality, legislators and education reformers now are turning to performance-based pay.
Their aim appears to be noble: improving student outcomes.
But I can tell you from experience, it won't work. And, in fact, it may be harmful if the whole range of factors that affects achievement isn't considered.
Performance-based pay is a formula derived from behaviorist business models. Like the laboratory mouse and wheel, performance-based pay distributes rewards for correctly modeled behavior.
But this isn't a realistic model for education; educators aren't like employees in the business world where incentives are based on profit growth.
Why create an environment that breeds competition among colleagues, that creates situations in which one teacher is rewarded because her class gets high marks while another has less success because of the variables of her students in that particular year?
Also, since student success on standardized tests may be a large part of a teacher's evaluation, a flaw with performance-based pay is that decision-makers haven't decided yet on what our children should be learning. Do they want students to learn how to pass tests or to gain tools that will sustain them through life and careers?
Merit pay also will produce educators who teach to the test, which hurts students and teachers alike. As noted in the 2000 article by John R. Deckop and Carol C. Cirka, "The Risk and Reward of a Double-edged Sword: Effects of a Merit Pay Program on Intrinsic Motivation," teachers are largely driven by two factors: helping students achieve and collaborating with colleagues. Effective teachers are motivated by their collective efforts to ensure the day-to-day growth of students.
A snapshot of the local achievement gap, Teach For America's place in reforming education, and how to apply national examples of success to Hawai'i
The New Common Core Standards call for a 50% reduction in "literary" [aka fictional noninformational texts] readings for students, and an increase in nonfiction informational texts, so that students may be better prepared for the nonfiction they will encounter in college and at work.
In addition to memos, technical manuals, and menus (and bus schedules?), the nonfiction informational texts suggested include The Gettysburg Address, Letter from Birmingham Jail, Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, and perhaps one of the Federalist Papers.
History books, such as those by David Hackett Fischer, James McPherson, David McCullough, Ron Chernow, Paul Johnson, Martin Gilbert, etc. are not among the nonfiction informational texts recommended, perhaps to keep students from having to read any complete books while they are still in high school.
In the spirit of Turnabout, let us consider saving students more time from their fictional noninformational text readings (previously known as literature) by cutting back on the complete novels, plays and poems formerly offered in our high schools. For instance, instead of Pride and Prejudice (the whole novel), students could be asked to read Chapter Three. Instead of the complete Romeo and Juliet, they could read Act Two, Scene Two, and in poetry, instead of a whole sonnet, perhaps just alternate stanzas could be assigned. In this way, they could get the "gist" of great works of literature, enough to be, as it were, "grist" for their deeper analytic cognitive thinking skill mills.
As the goal is to develop deeply critical analytic cognitive thinking skills, surely there is no need to read a whole book either in English or in History classes. This will not be a loss in Social Studies classes, since they don't assign complete books anyway, but it may be a wrench for English teachers who probably still think that there is some value in reading a whole novel, or a whole play, or even a complete poem.
But change is change is change, as Gertrude Stein might have written, and if our teachers are to develop themselves professionally to offer the new deeper cognitive analytic thinking skills required by the Common Core Standards, they will just have to learn to wean themselves from the old notions of knowledge and understanding they have tried to develop from readings for students in the past.
As Caleb Nelson wrote in 1990 in The Atlantic Monthly, speaking about an older Common Core at Harvard College:
The philosophy behind the [Harvard College] Core is that educated people are not those who have read many books and have learned many facts but rather those who could analyze facts if they should ever happen to encounter any, and who could 'approach' books if it were ever necessary to do so....
The New Common Core Standards are meant to prepare our students to think deeply on subjects they know practically nothing about, because instead of reading a lot about anything, they will have been exercising their critical cognitive analytical faculties on little excerpts amputated from their context. So they can think "deeply," for example, about Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, while knowing nothing about the nation's Founding, or Slavery, or the new Republican Party, or, of course, the American Civil War.
Students' new Common academic work with texts about which they will be asked to Think & Learn Deeply, may encourage them to believe that ignorance is no barrier to useful thinking, in the same way that those who have written the Common Core Standards believe that they can think deeply about and make policy for our many state education systems, without having spent much, if any time, as teachers themselves, or even in meeting with teachers who have the experience they lack.
It may very well turn out that ignorance and incompetence transfer from one domain to another much better than deeper thinking skills do, and that the current mad flight from knowledge and understanding, while clearly very well funded, has lead to Standards which will mean that our high school students [those that do not drop out] will need even more massive amounts of remediation when they go on to college and the workplace than are presently on offer.
The Concord Review
24 August 2012
ANY parent of a private-school child will tell you that tuitions are painfully high -- and getting worse every year. Many New York City schools are approaching the $40,000 mark. And it's not just New York: charges at many private secondary boarding schools are now touching $50,000. Outrageous, many say.
But I would argue that, if anything, charges may be too low. At least for some of the customers.
Virtually every private-school parent has heard about "the gap" -- the difference between tuition dollars received by the school and the actual costs of operating the institution. This information is usually delivered by the development (read fund-raising) office, along with a heartfelt plea to help plug that gap with a donation.
Coming to Birmingham from Madison -- and from Green Bay, WI, before that -- has been an adjustment for Nerad, he said, and not just because Birmingham is significantly smaller.
In Madison, Nerad and the school board there were mired in controversy, resulting in Nerad's March announcement that he wouldn't seek an extension of his contract, even though it didn't expire until June 2013.
Nerad had served as Madison's superintendent since 2008 and before that, was the superintendent in Green Bay, where he had moved up through the ranks, beginning his career as a school social worker.
"As much as I look at myself as a unifier, I don't feel like I've necessarily been successful in doing that (in Madison)," Nerad said during his first interview with the school board in May.
However, Nerad said communities are what develop perceptions, and now that he's in Birmingham, he's dedicated to providing "child-centered" leadership, remaining transparent and adding value to programs already in place.
"There has to be a sense of trust (between a school district and a community)," Nerad said. "I think that exists here. Tensions can exist and it's incumbent upon all of us to address those tensions and be available."
Mutations generate sequence diversity and provide a substrate for selection. The rate of de novo mutations is therefore of major importance to evolution. Here we conduct a study of genome-wide mutation rates by sequencing the entire genomes of 78 Icelandic parent-offspring trios at high coverage. We show that in our samples, with an average father's age of 29.7, the average de novo mutation rate is 1.20 × 10−8 per nucleotide per generation. Most notably, the diversity in mutation rate of single nucleotide polymorphisms is dominated by the age of the father at conception of the child. The effect is an increase of about two mutations per year. An exponential model estimates paternal mutations doubling every 16.5 years. After accounting for random Poisson variation, father's age is estimated to explain nearly all of the remaining variation in the de novo mutation counts. These observations shed light on the importance of the father's age on the risk of diseases such as schizophrenia and autism.
California's state government had 9.3 percent more employees in 2011 than it did 10 years earlier - closely tracking overall population growth - but its payroll costs had jumped by 42.4 percent, according to a new Census Bureau report.
That data are gleaned from the bureau's annual report on state government employment, which also reveals wide swings in the makeup of the state's workforce, which includes all agencies, regardless of funding source, and institutions of higher education.
In 2001, the state had the "full-time equivalent" of 372,678 employees and was paying them $1.7 billion a month. By 2011, the FTE's, as they are dubbed, had increased to 407,321 and payroll costs to $2.4 million billion.
Marlborough College is the latest well-known independent school to open an outpost in Asia.
Some 350 children are set to begin their first term at Marlborough College Malaysia on Monday.
The Wiltshire-based school joins the likes of Dulwich College, Harrow and Wellington College in the international school market.
Private schools, like universities, often use overseas outposts to fund bursaries and lower fees in the UK.
Speaking in advance of the launch, master of Marlborough Jonathan Leigh, described the move as a "significant expansion of one of England's finest schools".
The goodI support the Sunshine review initiative. However, the last paragraph, regarding the Superintendent, is of course incorrect.
- 2011-2012 budget information is provided, but previous budgets are not available.
- Budget gap and tax impact options are provided.
- School board members and their individual contact information are listed.
- School board meetings and minutes are posted.
- Administrative officials in differing departments are listed.
- Recent budget information is provided.
- Some information is provided on contracts and employment.
- Audits are posted.
- Recent statewide test results are posted.
- Background check information is briefly reviewed in the employment tasks information.
Does not archive past budgets.
No public records information is provided.
The school board is comprised of a superintendent and "such other officers as the legislature shall direct." The superintendent is appointed by the state legislature in the same manner as members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The superintendent can hold office for 4 years. According to the state constitution the board of education may not prevent a non−union teacher from speaking of a bargaining issue at an open meeting, as was ruled in the U.S. Supreme Court case Madison School District v. Wisconsin Employment Commission.
Teachers picketed outside a district office Wednesday in the shadow of a giant inflatable rat as school board members inside authorized spending $25 million in the event of the first Chicago teacher strike in a quarter-century.
The brinksmanship came just weeks after the two sides reached an agreement on hiring new teachers to allow for a longer school day. That issue once seemed to be the biggest roadblock to a new contract, but the bargaining and posturing has not let up as the two sides come down to the last few weeks before 400,000 Chicago students are all back in public schools.
"We have had 45 sessions of negotiations, and we're still pretty far apart," Karen Lewis, the teachers' union president, told the Board of Education at Wednesday's meeting.
Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
Gregory McNeil, 49, is living out his days at a veterans home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His room is so cramped he can barely fit his twin bed, dresser, and the computer desk he had to sneak in because it was against regulations. His only income comes from the Social Security disability payments he began receiving last year after undergoing quadruple-bypass heart surgery. These payments go directly to the veterans home, which then gives him $100a month for his expenses. McNeil fears that if he leaves the home, the government will seize a portion of his Social Security to pay off the federal student loan he defaulted on two decades ago. "This veterans home may become my financial prison," he says. "And this is no way to live."
McNeil's fears are well grounded. For years, private collection companies acting under contract with the U.S. Department of Education have hounded him. The government garnisheed his wages for a time, and threatened to sue him. He says he always wanted to repay, but has never had the income he would need. Meanwhile, interest continues to accrue on his debt, and has already tripled the amount he owes.
D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) recently announced a few significant changes to its teacher evaluation system (called IMPACT), including the alteration of its test-based components, the creation of a new performance category ("developing"), and a few tweaks to the observational component (discussed below). These changes will be effective starting this year.
As with any new evaluation system, a period of adjustment and revision should be expected and encouraged (though it might be preferable if the first round of changes occurs during a phase-in period, prior to stakes becoming attached). Yet, despite all the attention given to the IMPACT system over the past few years, these new changes have not been discussed much beyond a few quick news articles.
I think that's unfortunate: DCPS is an early adopter of the "new breed" of teacher evaluation policies being rolled out across the nation, and any adjustments to IMPACT's design - presumably based on results and feedback - could provide valuable lessons for states and districts in earlier phases of the process.
Accordingly, I thought I would take a quick look at three of these changes.
During the 2010, 2011, and 2012 legislative sessions, a combination of federal policy incentives and newly elected governors and legislative majorities in many states following the 2010 elections sparked a wave of legislation addressing teacher effectiveness. More than 20 states passed legislation designed to address educator effectiveness by mandating annual evaluations based in part on student learning and linking evaluation results to key personnel decisions, including tenure, reductions in force, dismissal of underperforming teachers, and retention. In many cases states passed multiple laws, with later laws building on previous legislation, and also promulgated regulations to implement legislation. A few states acted through regulation only.
Literacy is also important to Belmore who has a background and training as a reading specialist. "I'm a person who has quite a bit of expertise in curriculum and literacy so I'm really interested in the literacy goals that go throughout," she says.Notes and links on interim Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore, here.
One of the things that Belmore is going to be pulling together is a Literacy Summit that she will facilitate. "The Summit is bringing together all of the pieces of the literacy initiative -- middle schools, high schools," Belmore says. "We're going to work with the people who have been guiding that work just to communicate better so that high school teachers have a better understanding of what elementary school teachers are doing. I think it helps people understand that they are not alone and that it really takes all of us to do this."
Belmore has been reaching out to the community -- going to functions and talking to parents and meeting with agencies and non-profits. "There is a fair amount of that that goes along with this role and I actually enjoy that part of it," she says. "I like to get out with people and talk about the work we're doing and seeing what kind of questions they have. I've met with a lot of major community partners already -- many whom I already had relationships with at Edgewood."
Though Americans clearly have opposing stances on many education issues, when the poll -- conducted annually by Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) in conjunction with Gallup -- asked Americans whether they believe common core state standards would provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and states, 75 percent said yes. In fact, more than half of Americans (53 percent) believe common core state standards would make U.S. education more competitive globally.View the complete poll results via this 1.75MB PDF file.
Ninety-seven percent of the public also agrees that it is very or somewhat important to improve the nation's urban schools, and almost two of three Americans (62 percent) said they would pay more taxes to provide funds to improve the quality of urban schools. Eighty-nine percent of Americans agree that it is very or somewhat important to close the achievement gap between white students and black and Hispanic students.
And though Americans are almost evenly split in their support for requiring that teacher evaluations include how well students perform on standardized tests, with 52 percent in favor, they are in agreement about increasing the selectivity of teacher preparation programs. In fact, at least three of four Americans believe that entrance requirements into teacher preparation programs need to be at least as selective as those for engineering, business, pre-law, and pre-medicine.
Begin with Head Start, a nearly $8 billion program that's politically untouchable, not only because it deals with education, but it's for preschool kids. It's almost tailor-made for demagoguery, with anyone who'd dare trim -- much less eliminate -- the program practically begging to be declared a rotten so-and-so who hates even the littlest of children.
But the fact is there's no meaningful evidence the program does any good. In fact, the most recent federal evaluation found that Head Start produces almost no lasting cognitive benefits, and its few lasting social-emotional effects include negative ones. Only the people employed by Head Start money -- and the politicians who appear to "care" -- are really benefiting.
This is repeated in elementary and secondary education, only with a bigger bill. In 2011 Washington spent almost $79 billion on K-12 education, and the latest federal data show inflation-adjusted federal outlays per pupil ballooning from $446 in 1970-71 to $1,185 in 2008-09. Meanwhile, scores for 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- the "Nation's Report Card" -- have been stagnant.
Oodles "invested," no return.
Is it the best of times or the worst of times for charter schools in Marin?
Well, it certainly hasn't been the best of times in the Lagunitas School District for the past few months. In fact, it seemed to be "deja vu all over again." Forty years ago a group of parents and educators fought hard to bring the child-centric Open Classroom emphasizing individual learning styles to the small district--a program that continues to flourish.
In addition to the Open Classroom and a Montessori program, the district offers the Lagunitas Waldorf Inspired Program (LWIP), based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. It is one of very few public school Waldorf programs in the state or country. (The Novato Charter School is also a Waldorf-inspired model.)
Last week, the UN Secretary-General, accompanied by his Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown and the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, visited Timor-Leste on an education tour. The trip came in advance of a major announcement in September of the Secretary-General's new global education initiative, Education First, which aims to raise the political profile of education and accelerate progress towards the 2015 education goals and beyond.
The scenario in Timor-Leste was all too familiar for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who grew up during war in South Korea knowing firsthand the power of the international community's support for education. "All I had for a classroom was the tree we gathered around. We had no chalkboards or textbooks. I know education deprivation first-hand. I also know the power of education to transform," Ban said in his speech to school children during his trip.
The folks at McSweeneys's McMullens (the children's book department of McSweeney's Quarterly & Books) totally get that. They realize that a lot of children's literature is absurd but not in the way it should be. (It's absurd, for example, that a child should be saddled with the name of Pinkalicious and not in a compelling sort of way.)
As such, it is genius to republish a book of stories from the '70s written by Eugene Ionesco, one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. The stories in his Stories 1234 (available on Sept. 12) are silly, filled with sentences (and sauerkraut) and drawings that combine enough beauty, confusion and nonsense to captivate any kid.
New Jersey Journal examines the impact of the state's superintendent salary caps on the retention of superintendents and asks whether they are fleeing to greener pasture. Roy Montesano, NJ's 2012 Superintendent of the Year, is profiled: lately of Ramsey Public Schools, he'll leave for New York State and the chief position at the public schools in Hastings-on-Hudson.
At Ramsey in Bergen County, Montesano made about $220,000 as superintendent of the five-school district with a total enrollment of 2,686 kids. The new cap would cut his salary to $165,000. At Hastings he'll make $230,000.
Reactions in the field are mixed. Some say that more superintendents will flee to non-capped pastures, particularly in Bergen County, a short hop to New York. (That benefit could be short-lived since Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a similar cap.) Others say that Jersey districts have had no trouble filling positions, and the Journal notes that "the cap was created in response to public outrage after a few administrators accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in buy-outs and other compensations."
As Louisiana debuts one of the nation's most extensive private-school voucher programs, deep divides persist over who should be accountable for ferreting out academic failure and financial abuse: the government or parents.
Across the country, vouchers have resurged in a big way over the last two years--both as a form of school choice and a political lightning rod. Republican governors in Louisiana, Indiana, New Jersey and other states have championed them as a solution to the challenges besetting public education. More recently, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joined the chorus, saying he hopes to turn an eight-year-old voucher program in Washington, D.C. into a "national showcase."
Madison's average ACT score dipped last year to the lowest level since 1995, according to state and district records.
Madison's average score of 23.7 out of 36 was still well above the state average of 22.1 and national average of 21.1 among 2012 graduates.
State records go back to 1996 and differ slightly from Madison records, but show last year's average score was the lowest during that period. Madison records go back to 1995 when the average score was 23.5.
Madison's scores once again highlight the achievement gap -- white students scored 7.4 points higher than black students and 4.8 points higher than Hispanic students, according to the Department of Public Instruction.
These modules are prepared by AMSI as part of The Improving Mathematics Education in Schools (TIMES) Project.
The modules are organised under the strand titles of the Australian Curriculum
The modules are written for teachers. Each module contains a discussion of a component of the mathematics curriculum from early primary up to the end of Year 10. There are exercises that teachers may wish to undertake - answers are given at the end of the module and often screencasts giving a solution are linked and indicated by an icon.
- Number and Algebra
- Measurement and Geometry
- Statistics and Probability
The Star-Ledger discusses NJ's "landmark" tenure reform bill passed earlier this year which "enjoyed near-universal support," but notes that "there is also a consensus among leading Democrats and Republicans that it doesn't go far enough for inner-city schools."
Tough luck. From The Ledger: "Interviews with administration officials, Democratic lawmakers and NJEA leaders reveal that whatever momentum there was for education reform has mostly fizzled. Instead, they're back to bickering over how much teachers should earn and which ones should be laid off first when budgets are tight. And nobody's budging."
This year's entering college class of 2016 was born into cyberspace and they have therefore measured their output in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds. They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America's future, and are entering college bombarded by questions about jobs and the value of a college degree. They have never needed an actual airline "ticket," a set of bound encyclopedias, or Romper Room. Members of this year's freshman class, most of them born in 1994, are probably the most tribal generation in history and they despise being separated from contact with friends. They prefer to watch television everywhere except on a television, have seen a woman lead the U.S. State Department for most of their lives, and can carry school books-those that are not on their e-Readers-in backpacks that roll.Todd Finkelmeyer comments, here.
The class of 2016 was born the year of the professional baseball strike and the last year for NFL football in Los Angeles. They have spent much of their lives educating their parents to understand that you don't take pictures on "film" and that CDs and DVDs are not "tapes." Those parents have been able to review the crime statistics for the colleges their children have applied to and then pop an Aleve as needed. In these students' lifetimes, with MP3 players and iPods, they seldom listen to the car radio. A quarter of the entering students already have suffered some hearing loss. Since they've been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16-cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit's former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, authors of The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think Is Normal (John Wiley and Sons), it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation. Mindset List websites at themindsetlist.com and Beloit.edu, as well as the Mediasite webcast and their Facebook page receive more than a million visits annually.
The U.S. workforce is substantially older and better-educated than it was at the end of the 1970s. The typical worker in 2010 was seven years older than in 1979. In 2010, over one-third of US workers had a four-year college degree or more, up from just one-fifth in 1979. Given that older and better-educated workers generally receive higher pay and better benefits, we would have expected the share of "good jobs" in the economy to have increased in line with improvements in the quality of workforce. Instead, the share of "good jobs" in the U.S. economy has actually fallen. The estimates in this paper, which control for increases in age and education of the population, suggest that relative to 1979 the economy has lost about one-third (28 to 38 percent) of its capacity to generate good jobs. The data show only minor differences between 2007, before the Great Recession began, and 2010, the low point for the labor market. The deterioration in the economy's ability to generate good jobs reflects long-run changes in the U.S. economy, not short-run factors related to the recession or recent economic policy.
I've long believed that we seriously underestimate kids. Hanging around with my friend's daughters who were 2, 3, and 5 when I was in college was really illuminating as I found myself interacting and conversing with his (admittedly smart) 2 year old daughter on a level that we often wouldn't even attempt with highschoolers.
I have a very clear memory of being nine years old, reading an autobiography about a family who adopted several kids. At some point they became stranded in an airpot. Don't worry though! It was no problem the author (and mother) helpfully pointed out, because nothing fascinates a nine year old like riding the elevator up and down for hours. What a load of crap, I thought to my nine year old self. It's like that mom thinks we're mentally disabled or something.
Many parents of 20-somethings worry that their offspring haven't yet found a career path, gotten married or become financially independent.
These parents should chill out, experts say.
Recent research into how the brain develops suggests that people are better equipped to make major life decisions in their late 20s than earlier in the decade. The brain, once thought to be fully grown after puberty, is still evolving into its adult shape well into a person's third decade, pruning away unused connections and strengthening those that remain, scientists say.
Fifteen-year-old high school student Jack Andraka likes to kayak and watch the US television show Glee.
And when time permits, he also likes to do advanced research in one of the most respected cancer laboratories in the world.
Jack Andraka has created a pancreatic cancer test that is 168 times faster and more than 1,000 times less expensive than the gold standard in the field. He has applied for a patent for his test and is now carrying out further research at Johns Hopkins University in the US city of Baltimore.
And he did it by using Google.
The Maryland native, who won $75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May for his creation, cites search engines and free online science papers as the tools that allowed him to create the test.
Udacity, a start-up company offering free online courses, last week canceled a course, "Logic and Discrete Mathematics," that was due to begin this summer, saying the lectures and materials it had prepared on the topic did not live up to its quality standards.
"We recorded the entire class and edited most of it, but in our internal tests it didn't meet our quality bar," said Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity, in an e-mail interview on Sunday. "We have an enormous respect for our students' time and don't want to release anything that wouldn't meet our bar."
He declined to say how many students had signed up for the course or to answer further questions about the future of the offering.
The course had originally been slated to start in June. At first Udacity officials announced that it would be delayed a few weeks. But last week they said they would "not be launching this course."
There's nothing more upsetting than knowing that you are being taken advantage of. I have four classes until I graduate college, and every semester the same thing happens time and time again.
I'm required to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest college textbooks and three months later I can barely fetch half of what I paid. It's the same story, but this past semester I was confronted with something much worse.
The Textbook Salesmen
I rarely visit my professors' office hours, but twice last semester I had the opportunity to watch salesmen from textbook giants (Cengage, Pearson, McGraw-Hill) work their way down through the faculty hallways, moving from office to office, with the goal of persuading my professors to purchase "custom editions" for their classes.
"Custom edition textbooks are tailored to your classes so only the content you choose is there. It's great for you and your students," they would say. I listened to this well-dressed team of salesmen with anger - I had just spent the last two weeks conversing with the university bookstore about unethical textbook practices by my English professor...
What makes a memorable family holiday? Certainly not the organisation: packing for five, finding someone to look after the family pet, stopping the newspaper delivery and buying a vat of sunscreen. So why, year after year, do we put ourselves through it?
Family holidays are all about building special bonds and memories, according to Kathy Wong Kin-ho, executive director of Playright Children's Play Association in Hong Kong.
"They are a time for play and new experiences, a chance for adventure and exploration, and importantly, for rest and relationship building."
Family holidays don't have to be expensive or far-flung, Wong says - just fairly regular. "We all need time every day for rest, play, sleep, love and communication. The problem is we all live in cities, and city life has taken these basic things away from us. Family holidays are a time for us to re-experience these things, and we should look forward to a break every year, as much as possible."
At the Philips Electronics factory on the coast of China, hundreds of workers use their hands and specialized tools to assemble electric shavers. That is the old way.
At a sister factory here in the Dutch countryside, 128 robot arms do the same work with yoga-like flexibility. Video cameras guide them through feats well beyond the capability of the most dexterous human.
One robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And they do it all without a coffee break -- three shifts a day, 365 days a year.
All told, the factory here has several dozen workers per shift, about a tenth as many as the plant in the Chinese city of Zhuhai.
To identify and better understand the experience of these teachers, we started by studying 90,000 teachers across four large, geographically diverse urban school districts. We also examined student academic growth data or value-added results for approximately 20,000 of those teachers. While these measures cannot provide a complete picture of a teacher's performance or ability on their own--and shouldn't be the only measure used in real- world teacher evaluations--they are the most practical way to identify trends in a study of this scale, and research has demonstrated that they show a relationship to other performance measures, such as classroom observations.3 We used the data to identify teachers who performed exceptionally well (by helping students make much more academic progress than expected), and to see how their experiences and opinions about their work differed from other teachers'--particularly teachers whose performance was exceptionally poor.
Home-schooling children is a tough challenge, even with a support group in the neighbourhood and the help of internet resources.
American doctors Bill and Ana Moody made it even harder by moving to an out-of-the-way Chinese village where, despite the many obstacles, they successfully home-schooled their sons.
The upside of being in an isolated environment where little English is spoken or understood was that their boys learned to speak fluent colloquial Chinese. The eldest son, Matthew, is now at college in the US, where fellow students are dazzled by his command of the language.
The way legislators, experts and other opinion leaders discuss the role of parents and schools in reducing educational inequalities has changed dramatically since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act first passed in 1965. Put simply, parents were viewed as part of the problem then, with schools seen as the solution. In recent years, with No Child Left Behind and more school choice options, these roles have flipped.
"There has been a continued focus on reducing educational inequalities; however, there are stark contrasts in the way policymakers and experts talked about what they saw as the root problems and how to solve them from 1965 to 2001 -- especially the roles of parents and schools," said Emily Meanwell, sociology doctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington.
The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act was the federal government's first major education policy and is described by Meanwell as "one of the most important education policies in American history. Created to reduce educational inequalities found across the country, its goal was to increase opportunities for poor and disadvantaged children as part of the War on Poverty."
A parent -- usually a single mother -- has the courage to pick up a phone and call for help.
That's how most children and teenagers enter the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Dane County.
But too many requests for mentors for the children of caring yet struggling single parents go unfilled. Some 700 young people in Dane County are on the organization's waiting list, which has grown in recent years during the recession and slow economic recovery.
That's almost as many children and teenagers as the 750 who now are matched with an adult to meet with them a few hours each week, either at an area school or on their own.
The push is on in Dane County to recruit more Big Brothers and Big Sisters for this fall to provide a positive influence in more kids' lives.
University of Wisconsin System. Worth reading.
Girls are hot. Reproductive rights are not. This is the strange and yet unspoken contradiction endemic in the current development discourse about gender equality. From the boardrooms of Exxon Mobil, to the World Bank, to the offices of the Nike Foundation and the overflowing halls at Davos and the Clinton Global Initiative, you can hear people talking about the importance of investing in girls. Women are often added as an afterthought--their inclusion is often phrased as "girls and women" rather than as "women and girls." Most often you hear that "educating girls" is the magic bullet of the 21st century.
The last time I heard something being prescribed as often as the solution to everything from low GDP rates and malnutrition in infants to endemic poverty, it was the early 1990s and the buzz was about something started by a Bangladeshi man named Muhammad Yunus. Girls' education is the new microfinance. Yet educating girls about their sexuality and providing funding for access to contraception, safe and legal abortion, and broad education about their reproductive health and rights--which was a significant emphasis of global philanthropy in the 1980s and 1990s--has now dwindled in popularity. Although a few dedicated foundations and the European bilateral aid donors continue their commitment to organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund, the new global actors are focused on girls' access to schools and learning.
Thanks to school board Veep John Welke's attention to detail and investigative prowess, the public learned that the high school softball fields had been reserved ALL SUMMER LONG from 7:30 am to 8:00 PM. Talk about a monopoly.
Um...who's paying for the exclusive use of those fields? Sure the SP Little League ponied up $75,000 initially, but how far does that go?
The cost of reserving the varsity softball field for 67 days at $300/day (12 hrs/day x $25/hr)= $20,100.
Add in the JV field and that comes to $40,200 JUST for the summer of 2012.
Shouldn't SOMEONE be saying "Nay, Nay"?
We didn't receive a dime. Who's watching this? Who would have allowed one "renter" to reserve two complete fields for 12 hours or more EVERY day for 67 days this summer???? We're think that SOMEONE with some common sense should have said, "Nay, Nay".
The high cost of educating students with special needs is disproportionately falling on traditional public schools as other students increasingly opt for alternatives that aren't always readily open to those requiring special education.
The issue is particularly acute in districts where enrollment has declined due to demographic changes such as low birth rates and population shifts combined with an influx of charter schools and voucher programs that have siphoned off students.
School district officials say all schools that receive public funds should share the cost of special education.
"It raises an ethical responsibility question," said Eric Gordon, chief executive officer of Cleveland Metropolitan School District. "We welcome our students with special needs, but the most expensive programming is on public districts."
The goal of Teaching Using Spatial Analysis 101 is to provide confidence, skills, and the spatial perspective necessary to foster spatial analysis in geography, earth and biological sciences, history, mathematics, computer science, and in other disciplines.
It will accomplish this through a series of hands-on activities where participants investigate a series of fascinating issues relevant to the 21st Century, including population, natural hazards, energy, water, current events, sustainable agriculture, and more. These activities will be supplemented by short readings and reflections that will build a community of educators focused on the value of investigating the world through a spatial perspective.
"Grammar is my litmus test," the C.E.O. of iFixit wrote recently in the Harvard Business Review. "If job hopefuls can't distinguish between 'to' and 'too,' their applications go into the bin."
But grammar often seems to be a low priority in education. A student could pass the New York State English Regents exam by writing: "These two Charater have very different mind Sets because they are creative in away that no one would imagen just put clay together and using leaves to create Art."
The Saylor Foundation has nearly finished creating a full suite of free, online courses in a dozen popular undergraduate majors. And the foundation is now offering a path to college credit for its offerings by partnering with two nontraditional players in higher education - Excelsior College and StraighterLine.
The project started three years ago, when the foundation began hiring faculty members on a contract basis to build courses within their subject areas. The professors scoured the web for free Open Education Resources (OER), but also created video lectures and tests.
"I was able to develop my own material," said Kevin Moquin, who created a business law course for Saylor. A former adjunct professor for a technical college and a for-profit institution, Moquin said the foundation gave him the "flexibility to adjust it as I needed."
Before this summer, tramping around the woods near Chippewa Falls at an environmental science camp would have earned Alicia Moore personal fulfillment and knowledge to share with her students in the fall.
The camp would not have counted as the kind of formal education credit that, along with extra years of experience, has historically increased teachers' salaries over their careers.
But the recent wilderness lessons may indirectly help Moore boost her salary this year in the Hartland-Lakeside School District, because the Waukesha County district is debuting a new compensation system that aims to reward good performance over seniority - something a few Wisconsin districts are experimenting with in the wake of state legislation that opened the door for rethinking how teachers are paid.
So while Moore, 34, plotted GPS coordinates and learned computer mapping software, she also planned how to teach those concepts to students and measure their learning. Later this school year she'll include all that data in a portfolio to convince administrators and educators she's worthy of a raise.
"You, as a teacher, have to now demonstrate that what you're doing is having a transformational effect on student achievement," explained Moore, who worked with about 17 other teachers to design the new compensation system.
Early this month, as her cousins in Michigan spent their summer vacation splashing in area lakes, 11-year-old Ryan Duffin sat learning about the Great Lakes in social-studies class at Richview Middle School in Clarksville, Tenn.
"I could be enjoying my summer, but I'm stuck in class," Ryan complained. "I hate it."
Ryan is one of hundreds of thousands of students whose summer breaks ended early this year as schools from Toppenish, Wash., to Kettering, Ohio, to Harrisburg, Pa., have bucked a long--but waning--tradition of starting classes after Labor Day.
A ranking of the world's top schools compiled by a Chinese university has put Harvard first for the 10th year, in a list dominated by US institutions.
The rankings of the world's top 500 universities, released by Shanghai's Jiaotong University, have provoked controversy for emphasising scientific research.
Harvard has taken top spot every year since the survey started in 2003.
Of the top 20 schools in 2012, only two were outside the US - Britain's Cambridge in fifth place and Oxford in 10th. The top Asian school was the University of Tokyo in 20th place.
The list uses six indicators, including the number of Nobel prizes and Fields medals won, the number of highly cited researchers on staff and the number of articles by faculty published in Nature and Science magazines.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, the powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers, took a rare vacation last week, but tweeting knows no holidays, nor does frustration with what can sometimes seem like constant assaults on the men and women at the nation's blackboards. So her Twitter account remained active, and on Wednesday it took on a soon-to-open Hollywood movie, "Won't Back Down."
In one tweet she expressed her wish that it "didn't vilify teachers as so uncaring." In another she noted that the main financing for the movie came from a school-privatization advocate who is no fan of teachers' unions.
"Won't Back Down" tells the David-versus-Goliath story of a single mother, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who leads a rebellion to wrest control of her daughter's persistently abysmal public elementary school from local officials. It's scheduled for release next month, although it was shown to Weingarten a few weeks ago. I saw it on Wednesday.
And it actually takes pains to portray many teachers as impassioned do-gooders who are as exasperated as parents are by the education system's failures -- and by uncaring colleagues in their midst. But I understand Weingarten's upset. The union that represents one of those do-gooders (Viola Davis) has lost its way, resisting change, resorting to smear tactics and alienating the idealists in its ranks. What's more, some of the people who are assertively promoting "Won't Back Down" are those who cast teachers' unions as a titanic impediment to the improvement of public education. So "Won't Back Down" is emerging as the latest front in the continuing war between those unions and their legions of critics, and it has become yet another example of how negatively those unions are viewed.
Schools are getting the message about messaging.Bill Joy coined a very useful phrase years ago: "The quality of a company's software has an inverse relationship to the amount of money spent on marketing." I have found this to always be true.
Elite colleges and universities are still attracting plenty of applicants, but weak job-placement numbers for graduates and heavy student debt loads have put schools on the defensive, forcing them to prove to families and state governments that a degree is worth the investment.
Enter the chief marketing officer. A relatively new academic position, these marketers manage schools' identities and messaging, a role covering everything from admissions brochures and Twitter feeds to brand management.
I had cables coming out of my head at first, snaking down into a big backpack with a laptop. It made people a bit uncomfortable. But now the eyeborg translates colour into sound using a chip at the back of my skull. It makes noise by pressing against my head, but from September it will be inserted into the bone. I have to recharge myself at a power socket, but I'm working on ways to use my blood circulation instead.
Thanks to the eyeborg, I've made a career by combining music and art. I do concerts where I plug myself into a set of speakers and play the colours of the audience back to them. The good thing is, if it sounds bad, it's their fault! I also make sound portraits of individuals. Prince Charles sounds surprisingly similar to Nicole Kidman.
Nearly half of New York City teachers reaching the end of their probations were denied tenure this year, the Education Department said on Friday, marking the culmination of years of efforts toward Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's goal to end "tenure as we know it."
Only 55 percent of eligible teachers, having worked for at least three years, earned tenure in 2012, compared with 97 percent in 2007.
An additional 42 percent this year were kept on probation for another year, and 3 percent were denied tenure and fired. Of those whose probations were extended last year, fewer than half won tenure this year, a third were given yet another year to prove themselves, and 16 percent were denied tenure or resigned.
I understand closing the achievement gap is a huge task. But the Madison School District often fails to take the right measures. It is a mistake, for example, to spend more money hiring top-level staff to coordinate meetings and oversee district plans. If we truly want to close the achievement gap, resources need to be on the front lines -- at the schools working with kids. This is not the approach the district is choosing.Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District's Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags "National Average": Administration seeks to continue its use.
Recently, the School Board voted to hire a chief of staff for interim Superintendent Jane Belmore. The position will cost $170,000 and last one year. The superintendent said: "We're about doing everything we can to start to close that achievement gap and in order to do that this position is critical."
I disagree. I understand the need for staff support and accountability. Overseeing a large school district is a huge undertaking. But hiring more top-level staff who earn six figures will not teach third-graders at Glendale Elementary how to read and write.
"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).
To listen to ministers talk about university education, it is as if Britain has entered an academic arms race with the rest of the world. China's universities, we're told, are spewing out six million graduates a year: we must compete, or we're doomed. In the Blair years, a national target was set: half of all young people ought to enter higher education. They'd have to get into debt, but they were reassured it would be a worthwhile investment. Having some letters after your name meant going further in your careers and earning far more. Those without a degree, by implication, would enter the workplace at a distinct disadvantage.
It is surprising that David Willetts should continue this line of argument, because he is clever enough to know what simplistic nonsense it is. It is understandable for the Universities Minister to be in favour of studying, but the real picture of education in Britain is far more complex. The idea of a binary divide in the career prospects of graduates and non-graduates is not a picture that would be recognised by employers. In many lines of work, those who did not get the A-levels for university now have a future just as bright (or otherwise) as the graduates.
Emory University intentionally misreported data about its students for at least 12 years to groups that rank colleges, President Jim Wagner said Friday.Justin Pope:
The deception meant that U.S. News & World Report, Peterson's and others that have long ranked Emory as one of the nation's top colleges did so with inflated data. Students and their families rely heavily on these rankings when deciding where to apply and enroll.
"They cooked the books and lied to students who think the university is better than it is," said Mark Schneider, vice president for new education initiatives with the American Institutes for Research. "What we are talking about is a violation of consumer choice."
Prestigious Emory University intentionally misreported student data to rankings magazines for more than a decade, the Atlanta school disclosed Friday, adding its high-profile name to a growing list of institutions caught up in scandals over rankings pressure.
As far back as 2000, Emory's admissions and institutional research offices overstated SAT and ACT scores by reporting the higher average tallies of admitted students, rather than those enrolled, as is required, president Jim Wagner announced in a letter to the university community. Those figures were reported to organizations including college rankers, the most prominent of which is US News & World Report.
Standing before a class of 28, Katie Filippini was losing the battle to teach her third-graders that the "er" in "germ" sounds the same as the "ir" in "dirt." Ten minutes into the lesson, two boys fought over space on the blue carpet, a girl giggled at the commotion and a boy named Dandre stared out the window.
But Ms. Filippini wasn't alone that winter day at the Morton School of Excellence. Veteran teacher Mauricia Dantes, Ms. Filippini's yearlong mentor, quietly suggested having students clap out each sound, knowing that some children learn better with physical activity. Ms. Filippini did so, and Dandre and the other students began paying attention.
Now, as Ms. Filippini embarks on a new school year this week, she is drawing on those small victories as a trainee, confident that she is ready to teach on her own. "Last year gave me the confidence and experience to go into the classroom and control it."
Just out: Mark Seidenberg, "Politics (of Reading) Makes Strange Bedfellows", Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Summer 2012. The article's opening explains the background:Much more on Mark Seidenberg, here.
In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker created the Read to Lead Task Force to develop strategies for improving literacy. Like many states, Wisconsin has a literacy problem: 62% of the eighth grade students scoring at the Basic or Below Basic levels on the 2011 NAEP; large discrepancies between scores on the NAEP and on the state's homegrown reading assessment; and a failing public school system in the state's largest city, Milwaukee. The task force was diverse, including Democratic and Republican state legislators, the head of the Department of Public Instruction, classroom teachers, representatives of several advocacy groups, and the governor himself. I was invited to speak at the last of their six meetings. I had serious misgivings about participating. Under the governor's controversial leadership, collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public service employees were eliminated and massive cuts to public education enacted. As a scientist who has studied reading for many years and followed educational issues closely I decided to use my 10 minutes to speak frankly. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of my remarks.
From the beginning of those remarks:
They're nearly all gone now. Those towering concrete monuments to a flawed public housing experiment called the "projects." They had names like Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis, Fort Greene in Brooklyn, Desire in New Orleans and Cabrini Green in Chicago. The social architects sold them as stepping stones to a better life for the mostly poor black people who inhabited them. But decades after they were built in the years following the Second World War, they've been mostly blown up or bulldozed. And many of the people who once lived in high-rise public housing projects, and their children, are no better off than their parents were. Some are even worse off.
When the Robert Taylor Homes opened in 1962, then Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley channeled the high hopes of a new urban generation.
"This project represents the future of a great city, it represents vision," Daley said at the opening. "We know that this community needs a better environment in which the future generation of a great city will be raised."
Given the costly chasm between the educational performance of U.S. students and those in other countries--and the shameful gap between white students and their black and Latino counterparts here at home--you'd think school improvement would be an all-hands-on-deck imperative in which the best minds in the public, private, and philanthropic sectors came together to lift our children's prospects.
Yet such pragmatic problem,solving is threatened today by critics who condemn any private involvement in schools as a matter of "privatization," "profiteering," or worse. These ideological foes of business' contribution to the public good ignore history in their attempt to protect a failed status quo. If their campaign to quash educational innovation succeeds, the real losers will be our kids.
Everyone in Madison seems to have an opinion about who the next superintendent of the school district should be.Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires.
Suzanne Swift, president of the Franklin Randall Elementary School PTO, wants a superintendent who can motivate a "demoralized staff," develop relationships and advocate for the district at the state and national levels.
Education policy expert Sarah Archibald says a future superintendent should be willing to make tough decisions about allocating shrinking resources.
Eugenia Highland, program coordinator at Centro Hispano, wants someone who will focus on reducing the achievement gap.
School board member Ed Hughes says the district needs a leader who can "navigate the political shoals of serving in a place like Madison."
Outgoing Superintendent Dan Nerad, who began his Madison tenure in 2008, insists his replacement must care about students and the community.
In a disturbing sign the state economy remains in crisis, property values in Wisconsin have fallen for the fourth year in a row and showed the largest one-year drop in decades.
This news accompanies a surprising jump in the state unemployment rate announced on Thursday. The jobless rate rose in July to 7.3 percent, up from 7 percent in June, with the state losing an estimated 6,000 private-sector jobs for the month.
Meanwhile, figures released this week by the Department of Revenue showed total property values in Wisconsin down 3.2 percent for 2012, the largest drop in 50 years. That includes a 4 percent drop in residential property and a 1.5 percent decline in commercial property values.
The roughly $2 billion in new residential construction was more than offset by a $15.3 billion erosion in the value of existing homes. (See attached report.)
There's a certain allure to the elegance of mathematics, the precision of the hard sciences. That much is undeniable. But does the appeal mean that quantitative approaches are always germane? Hardly--and I doubt anyone would argue the contrary. Yet, over and over, with alarming frequency, researchers and scholars have felt the need to take clear-cut, scientific-seeming approaches to disciplines that have, until recent memory, been far from any notions of precise quantifiability. And the trend is an alarming one.
Take, for instance, a recent paper that draws conclusions about the relative likelihood that certain stories are originally based in real-world events by looking at the (very complicated) mathematics of social networks. The researchers first model what the properties of real social networks look like. They then apply that model to certain texts (Beowulf, the Iliad, and Táin Bó Cuailnge, on the mythological end, and Les Misérables, Richard III, the Fellowship of the Ring, and Harry Potter on the fictional end) to see how much the internal social networks of the characters resemble those that exist in real life. And then, based on that resemblance, they conclude which narratives are more likely to have originated in actual history: to wit, Beowulf and the Iliad are more likely reality-based than Shakespeare or Tolkien or--gasp--even that most real-life-like of narratives, Harry Potter. (Táin, on the other hand, isn't very lifelike at all--but if you remove the six central characters, which you can totally do since they are likely amalgams of real ones, it, too, starts looking historical.)
For some reason, my family seems to have produced more than its share of teachers. I don't remember anyone encouraging us or discouraging us, but somehow we ended up with nine teachers in our extended family, including my husband and myself.
For many years, we were proud to be in this profession. Then Scott Walker was elected. Up to that point, I had not realized to what extent public schools across the nation were being undermined and that teachers had become targets. Governor Walker's election opened my eyes and awakened a political activist. The recall election did not go as we planned and hoped. After much disappointment and discussion, my husband and I realized that the most important cause on which to focus our efforts was supporting strong public schools and emphasizing the benefits they give to all people in the state and nation. This led us to the Opportunity To Learn Campaign.
Through the OTL Campaign, I hope to inform others about the plight of public schools and the inequalities between districts. To that end, here are two stories about teachers in my family, the districts that employ them and how the inequalities in those districts have affected their students.
We have big problems with our schools--and need new ideas about how to fix them. Deep changes are needed in our attitude toward teaching, leading education scholar Diane Ravitch wrote recently in the New York Review of Books. We need smarter, better-educated recruits to the profession. We need to value a teacher's experience properly and discard the thought that idealistic college graduates with no experience make brilliant teachers automatically.
Fair enough. But we need other solutions too. We need plans that make direct use of our biggest assets: parental anger, and people's selfish but reasonable willingness to give some time to improve their own children's education now, versus someone else's in 20 years.
Local Internet schools are a promising way to mobilize existing talent. Much infrastructure is required that doesn't exist. But the parts are all spread out on the table. All we need is to fit them together properly.
A big mismatch exists today between how U.S. C.E.O.'s look at the world and how many American politicians and parents look at the world -- and it may be preventing us from taking our education challenge as seriously as we must.
For many politicians, "outsourcing" is a four-letter word because it involves jobs leaving "here" and going "there." But for many C.E.O.'s, outsourcing is over. In today's seamlessly connected world, there is no "out" and no "in" anymore. There is only the "good," "better" and "best" places to get work done, and if they don't tap into the best, most cost-efficient venue wherever that is, their competition will.
The "brainwashing" tag and the almost sinister overtone that has been attached to national education show just how badly Hong Kong needs a healthy dose of it.
This is particularly so for our young who know so little about China's past and present, about its unspeakable sufferings and heartbreaking humiliations over the last 150 years, about how it manages to arrive at where it is today, and the price and sacrifices that the people and the country have paid along the road to national success.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, the ultimate hipster actress, stars in "Won't Back Down," an education-reform drama that hits theaters next month. When did school choice became cool?
The film is the tale of two parents (one a teacher) who decide to save their own kids and many others by taking over a failing school in a poor Pittsburgh neighborhood.
This follows "Waiting for 'Superman,'" the 2010 documentary that depicted the fortunes of those desperately competing for a place at a charter school -- from the same progressive filmmaker who gave us "An Inconvenient Truth."
In state after state, one of the ways public colleges and universities are balancing their budgets is by aiming to admit more students from out of state (who are charged much higher tuition rates). In theory, this means more revenue for the entire university, although critics have warned about weakening the ties between public universities and their own states.
In California, where public higher education has experienced cut after cut, the choices are particularly difficult. For the spring semester of 2013, the California State University has told campus leaders they may not admit any Californian students to graduate programs. Given that tuition covers only a fraction of the costs of these students' education, the university said it couldn't afford them.
The defeat AFC took was so sweeping that the group had to issue a statement Wednesday in which it "reaffirmed its support for legislators and candidates across Wisconsin who favor expanded educational options for families, following disappointing primary results last night."Related: Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman's 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:
AFC, a group funded by billionaire right-wingers from Michigan (former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Betsy DeVos and her husband, Amway heir Dick DeVos) and their wealthy allies across the country, poured more than $100,000 (perhaps a lot more) into "independent" campaigns on behalf of supporters of school "choice" and "voucher" schemes, which weaken public schools in Milwaukee and pave the way for privatization.
But the AFC candidates lost. Badly.
State Rep. Jason Fields, the Milwaukee Democrat whose re-election was the chief priority of AFC and its Wisconsin operative, former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, was defeated by community activist Mandela Barnes.
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).60% to 42%: Madison School District's Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags "National Average": Administration seeks to continue its use.
Expanding upon President Obama's signature education initiative, the U.S. Department of Education announced Sunday that it has finalized the application process for the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition. The school district-specific competitive grant program will provide nearly $400 million to grantees to implement local reforms congruent with Obama administration education goals.
Initially launched in 2009, Race to the Top has spawned dramatic education reform nationwide. Grants have led 45 states and the District of Columbia to pursue state-wide education reform programs, including data-driven decision making, professional development programs for teachers and leaders, and turnaround interventions in chronically low-performing schools. This next phase is designed to build on those principles by offering the grants to school districts instead of entire states. According to administration officials, locally directed improvements in learning and teaching will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness by addressing local priorities.
There is, indeed, an important conversation to be had about education reform, and I heartily applaud any effort to address different learning styles and methodologies. If nothing else, Hacker's misguided op-ed has fostered a discussion. And I agree that learning practical math like statistics and probabilities is dead useful for a good social citizen. I just think it should augment, not replace, the traditional curriculum.
Hacker tosses out a lot of statistics on students unable to pass algebra to support his "case," but I don't think anyone disagrees that this is a problem. I just can't see how ditching algebra comprises a sensible solution. Hacker's thinking seems to be that, because algebra is such a stumbling block for many students, we should throw up our hands and despair of ever teaching it to them. But do we really want to throw in the algebraic towel just because it's, like, rilly hard?
I have reviewed, albeit superficially, the test-based components of several states' school rating systems (e.g., OH, FL, NYC, LA, CO), with a particular focus on the degree to which they are actually measuring student performance (how highly students score), rather than school effectiveness per se (whether students are making progress). Both types of measures have a role to play in accountability systems, even if they are often confused or conflated, resulting in widespread misinterpretation of what the final ratings actually mean, and many state systems' failure to tailor interventions to the indicators being used.
One aspect of these systems that I rarely discuss is the possibility that the ratings systems are an end in themselves. That is, the idea that public ratings, no matter how they are constructed, provide an incentive for schools to get better. From this perspective, even if the ratings are misinterpreted or imprecise, they might still "work."*
A few years back, Paul E. Lingenfelter began his report on the defunding of public education by saying, "In 1920 H.G. Wells wrote, 'History is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.' I think he got it right. Nothing is more important to the future of the United States and the world than the breadth and effectiveness of education, especially of higher education. I say especially higher education, but not because pre- school, elementary, and secondary education are less important. Success at every level of education obviously depends on what has gone before. But for better or worse, the quality of postsecondary education and research affects the quality and effectiveness of education at every level."
In the last few years, conversations have been growing like gathering storm clouds about the ways in which our universities are failing. There is talk about the poor educational outcomes apparent in our graduates, the out-of-control tuitions and crippling student loan debt. Attention is finally being paid to the enormous salaries for presidents and sports coaches, and the migrant worker status of the low-wage majority faculty. There are now movements to control tuition, to forgive student debt, to create more powerful "assessment" tools, to offer "free" university materials online, to combat adjunct faculty exploitation. But each of these movements focuses on a narrow aspect of a much wider problem, and no amount of "fix" for these aspects individually will address the real reason that universities in America are dying.
In the state's ongoing effort to create better ways to evaluate teachers and assess how much students are learning, the biggest question might be how to pay for them.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers was in Sheboygan on Monday to talk about the DPI's plan to help better prepare Wisconsin students for the future.
Part of the plan is school finance reform, which Evers said he is not giving up on despite major cuts to state aid that came about as a result of Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10. In fact, he said, a big part of the battle will be getting state leaders to realize that investment in public education is in the state's long-term economic best interest.
Yet only a fraction of our teachers are the best and the brightest of their generation. According to a 2010 McKinsey report, nearly half of U.S. teachers come from the bottom third of their class.
Here's a simple idea that could dramatically improve the teaching quality: Hire a few good men.
Despite some inroads by men, teaching remains a female-dominated profession. This is especially true for younger children. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2% of pre-K and kindergarten teachers and 18% of elementary and middle-school teachers are men.
The situation is more balanced, but not evenly balanced, in secondary school, where 42% of teachers are men.
This American Life contributor Tough (Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America) tackles new theories on childhood education with a compelling style that weaves in personal details about his own child and childhood. Personal narratives of administrators, teachers, students, single mothers, and scientists lend support to the extensive scientific studies Tough uses to discuss a new, character-based learning approach. While traditional education relies heavily on memorization, new research conducted by James Heckman suggests that the conventional wisdom represented by those third-grade multiplication tables has failed some of our most vulnerable students. Tough takes the reader through experiments that studied childhood nurture, or attachment theory, to report cards that featured character strength assessments (measuring "grit," gratitude, optimism, curiosity, self-control, zest, and social intelligence). Focused on schools in Chicago and New York, Tough explores the effects of racial and socioeconomic divides through the narratives of survivors of an outdated system. The ultimate lesson of Tough's quest to explain a new wave of educational theories is that character strengths make up perhaps the single most compelling element of a child's education, and these traits are rooted deep within the chemistry of the brain. Tough believes that it is society's responsibility to provide those transformative experiences that will create its most productive future members. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick & Williams. (Sept.)
Mooresville, N.C., is best known as "Race City, U.S.A.," home of Nascar. But these days Mooresville is leading the nation in a different way--by using digital technology to improve public education.
"Fixing Our Schools," a documentary I am hosting for the Fox News Channel this Sunday, looks at how digital learning is being used by schools like those in Mooresville to help fix our broken education system.
Our schools are undoubtedly in crisis. Prize-winning documentaries such as "Waiting for 'Superman'" have revealed the terrible cost of losing young minds to failing schools. Dropout rates are particularly high among minority children in urban schools. But even parents in the best suburban schools are alarmed by the fact that the U.S. now ranks 30th world-wide in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in literacy.
So, the great and powerful Madison School District has started MAP testing and the results are, well, as they should have expected when viewed as a whole. White kids are above national averages and children of color are below them. MAP testing stands for Measures of Academic Progress. They are taken at the computer by each student and the questions are tailored to the individual student. They keep answering questions until they hit the wall of achievement level and the test is ended. Scores are known immediately and areas of strength and areas that need improvement are highlighted FOR EACH KID. It is supposed to be a tool for teachers to use in order to more adequately provide instruction in their classroom. This is called differentiated instruction, or DI in the education vernacular. MAP results are not really effective for national achievement comparison.Related: Madison Schools' Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Assessment Results Released. Unfortunately, the Madison School District has not published the school by school MAP results, though the information made its way to Matthew DeFour's Sunday article.
OK, I'm going out on a limb here and going to say to the critics of ECSD that we have been doing MAP testing in our district for 5 years now. My newly minted graduate was in the guinea pig group in 7th grade, so I am keyed in on this topic. We can thank Paula Landers for being ahead of the curve on implementing this tool. What seems to escape the writer of the article as well as our district is this. It's very nice to know how one's district stacks up as a whole against the state (WKCE) and nation (MAP, NAEP), but what exactly does this data provide in the way of improving individual student achievement? Exactly squat. In this world of inclusive learning, school districts must have tools to provide DI for all levels of learners. If you insist on teaching to some arbitrary mean that various test data indicates as the level of your class, you'll lose the top 30 and bottom 30 percent of the curve. That's 60 percent of the students being lost. Used properly, MAP results could be a very effective tool for the teaching arsenal to solve this problem.
Sadly, it is my experience that my kids' teachers use it to verify what they already know about my kids, that they are above average, and use their MAP data to rationalize being satisfied with mediocre performance the rest of the year "because they are still above their peer average." I have no data to indicate it is otherwise with other children. In fact, I have spoken to other parents with similar issues. In addition, over 35 percent of the students in the quadrant report that began the school year above their peer group in reading in our district in 10-11 did not reach the achievement goal the MAP test sets for them. It seems that the district thinks it's OK that a child does not achieve to their potential. I am not of the same opinion.
Not only did my kid fail to reach his personal achievement goal set for him by the MAP test (gain less than they projected he should), but he ended 5th grade at a lower achievement level in reading than where he started. This loss of achievement happened while he got straight As all year long in language arts. I began a slow burn that has not stopped. I went to the principal, I went to the teacher and I went to the administrator in charge. "He started out so high that it was hard for him to achieve." This is an unacceptable response. My child deserves to show some damn achievement after a year of instruction. I don't care if he started out higher than the mediocre goals you set for the masses. This is thievery, plain and simple. That year, as I recall, the entire grade level failed to meet the 50% level, which basically says they have achieved grade level performance. Interpretation of MAP results is a bit confusing, so go with me here. Anything less than 50% for a grade level indicates they have not achieved a years worth of learning. There has been a shake up in the 5th grade teaching team, but I think it goes beyond individual teachers. If there is an endemic attitude that high achieving students are OK to ignore and an insistence on mistakenly using MAP data to compare to national averages (like the article in the Madison paper did) instead of using it for the amazing tool it could be, there will be no dang improvement in overall achievement.
When I decided to become a professor, I was comforted by its employment projections. Professors hired to teach the baby boomers are retiring: It'll be a seller's market. Now I'm told Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC's, threaten that rosy future. One person can teach the whole world with a cheap Webcam and an Internet connection. Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford University research professor and co-founder of the MOOC provider Udacity, told Wired that in 50 years there will be only 10 institutions in the whole world that deliver higher education.I believe that Youngberg has taken a somewhat rose colored view of the changes at hand.
I was scared. So in early 2012 I joined 90,000 other students who enrolled in one or both of Udacity's first two courses. I selected CS101: Building a Search Engine. What with video lectures, online discussion boards, and learning from the field's top minds, it was easy to believe that online education was the beginning of the end for the ivory tower. But I came to realize that MOOC's have five fundamental problems.
I see higher ed disruption playing out as follows (I have a $50 wager with a professor friend that in 20 years, the UW-Madison will have fewer on campus undergraduate students than today, God willing that I live long enough to collect!):
Investment groups will form relationships with certain professors and a few name educational institutions around the world. They will also cut bi-directional deals with business, NGO and Governments. These organizations will invest in the emerging, hybrid higher ed concerns AND, crucially, commit to hiring a fixed number of graduates. The big names will attract a good portion of the "best and brightest" students, offering a more wide-ranging experience than traditional bricks and mortar campuses. The hybrid institutions will provide both online and traditional education experiences along with a direct path to employment.
The synthesis between a number of "name" higher ed institutions, capital and employment will be very difficult to beat. Traditional institutions will need to soon rethink their mission and model. This being said, many new opportunities will arise during the transition.
"Lower ed" will not be exempt from such changes.
The Department of Public Instruction has established performance standards (cut scores) for the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) reading and mathematics content areas to more closely align with national and international expectations of what is required to be college and career ready. The higher cut
scores are comparable to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) cut scores. The performance level descriptors that accompany the college and career ready cut scores have been revised to reflect the higher expectations required with these higher performance benchmarks.
We're releasing a completely new platform that targets people with no programming knowledge and gives them an engaging and fun environment to learn in.
Over everything else we wanted to emphasize creativity and exploration and make it approachable for people of all ages, including young kids.
Sal Khan and I recorded a video giving a good introduction to what we're releasing:
Kai Ryssdal: I had a conversation a month or so ago with Steven Levitt about the Freakonomics of getting kids to get good grades. And how Levitt says we oughta just pay 'em. Fifty bucks for an A was what he got when he was a kid. Me: not one thin dime. But that's a whole 'nother story.
Anyway, Geri-Ellen Dow heard the segment and tweeted us a picture of two crisp $20 bills -- one labeled "Great Expectations," the other labeled "The Odyssey" -- and a note saying the money was there for the taking by her 14-year-old son if he read the books in question.
So of course we had to call her up to see what happened. Geri, good to talk to you.
Geri-Ellen Dow: Thanks. It's nice talking with you, Kai.
If you retired in 1960, you could expect to get back seven times more in benefits than you paid in Social Security taxes, and more if you were a low-income worker, as long you made it to age 78 for men and 81 for women.
As recently as 1985, workers at every income level could retire and expect to get more in benefits than they paid in Social Security taxes, though they didn't do quite as well as their parents and grandparents.
A married couple retiring last year after both spouses earned average lifetime wages paid about $598,000 in Social Security taxes during their careers. They can expect to collect about $556,000 in benefits, if the man lives to 82 and the woman lives to 85, according to a 2011 study by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.
Social Security benefits are progressive, so most low-income workers retiring today still will get slightly more in benefits than they paid in taxes. Most high-income workers started getting less in benefits than they paid in taxes in the 1990s, according to data from the Social Security Administration.
For parents concerned about the rising cost of college, financial advisers have traditionally recommended public universities. After all, they almost always carry much smaller price tags than private universities. But many of these state schools are now raising tuition at double-digit rates -- sometimes with very little advance notice -- leaving some students and their families in a tight financial bind.
In some states, recent changes have been particularly dramatic. Average tuition and fees for in-state residents at public four-year colleges soared 16% to 21% last year in Arizona, California, Georgia and Washington, according to a report released last week by the College Board. (The average increase at public colleges over the same period was 8.3%; none of the figures in the report were adjusted for inflation.) What's more, students in some of those states may see more hikes in the upcoming year: Washington recently approved a tuition increase at several of its public universities, while California students may face another double-digit increase in the second semester of this academic year. "The potential for this to get worse is very real," says Rich Williams, higher education advocate at U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Peter Callaghan of The News Tribune recently reported that federal intervention in the education of Washington students has pushed state lawmakers and top education officials to pass "more reform." Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn says the intervention of the federal government has been "phenomenal." "I take my hat off to them."
My hat is staying on. The new teacher evaluation law, SB 5895, passed by lawmakers last session to exempt the state from No Child Left Behind rules, is not a real reform. The federal government wants a better bill, and is requiring Supt. Dorn and lawmakers to rewrite, or else the feds will not extend the one-year waiver from No Child Left Behind rules.
When it comes to paying for college, upper-middle-class families often get the worst of all possible worlds. They're not wealthy enough to treat the cost of tuition as an afterthought. They're not needy enough to qualify for big discounts. But they're often status conscious enough to pay whatever's necessary for their kids to attend an elite college.
And so somewhat unsurprisingly, the Wall Street Journal has found that in this age of rising student debt, its risen most of late among the upper-middle class. Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of households taking out loans to pay for college grew fastest within the group earning between $94,535 and $205,335 a year.
A bonus payment to teachers can improve student academic performance -- but only when it is given upfront, on the condition that part of the money must be returned if student performance fails to improve, research at the University of Chicago shows.
The study showed that students gained as much as a 10 percentile increase in their scores compared to students with similar backgrounds -- if their teacher received a bonus at the beginning of the year, with conditions attached. There was no gain for students when teachers were offered the bonus at the end of the school year, the research found.
"This is the first experimental study to demonstrate that teacher merit pay can have a significant impact on student performance in the U.S.," said UChicago economist John List, an author of the study.
The study, "Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment," published by the National Bureau of Economics Research, reflects the findings of other studies in psychology and behavioral economics.
I wanted to talk today about math education and then specifically reforming math education in a rather dramatic fashion, so if you've got eggs to throw, this is the time to prepare them!
I think we've got a real problem with math education, particularly in schools right now. Basically, no one's very happy. Most of those trying to learn it think it's boring and irrelevant. Employers think that people don't know enough.
Governments realize it's critical for economic development, but don't know what to do about fixing it, and many teachers are frustrated, too. And yet, without question, math is more important to the world than it ever has been in human history. So at one end we've got falling interest in education in math and at the other, a world that's ever more quantitative, ever more mathematical than it has been. So what's gone wrong and how do we bridge this chasm? Well, actually I think the answer's really very simple: use computers. I want to talk through and explain why I think computers really are the silver bullet to making math education work but used dramatically.
To understand what I'm talking about, let's remind ourselves what math looks like in the real world. It's got lots of modeling, lots of simulation. It's not just for mathematicians, but for a huge range of other subjects: medical imaging, electrical engineering, etc. That's an important thing to understand, of course. And it's actually very popular. Now, look at math in much of education. It looks very different--lots of calculating, usually by hand or sometimes with a calculator and dumbed down problems.
Why teach math?
So to understand why this is, why these things have got so separated, why a chasm has opened up, let's first ask the question, why do we teach math? What is math? What do we mean by it? Well, I think there are sort of three reasons why we teach people math, in particular, why we teach it to everyone. Firstly there's technical jobs. Secondly what I call everyday living. Just being able to survive in a civilized society and prosper in it nowadays requires much more mathematical understanding than it ever did. And thirdly, what one might call logical mind training--being able to reason, whether with math itself or with other things. Math has given society a tremendous ability to go through logical reason.
Americans have grown accustomed to bad news about student performance in math and science. On a 2009 study administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 15-year-olds in the U.S. placed 23rd in science and 31st in math out of 65 countries. On last year's Nation's Report Card assessments, only one third of eighth graders qualified as proficient in math or science. Those general statistics tell only a piece of the story, however. There are pockets of excellence across the U.S. where student achievement is world-beating. Massachusetts eighth graders outscored their peers from every global region included, except Singapore and Taiwan, on an international science assessment in 2007. Eighth graders from Minnesota, the only other U.S. state tested, did almost as well.Related: www.wisconsin2.org
What do Massachusetts and Minnesota have in common? They each have science standards that set a high bar for what students are expected to learn at each grade level. Such standards form the scaffolding on which educators write curricula and teachers plan lessons, and many experts believe them to be closely linked with student achievement.
Momo Ngan scored only two marks in the now-defunct Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination. But he took the poor result in his stride because he had never been particularly academic. Besides, he found an alternative path that allowed him to tap his other talents.
Ngan enrolled in a three-year fashion design diploma programme at Caritas Bianchi College of Careers, which awards the Business and Technician Education Council (BTEC) qualification. After finishing the programme, he went on to study fashion design at the prestigeous London College of Fashion and two years later left with a degree.
Making a change to education that seems like a clear improvement is never easy. Or almost never.
Judith Harackiewicz and her colleagues have recently reported an intervention that is inexpensive, simple, and leads high school students to take more STEM courses.
The intervention had three parts, administered over 15-months when students were in the 10th and 11th grades. In October of 10th grade researchers mailed a brochure to each household titled Making Connections: Helping Your Teen Find Value in School. It described the connections between math, science, and daily life, and included ideas about how to discuss this topic with students.
Indeed, when her Hillsborough County, Fla., school district overhauled its teacher evaluation program two years ago, Ms. Newman was no longer considered "perfect." But, with new specific guidelines and feedback on her teaching technique, Newman explains, she began to push the kids in ways she never would have thought second-graders capable of, and their performance soared. The mean standardized test score for reading in her second-grade class moved from the 41st percentile in 2010 to the 60th this year; in math the mean moved from the 50th to the 69th percentile.
In the past decade of national anxiety over the quality of American public education, no area in education reform has gotten more attention than teacher quality, and few reforms have encountered as much pushback as the efforts to change how to take the measure of a teacher.
It is well established that a student's reading proficiency level in elementary school is a good predictor of high school graduation success. The lower the reading level, the more likely it is that the student will not graduate on time. Against this background, it is sobering that many U.S. students reach high school without the reading and comprehension skills they need. According to NAEP data, in 2011, more than a third (33 percent) of 4th-graders were reading at a below basic level; among 8th-grade and 12th grade students, the percentage of students who were stuck at the below basic reading level had dropped, but only to about 25 percent. Many of these students drop out; many go on to earn a diploma, but enter the work world singularly unprepared to earn a living.
What is to be done? Certainly, intensive remediation is part of the answer, but so are practice and motivation and interest. The challenge for struggling readers at the high school level is hard to overstate; by the time they enter high school, they often display a negative and despairing attitude toward school that has been hardened by years of failure. Furthermore, most high school teachers are not trained in literacy instruction, a specialized skill which is theoretically the purview of early elementary school. Indeed, for many urban teachers, motivating kids just to come to school is the major challenge.
As public school math teachers ... we are screwed.
Let me explain how I reached this epiphany.
It is impossible to work on the Exeter math problems and not realize how carefully they are constructed and well developed the curriculum. After spending time with an Exeter math teacher and developing a deeper understanding of the Harkness Method they use (never once did this phrase come up, but the methods used by the instructor were clearly modeling the method) a person can't help but really develop a strong affinity for their curriculum, which they GIVE away for FREE!
Okay, I really like their curriculum. It is rigorous, models real life situations constantly, allows learners to develop strong understandings without memorization, has multiple entry points for learners to develop strengths and and is completely free. Point one to my depression today.
My state, like 44 other states (Utah backed out this week) is adopting the Common Core State Standards. This fact is point two to my depression. You see, when those two points are combined we are in a heap of trouble. Pearson and McDougal-Littel (among others) are developing many programs they are chomping at the bit to sell to our admins, and we all know they have a direct line through media and other means to our principals and curriculum directors.
Education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim has defended the controversial national-education subject for schools, saying it is useful for "values building" despite its overlap with other subjects and the growing pressure to delay its introduction.
Academics, meanwhile, continued to criticise the decision to make it a stand-alone subject, with one saying it would be better as part of the liberal studies curriculum.
The government will launch national education in primary schools next month, and make it compulsory for primary schools in 2015 and in secondary schools the following year.
Setting the stage for future legal battles, a state appeals court Friday nullified a settlement that allowed the Los Angeles Unified School District to shield certain schools from teacher layoffs during budget crises.
The decision by the California 2nd District Court of Appeal voided a settlement in Reed vs. L.A. Unified that allowed the district to bypass seniority-based layoffs at 45 schools. Those campuses, the district argued, would be heavily affected because many of their faculty members have taught for relatively fewer years and thus accrued little seniority.
Citing state law, school districts typically dismiss teachers who have less seniority during budgetary shortfalls.
The lawsuit, filed in 2010 on behalf of students at three of the city's worst-performing middle schools, Samuel Gompers, Edwin Markham and John H. Liechty, claimed that those students were denied their legal right to an education and aimed to prevent L.A. Unified from laying off more teachers there.
The latest Secondary One place allocation results showed that 72 per cent of participating pupils were admitted to a school from their top three choices, while some parents and students were seen to "knock on the door" of some secondary schools to beg for a discretionary place. Many of the schools in demand were those that offer classes taught in English. Why is it so? What are these parents and students looking for? What is at stake, and for whom?
Language-in-education policies have been traversed by diverse and often conflicting interests across different contexts in the world. In the case of Hong Kong, public opinion cannot be detached from the historical link of English and the former colonial order in which English speakers occupied the highest social positions within a stratified social structure. However, persistent parental demand for English- medium education is also deeply tied to current trends in economic globalisation that go beyond the local confines of the old colony/metropolis dichotomy in Hong Kong.
"Football is a religion." Or so goes the increasingly overheard statement about our national obsession with the sport. And while tangible verification of this belief can be a bit challenging to come by, a sparkling $60 million temple of sorts offers some very compelling evidence of its accuracy.Related: U.S. public education rates below sports.
This particular shrine is a high school football stadium in, of course, Texas. The good voters (worshippers?) in Allen approved a $119 million bond package three years ago, which included funds for the stadium, a fine arts auditorium and school transportation among other things.
Yes, yes. The other stuff is all well and good. But you know all anyone is looking at is the $60 million voters approved to finance a high school stadium.
In late July, a Twitter user began to post a flurry of messages on what happens to be one of the Bloomberg administration's newest education campaigns.
Steven Ostrin, a former New York City school teacher whose disciplinary hearing in relation to a 2005 complaint has been cited by Ms. Brown.
"Teachers union must stop protecting those who commit sexual misconduct with children," read one post on July 29.
"Unions have to be there to support great hardworking teachers. Not ones who sexually harass and endanger our kids," said another from Aug. 3.
The posts began to draw the attention of Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, who wrote on Twitter, "Union protects against false allegations," which elicited this comeback:
"Then how do u explain teacher asking child for striptease and not fired?"
Hartland Arrowhead high school will spend $23,156,689 [PDF 2012-2013 Budget Document] for 2,300 students, $10,068/student or 34% less than Madison. Madison will spend $376,200,000 during the upcoming 2012-2013 budget, or $15,132 for each of its 24,861 students.
I am quite surprised at the disparity.
A First Course in Linear Algebra is an introductory textbook designed for university sophomores and juniors. Typically such a student will have taken calculus, but this is not a prerequisite. The book begins with systems of linear equations, then covers matrix algebra, before taking up finite-dimensional vector spaces in full generality. The final chapter covers matrix representations of linear transformations, through diagonalization, change of basis and Jordan canonical form. Along the way, determinants and eigenvalues get fair time. PDF versions are available to download for printing or on-screen viewing, two online versions are available, and physical copies may be purchased from the print-on-demand service at Lulu.com.
It's no secret that falling behind on student loan payments can squash a borrower's hopes of building savings, buying a home or even finding work. Now, thousands of retirees are learning that defaulting on student-debt can threaten something that used to be untouchable: their Social Security benefits.
According to government data, compiled by the Treasury Department at the request of SmartMoney.com, the federal government is withholding money from a rapidly growing number of Social Security recipients who have fallen behind on federal student loans. From January through August 6, the government reduced the size of roughly 115,000 retirees' Social Security checks on those grounds. That's nearly double the pace of the department's enforcement in 2011; it's up from around 60,000 cases in all of 2007 and just 6 cases in 2000.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has created this website for the purpose of gathering information on fraudulent behavior in state-administered standardized tests. The information submitted here will be used as part of an ongoing GAO investigation into cheating by school officials nationwide, and will be referred to the appropriate State Educational Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, or other agencies, as appropriate.
Poor James Madison, back in the day, spending endless hours reading scores upon scores of books on the history of governments, as he prepared to become the resident historian and intellectual "father" of the United States Constitution in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia! If he had only known what we know now thanks to the new Common Core, he could have saved the great bulk of that time and effort if he had only acquired some Thinking Skills instead!
Our schools of education have long understood that if a student teacher [sideguider] can acquire enough pedagogicalistical sophistication and the right Thinking Skills, she will be able to teach [sideguide] anything, from Mandarin to European History to Calculus to Home Economics, to classes with any number of students.
The Harvard College faculty wasted many hours in the 1980s trying to derive a Common Core of knowledge which every undergraduate ought to acquire. No one on the faculty wanted to allow any other member of the faculty to tell her/him what knowledge students needed to learn at Harvard, and none wished to give up teaching what he/she was currently studying to devote any time to a survey course in the general knowledge of their field or any other field. So they agreed, thirty-odd years ago, on a Common Core of Thinking Skills instead.(1)
It is not clear whether the knowledge-free curricula of the graduate schools of education, or the Core experiences at Harvard College, in any way guided the authors of our new Common Core in their achievement of the understanding that it is not knowledge of anything that our students require, but Thinking Skills. They took advantage of the perspective and arguments of a famous cognitive psychologist at Stanford in designing the history portion of the Core. Just think how much time they saved by not involving one of those actual historians, who might have bogged down the whole enterprise in claiming that students should have some knowledge of history itself, and that such knowledge might actually be required before any useful Thinking Skills could be either acquired or employed. If we had followed that path, we might actually be asking high school students to read real history books--shades of the James Madison era!!
Just think of all the time and effort that was expended by Professor Hirsch and all those who worked to develop, and are now working to offer, a Core Knowledge curriculum to thousands of our students. If they had only had the benefit of the cognitive psychology undergirding at least the history portion of the new Common Core, they could have skipped all that and gone straight to the Core Thinking Skills now being promoted across the country.
The whole idea that knowledge is so important, or should precede thinking about anything, is so antedeluvian (which means--oh, never mind--just more of that knowledge stuff!). What is the value of being 21st Centurians and right up-to-date, if we can't ignore the past and skip over its history?
Our advance into the brave new world of thinking skills was anticipated by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which, as far as I can tell by looking over the research interests of the faculty, long ago left behind such mundane matters as the chemistry, foreign languages, history, literature and mathematics that students used to (and some still do, I suppose) study in our high schools. The Education faculty has moved boldly on beyond all that academic knowledge to, in addition to lots of psychology/diversity/poverty/sociology/disability studies, the new bare essentials of Thinking Skills.
During the discussions over Harvard's Common Core decades ago, one physics professor pointed out that in order to think like a physicist it is important to know quite a bit of physics, but then, he would say that, wouldn't he? He had spent his whole career in the pursuit of a knowledge of physics, so naturally he would think that knowledge is more important than Thinking Skills, or, at least, should come first in the study of physics or anything else.
We have finally come to realize that, after all, Google has all the knowledge we will ever need, and so, with keyboarding skills, and some time in Common courses on Thinking Skills, our students will be well prepared to launch their careers as ignoramuses, and make their own unique contributions to the disappearance of knowledge, understanding and wisdom in the United States, and to the decline of our civilization (which means--oh, never mind--just look it up!).
Let those history-minded Asian countries continue to ask their students to acquire lots of knowledge. Our students will have their new Common Core Thinking Skills, and all the pride and self-esteem that the ignorance we have given them can support.
(1) Caleb Nelson, Harvard Class of '88 (Mathematics) "Harvard's Hollow Core," The Atlantic Monthly, September 1990
"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
eginning with the Boston Latin School in 1635, education's role in a transformation of America has a nebulous foundation. For the privileged few, almost always males in New England, intellectual growth was expected. In 1642, the Massachusetts Bay Colony felt compulsory education for males was a necessity.
Well into the 18th Century, Caucasian males essentially enjoyed the educational domain to themselves. However, as early as 1740 in Philadelphia, women began to "advance" their sensory skills in Arts and Sciences. By 1767, women were educated to read religious pamphlets, without being taught to write.
In the early 1800's Lydia Maria Francis Child, Lydia Sigourney, others, endeavored to educate children in various subjects. This movement following the Revolutionary War was labeled as the "Republican Motherhood" by writers in the 1980's.
Thomas Jefferson proposed education for the common good of the government, for the enlightenment of citizens contributing to America's development; expansion to the west and the expansion of one's mind.
Jefferson contended, "By teaching correct political principles to the young, they could nurture virtuous citizens; local controls gives adult citizens a chance to exercise self-rule." John Dewey over one hundred years later believed, "A commitment to education in democracy through an emphasis on political socialization and wise collective choices is a course to adhere to."
Dewey's philosophy, regardless of its vitality and viability, informally or formally; unfortunately, because of the political climate did not include women to its fullest extent, nor blacks, nor many dwelling in rural areas, particularly in the south.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Obama administration's health care law opens the door for millions more to get coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, the public health insurance for the poor. But if history is any guide, college students could feel the pinch as states cut aid to higher education to expand health care.
Why? Now Medicaid is split between states and the federal government. And although the federal government will pay the entire cost of the expansion beginning in 2014, three years later states will have to begin sharing the cost. That might leave less money than ever for higher education. The result: higher tuition and fees as academic institutions scramble for ever-scarcer dollars from state budgets.
Experts agree that teacher retention is one of the biggest challenges facing urban school districts. Everyone knows that an aging teacher workforce will lead to projected shortages in the years to come, but, worse still, some studies estimate that as many as 50% of newer teachers are leaving the classroom after just five years. In light of the crisis, a new study by The New Teacher Project (TNTP) aims to identify the reasons teachers leave and promotes long-term strategies for empowering a successful teacher workforce.
According to TNTP researcher, the best and worst teachers leave urban schools at strikingly similar rates. The nation's 50 largest districts lose approximately 10,000 effective teachers each year. Meanwhile, about 40% of teachers with more than seven years of experience are considered less effective at advancing academic progress than the average first-year teacher.
A new and growing form of cheating is taking place in our high schools. During tests, particularly SATs, kids are popping speed and prescription drugs meant to treat attention-deficit disorder. Anything for an edge.
Make no mistake, our Age of Cheats is a sign of rot. The U.S. government fudges its numbers (by way of the monetary printing press). Our politicians call reduced growth rates "cuts in spending." Our biggest banks take obscene risks and cry poor when they don't work out. But we've risen above moral rot before. The U.S. has transcended slavery and civil war, as well as periods of rampant corruption and paralyzing resentment.
Highland Park school board member Robert Davis is asking the state attorney general to remove the emergency financial managers running the Highland Park and Detroit public school districts.
Davis, who has successfully sued public bodies for violating legal procedures of the Open Meetings Act, claims that Gov. Rick Snyder skipped several steps when he appointed the managers Wednesday.
Davis expects Attorney General Bill Schuette to deny his argument. Schuette's office provides legal representation for emergency financial managers.
What's going to happen over the next several years to the fairly normal school district in Wisconsin? I've seen a serious and well-based forecast, and it's not pretty if things go forward by the current rules.
You're right if you think the changes wrought by Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the Legislature sharply trimmed how much schools have available to spend per student but also reduced how much they have to spend on employee benefits - and that, for the 2011-'12 school year, it was a more or less balanced deal from the standpoint of most school districts.
But let's look down the road for Fairly Normal, which is what Bob Borch calls the middle-of-the-pack, composite school district he uses in making forecasts of what lies ahead financially.
Borch is an old hand at school finances. He worked for several school districts in the Milwaukee area, including 23 years as business manager of Elmbrook Schools. Now he works for PMA Financial as a senior financial adviser. The firm does financial consulting work with, among other clients, 140 school districts in Wisconsin. Borch is apolitical, as is PMA. But Borch knows school spending inside and out and, as Jeff Carew, senior vice president of PMA put it, "Data is data. It doesn't lie."
In an unusual move that has fuelled tensions between Queen's Park and school boards, Education Minister Laurel Broten sent a personal email to some 660 school trustees Friday urging them to sign deals with their local unions by Sept. 1 or face paying millions of dollars in extra wages from their boards' coffers.
The personal pitch also warns trustees that Broten will go ahead with controversial plans regarding in-class testing and the hiring of supply teachers, whether or not boards agree.
"I just think the memo is so inappropriate and so inflammatory," said Janet McDougald, longtime chair of the Peel District School Board, who said she has not received such correspondence from a minister in her 24 years as a trustee.
iHOW do you improve education? To economists the answer is simple. Pay teachers for performance: if the pupils get good test results, give the teacher a bonus. Attempts to incentivise US teachers to bump up grades have generally proven ineffective, however. The solution, according to a recent research paper finds, is to hand teachers a large sum in advance and dock their pay if students flunk their exams. This gets results.
The authors of the paper divided Chicago teachers into two groups: a "loss" group and a "gain" group. They paid "loss" teachers a bonus of $4,000 at the start of term. If exam results were below average, they took away up to $4,000, depending on performance. If results were above average, teachers could earn an additional sum of up to $4,000. "Gain" teachers were simply paid a bonus of up to $8,000.>
Rising college costs and a sagging economy are taking the biggest toll on a surprising group: upper-middle-income families.
According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of recently released Federal Reserve data, households with annual incomes of $94,535 to $205,335 saw the biggest jump in the percentage with student-loan debt from 2007 to 2010, the latest figures available. That group also saw a sharp climb in the amount of debt owed on average.
That has left schools in a bind. So, local financial advisers have offered some "innovative" solutions. Last year, Poway Unified, one San Diego educational district, issued some $105m worth of "capital appreciation" bonds to finance previously planned investment projects.
These are similar to zero-coupon bonds, meaning the district does not need to start repaying interest or capital until 2033.
As a result, Poway's local authority has been able to promise to keep local taxes unchanged while completing previously promised investments (building projects, computers and so on).
But, there is a big catch: to compensate for this payment deferral, these bonds are paying double-digit interest rates and cannot be redeemed early. When the bond is repaid in 2051, the total bill will be more than 10 times the initial loan.
A daily fee of up to €3 (£2.36) will be introduced when the new term begins next month.
The charge -- which reflects "the relative cost for the use of the dining room and the supervision that entails" -- has been condemned as "barbaric" by parents.
Traditionally, Spanish children have eaten hot meals in the school canteen during a two-hour lunch break for a monthly fee paid by parents that averages about €4.50 (£3.50) a day.
The economic crisis has left Spain with a 25 per cent unemployment rate and many parents have opted to save money and send their children to school with home-made lunches.
The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a computer adaptive series of assessments from the North West Evaluation Association (NWEA). There are tests in reading, language usage and math.I'm glad the Madison Schools published this information, and that they are implementing a much more rigorous assessment than the oft-criticized WKCE. I look forward to seeing the District's report on the EXPLORE assessment, as well.
When taking a MAP test, the difficulty of each question is based on how well a student answers all the previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions become more difficult. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions become easier. In an optimal test, a student answers approximately half the items correctly and half incorrectly. The final score is an estimate of the student's achievement level. Each test takes approximately 50 minutes to complete.
MMSD has chosen to administer MAP for the following reasons:
In 2011-12, MAP was administered for Grades 3 through 7. In 2012-13, it will be expanded to include Grade 8. The default is to provide the test to all students, but MMSD has the ability to use judgment for students with disabilities. So, not all special education students will take MAP. Also, MAP is not for ELL levels 1 or 2.
- It helps ensure technical infrastructure to support implementation of Smarter Balanced Assessment.
- Rapid turn-around of classroom, school and district level data.
- Nationally normed results give a more accurate picture of MMSD's standing.
- MAP measures student achievement growth in content area and within strands in a content area.
- Beginning 2012-13, MAP will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards
- MAP is not high stakes. It is not reported to the state for accountability purposes, but rather for district and school improvement.
The former head of a specialized high school in Queens was named interim head of Stuyvesant High School on Monday, three days after its principal abruptly announced his retirement amid a continuing cheating inquiry.
The new interim principal, Jie Zhang, has been an educator in the school system for more than two decades, education officials said. From 2006 to 2011, she was principal of Queens High School for the Sciences at York College; it is one of the city's eight high schools, including Stuyvesant, that use a common achievement test for admission.
The Brazilian Senate has approved a bill that reserves half the places in the country's prestigious federal universities to state school students.
African-Brazilian Senator Paulo Paim said most Brazilians would benefit as only 10% of students graduated from private schools.
President Dilma Rousseff is now expected to sign the bill into law.
But the measure has attracted criticism, as it also sets up quotas based on racial background.
The Civil Rights Project (CRP) is proud to publish this important report by Daniel Losen and Jon Gillespie. It is the first national study by our Center for Civil Rights Remedies, which is headed by Dan Losen. Since its founding 16 years ago, CRP's central focus has been on racial and ethnic inequalities in educational opportunities, and on policies that could remedy the resulting inequalities in school outcomes. We have published studies and books on segregation in schools, inequality in choice programs, issues of equity in testing, discrimination in special education placement, the dropout crisis, and the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as many studies on college access. Losen has done pioneering work on issues of unequal treatment within schools, including the widely cited book, Racial Inequity in Special Education (Losen & Orfield, 2002), and on dropouts.
One thing that has become very clear through our work at the Civil Rights Project is that it is critically important to keep students, especially those facing inequality in other parts of their lives, enrolled in school. This relates directly to the common and often highly inappropriate policy of punishing students who are already at risk of dropping out by suspending them from school. Because suspension increases a young person's probability of both dropping out and becoming involved with the criminal justice system, it is difficult to justify, except in extreme situations where safety or the educational process of the school is directly and seriously threatened. For the vast majority of cases, however, the challenge is to find a way to address the situation with better practices, more alternatives, and more effective training of school personnel.
Now that our kumbaya moment is over, the real work begins: implementation of TEACHNJ, Senate Bill 1455. So much depends on the N.J. Department of Education's ability to oversee the transformation of teacher and principal evaluations. Many people believe that our system for measuring classroom and management effectiveness must evolve beyond the meaningless toggle of satisfactory-unsatisfactory designations towards meaningful assessments, tied to both student growth and best practices.
But starting a year from September? For 591 school districts?
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and prolific angel investor, sparked controversy last fall when he announced a fellowship giving 24 young adults $100,000 over two years to leave college and pursue entrepreneurship full time.
The mission behind the program: Rattle the default assumption that every young adult needs a college education. Thiel thinks that rather than spend four (or more) years acquiring a crushing debt load, creative talents should instead go directly into enterprise: "an inquisitive mind, rigorously applied to a deep-rooted problem, can change the world as readily as the plushest academic lab."
Education budgets are tight and state and district leaders must make tough decisions about where and how to save. But is the public willing to accept cuts? Which ones? Where? According to the results of this pathbreaking survey, many Americans support dramatic changes to how school districts do business. From cutting central-office staff to reforming retirement benefits, this report outlines how voters think spending should be reduced--and what programs must be protected. What exactly did the authors find?
With the signing yesterday of New Jersey's new teacher tenure law, there was the expected fanfare about the stakeholders and bipartisan efforts that went into crafting the final bill.Matt Katz has more.
Less attention was given to the two weeks of marathon meetings in early June that finally turned the legislation, the break coming when the governor relented on an issue that was once almost non-negotiable.
A half-dozen key players led by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the main crafter of the bill, met for hours at a time in a handful of locations to work out the details, according to several of those who attended.
President Barack Obama says someone has to pay more taxes if the U.S. is to tame its budget deficit and provide the government he thinks the nation needs. He proposes that the best-off Americans pay more. It's only fair, he says.
"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me because they want to give something back," he said in a speech in Roanoke, Va., that set off dueling campaign ads. "Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own."
His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, counters that the deficit can be reduced without raising taxes if Washington is tough on spending. He thinks raising taxes on the best-off would be unwise and unfair. "President Obama attacks success, and therefore under President Obama we have less success," he said.
Spreading the Wealth, however, bears directly on the economic prospects of higher education. Kurtz's provocative thesis is that under bland-sounding labels such as "regionalism" and "Building One America," Obama has laid the regulatory groundwork for curtailing the political autonomy and the economic vitality of the nation's suburbs. He traces Obama's animus against the suburbs back to his days as a community organizer and traces the community organizers Obama worked with in the 1980s and 1990s forward to their participation in White House meetings during Obama's presidency. A principal figure in this is Mike Kruglik, a longtime community organizer who was one of Obama's first bosses in Chicago in the 1980s, and who remains one of Obama's close confidants and White House guests.
Q: What will the state's new report cards and individual school ratings this fall mean for Madison schools?Much more on Interim Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore, here.
A: We need to work together with our community members and organizations and make sure we understand what the information is going to mean to our different audiences. The conversation that took place in the school district and the community last year laid the foundation for that. People are absolutely focused on the fact that we have to do better with all of our children. It's really a matter of making sure the strategies that we have are moving forward and are the right ones and we're checking them along the way and making corrections, and hopefully every child will be better on every measure
Heloise Pechan's heart rose when she read the essay one of her students, a seemingly uninterested high school sophomore, had turned in for a class assignment on "To Kill a Mockingbird." The paper was clear, logical and well written -- a sign, she thought, that she had gotten through to the boy.
Her elation passed quickly. What came next was suspicion.
Pechan, then substitute teaching at a McHenry County high school, went to Google, typed the paper's first sentence ("Kind and understanding, strict but fair, Atticus Finch embodies everything that a father should be") and there it was: The entire essay had been lifted from an online paper mill.
"I went from amazement and excitement to 'Oh my God' in the space of a half-second," Pechan recalled.
Amazon.com has launched a textbook rental service, allowing US students to borrow print editions for a school term at up to 70 per cent off the price of new titles, but the education industry is expecting the growth of rentals to slow.
Book Industry Study Group research found that textbook rentals rose last year from 8 per cent of the market to 11 per cent, with a corresponding drop in new textbook sales, from 59 to 55 per cent. There is also a sizeable second-hand market in textbooks.
Cengage, one of the largest US college publishers, forecast that rentals could reach 26 per cent of new and used textbook sales by 2015 before flattening out. "I don't think [Amazon's entry] changes anything for us," said Ron Dunn, Cengage's chief executive.
PHRASES like "tiger mom" and "helicopter parent" have made their way into everyday language. But does overparenting hurt, or help?
While parents who are clearly and embarrassingly inappropriate come in for ridicule, many of us find ourselves drawn to the idea that with just a bit more parental elbow grease, we might turn out children with great talents and assured futures. Is there really anything wrong with a kind of "overparenting lite"?
Parental involvement has a long and rich history of being studied. Decades of studies, many of them by Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child's autonomy. These "authoritative parents" appear to hit the sweet spot of parental involvement and generally raise children who do better academically, psychologically and socially than children whose parents are either permissive and less involved, or controlling and more involved. Why is this particular parenting style so successful, and what does it tell us about overparenting?
High School teaching of IT as a career actually puts kids off pursuing careers in the field, according to John Ridge, Executive Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation Trust Fund (ACSF).
Ridge says general computer literacy courses in early high school are important and welcome, as employers expect some level of skill with productivity applications when hiring. But once kids start to study IT as a career, he says, they tend to abandon the idea of actually working in the industry.
The reason for the rebound, he says, is that too few teachers have the skills and passion to teach IT well. In New South Wales, Ridge said he feels 100 to 200 IT teachers do well ... but with more than 1000 high schools in the State that's not a great strike rate. Without proper resourcing and relevant curricula - the NSW Higher Schools Certificate's Software Development and Design course is unchanged since 2009 - Ridge therefore wonders if it is even worth teaching IT as a career in schools.
We will be making this course, Brown's upper-level programming languages offering, available for free on the Web. People anywhere are welcome to view the lectures, read the materials, and do the assignments.
The on-line version does not offer credit from Brown; but those who successfully complete it can get recognition of this directly from the instructor. In particular, because we anticipate some people following the course will be busy professionals, we will offer three levels of recognition:
You successfully complete a sufficiently high number of the regular quizzes throughout the semester.
In addition to Lite, you also complete the minor project that occupies the first month.
In addition to Mezzanine, you also complete the major project that occupies the remaining two months.
My son's school is following the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) curriculum, and I am worried about the speaking element of the English assessment. His written work is good, but he is not a great communicator. How can I help him to develop more confidence in this area?
Public speaking is seen as a challenge by many Hong Kong students. The speaking portion of the HKDSE may be less familiar than other assessment tools. But it can be an area in which students can develop confidence, which will serve them well in their professional lives.
All Form Four to Form Six students taking the HKDSE course through their schools will have to take the school-based assessment (SBA) component of the English language examination. This accounts for 15 per cent of the final grade. Part A of the assessment contributes two-thirds of the grade and requires students to read or view four texts, record their personal views and then either discuss their perspectives with classmates or make individual presentations.
The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) has just released data regarding the "tertiary education graduation rates" based on the "percentage of graduates to the population at the typical age of graduation."
The percentages run from 2000 - 2007. So, for example, in the Czech Republic the percentage of high school graduates as part of the general population was only 13.8% in 2000 but then soared to 34.9% in 2007.
The United States was relatively flat: 34.4% in 2000 with a slight increase to 36.5% by 2007. For comparison's sake, hallowed Finland moved from 40.8% to 48.5% and Japan started at 29.4% and moved to 38.8%. Among the 25 nations included in the analysis, in 2007 15 countries achieved higher percentages than the U.S. and 9 had percentages below. Outliers were Iceland, with a 63.1% graduation rate in 2007 and Turkey with 15.2% in 2006.
39MB mp3 audio file
| I appreciate the time Laurie took to discuss her activism, experience and aspirations along with her views on where our ed system is going. |
Laurie is the author of Betrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do About It and publishes a related blog.
Sandra Priest Rose and Glen Nelson
New York: Reading Reform Foundation, 2012
There seems to be a growing frustration and concern, among Upper Education professors, and many teachers in Lower Education as well, with the poor reading and writing abilities of our students. If they cannot read, they cannot understand the material being assigned, and their academic writing has discouraged many educators from even trying to assign term papers.
This book, by Sandra Priest Rose and Glen Nelson, explains the thirty-year effort of the Reading Reform Foundation to ensure that at least some students in New York learn to read well early, and so to enjoy the knowledge and understanding they can get from reading with ease. It should be widely read and its programs sought out by educators all over the country who want to do more to introduce their students as soon as possible to such success.
I did not learn to read in the first grade. When I brought home an "F" in reading, it is not too much to say that my mother (Wellesley BA, Radcliffe MA, in English Literature) was not happy. That summer she taught me (unrelentingly) to read phonetically. When my first report card came back from second grade (the school had let me advance) it showed a "D"in reading. My mother went to the school and said "What is this? He is an excellent reader!" The problem, as it turned out was that I "would not stay with the rest of the class"--that is, when the class started a story, I finished it by myself--thus my grade of "D."
That was probably in 1942, so I am not sure whether I was being offered the "look-say" method in my first school year or not, but my mother's phonics instruction was very helpful to me in my reading at Harvard and later at Cambridge University, again in English Literature.
This new book about the reading program of the Reading Reform Foundation is not just about the essential value of phonics. It also takes the now unorthodox view that there are obvious connections between reading and knowledge, between knowledge and understanding, and between understanding and writing.
Over the last thirty years, for about 2,000 students a year in New York, the Reading Reform Foundation has offered 160 hours of teacher training, 60 visits a year by a mentor for each participating teacher, and an engaging curriculum to immerse young students in the excitement of sounding out words, and discovering not only their meaning, but very soon the meaning of the reading material in which they appear.
More than 14,000 teachers have attended the annual conferences of the Reading Reform Foundation over the years, and the Program is now at work in 75 New York classrooms each year.
This book includes the results of a study conducted by the City University of New York into the work of the Reading Reform Foundation. They may mean more to those who got a better grade in Statistics in graduate school than I did, but they look very encouraging to anyone concerned over the slow progress in reading of too many of our current youngsters who don't have explicit phonics instruction on their side.
One of the authors, Sandra Priest Rose, has been a supporter of The Concord Review for years, and is assuredly one of the small group of dedicated people who have enabled the Reading Reform Foundation to serve students and teachers for thirty years with only 20% of their expenses coming from the schools which participate.
For those with an English major Wellesley graduate at home, learning to read phonetically (after school) may not be a problem. For all other elementary students, and especially for their teachers, I recommend the Reading Reform Foundation's program. Jeanne Chall's idea that after third grade students will be "reading to learn," will not come true for too many students if they don't have the benefit of a vigorous and engaging reading and writing program like the one offered by the Reading Reform Foundation in New York.
After signing a bill to overhaul teacher tenure rules Monday, Gov. Chris Christie said the changes represented one of his signature political achievements, ranking only behind a successful effort to limit government employees' pension and benefit costs.Laura Waters:
"It's right behind pension and benefit reform just because the level of skepticism that we would get anything done," Mr. Christie said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal following a news conference at a middle school here. "There had been such inertia on this topic. I always enjoy defying expectations."
The new law doesn't go as far as tenure bills passed in other states in the past year. But it marks a significant shift in the nation's oldest teacher job-security law, requiring all teachers to undergo annual performance reviews and making it easier to fire poorly performing educators.
For Senator Teresa Ruiz, who tirelessly shepherded NJ's tenure reform bill through the gauntlet of the Senate, the Assembly, union opposition, aggressive reformers, and countless interest groups.
How collegial was the signing yesterday at a Middlesex middle school? Chris Christie sounded practically conciliatory, telling NJ Spotlight that he signed the bill because "my decision was there was enough really good things in this bill that I was not going to allow it not to become law because it didn't have everything I wanted" and seating arrangements placed B4K's Derrell Bradford in between NJEA President Barbara Keshishian and AFT President Joseph Del Grosso.
I have a rather glaring life-long weakness, a behaviour that has tripped me up many times. You would think that I would have noticed it and corrected my behaviour in my teens or twenties, but no, it has persisted. While I am much better at correcting myself, it is extremely persistent and requires constant vigilance to suppress.
The behaviour in question is this: When I am learning something new, I suffer from laziness, impatience, and hubris. I try to grasp the gist of the thing, the conclusion, and then I stop. I figure I "understand" it, so I must be done learning.
One of the greatest joys of my job is coaching and mentoring super smart and super ambitious young people.
I find myself doing this a lot lately.
Here's a common pattern we find at Fab (and, I'm sure, at many startups): Young person leverages his or her brain, passion, ambitions and talents to rise up to a senior role very quickly. They take on a ton of responsibility and they kick ass at it. But, then, invariably, the young superstar hits some sort of a wall. Often it's a burnout wall. Other times it's a managing-down wall. Other times it's a managing-up wall. Other times it's just a bruised ego. Most of the time though it's just youth. There's value and maturity that comes from experience and pattern recognition. And, for young people who rise to the top quickly, there's a natural impatience that flies in the face of waiting for that experience and pattern recognition to guide the way.
The U.S. ranks 25th out of 34 countries when it comes to kids' math proficiency. One New Jersey parent wants to change that by overhauling the culture of math. An astrophysics graduate and mother of three kids, she started a ritual when each child was 2 years old: a little bedtime mathematical problem-solving that soon became a beloved routine. Parent friends began to bug her to send them kid-friendly math problems, too. Now Bedtime Math is gaining fans among children and math-shy parents around the country.
The notion of online education for the Crayola set can strike adults as absurd. But for kids, even little ones, it's the idea ignoring computers all day that sounds crazy. After all, if you ask a third grader to list his favorite things, "doing stuff on the computer" will rank high, probably somewhere between race cars and string cheese.
What most people envision when they think of online education--a college or high school student sitting at a computer all day at home, perhaps with minimal parental guidance--isn't viable for the vast majority of families with young kids. Warehousing is a dirty word in education circles, but the truth is that it must be part of the package. Kids need somewhere to go during the day, preferably to hang out with other kids. They also need a bunch of adults there to keep them from killing one another and help them learn something.
Governor Christie today signed a bill that overhauls the state's teacher tenure system, even though it is missing a key component he fought to include in the measure.
Christie signed the bill, known as the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for Children of New Jersey Act, in the media center of the Von E. Mauger Middle School after briefly meeting with children in a summer camp program in the school's gymnasium.
Christie had wanted the bill to include a provision that would weaken seniority provisions, known as last in first out.
Education Commissioner Chris Cerf praised the law, but said that the "last in, first out" provision must still be addressed.
"Lets celebrate this moment together but lets not pretend the work is done," he said.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been pushing the states to create rigorous teacher evaluation systems that not only judge teachers by how well their students perform but also -- when the results are in -- reward good teachers while easing chronic low performers out of the system. More than half the states have agreed to adopt new evaluation systems in exchange for competitive grants from the federal Race to the Top program or greater flexibility under the No Child Left Behind law.
These incentives are long overdue. As things stand now, according to a study by the New Teacher Project, a Brooklyn-based policy group, many school managers make no distinction between high-performing and low-performing teachers. The result is that poor teachers stick around while good teachers go elsewhere or leave the profession, frustrated because they are not promoted, rewarded with better pay, or even simply acknowledged.
South Florida public high school football players are having their cognitive skills assessed before their season starts.
The Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing is a 20-minute, computerized evaluation often administered by a trainer. It gives doctors a baseline assessment of an athlete's mental abilities so that after an injury, the test can be retaken for a true measure of recovery.
The Cleveland Clinic agreed last month to underwrite a pilot program testing Palm Beach County football players before their season starts Monday. Miami-Dade County has been using baseline testing for two years, and Broward County began mandatory testing this year.
Here are 10 education terms with definitions that tell you what they really mean to people who use them in our national education conversation.
Yesterday I published the first installment of education jargon, written by Joanne Yatvin, a veteran public school educator, author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She is now teaching part-time at Portland State University.
Here's more jargon from Joanne Yatvin:
School Reform Plans: Untested notions for improving public education, many of which have been tried before with negligible results
School Reformers: People with impressive titles who have had little or no practical experience in schools.
Charter Schools: Semi-private schools supported by public funds deemed superior by parents because they appear more elegant and exclusive than public schools.
Research shows daydreaming leads to improved learning; enhanced abilities; greater creativity & increased success I researched how people achieve success. I wanted to find out if there is a pattern that can be replicated and used to help others get the same results. I initially looked at highly successful people in their chosen field from Entrepreneurs like Richard Branson & Peter Jones to Geniuses like Albert Einstein & Leonardo Da Vinci. I also looked at the thinking styles of successful creative people like Beethoven & Walt Disney. What I found was that they all had one thing in common. They all spent time daydreaming about their area of success. "When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination." Nikola Tesla "When I heard the music it made pictures in my head...here are the pictures." Walt Disney (Describing the film Fantasia)
Griffith, one of five schools in the Balsz Elementary School District here, is one of a handful of public schools across the country that has lengthened the school year in an effort to increase learning time.
A typical public school calendar is 180 days, but the Balsz district, where 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, is in session for 200 days, adding about a month to the academic year.
According to the National Center on Time and Learning, a nonprofit research group in Boston, about 170 schools -- more than 140 of them charter schools -- across the country have extended their calendars in recent years to 190 days or longer.
Today's college students enjoy the ability to speak their minds in unprecedented ways. Powered by omnipresent high-speed Internet access, students may sound off at all hours via a sparkling array of online outlets: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, email, instant messaging, and blogs, just to name a few.
The ancient among us -- by which I mean those who graduated from college before, say, the year 2002 -- may not realize the enormity of this change. While old standbys like phone calls, text messages, and even face-to-face conversations have certainly not been forsaken, student speech -- to each other, and to professors, parents, and the public -- has increasingly moved online.
On balance, this shift is a positive development. Students may now communicate with each other and the wider world at a speed impossible just 20 years ago. The vastly expanded audience made possible by the Internet's hyperconnectivity means student ideas now rocket around the globe instantly, no longer confined to the quad or the classroom.
I'm enjoying my friend Peter Suber's small book Open Access. He's a very clear and concise writer, and of course he knows this topic better than anyone.
Here are some facts Peter mentions:
In 2008, Harvard subscribed to 98,900 serials. Yale subscribed to 73,900. "The best-funded research library in India...subscribed to 10,600." And, Peter points out, some Sub-Saharan universities cannot afford to subscribe to any. (pp. 30-32) Way to make yourself smart, humanity!
"In 2010, Elsevier's journal division had a profit margin of 35.7 percent while ExxonMobil had only 28.1 percent." (p. 32)
The cost of journals has caused a dramatic decrease in the percentage of their budgets research libraries spend on books, from 44% in 1986 to 28% now. "Because academic libraries now buy fewer books, academic book publishers now accept fewer mauscripts..." (p. 33)
At first glance, Mr Obama's critics have ample ammunition. Federal spending during his term was the highest relative to GDP since the end of the second world war. A record number of the population now gets federal entitlements such as Medicaid and food stamps. The federal government backs 90% of new mortgages, up from half before the financial crisis, as well as a growing share of student loans. Staffing levels at regulatory agencies have ballooned, and they churn out more and costlier rules than their predecessors.
Behind these bits of data, however, lies a more complicated reality. Much of the expansion in government is a direct consequence of the weak economy. Last year a record 45m people received food stamps, up 58% from 2008, while a record 53m were on Medicaid (the health-care programme for the poor), up 21%. This is almost entirely caused by unemployment and shrunken pay-cheques; eligibility has not changed for either programme in that time, although the 2009 stimulus act temporarily raised food stamp benefits and state Medicaid transfers. Similarly, because investors have lost their appetite since the crisis for securities without a federal guarantee, federally-backed agencies have been forced to underwrite a growing share of new mortgages.
The fourth-grade teacher was by any measure a star. Fidgety students behaved in her class. Test scores were high. She had come to the low-income neighborhood school to make an impact. In her class, she did. But few of her supervisors or colleagues seemed to care.
"School leaders gave her little recognition," says a new research study on how schools treat great teachers. They "failed to take advantage of her instructional expertise and stymied the sort of team-building and collaboration that had helped her boost performance among students and fellow teachers at other schools for decades."
So this summer, she left for another school that wanted her talent. She told the researchers that when she resigned, the principal "just signed my paperwork, and didn't even say a word. . . . It made me feel like he couldn't care less, not about me and not about this school."
The totalitarian left has been similarly clear that decision-making power should be confined to a political elite--the "vanguard of the proletariat," the leader of a "master race," or whatever the particular phrase that might become the motto of the particular totalitarian system. In Mussolini's words, "The mass will simply follow and submit."
Intellectuals and Society
New York: Basic Books, 2011, pp. 104-106
...Reliance on systemic processes, whether in the economy, the law, or other areas, is based on the constrained vision--the tragic vision--of the severe limitations on any given individual's knowledge and insight, however knowledgeable or brilliant that individual might be, compared to other individuals. Systemic processes which tap vastly more knowledge and experience from vastly more people, often including traditions evolved from the experience of successive generations, are deemed more reliable than the intellect of the intellectuals.
By contrast, the vision of the left is one of surrogate decision-making by those presumed to have not only superior knowledge but sufficient knowledge, whether these surrogates are political leaders, experts, judges or others. This is the vision that is common to varying degrees on the political left, whether radical or moderate, and common also to totalitarians, whether Communist or Fascist. A commonality of purpose in society is central to collective decision-making, whether expressed in town-meeting democracy or totalitarian dictatorship of other variations in between. One of the differences between the commonality of purpose in democratic systems of government and the totalitarian systems of government is in the range of decisions infused with that commonality of purpose and in the range of decisions reserved for individual decision-making outside the purview of government.
The free market, for example, is a huge exemption from government power. In such a market, there is no commonality of purpose, except among such individuals and organizations as may choose voluntarily to coalesce into groups ranging from bowling leagues to multinational corporations. But even these aggregations typically pursue the interests of their own respective constituents and compete against the interests of other aggregations. Those who advocate this mode of social decision-making do so because they believe that the systemic results of such competition are usually better than a society-wide commonality of purpose imposed by surrogate decision-makers superintending the whole process in the name of "the national interest" or of "social justice."
The totalitarian version of collective surrogate decision-making by government was summarized by Mussolini, who defined "totalitarianism" in the motto: "Everything in the State, nothing outside of the State, nothing against the State." Moreover, the state ultimately meant the political leader of the state, the dictator. Mussolini was know as Il Duce--the leader--before Hitler acquired the same title in German as the Führer.
Democratic versions of collective surrogate decision-making by government choose leaders by votes and tend to leave more areas outside the purview of government. However, the left seldom has any explicit principle by which the boundaries between government and individual decision-making can be determined, so that the natural tendency over time is for the scope of government decision-making to expand, as more and more decisions are taken successively from private hands, since government officials constantly have incentives to expand their powers while the voters' attention is not constantly focussed on maintaining limits on those powers.
Preferences for collective, surrogate decision-making from the top down are not all that the democratic left has shared with the original Italian Fascists and with the National Socialists (Nazis) of Germany. In addition to political intervention in economic markets, the democratic left has shared with the Fascists and the Nazis the underlying assumption of a vast gap in understanding between ordinary people and elites like themselves. Although both the totalitarian left--that is, the Fascists, Communists and Nazis--and the democratic left have widely used in a positive sense such terms as "the people," "the workers" or "the masses," these are the ostensible beneficiaries of their policies, but not autonomous decision-makers. Although much of the rhetoric on both the democratic left and the totalitarian left has long papered over the distinction between ordinary people as beneficiaries and as decision-makers, it has long been clear in practice that decision-making has been seen as something reserved for the anointed in these visions.
Rousseau, for all his emphasis on "the general will," left the interpretation of that will to elites. He likened the masses of the people to "a stupid, pusillanimous invalid." Godwin and Condorcet, also on the eighteenth century left, expressed similar contempt for the masses. Karl Marx said, "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing"--in other words, millions of human beings mattered only if they carried out his vision. George Bernard Shaw included the working class among the "detestable" people who "have no right to live." He added: "I should despair if I did not know that they will die presently, and that there is no need on earth why they should be replaced by people like themselves." As a young man serving the U.S. Army during the First World War, Edmund Wilson wrote to a friend: "I should be insincere to make it appear that the deaths of this 'poor white trash' of the South and the rest make me feel half so bitter as the mere conscription or enlistment of any of my friends."
The totalitarian left has been similarly clear that decision-making power should be confined to a political elite--the "vanguard of the proletariat," the leader of a "master race," or whatever the particular phrase that might become the motto of the particular totalitarian system. In Mussolini's words, "The mass will simply follow and submit."
"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
READERS are still debating my criticism of Kyle Wiens's "I won't hire people with bad grammar" post on language and computer code. To recap, Mr Wiens said "at its core, code is prose" and I said "no, it isn't." My criticism had more to it than that (and granted Mr Wiens several points). But here is a test, illustrative if not dispositive: if code is prose, then prose is a kind of code, and excellent coders should be able to write meta-code that would error-check natural language (analogous to how compilers check a program).
So much about how and where kids learn has changed over the years, but the physical structure of schools has not. Looking around most school facilities -- even those that aren't old and crumbling - it's obvious that so much of it is obsolete today, and yet still in wide use.
1. COMPUTER LABS. Students are connected to the Internet everywhere except in school. Regardless of their income bracket, most kids carry around a world of information in their pockets on their mobile devices, and yet we force them to power down and disconnect, and we confine them in obsolete computer labs. A modern school needs to have connectivity everywhere and treat computers more like pencils than microscopes.
I MENTION a certain writer in an e-mail, and the reply comes back: "Comcast McCarthy??? Phoner novelist???" Did I really type "Comcast"? No. The great god Autocorrect has struck again.
It is an impish god. I try retyping the name on a different device. This time the letters reshuffle themselves into "Format McCarthy." Welcome to the club, Format. Meet the Danish astronomer Touchpad Brahe and the Franco-American actress Natalie Portmanteau.
In the past, we were responsible for our own typographical errors. Now Autocorrect has taken charge. This is no small matter. It is a step in our evolution -- the grafting of silicon into our formerly carbon-based species, in the name of collective intelligence. Or unintelligence as the case may be.
Earlier this year, the police in Hall County, Ga., locked down the West Hall schools for two hours after someone received a text message saying, "gunman be at west hall today." The texter had typed "gunna," but Autocorrect had a better idea.
Set in a gritty Pittsburgh neighborhood, the upcoming Maggie Gyllenhaal/Viola Davis film tells the story of two parents, one of them a teacher, who use a little-known state law to take over their kids' struggling public school. Turns out that such laws actually exist in four states -- California, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana -- with lawmakers in about a dozen more, including Pennsylvania, expected to consider them over the next year.Won't Back Down Links.
First dreamed up by Democratic activist and former Clinton White House staffer Ben Austin, so-called parent trigger laws allow dissatisfied parents to demand changes at their kids' schools -- including a total takeover -- if a majority sign on.
If our children are going to learn in school and succeed in life they need opportunities to learn, like quality early childhood educational experiences.
The Wisconsin State Journal made that point very well in a recent editorial ("Sooner is better than later in learning"). Children from poverty face an array of problems that hold them back when they enter school. The paper talked about the United Way of Dane County's Parent-Child Home Programs as a way to "help more parents give their children a good start at learning."
This program and others, including Head Start and local efforts around the state and country, have been around for years. In this specific instance, United Way points to studies that suggest participants were better prepared for kindergarten, had higher test scores in elementary school and were more likely to graduate than non-participating peers."
I almost never give advice to teachers. They live their work, while I just observe it and cannot hope to know as much as they do.
But on one subject, writing, I could teach most of them. My learning to put words together was long, painful and instructive. I know what works and what doesn't.
That's my excuse for suggesting in my last Local Living column a new kind of high school course. We should suspend the regular English curriculum for a semester and teach "Reading and Writing." Every student would produce an essay each week and spend time at the teacher's desk being edited. We would hire or train teachers to do what my first editors did: Cross out cute phrases, ask what I was trying to say, break overlong sentences into pieces, ask for specific examples, replace inactive verbs with active ones, and so on.
A class of 25 meeting five times a week for 50 minutes would allow only 10 minutes of editing a week for each student. But that adds up to 200 minutes of one-on-one editing per student by the end of the semester, a big improvement over what students get now, which often is zero. The usual written comments on graded papers lack the force of these personal exchanges.
Parents may soon be able to learn how their children's individual teachers rate when it comes to student achievement.
But the general public will not be given access to that information.
The Utah state school board jumped this week into what's become a national debate over whether individual teacher performance data should be released publicly. The board voted 9-6 on Friday to encourage school principals to share classroom-level achievement data with parents who ask for it. But the data will not be posted publicly, meaning nonparents will not have access to it, and parents will not likely be able to see that information for schools other than their own.
The fall semester is weeks away, but after a brief summer recess, tension came flooding back to the Oakland school board room this week.
I wasn't at the Wednesday night board meeting when this went down, but it didn't look pretty from my screen.
One minute Joel Velasquez -- a Westlake and former Lakeview parent who has been perhaps the most outspoken and persistent critic of Oakland's school closures -- was at the podium, speaking about working closely with the superintendent and school board and becoming "allies."
In the next, he was being escorted out of the school board meeting room by Oakland School Police after having threatened to stage protests at board members' homes.
In the '50s, American students practiced taking cover under their desks to protect themselves against nuclear attack. That precaution, of course, would have been pointless under those circumstances, but it could save lives in the case of an earthquake. The Earthquake Proof Table, designed by Bezalel student Arthur Brutter and instructor Ido Bruno, is engineered to shield two students from a ton of debris.
Nancy Sebring is at odds with her former employer, the Des Moines school district, which she claims has been slow to respond to her requests for public records.
The former schools superintendent believes the information in the emails and other documents that she has requested will "give a full picture" of what transpired following her May 10 resignation.
Sebring left her post after district staff members learned she had used her school email account to send and receive sexually explicit emails.
"I'm trying to put all the information of the last couple of months together and see what was going on and what was being said," Sebring told The Des Moines Register Friday. "I've been approached by someone who is interested in my story. I am just trying to keep track of everything while it is still available."
In just six days, U Could Finish helped over 500 students search for classes. On the seventh day, we were blocked.
U Could Finish was a tool that searched myUCF and sent a text when it found a seat in the class you wanted. That all came to a screeching halt on Friday, June 8th, when our server was blocked from UCF entirely. If you try to access this site on campus, it doesn't even exist.
I've often said things like this: Show me a good school and I'll show you a good principal. Or this: Show me a good school and I'll show you valued and valuable teachers who row the boat together.
Dan McKinley would add this to the list: Show me a good school and I'll show you a good board of directors.
He makes an important point, and PAVE, the organization he has headed for two decades, is launching a potentially valuable effort to improve a key to a school's quality that has gotten little attention.
In a way that is likely to unfold largely behind the scenes, the new board quality initiative PAVE has launched could improve the success and long-term vitality of the 125 or so schools in Milwaukee that largely govern themselves - often, not particularly well.
The focus in education policy these days is predominantly on the classroom - including teachers and teaching, curriculum, higher standards and whether technology and online resources will bring fundamental changes in the way kids are taught in coming years. This is all important, of course.
Would Einstein and Newton have made good teachers of physics and mathematics in a school? I very much doubt it. Being an expert in a particular subject does not necessarily mean you are able to teach it to a class of teenagers; obvious really, but not to Britain's Education Secretary apparently.
The decision by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, that Academies - semi-independent state schools that receive funding directly from the government rather than through a local authority - can appoint teachers without formal teaching qualifications - "qualified teacher status" (QTS) - was characterized by the Department of Education as no big deal, and that most teachers will continue to have QTS qualifications.
But how long will this remain the case? Presumably, the Education Secretary believes that formal teaching qualifications make no difference to the quality of teaching in the classroom. That being the case why, then, should anyone bother with it in the future?
Or consider -- as both an example of the need for more civics education and as fodder for a potential lesson -- the Kelda Helen Roys-Mark Pocan Democratic primary for Congress.
What else than a stunning lack of voter awareness could let Roys paint a staunch liberal like Pocan as some kind of Republican sympathizer and not get laughed out of Wisconsin's 2nd District?
Then there's the explosion in partisan media's cult of personality.
I don't know any better evidence of the citizenship skills gap than the droves of people who practice a form of citizenship that involves having their political biases regularly reinforced by radio and TV opinionators who feel pretty much the way they do.
Lack of civics education is a "huge problem," said Mike McCabe, who as executive director of the Madison-based Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said he gets invited to speak in high school and college classrooms one to three times a month during the school year.
Admittedly I did not expect much. Upon review some parts pleasantly surprised me, but I am not holding my breath that it is the answer to MMSD's achievement gaps. It is a classic example of what I call a butterflies and rainbows education plan. It includes a variety of non-controversial, ambitious, and often positive goals and strategies, but no compelling reason to expect it to close the achievement gap. Good things people will like, unlikely to address MMSD's serious problems: butterflies and rainbows.The rejected Madison Preparatory IB charter school was proposed to address, in part Madison's long standing achievement gap.
What follows is a review of the specific recommendations in the MSSD plan. And yes, there are good things in here that the district should pursue. However, any serious education plan must include timelines not just for implementation, but also for results. This plan does not do that. Nor does it say what happens if outcomes for struggling subgroups of students do not improve.
Recommendation #1: Ensure that All K-12 Students are Reading at Grade Level
A recent New York Times Opinion piece (hat tip Wei Ho), Is Algebra Necessary?, argues for the abolishment of algebra as a requirement for college. It was written by Andrew Hacker, an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York. His concluding argument:
The Wichita School District is just one of a growing number in the nation cracking down on teacher apparel. Jeans are banned in at least one elementary school in New York City. A school district in Phoenix is requiring teachers to cover up tattoos and excessive piercings. And several Arizona schools are strictly defining business casual.Wichita's 2011-2012 budget was $606,000,000 for 50,103 students ($12,095/student). Madison spent 18.6% more, or $14,858/student during the 2011-2012 budget cycle.
In an increasingly diverse nation where what you wear may be the ultimate self-expression, teachers are falling victim to the same dress code rules as their students.
In most cases, schools are taking the actions because they believe some teachers are dressing inappropriately. School board members received parental complaints about teacher dress at Arizona's Litchfield Elementary School District, Superintendent Julianne Lein says.
The move comes at a time when the number of public schools requiring uniforms has nearly doubled over the past decade to 19%, reports the National Center for Education Statistics. The center doesn't track teacher uniforms or dress codes. But it soon may have to, as schools have moved to:
Gen. George C. Marshall once said, "There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit." Purportedly, this quote was one of Ronald Reagan's favorites and was etched on a plaque that sat on the late president's Oval Office desk.
A plaque with this noble quote would be equally appropriate sitting on a teacher's desk. Most educators realize from our own schooling that education is normally a no credit profession and rarely a deferred credit occupation. Most students do not mature enough to realize the amount of good teachers do until they have already outgrown schools. A supermajority of my colleagues and I do not care if we never get credit for the amount of good we do for our students. We teach because we recognize--even without the surveys and the quantified data--the limitlessness of learning. The lack of recognition is simply the nature of the teaching profession.
In 2009, as its endowment plunged by nearly 30%, Harvard University halted construction on a $1.2 billion science center across the Charles River, angering the neighborhood there by leaving behind a foundation and an idle construction site.
Harvard now says it will resume work on the project, but not until 2014 and even then at half the originally planned size, reflecting a newfound fiscal caution at the school. "The economic realities necessitate this," Kevin Casey, a Harvard spokesman, said in June at a community meeting.
Due to budgetary constraints, Harvard has delayed the construction of a science complex, seen in the foreground above, inside the fenced-in area.
Many universities face shaky finances because of declining state aid and weakened returns on endowments. At Harvard--and some of its Ivy League peers --the recession has lingered because of an unusually heavy dependency on their endowments for operating income. Harvard's $32 billion endowment is up from its 2009 drop to $26 billion, but still off its pre-recession 2008 value of $36.9 billion.
On the first issue, for example, it is possible to view the world in two ways. Sometimes societies assume that there is a vertical, hierarchical pattern of control (ie somebody, like a government, in charge) but sometimes there is a horizontal dynamic where crowd power rules. This second pattern is roughly how the financial markets were supposed to work before 2007, when investors and free market forces shaped our financial system instead of government diktat. However, since 2007, government intervention has repeatedly trumped the power of the crowd, in ways that feel alien to investors.I thought this passage "Sometimes societies assume that there is a vertical, hierarchical pattern of control (ie somebody, like a government, in charge) but sometimes there is a horizontal dynamic where crowd power rules." was appropriate for what we often witness in the school governance arena.
However, it also matters whether we believe that societies operate in a benign, accountable manner, or not. Hierarchical relationships can be considered beneficial; wise regulators, for example, can shape markets in sensible, accountable ways and corporate managers steer their way round risks. But sometimes power seems capricious and harmful; panic-stricken governments suddenly do unpredictable, negative things. Similarly, while crowd rule can feel benign and collaborative, markets, say, can feel like a community, it can also be anarchic and unpleasant, a jungle driven by Darwinian selfish instincts.
The first chemistry sets for children included dangerous substances like uranium dust and sodium cyanide, but all that has changed.
Talk to people of a certain age about chemistry sets and a nostalgic glaze comes over their eyes.
Stories of creating explosions in garden sheds and burning holes in tables are told and childhood is remembered as a mischievous adventure.
Portable chemistry sets were first used in the 18th Century but it took more than 100 years before they became popular with children, partly prompted by a desire to recreate the coloured puffs of smoke used by conjurors.
Tomorrow, my 16 year old daughter is leaving her home in the US for the UK. She'll be there for the next two years while she studies for her A levels. It was a heart-rending decision for my wife and I to agree to her living apart from us in a different country. But the stark reality is that my daughter's high school education here is just not good enough to prepare her for a British University - and in two years' time, that's where she wants to be.
I've long been worried about the US approach to science education in particular. When I was at school in the UK, we started studying physics, chemistry and biology in parallel from the age of 13. It didn't suit everyone. But I wouldn't be here as a science professor and department chair in a major university without this early start. It was key to me getting hooked on physics at an early age, while gaining a broad and integrated understanding of how the different disciplines complemented each other. In contrast, both of my kids have been following a sequential science track - biology (grade 9), geophysical science (grade 10), chemistry (grade 11) then physics (grade 12).
How do families live these days? OECD's comprehensive world education ranking report, PISA 2009, was published in December of 2010. All participants of the test (fifteen-year-old pupils) completed a questionnaire about their living situation at home. ZEIT ONLINE analyzed and visualized this data to provide you with a unique way of comparing standards of living in different countries. Click on any icon to see further details.
EVERY school teacher faces an annual performance review with education ministers set today to approve a national framework for assessments to begin next year.
The actual form of the review will be left to individual schools and school systems but the ministers will commit to begin the process of reviewing the work of the country's 290,000 teachers.
Reviews will be led by the principal, a senior teacher or an outsider could be brought in. They are expected to include observation of classroom performance, student results and feedback from both parents and students.
The federal Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said the performance reviews were a ''genuinely big and important reform''.
With the teaching profession growing and evolving, one theme that remains constant is the fact that effective teachers are the key to student success. Studies have shown that education schools are deeply in need of reform. From attracting top high school graduates, to improving the quality of instruction, institutions that prepare future teachers must be able to produce results. In order to bring our colleges of education into a new era of success, AAE is pleased to be joining the list of endorsers of the National Council on Teacher Quality's (NCTQ) project to rank colleges of education in an effort to better prepare future educators.
A deserved amount of controversy is generated by the state's new vouchers for private school tuition, but it is not the only element of state law that changed this year. Significant changes are in store and new demands placed on traditional school systems by education bills championed by Gov. Bobby Jindal in this year's Legislature.
Parts of the wide-ranging new laws -- crammed together as Act 1 and Act 2 of the 2012 Legislature -- affect the relationships between school boards and superintendents, giving the latter more untrammeled authority in hiring and firing. Other parts of the package include new alternative course work that might be available online for some students.
And amid all this is the looming implementation of a teacher evaluation system that could provide a significant amount of new work for principals and other supervisors of teachers, as well as paperwork demands. The state, for example, is working to assess whether computer capabilities in local systems are up to the task -- for otherwise, the new demands could overwhelm the information technology that cash-strapped public schools can today afford.
The best training ground for success in a male-dominated business world is a classroom full of women, says Cathy E. Minehan, dean of the all-female Simmons College School of Management.
In a coed environment, "male leadership roles remain unchallenged, and women are left with 'play the game our way, or go home,'" she says.
Ms. Minehan, 65 years old, knows a thing or two about the old boys' club. She is a former chief of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and spent nearly 40 years at central bank branches in Boston and New York. She stepped down in 2007, then took the deanship at the Boston-based school last summer, joking that she "flunked" retirement.
The Grundels' success story is exactly what Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Thompson [bing blekko clusty google] wants to hear. She wants all the district's nearly 32,000 students to achieve, succeed and enjoy learning."relevance, rigor and relationships" - well said.
This fall, the district will launch its International Baccalaureate program and will offer a career technical education program along with seven Career Academies; a growing magnet program for both the arts and academics; and an Advanced Placement (AP) program that continues to expand at a tremendous pace.
"It is a unique pathway for our students having all those programs," Thompson said. "It means that your child can come into this school district and be challenged at any level. Some of those pathways are going to lead to a four-year college; some will lead to a two-year college; some will lead you right into the world of work. It's giving students those career pathways that really fit with their strength area."
Now, you begin to see what all those pieces mean and what the big picture is. "The master plan is to bring our traditional schools up to the level of the magnets," Thompson said. "That really is the ultimate goal in terms of what we are doing with our rigor and expectations. That is the end game."
"These are all steps to get us there. I think kids need deliberate steps to get from places, which is why you have the pre-AP program offered at middle school because they can't just jump into AP in high school.
"It's why you have the Career Exploratory at middle school because once again you want to go into the Career Academies or career tech. We are making sure that every child takes the explorer test in eighth grade and that goes over their aptitude and skills so when they reach high school they are supposedly doing a four-year plan. That's every student."
And the programs that the superintendent has implemented the past few years as well as expanding existing ones, support, encourage and excite targeted groups of students - all students.
The programs on the surface may appear to be disjointed - what does a pre-K program have in common with an Overage Academy - but the common thread is making sure the students succeed.
The pre-K program was expanded from six to 23 programs and turned the closed McKee Elementary School into a pre-K center. Those programs may be cut to 21 because of funding.
That's the youngest targeted group. Here's what the district has done for other groups of students:
"It really is a puzzle and you are trying to put it together so you create this environment where learning is really exciting for students," Thompson said. "We are trying to meet those needs of all of our students.
- Increased graduation rates, although with the state's new method of computing graduation rates - those numbers are likely to fall as will graduation rates across the state.
- Created a sixth-grade academy to help elementary school students make the transition to middle school.
- Created a ninth-grade academy to help middle school students make the transition to high school.
- Created an Overage Academy to help struggling ninth-graders who are two or more years older than the usual students further advance in their schooling.
- Created a Credit and Grade Recovery program to provide more one-on-one teacher assistance so the students will be able to graduate - and hundreds have.
- Launched an academic magnet program at Johnnie Carr Middle School.
- Reconfigured nearly all the middle schools for grades six through eight.
- Instituted a school-wide dress code.
- Placed a pre-AP program in middle schools.
- Placed a career tech program in middle schools.
- Will launch a Mandarin Chinese program with Auburn University Montgomery that will be at the new eastside high school (in fall 2013) as well as Carr and MacMillan International Academy.
- Consolidated the district by closing some schools and using others in a different way.
- Will bring at least 15 highly qualified Teach for America teachers to the district in the fall - and they usually stay for two years.
- Has begun the process for system-wide accreditation.
- Cut $37 million from the budget over three years and turned a $2.5 million deficit into a surplus of nearly $8 million.
"When I first came here, I gave you the three Rs: relevance, rigor and relationships. All of these programs fall under that category."
You can imagine, a system with nearly 32,000 students has a lot of needs and you can imagine that Montgomery County's third-largest employer - about 4,500 people - has a lot of needs. Tom Salter, senior communications officer for MPS, likes to point out that if you combine the students and employees, the school district would be the 13th-largest city in the state. "With that many folks compared to a single, private school that has a hand-picked 600 or 700 in it - it's different, but it's not necessarily better to be in a private school."
Alabama participated in the 2011 TIMSS global exam along with Minnesota and Massachusetts. Wisconsin has never benchmarked our students via the global exams. We have been stuck with the oft-criticized WKCE.
The Montgomery, Alabama schools spent $283,633,475 for 31,470 students ($9,012.82/student) while Madison spent 39% more, or $14,858 per student. The 2011-2012 budget was roughly $369,394,753 for 24,861 students.
Ram Singh, 17, earns just one dollar from the 100 cups of tea he makes every day outside Delhi railway station, but each evening, after packing up, he goes to the bank and deposits nearly half of it.
Singh holds an account at a special bank, run for -- and mostly by -- Indian street children, that keeps what little money they have safe and seeks to instill the idea that savings, however meagre, are important.
Just one among millions of street children who rely on menial jobs for survival, Singh is determined to make his work pay some sort of future dividend.
"I'm smart, but that alone isn't enough to start a business.
WITH its leafy avenues and Gothic buildings, the University of Chicago seems a sober, solid sort of place. John D. Rockefeller, whose money built it, said it was the "best investment I ever made". Yet Chicago and other not-for-profit American universities have been piling on the debt as if they were high-tech start-ups.
Long-term debt at not-for-profit universities in America has been growing at 12% a year, estimate Bain & Company, a consultancy, and Sterling Partners, a private-equity firm (see chart 1). A new report looked at the balance-sheets and cashflow statements of 1,692 universities and colleges between 2006 and 2010, and found that one-third were significantly weaker than they had been several years previously.
A crisis in higher education has been brewing for years. Universities have been spending like students in a bar who think a Rockefeller will pick up the tab. In the past two years the University of Chicago has built a spiffy new library (where the books are cleverly retrieved by robots), a new arts centre and a ten-storey hospital building. It has also opened a new campus in Beijing.
For individual school and district data, visit www.MISchoolData.org and click on Dashboard & School Report Card button located on the left.
The changes were praised by an education advocacy group, with leaders saying that the problems of low-scoring students were for years masked by the high-achievers in some districts. Communities that have long prided themselves on their school systems are now left to ponder stark disparities, said Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest.
New this year is a designation based in part on the gap between the highest-scoring 30 percent of students and the lowest-performing 30 percent - a measure that landed some high-achieving schools in affluent areas in a new, "focus school" category. The 10 percent of the schools with the widest gaps are added to the group.
The art of writing can be reduced to a few simple rules. I share them with you now.
Rule No. 1: Show and Tell. Most people say, "Show, don't tell," but I stand by Show and Tell, because when writers put their work out into the world, they're like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do. "And what do you have for us today, Marcy?" "A penetrating psychological study of a young med student who receives disturbing news from a former lover." "How marvelous! Timmy, what are you holding there?" "It's a Calvinoesque romp through an unnamed metropolis much like New York, narrated by an armadillo." "Such imagination!" Show and Tell, followed by a good nap.
Online education not only gave nontraditional students a chance to enroll in collegiate programs from afar; it has also given universities that historically have not enjoyed the prestige of the Ivies a chance to build a reputation on fresh territory and build reliable revenue streams.
But, now that higher education's traditional heavyweights are creating online courses and offering them for free to anyone who wants to register, those universities that have made names for themselves in the market for "conventional" online programs are trying to sort out how these high-profile "MOOCs" (i.e., Massive Open Online Courses) could affect their own positions in an online market where many have staked their futures.
One strategy for established online players would put them in the somewhat ironic role of making sure students who have passed Harvard-level exams deserve college credit.
Some 90,000 Hong Kong citizens, many of them parents accompanied by small children, marched in blazing heat Sunday to oppose a government plan to teach respect for one-party rule in all government-funded schools. So far the administration of newly inaugurated Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying refuses to back down. Officials in Beijing insist the courses go ahead, a serious violation of Hong Kong's autonomy and a move that could alienate Hong Kong from the motherland.
Chinese President Hu Jintao called for "more emphasis on national education" in 2007, and the territory's government has paid lip service to the idea. But concrete plans only got underway in the last two years. The sudden urgency is clearly related to the passage of political reforms in 2010 that allow for elections by universal suffrage for the Chief Executive in 2017 and Legislative Council in 2020.
The future of education and its role in economic development will be featured in a town hall meeting on Saturday hosted by the Yuba City Unified School District.
As part of the review and discussion of the district's strategic plan, officials want feedback on what residents value about students' preparation for the future and workforce, and how to prioritize the budget to achieve those goals. With a $100 million budget and as one of the largest employers in Yuba-Sutter, the district wants to ensure it can continue to provide quality education with its dwindling resources, said Superintendent Nancy Aaberg.
"It's about keeping our students competitive and the community competitive," she said.
A few weeks ago, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released an example of what the upcoming report cards for state schools will look like. The report cards are described as one of the package of reforms that that DPI promised to implement in order to win a waiver from the federal Department of Education from the more onerous burdens of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.Related: Notes and links on the oft-criticized WKCE and Madison's long term reading recovery challenges.
One of the qualifications for an NCLB waiver is that a state must put into place an accountability system for schools. The system must take into account results for all students and subgroups of students identified in NCLB on: measures of student achievement in at least reading/language arts and mathematics; graduation rates; and school performance and progress over time. Once a state has adopted a "high-quality assessment," the system must also take into account student growth.
In announcing the NCLB waiver, DPI claimed that it had established accountability measures that "1) are fair; 2) raise expectations; and 3) provide meaningful measures to inform differentiated recognitions, intervention, and support."
Designing a fair and meaningful system for assessing the performance of the state's schools is a worthy endeavor. The emphasis for me is on the "fair" requirement. I consider an assessment system to be fair if it measures how successfully a school promotes the learning of whichever students show up at its door.
The Credo study has been criticised for not comparing the results of children who have won charter-school lotteries with those who have not--a natural experiment in which the only difference between winners and losers should be the schooling they receive. Such studies suggest that charters are better. For example, a lottery study in New York City found that by eighth grade (around 13), charter-school pupils were 30 points ahead in maths.
However, recent work by Mathematica, an independent policy group, suggests that the Credo study is sound. The bigger problem is that its findings have been misinterpreted. First, the children who most need charters have been served well. Credo finds that students in poverty and English language learners fare better in charters. And a national "meta-analysis" of research, done last year for the Centre on Reinventing Public Education in Seattle, found charters were better at teaching elementary-school reading and mathematics, and middle-school mathematics. High-school charters, though, fared worse. Another recent study in Massachusetts for the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that urban charter schools are shown to be effective for minorities, poor students and low achievers.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times on Sunday, political science professor Andrew Hacker asks, "Is Algebra Necessary?" and answers, "No." It's not just algebra: geometry and calculus are on the chopping block, too. It's not that he doesn't think math is important; he wants the traditional sequence to be replaced by a general "quantitative skills" class, and perhaps some statistics.
There are so many problems with Hacker's essay that it's hard to know where to start. Hacker's first main point is that math is difficult, and the poor grades that result prevent too many people from graduating high school or college. His second is that the math we learn is not the math we need in our jobs.
A reader recently told me about her neighbour's daughter, who is in grade six at an international school.Private Supplementary Tutoring and Its Implications for Policy Makers in Asia.
One day the girl's maths teacher asked students if they attended the Kumon or Enopi programmes after school. Most did, but all the teacher did was to tell the others they would have to catch up. The reader was rightly appalled.
Research by University of Hong Kong Professor Mark Bray on students' increasing reliance on tuition in Asia has energised the debate on whether tutorial schools are a necessary evil.
In my experience, parents are too quick to send their children to tutors. Their reasons for doing so vary. For some parents, it's because their child's friends are tutored; others feel they are depriving their children of the chance to succeed if they don't receive tutoring. Some parents do it out of guilt because they are unable to personally supervise the children's progress.
E-readers have been around long enough now that the novelty has largely worn off. To be sure, we still get the occasional article or blog post celebrating the smell of "real books" and denouncing the disembodied fakery of text on a screen, but not nearly as many as in recent years. E-readers are simply part of the reading landscape now -- the first Kindle was released almost five years ago -- and it's time for a midterm progress report. How is the technology developing? What has been accomplished and what remains to be done?
One good development in the past five years: more options for reading at night. There are backlit LCD reading possibilities via the iPad and subsequent tablets, including the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7, plus a much less eye-frying option, the e-ink Nook Simple Touch GlowLight. The Kindle software for the iPad and iPhone allows you to dim the screen for that app only, which is helpful -- and I think it's great to be reading as the sky grows darker and not have to get up to turn on a light, remaining focused on the book -- but my eyes just hurt after a long iPad session. I don't know that anything can be done about that.
1. You are not a helicopter parent if your kid is not in a zillion extracurriculars. In the recent clamor on the subject of whether this generation of parents is hovering too much and oversteering, overmanaging, and otherwise spoiling their children, I've heard parents say, "But we don't know any actual helicopter parents." They say this because they don't know anyone who fits the obvious caricatures--that is anyone who schedules Mandarin classes for their 5-year-old and dutifully shuttles them off every Saturday morning for theater-to-express-yourself classes. But the overabundance of extracurriculars is only one small part of the larger, disturbing phenomenon Madeline Levine chronicles in her voice-of-reason-ish new book, Teach Your Children Well, which was excellently reviewed this weekend in the New York Times by Judith Warner.
The Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong government shall "on its own, formulate policies on the development and improvement of education". Yet the idea of national education, which is arousing such controversy, was evidently conceived not by the government here. It was proposed in Beijing by President Hu Jintao .
At a dinner on June 30, 2007, the president suggested to Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who was to be sworn in as chief executive the following day, that Hong Kong "should put more emphasis on national education for the youth".
More than half the states have now been excused from important conditions of the No Child Left Behind education law. They've been allowed to create new measures of how much students have improved and how well they are prepared for college or careers, and to assess teacher performance on that basis. Teachers will be evaluated in part on how well their students perform on standardized tests. One study, though, found that some state plans could weaken accountability.
Madison School Board member Mary Burke spent more than $128,000 on her spring campaign -- all of it her own -- surpassing by far the most spent in recent city school board elections, according to available data.
Since 2001, the earliest online city clerk records are available, the most spent on a Madison School Board campaign was $28,349 by Marj Passman in 2007, when she lost to Maya Cole. That amount also was surpassed this year by incumbent Arlene Silveira, who reported spending $36,530.
Burke, a former state Commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive, said she made most of the expenditures, mostly for marketing and advertising, after the local teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., backed her opponent, firefighter Michael Flores.
Yet the virtue of experiments is that you can learn from them; and it is now becoming clear how and where charter schools work best. Poor pupils, those in urban environments and English-language learners fare better in charters (see article). In states that monitor them carefully and close down failing schools quickly, they work best. And one great advantage is that partly because most are free of union control, they can be closed down more easily if they are failing.
This revolution is now spreading round the world. In Britain academies, also free from local-authority control, were pioneered by the last Labour government. At first they were restricted to inner-city areas where existing schools had failed. But the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has turbocharged their growth, and has launched "free schools", modelled on a successful Swedish experiment, which have even more independence. By the end of this year half of all British schools will be academies or free schools. Free schools are too new for their performance to be judged; in academies, though, results for GCSEs (the exams pupils take at 15 or 16) are improving twice as fast as those in the state sector as a whole.
Aged 16 and 14 respectively, Boushra and Line are homeschooling enthusiasts. Largely self-taught, they collectively speak Arabic, English, Chinese, German, Italian and French
I'm Jesse Pollak, a student at Pomona College. This summer, I was lucky enough to participate in the hackNY fellows program. If you don't already know, hackNY is a non-profit organization whose mission is to "to federate the next generation of hackers for the New York innovation community." In addition to holding twice annual student hackathons, each summer hackNY organizes the hackNY fellows program:
"a program that pairs quantitative and computational students with startups which can demonstrate a strong mentoring environment: a problem for a student to work on, a person to mentor them, and a place for them to work. Students enjoy free housing together and a pedagogical lecture series to introduce them to the ins and outs of joining and founding a startup."
Quick: Think of a successful person. Someone who is really good at what they do.
Now, in a word or phrase, tell me why that person has been so successful. What makes them so good?
Obviously, I can't hear your answer. But I'd be willing to wager that it had something to do with innate ability.
"He's so brilliant."
"She's a genius."
"He's a natural leader."
These are the kinds of answers people -- particularly Americans -- tend to give when you ask them why certain individuals have enjoyed so much success.
By resisting almost any change aimed at improving our public schools, teachers unions have become a ripe target for reformers across the ideological spectrum. Even Hollywood, famously sympathetic to organized labor, has turned on unions with the documentary "Waiting for 'Superman'" (2010) and a feature film, "Won't Back Down," to be released later this year. But perhaps most damaging to the unions' credibility is their position on sexual misconduct involving teachers and students in New York schools, which is even causing union members to begin to lose faith.
In the last five years in New York City, 97 tenured teachers or school employees have been charged by the Department of Education with sexual misconduct. Among the charges substantiated by the city's special commissioner of investigation--that is, found to have sufficient merit that an arbitrator's full examination was justified--in the 2011-12 school year:
- An assistant principal at a Brooklyn high school made explicit sexual remarks to three different girls, including asking one of them if she would perform oral sex on him.
If you're a parent, and you don't suffer palpitations whenever the topic of paying for college comes up, congratulations: You're either unusually mellow, or unusually wealthy. Higher education is expensive, and getting more so by the year.
But how expensive? Ah, that's a trickier question. What we talk about when we talk about the price of a degree can be a bit murky, thanks to the vast variations in tuition, financial aid, and lifestyle choices that determine how much a student spends during their time on campus. For parents paying the tab, and for wonks who'd like to make higher education more affordable, it's useful to have a realistic baseline for how much a bachelor's actually runs these days.
So without further ado, let's look at the numbers.
Dressed in caps and gowns, the college students packing a graduation ceremony in suburban Washington, D.C., acted like excited graduates anywhere in the United States.
Except, perhaps, when the men broke into tribal line dances. Or when the women, wearing headscarves, burst forth with zagareet, soaring trills of their tongues, in celebration.
The more than 300 graduates gathered at a hotel overlooking the Potomac River were all from Saudi Arabia, part of a massive government-paid foreign study program to earn bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees and return home to help run their country.